MONROVIA-The press Union of Liberia has released its finding into the case filed by the president Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Senator Albert Chie lashing at the journalists that the audio was distorted.
A statement released Sunday said. “At long last, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has released its findings in the complaint filed by the President Pro-tempore of the Senate in the so-called leaked audio which has been in the public space over the course of approximately fourteen (14) months, but gone viral over the last two months,” the statement said.
In his complaint to the PUL, the Senate President Pro Temp, Senator Albert T. Chie said that the Joy FM and few other radio stations were running a commentary against him purposely to injure his character and playing a so-called leaked audio and insinuating callously and maliciously that he was trying to make a deal with an Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Finance to make an illegitimate payment to his office.
The President Pro-tempore accordingly demanded a probe to establish the facts surrounding the purported leaked audio and the conduct of the JOY FM and few other radio stations in the matter.
Following months of investigation, the PUL President Charles Coffey in his findings dated May 20, 2021 and released on June 18, 2021, indicated that the union got the original audio over a year ago, in April 2020 and as well as the purported leaked audio that was been played on some radio stations.
“According to the Union, the investigation which was done consistent with the Press Union of Code of Ethics, established that in the original recording, Senator Chie was heard discussing the budget of the Liberian Senate , inquiring information and demanding payment of a lawful budgetary allocation to the Liberia Senate and that of his office. Unfortunately, some media institutions over a course of the last 14 months reportedly distorted the recording and circulated it while other media institutions failed to verify said recording and went ahead airing it, something he termed as unethical,” the statement further said.
The PUL Report also indicated that the playing of the audio in May 2021 by two JOY FM commentators (who ran the same audio over a year ago in 2020) alongside a discussion on the authorization by the Legislature to the Central Bank of Liberia to print a new family of currency gave the impression to the listening public that the President Pro-tempore was soliciting funds from the Ministry of Finance illegally to facilitate the approval process.
However, the investigation established that the only reference the Joy FM Commentators made was that from the audio recording, the President Pro-tempore was only concerned about payment of funds from the National Budget to only the Senate and his office and did not seek the general welfare of other agencies of Government.
According to the Union, the investigation also found that the audio was a combination of separate budget discussions and was reportedly distorted by other broadcasters over a course of more than one year, a situation the Union described as very wrong and further asserted that such is a defamation of character and a crime under the Law of Liberia.
Commenting on the PUL’s Investigative Report, The Director of Press at the Liberian Senate-Mr. Jarlawah A. Tonpo welcomed the findings and further urged the media community to do away with what he called yellow journalism. He said distorting a recording to tarnish the reputation of statesman like the President Pro-tempore, is unfortunate and at the same time, called on the PUL not only to condemn this unethical behavior, but the Union should institute punitive measures against those journalists involved in such acts.
Meanwhile, the PUL has directed that henceforth, no media institution should air the distorted audio recording.