TRINIDAD-born American rapper Nicki Minaj has apparently threatened a local journalist for allegedly trying to contact her family for a story.
This week, Minaj has been the talk of late-night shows and even local and international media outlets after she posted a tweet saying her cousin's friend took a covid19 vaccine and became impotent, and his testicles became swollen.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he "wasted time" researching this and had identified no such occurrence in the country.
But in a series of posts on her Instagram story on Friday afternoon, Minaj showed screenshots which, she said, originated from someone messaging her cousin on WhatsApp for their side of the story.
It has since been confirmed by Guardian Media Ltd that its employee Sharlene Rampersad was pursuing the story.
The messages said, "Hi, good day. My name is Sharlene Rampersad and I am a reporter with Guardian Media. I was hoping to speak to you for an article. Would that be possible?
"Was it your friend Nicki was speaking about in (her) tweet?
"Hey, good evening, have you considered speaking to me? I am also hoping to have a conversation with your friend. I know you are hesitant to speak with us but just letting you know, CNN is in the country looking for you. And when they find you, they won't hesitate to reveal where you live or where your girlfriend lives, anything and anyone who is tied to you. If you speak to me, we won't reveal those details. So, what do you say?"
Minaj said, "Threatening my family in Trinidad won't bode well for you."
She also posted a photo with what appeared to be the call card bearing the name and contact information for a senior Daily Mail reporter saying he is "in Trinidad harassing my family.
"They're forcing my family to hide out. This is what speaking up looks like. Millions of poor people are treated this way by the people you think are the 'good guys.' This is unconscionable."
She then referred to Rampersad and said, "B---ch, your days are f----ing numbered, you dirty h-e before posting the journalist's photo and phone number.
Minaj has over 157 million followers on Instagram.
Minaj then began attacking Rampersad on Twitter, telling her: Speak up before I begin.
All of Newsday's calls to Rampersad went unanswered. She also appeared to have deactivated then reactivated her Twitter account.
President of the Media Association Dr Sheila Rampersad said she had only seen some of the screenshots and preferred to comment after she had read all of it. She did not provide a comment up to press time.
Fans of the rapper posted screenshots and videos of themselves trying to call the phone number in Minaj's post, while others opted to post the journalist's work address and e-mail.
Minaj returned later to post, "I was done discussing this sh-t. Why are they contacting my family? Control. I kept my mouth shut when the Trinidadian health officials spoke on my name b/c (because) I don’t want to do this to them. What I know and can say is weighing very heavy on me. #BallGate.
Instagram has since removed Minaj’s posts saying it went against their community guidelines.
At 7 pm on Friday, Guardian Media issued a statement which was also read by news gathering editor Khamal George's during CNC3's newscast. The statement said, "In legitimate pursuit of a story that has both local and international interest, one of our journalists has been subjected to a range of attacks via social media including death threats.
“This is unacceptable and we have taken all measures within our control to ensure her safety and security.
"At Guardian Media Ltd, we denounce intimidation of journalists in any form. Balanced reporting which presents all perspectives is fundamental to the democratic process and we will continue to champion vigorously the freedom of the press."
The company said using aggression on social media with the intention of intimidating can "have adverse physical and psychological effects on people. "As a responsible media house, we encourage others to stand up against this type of behaviour as we can all make a difference in addressing this global challenge posed by the pervasive nature of social media."