Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) president Dr Sheila Rampersad on Saturday said that while rapper Nicki Minaj has a right to scrutinise reporting on her relatives and their friends, her doxxing of a local journalist was textbook cyberbullying.
In a media statement, Rampersad described the actions of Minaj as “celebrity gangsterism” aimed at Guardian Media Ltd’s (GML) reporter, Sharlene Rampersad.
Three years ago Minaj was named as one of the people in an anti-cyberbullying campaign. That decision was met with backlash as some believed the rapper was not the best fit given her previous "Twitter beef" over a critique by Wanna Thompson. Minaj has repeatedly been called out for inciting her "Barbz" (followers) to cyberbully those whom she believe wronged her.
On Friday, Minaj called Rampersad a "B---ch” and “dirty h-e” and told her that her days were “f----ing numbered” before posting the journalist's photo and phone number to her over 100 million followers on social media.
Rampersad subsequently received countless calls and messages from Minaj supporters. Sunday Newsday was told that up to press time no report was made regarding the threats.
Rampersad at the time of the threats was pursuing a story to identify a cousin, the cousin’s friend and the friend’s fiancee after Minaj tweeted that her cousin said his friend became impotent and his testicles swollen after receiving a covid19 vaccine, and his fiancee dumped him.
The post generated universal laughter with international media carrying the story in the prime time slots and caused professionals, including TT’s Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, to rubbish the tweet.
In pursuing the story, Rampersad messaged someone believed to be the cousin, telling them that it would be better to give the story to her than an international media house that would not protect their identity as she would.
Rampersad added: “While Ms Minaj may be justified in calling for scrutiny of the journalist’s methods — that is, stoking the fears of an ordinary citizen caught, through no action of his own, in the maelstrom of an international story — the rapper’s doxxing and cussing are extreme reactions that should concern those closest to her.”
Rampersad also pointed out that other media workers are no stranger to attacks locally, highlighting GML’s business editor Curtis Williams who she said has been denigrated as he reports on issues affecting the National Gas Company (NGC).
She added: “Ms Minaj’s original post resonates with anxieties of people around world who feel they are not being told the whole story about either virus or vaccine and who see the media as complicit in manipulating information. Public distrust is answered by mandates and other impositions, further alienating populations and generating greater distrust.
"If one good can be realised from Ms Minaj’s meltdown, it is the international focus created by the rapper on questions about control of information, restrictions on free speech, and scrutiny of the mainstream media’s coverage of the covid19 pandemic.”