Mas icon Peter Minshall confirmed he is alive after social media and state-owned TV station TTT announced he had passed away on Carnival Tuesday.
TTT reported his death which was announced at the Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS), Port of Spain during the Parade of the Bands on Tuesday afternoon. However, minutes later, TTT retracted the statement and confirmed Minshall was still alive.
The Minshall Mas Facebook page posted, “Peter Minshall is alive and well. Please help dismiss fake news.”
When Newsday called the 81-year-old Minshall, he answered the phone by singing the first two lines of Theophilus “The Mighty Spoiler” Philip’s Bedbug.
“I hear when you die after burial, you have to come back as an insect or animal. No, it’s not Peter Minshall, it’s the bedbug.”
He said was having a quiet Carnival, but it was an awkward situation and he could only respond to the rumour with humour.
Around 5.30 pm, announcer David Mc Intyre announced Minshall’s passing at QPS, calling several times for the house DJ to turn down the music so patrons could hear what he had to say.
He said, “We’ve got some sad news to share with you in the midst of all the revelry and masquerading. One of the greatest masmaker (sic), theatrical presenter of all time, Peter Minshall, passed today. We thought we’d share the news with you and as we go along we’ll gather more information to share with you.”
TTT announcer Nicola Barriteau also made an emotional statement during the Parade of the Bands broadcast, saying, “We just got some really distressing news. As much as we have been enjoying the celebration of Carnival and the celebration of our people and the Mother of all Carnivals, we just got news that one of the greatest masmakers, presenters, here in TT and known worldwide, Peter Minshall, has passed. Very sad news at this point in time.” A bandleader who was being interviewed at the time began paying tribute to Minshall’s contribution.
Activist Wendell Eversley also shared the false news on his Facebook page, saying Minshall was “no more with us,” and sending condolences to his family and the mas fraternity.
Many people began sending condolences and RIP messages on TTT and Eversley’s Facebook pages.
Soon afterwards, commenting on similar posts, architect Geoffrey MacLean said it was “fake news,” as he had just spoken to Minshall.
Attorney and former journalist Fulton Wilson was very upset, calling Eversley irresponsible in a post on the social activist’s page. He said, “Everybody wants to be first with the ‘news.’ You ought to post an apology to all those you distressed unnecessarily. Get your facts straight before posting.”
Eversley later deleted the post.
Peter Samuel, a former king of Carnival for Minshall’s bands, later joined the broadcast to assure viewers Minshall was alive. He said he had to “run up” Charlotte Street to QPS to make sure people knew the rumours were not true. Barriteau’s co-broadcaster Judith Laird said they had corrected the report, herself saying it was “fake news,” just before they closed off the broadcast at about 6 pm.
TTT CEO Christophe Brathwaite told Newsday he was on the road when it happened, so he did not hear the announcement and he needed to confirm it before making a comment. But he said when he was told the news of Minshall’s supposed death, he told the station the information needed to be verified before it announced or published anything.