9 March 1999


American Samoa lawmaker wants Clinton-Lewinsky reporting investigated

Incident details


(PINA/IFEX) - A legislator in American Samoa wants the territory's House
of Representatives to look at the local media's reporting, especially
Samoan language stories on President Clinton's affair with Monica
Lewinsky. On 9 March 1999, the Pago Pago, American Samoa, daily
newspaper "Samoa News" reported that Representative Leuluaisaopapa Io
Matautia told the House that newspaper reporting should be scrutinised
by a House committee. He said this should especially apply to the
reporting in the Samoan language of President Clinton's affair with
former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"Samoa News" said Matautia believes the language used in the newspaper
reporting is not appropriate for elders and others in the territory.
"The case has been settled, why continue to report on this issue?" he
was quoted as saying.

Acknowledging Rep. Matautia's concern, Vice Speaker Faleatafa Tulafono
Solaita pointed out the freedom of the press laws that relate to the
media. "The leadership has no power to impede the newspaper on this
issue. But the newspaper and the public are taking notice of your
concerns voiced in the House," the Vice Speaker added.

According to Leua Aiono Frost, the editor of "LALI", the Samoan-language
edition of "Samoa News", there was coverage only once of the
Clinton-Lewinsky case in its Samoan section. This was sometime late last
year before the case went to the Congress for review and consideration,
she said. The editor of the "Samoa Post", Eti Saaga, said the
tri-weekly newspaper has been carrying the Samoan translation of the
case for three months and it was a judgment call "out of respect for
Samoan readers that they are entitled to know what this is all about.
The details of the (Kenneth) Starr (investigation) report have been made
public over the media in the English language to the point where people
who read and understand the English language fully comprehend the
issue." He also pointed out that the Clinton/Lewinsky affair "was the
topic of conversation in American Samoa and around the world. And to me,
as a Samoan, our people are entitled to know what's going on. After all,
he is our President."

Saaga noted that the Samoan translation of the Starr report and the
reporting of the case "was not to highlight the sexual activities that
were involved, but the case and the significance of it in why the
President was on the firing line." And in every episode outlined by the
"Samoa Post", a "warning statement" in the Samoan language is outlined
at the beginning of each story. "In every translation we ran, at the
beginning of the story, I have taken the proper protocol of salutations
in the cultural and traditional way, warning of the language that was
used," Saaga explained.

"Samoa News" said the complaint came at a time when there were
criticisms last week of the "Samoa News" publishing details of a rape
case. The daily newspaper had noted that the suspect "had problem
maintaining an erection" and the size of his penis, based on court

Background Information

American Samoa (population about 60,000) consists of five main islands
and two atolls and lies east of the independent South Pacific nation of
Samoa, which was formerly known as Western Samoa. The islands which now
make up American Samoa were ceded to the United States by local chiefs
at the end of last century amidst colonial power rivalry in the region.
American Samoans still proudly retain "Fa'a Samoa", the Samoan way of
life with strong cultural and traditional influences. But they are also
proudly American, and have not wanted independence.


Pacific Islands News Association
Level 2, 46 Gordon Street, Damodar Centre
Private Mail Bag, Suva
Fiji Islands
pina (@) connect.com.fj
Phone: +679 3303623
Fax: +679 3317055
American Samoa (United States)

IFEX members working in this country 1

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