Maltastar – so quick and smart, they're like lightning

Published: March 25, 2010 at 10:54am
Oooh, my how mysterious - here we are, plotting the downfall of Glenn Dangerfield

Oooh, my how mysterious - here we are, plotting the downfall of Glenn Dangerfield

Every time I read Maltastar, I’m in fits – of laughter.

Glenn Dangerfield’s IQ is even lower than I had thought.

Either that, or the site is the product of a crack team of school-leavers with a mental age of 12 and the analytical abilities, political nous and writing skills to match, who need a prolonged course in English as a foreign language.

Now they have what they believe to be a scoop and a Big Weapon in their otherwise empty armoury against me.

It’s a photograph taken more than two years ago of a Secret Assignation – me, Gordon Pisani and Richard Cachia Caruana – in Malta’s busiest and most crowded five-star hotel lobby, which on most days is like a stazzjon tal-ferrovija with half the island passing through.

A secret assignation indeed.

They are so happy with this photograph that they have used it around 10 times already. So now I shall put them out of their misery as I have had enough private fun with it already.

Glenn Dangerfield and his Coconuts don’t have the intelligence to work out that I am far smarter than they are. Sorry, GlAnn, but it’s a fEct. If I wanted to have a secret assignation I would not have it in a five-star hotel lobby with a constant parade passing by of people I know and others I don’t know.

I would have it in a private location – like, for example, my home. I do have one of my own, you know, Glenn. I don’t live with my parents.

The problem for Maltastar with this Major Scoop of theirs is that this is precisely the reaction they will get from the more intelligent of their readers: that it can’t very well have been a secret assignation in Malta’s busiest hotel lobby.

As for the less intelligent of their readers, well – they vote Labour anyway, so Maltastar’s effort is wasted.

Frustratingly for Maltastar, the person they indicate as me in this photograph – the one in the middle – is just a black blur without a face. So they have to rely on their credibility (ahem) to convince readers that it really is me.

I’ll help them out here, because they’re so hopeless I feel a pressing need to send in the Red Cross. Yes, it was me. And there were roughly around 50 other people in the Westin Dragonara hotel lobby at the time, not counting the many staff.

One of those people, a man sitting on the sofa immediately adjacent to us, raised his mobile telephone and took that photograph. I saw him do it, but unlike Robert Musumeci, I didn’t call the police. I didn’t even call the hotel manager.

I remember thinking ‘How in God’s name is this newsworthy, you poor sod?’ In fact, the Labour Party tried to use that photograph in the general election campaign some months later – that’s how new it is, and what a major scoop – and drew a blank. ‘Daphne Caruana Galizia has coffee with Gordon Pisani and Richard Cachia Caruana? Boqq. Who gives a monkey’s? She writes about politics. They work in politics. It would be strange if they didn’t meet.’

Of course, this is the bit that Maltastar leaves out: that the photograph was not taken using a spy camera from a great distance by bionic Byon Jo Zammit of Super One while risking his life, which is what they wish to suggest.

It was taken by a man – one of several sitting next to us on a set of sofas, using a mobile phone. If they say that, it immediately undermines their story that this was a covert meeting. So they don’t.

The trouble with the people at Maltastar is that they refuse to believe I am ‘only a political columnist’. They said so themselves a couple of days ago. ‘It can’t be that she’s only a columnist’. This is because, in their world, political columnists are poor communicators who are incapable of putting a few decent, informative and entertaining words together – the sort of thing that others might actually want to read.

Ergo, I must have some kind of secret life involving plots and coups and attempts to overthrow the Labour government….but hang on. The government is Nationalist.

Yes, that doesn’t square either. Who, exactly, am I plotting to overthrow when I sit down for a cup of coffee with Gordon Pisani and Richard Cachia Caruana? The Opposition?

It would be hilarious were it not so sad. Mohh ta’ tigieg is too kind a description.

It doesn’t help, either, that the people at Maltastar, excluding Glenn because he is almost the same age as I am, are too young to have any sense of perspective. To them, a photograph ‘proving’ that Richard Cachia Caruana and I are on speaking terms is hot news and boy, now they have evidence.


They remain blissfully oblivious to the fact that this hot story has been playing out now for TWENTY YEARS, starting roughly around the time today’s crack team of Maltastar reporters were born. The Maltastar way of reasoning seems to be ‘If it’s new to me then it’s new’.

That’s right, you chaps at Maltastar – TWO WHOLE DECADES of a really hot story that Daphne Caruana Galizia and Richard Cachia Caruana talk to each other. Boring, or what? And I have the cuttings to prove it. It was really big news in the Labour media some time around 1991.

What I do know is that at 20 years and counting, it must be the longest-running ‘hot story’ in the history of the Labour Party’s media machine. It’s run so long, in fact, that Labour’s media stable is now staffed – Maltastar speak: stuffed – by an entire generation of people to whom it is completely new. That’s how bonkers the situation is, how very surreal.

And why have Richard Cachia Caruana and I been speaking to each other for two decades? Let me spell it out for the cretins at Maltastar: for that length of time, I have written a newspaper column about politics and current affairs. For that length of time, he has been a key person in government. Neither of us would have been doing our job properly if we refused to speak to each other.

How in heaven’s name do the people at Maltastar and their owners the Labour Party imagine it is possible for a political columnist to do his or her job without speaking to people in politics? Perhaps that is why they do their own job so badly.

Sadly, Maltastar has no photographs of me chatting over coffee with Labour politicians, because nobody bothered to take any using a ‘secret’ mobile phone. Jimmy Magro and I used to chat all the time, for example. We got along like a house on fire – he has a great line in self-deprecation and self-parody and we mocked each other endlessly and in good spirits. I was very sad to see him go.

But all that changed when Miss Micallef replaced him as secretary-general. Miss Micallef and I were clearly Not Going To Get Along. That was his problem, not mine, and he didn’t have the brains to see that politicians need political columnists more than political columnists need politicians. There are plenty more where the politicians come from, but rather few political columnists and most of them tend to outstay the politicos.

What has the Labour Party gained by turning me into the enemy, making me a persona non grata, persecuting me and refusing to communicate with me? Nothing, and it has lost a great deal.

But the people who run that particular show are too damned stupid to see it. Their stupidity was encapsulated in their show of delight when they took Marisa Micallef’s scalp. If they think that was a political columnist, they really haven’t got a clue. But they sure as hell are finding that out now, I’ll imagine, and ruing every cent of the money they spent. By paying her, they have made it impossible for her to write another newspaper column again.

Paying Marisa Micallef was yet another example of just how hopeless Labour is with strategy. Left to her own devices, Marisa Micallef would have filled endless pages of newsprint with articles antagonistic towards the Nationalist Party and the government. She was royally cheesed off at not having her demands for a job in London – at the high commission or the tourist office – accommodated, and she would have been unable to contain herself.

So the Labour Party would have got all that, and for free.

But paying her – and more so by announcing with such great aplomb that she is now officially on board the Labour bandwagon and on the party payroll – they made sure of two things: 1. that her days as a proper columnist for Allied Newspapers and Standard Publications are over, and 2. that nobody will take anything she writes seriously again because she is paid to say precisely those things.

The end result is that the Labour Party now has no use for Marisa Micallef but must pay her still, when it could have got lots of use out of her by leaving her to her own devices and not paying her.

Now here’s some advice to the kids and to the half-brained idiots my age in Labour’s media machine. You can’t do your job properly unless you talk to people, even the people you don’t agree with. This means having coffee with all sorts. Real journalists can’t sit at the office and speculate, and that’s why what Maltastar, Super One and the rest of the Labour-affiliated stable do is nowhere near real journalism.

Perhaps it’s fine to work as a political party tool when you’re young and enjoying the kudos and excitement of the media. But if you have any real journalistic instincts or ability, it is going to frustrate and deplete you. It is patently obvious that you can’t do that job forever.

If you started out smart it will make you stupid, and if you started out stupid it will make you stupider still. Just look at what happened to Glenn Bedingfield – do you want to end up like him? Look what’s happening to Charlon Gouder already, and he’s only in his late 20s. Where does he go from there? He can’t even make it through his law exams. The smart ones, like Simone Cini and Miriam Dalli, got out – though Miriam left it rather too late.

14 Comments Comment

  1. La Redoute says:

    If you want to communicate with Maltastar, you can click on the link labelled ‘send letter to editor’. It’s a cousin to ‘more leader’.

  2. freefalling says:

    Dangerfield, please note:

    What’s secretive is the late evening meeting held in an out-of-the-way restaurant in St. Paul’s Bay – just in case Super One forgot – Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera and MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, a defendant in a case before her.

    It’s not just a matter of IQ. It’s gross misinformation.

  3. La Redoute says:

    Maybe Dangerfield’s been denied the opportunity of a magisterial encounter. I hear he had the hots for hotpants in Moscow so I guess he’s up for anything.

  4. Tim Ripard says:

    Eat your heart out Kafka.

  5. The interest is purely historical: is it true Jimmy Magro offered you the possibility to run as a Labour candidate in 1992?


    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      1992! Bugger me sideways! With KMB as party leader?

      [Daphne – Mela. You can imagine how I jumped at the chance to join team – sorry, TIM – Karmenu. Bhal tal-Malta Today din: let’s offer her a job, and if she turns us down, we’ll start attacking her.]

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        Interesting. And it raises a lot of questions. Was it their version of Ghaddafi’s invitation to Israel to join the Arab League?

  6. TROY says:

    Glenn Hasbeenfield is now working as a gofer at Super One.

  7. Rover says:

    Hilarious. Your knowledge of the local political scene is quite remarkable. Clearly the players at Maltastar have got their knickers in a twist in their depraved frustration to dump something on you. They deserve every bit of the rollicking you handed out.

    As for running on any political ticket, it’s a no-brainer. You just don’t. You are a national treasure and our country needs people like you who kick ass when necessary, whether it’s red or blue.

  8. JB says:

    Ha Ha Ha!


  9. michael woods says:

    (Look what’s happening to Charlon Gouder already, and he’s only in his late 20s. Where does he go from there? He can’t even make it through his law exams.)

    Dear Daphne,would you be more specific?

  10. Claude Sciberras says:

    Daphne you hit the nail right on the head. For some reason I cannot understand the Labour Party has no idea how to handle the media. In Maltese we say “idardru l-ghajn li jixorbu minnha”. I’m sure that even a child knows that the media plays a very important role in disseminating your message.

    It is not those people who are on your side that you need to convince but rather those who are on the opposition. The Nationalist Party knows this very well and in fact tries its best to communicate through the “independent” media. In-Nazzjon and Net are followed by the party faithful mainly so there they work on reinforcing the grassroots, but when they want to win votes they go through the non-partisan media.

    Labour’s attitude is that if you are not with us you are against us. To make matters worse they hate a dissenting voice. And to make matters even worse they take things personally and attack the messenger rather than the message. It seems that the PL believes that whatever they say cannot be challenged.

    Some examples of poor communications management: the JPO affair before the election. I have no sympathy for Pullicino Orland, but I think that Alfred Sant made a huge mistake which cost him a good number of votes. The Repeater Class proposal – the half-baked proposal put the Labour Party on the defensive and they struggled throughout the election campaign trying to recover. The attacks on key journalists such as yourself, Lou Bondi, Peppi Azzopardi and several others including reputable media houses such as PBS and the Times.

    I’m getting flashbacks of the many, many times I have seen Labour stamping its feet on national television saying that this and that is not fair. I remember Alfred Sant directly attacking Peppi Azzopardi on his show. It shows that Labour believe that all media should be like Super One.

    The EUR40,000 given to Marisa Micallef would have been better spent on a good media strategy by those who know the ropes.

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