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The National Newspaper rebuts National Alliance Party's claims

THE National has dismissed a claim that it is attacking the National Alliance (NA) party and not providing “fair and balanced” coverage of the ongoing general election campaigning.
 Newspapers had the right to decide what to publish, always keeping in consideration public and national interests, a spokesperson said.
 The question of what was fair and balanced was subjective, he said in response to claims by NA president Walter Schnaubelt.
“Why on earth would we want to attack the NA, or any political party for that matter?” the spokesperson said.
 In a press release yesterday, Schnaubelt claimed the newspaper’s frontpage reports showed that it was anti-NA, and pointed to the prime minister’s attack on former government treasurer and NA leader Patrick Pruaitch as an example.
“The newspaper disregarded the response from Pruaitch in its Monday (May 29) edition,” he said.
“It buried the NA response today (May 30) on Page 6.”
Schnaubelt also denied that after announcing NA’s withdrawal from the coalition, Pruaitch had conceded that when the elections were over, the party would be open to negotiations with the People’s National Congress (PNC) and other parties.
 He claimed that The National had twisted the comments in its May 17 report and ignored their other press releases.
 He added that journalists at The National regularly received instructions from key executives in the Prime Minister’s Office.
“When Pruaitch announced NA’s withdrawal from the coalition, it made our Page 1, along with a photograph of him and Sir Michael Somare at the press conference,” The National spokesperson said.
“It spilled over to Page 4 under another photograph.
“The prime minister’s response appeared as a single-column item on Page 4. We did not get any complaint from the prime minister’s camp.”
He said Pruaitch did issue further statements after that but they only repeated what he had said earlier.
“The National stands by our May 17 report where we quoted Pruaitch as saying ‘After the elections, there is always a negotiation period and we are open to it’, in reference to the possibility of the NA working with the O’Neill-led PNC,” the spokesperson said.
“The question was posed to Pruaitch by a reporter from the ABC.
“We welcome the opportunity to share with Schnaubelt our recording of the press conference to refresh his memory although he was seated next to Pruaitch.”
As for the comment that The National regularly received instructions from the PM’s aides, he said: “It is common for public relations people, for both businesses and politicians, to keep in touch with the media.
“But it is convenient for Schnaubelt to ignore visits or phone calls by Pruaitch’s own aides.”
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