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STATESMAN OPINION: BEHIND THE SCENES ON MELANIA TRUMP’S VISIT

General News

Despite the colourful and warm welcome in Ghana accorded the First Lady of the United States of America, Melania Trump, on her visit, which started on October 2, many difficulties arose behind the scenes with the way Ghanaian reporters were treated by the organising team from the White House.

Despite the colourful and warm welcome in Ghana accorded the First Lady of the United States of America, Melania Trump, on her visit, which started on October 2, many difficulties arose behind the scenes with the way Ghanaian reporters were treated by the organising team from the White House.

 

Mrs Trump, who was on a two-day working visit to Ghana, was met at the Kotoka International Airport by the First Lady of Ghana, Rebecca Akufo-Addo.

“Misbehaved”

At the reception at the airport to welcome Mrs Trump, local reporters had to struggle to make their way through to a point where they could get good angles for their photography and filming to put together news stories.

It is standard practice that when high-profile personalities or dignitaries visit Ghana journalists and reporters from all media outlets, Ghanaian and foreign, try to find their way through to the event to get a storyline. Tuesday October 2 was no different.

But at the Kotoka International Airport, local reporters were denied certain privileges because they were seen by the White House team and White House press corps organisers as having “misbehaved”.

Local reporters complained that, having been barricaded under security measures so that both Ghanaian media and the press pool from the White House (“Flotus Media”) did not get any closer to either First Lady Akufo-Addo or First Lady Trump, Flotus Media were given the opportunity to get closer so they could get good shots.

According to a reporter from one of the state-owned media outlets in this country, local reporters notified the security team and were given access. Unfortunately, in a rush to get a headshot, local media crossed the line ‒ so gaining the tag of having “misbehaved”.

A private function

A colleague from another state-owned media organisation said: “I had to leave the place because what was going on at the airport was just annoying.”
On the second day, local media were denied access to accompany Mrs Trump to Cape Coast Castle. The reason given by the White House team was that the event was expected to be private.

Having written and filed their general news story on the events in Cape Coast, however, the international media then reported first hand on Mrs Trump’s visit to the castle.

A Ghanaian colleague said: “My editor just told me I did a useless story because I did not capture events at the castle, even though I tried to explain to my editor we were banned from accompanying the American First Lady.”

Local media were even told when to report their news items about events in Cape Coast.

It was clear that the United States Security Service was in charge and not local security personnel.

Though it is understandable that the White House should want to take charge of its own security, the Daily Statesman finds it extraordinary that Washington should expect that it can treat American and Ghanaian media as sheep separated from goats. After all, Ghana is a sovereign nation, whatever the Trumpian definition of an African country may be.