Dear Mr. Ramsay,
You tweeted yesterday that Romanian journalists asking questions about your “arms dealers in Romania” story should stop, for fear of being ridiculous.
Well, I think we can be brave enough to overcome that fear. After all, we’re surrounded by gangs of dangerous arms smugglers, aren’t we?
Now seriously, most of us believe (being taught, among others, by British trainers) in fair and accurate reporting. We believe in facts and in correcting errors. So I’m taking my chances.
First of all, here are the facts, as we “trolls” – your words – can see them, from a journalistic perspective in Romania:
It looks like you faked a story. Or you were fooled by a bunch of bad actors.
But more than that, you seem to have targeted your story specifically to blame Romania. From the very beginning.
Also, I believe that you tried your best, as if your job depended on that, to get confirmation on your version of reality from relevant British and possibly European authorities. When that didn’t come, I suspect you twisted the statements you got to move the blame towards my country.
Why? I just don’t get it.
Now let me show you all the facts available.
First of all, one of the people starring in your story has signed, under oath, confessions that contradict you and the station’s official version (no, we don’t do torture anymore, Dracula’s just a silly book).
According to these statements, you came from England telling them that all you really wanted is to shoot a docudrama, with fictional characters, illustrating arms smuggling. They emphasised the word “illustration” – they believed you were only making a re-enactment.
This guy now says that their lines were scripted. And they couldn’t possibly be otherwise, because, you see, these guys are not criminals. They have jobs (one of them actually works for a British company – how’s that for fun?) and a hobby for hunting and legally owned guns.
None of them gets to see much of Ukraine. The guns? Bought from stores. Yeah, those guns that you filmed.
Military guns, those? Now that would be a phoney war!
What happened afterwards is more strange. You went on air, claiming to have discovered a true smuggling ring and tried to get confirmation from NCA on your – say our witness – fabricated story. And you used the general background you got from NCA to advance your version. And now I quote from SkyNews website:
“They confirmed that the types of weapons, the location of the meeting and prices discussed were in line with their intelligence.
„The weapons are often sourced near conflict zones like Ukraine, which is where your meeting took place,” said Ian Cruxton, Director of Organised Crime at the NCA.””
Wait, what? NCA has intelligence that there are arms smugglers in Romania? And SkyNews is the flag-bearer of this great find?
Well, not actually. After being asked to clarify, NCA answered along these lines:
The agency has been asked by SkyNews to make a specific comment on the situation in Romania. And it did not comment on Romania. It was a general perspective on illegal arms trade in Europe. The country that was specifically mentioned was Ukraine.
Where’s this answer in SkyNews coverage?
Sadly, your story was not amended at the time of this blog post, which is August 11th. You are pointing the finger at us, even though your own NCA says it’s not us. How’s that for unbiased journalism?
More than that, on July 31, the actual day of the filming in Romania, Nina Saada, a SkyNews International Producer contacted on twitter the head of Europol, Rob Wainwright with “something important we are covering on”. Was she in Romania at that time? Was she unable to persuade Europol to give you the same kind of statement blaming – again – Romania?
You really have to answer these questions. Really.
Now more than ever since today, the “arms smuggling gang” you filmed was released, after Romanian prosecutors found nothing on them: theatrical plays are not punishable and also there’s nothing in the law against a bad joke. UPDATE: They will be charged in the end, for spreading false information and offences related to regulations on detained guns. Second update: three of them are being held on same charges.
This bad joke has gone too far. And it’s not your first one.
Because the most important thing, I will say, is your bias against Romania. And your seemingly complete lack of the skills that made you famous in the first place: yeah, investigative skills.
No, really. In january this year you made another story on Rroma people eking a living on a dump site in Cluj area, Romania. And here I quote again from the amazing mr. Ramsay.
“The Romanian government is being accused of risking the lives of thousands of people by forcing them to live and work on a toxic waste dump.”
Fact check: The last time the Romanian government forced somebody to work was in 1989. The Rroma people work at the dump because of lack of chances and skills – but nobody forces them to be there. They are free to move around. Actually, in your story one of them ponders emigrating to Britain. A paradox that seems to have escaped you.
Another quote: “Many are from the Roma community and have been evicted from their homes”
Fact check: These people lived on somebody else’s property in Cluj, in improvised shacks, when they got relocated. Much like the Rroma camps evicted by the French authorities in the last years. Where was Mr. Ramsay to blame the French government for the same and exact issue?
Another Ramsay quote:
“These Romanians demand equal rights but theirs is a life of the outsider, at home. Healthcare, education and work opportunities are denied to them”
Fact check: No. They are not. The problem of integrating Rroma population is so much more complex. Their societal model, their traditions and their own skills must be taken into account. But sadly, that would have ruined the whole anti-Romanian perspective.
Because that’s what it is. Both stories lack exactly what they’re being sold for: investigation. It’s always one or two witnesses – that just happen to support the storyline that the reporter came here with – and nothing more. Both are diatriabes against Romania, sold by SkyNews to the whole world as a backwards, unsafe, dubious country.
In both stories, there’s no evidence of mr. Ramsay asking a single question to the Romanian authorities. Such as “why have you evicted the Rroma? Why are you denying rights?” Or “why do you tolerate arms smugglers?”
It’s always one side of the story being presented as a great journalistic victory.
Sadly, it’s a defeat. For the truth.
Sincerely (yeah, some new word for you, mr. Ramsay) yours