Category: Media

The Unseriousness Of News

Every so often, an example arises that undermines the pretense of today’s broadcast news media that they are a community of serious minded, sober professionals intent on providing the public with the important developments in current events.
One such example occured yesterday.
Frankly my dear Lloyd, I don’t give a damn.


The case of the disappearing posts…

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but Chris Selley, Colby Cosh, Antonia Z, and maybe others seem to have pulled old posts drawing attention to amazing similarities between Sun editor Licia Corbella’s columns and previously published material

Stephanie Rubec Is In Pain

Yesterday on John Gormley Live Sun Media reporter Stephanie Rubec shared her perception on Paul Martin’s ability to “connect” with people vs a sense that Harper is uncomfortable with one-on-one interactions. (She also spoke on behalf of “urban women” who fear the “secret agenda” of Conservatives who “might hold referendums” on capital punishment and abortion. Oh! The horrors of direct democracy!)
Admittedly, much of the discussion was directed by Gormley (who still seems somewhat unaware of how both the provincial NDP and Liberals seed these phrases into the political discussion through push polling – we really could use more Politics 101 from our pundits), but quite apart from the actual content of the discussion, it’s worth noting how simple turns of phrase provide clues to a reporter’s political leanings (and I’m not talking about her statement that the former Reform party had “extreme” right wing policies).
What caught my attention was her repeated use, without so much as a particle of sarcasm, of variations of the phrase “feels your pain” to draw a distinction between the two leaders – as in, Stephen Harper doesn’t send off vibes that he “feels your pain”, while Paul Martin does.
In evoking a phrase that evolved from the Clinton presidency and citing it as a political asset for Paul Martin, Stephanie Rubek broadcast a little about her own political sympathies – I don’t know many conservatives who look to their politicians to emulate Clinton at his most maudlin.
I’m not suggesting there’s anything untoward with the balance or fairness of her reporting – I’m not familiar enough with her writing to say either way. It was just one of those small moments when a reporter reveals more about themselves than they realize.

My Lloyd, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

First Coyne is sued by Tim Murphy, now the Libranos are targeting David Frum;

By that definition, Canadian politics these days might seem very comical indeed. But I am counting on Americans to be less callous than the mordant Brooks–and to recognize that the events now occurring in Canada are serious, even sinister. There is though one warning I’d better immediately deliver to readers: Along with at least four other public commentators, I have recently been served with libel papers by a leading figure in this story. Because National Review is distributed in Canada, and therefore can potentially be reached by Canada’s more restrictive libel law, I have to be a little circumspect in what I say here.

In any sane democratic country, a slap suit against an opinion columnist by a government operative would provoke outrage and non-stop editorials in the mainstream press. The item would be leading the newscasts, with punditry convening soberly on our TV screens. Reporter scrums would pepper government leaders to explain their actions in curtailling that most hallowed (in their eyes) of all freedoms – freedom of the press.
But of course, this is Canada – a nation of “natural governing” one-party rule in which a “living” constitution permits such limits on speech as are consistant with a Liberal Kleptocracy.
So, as the Liberals draft laws that push more and more areas of government operation outside the reach of Freedom of Information requests, weaken protections for whistleblowers, when they brazenly refuse to acknowledge the defeat of their government in non-confidence motions and ignore the Auditor Generals concerns about billions of tax dollars being funneled into unaccountable foundations – the Lloyd Robertsons and Peter Mansbridges busy themselves studiously studying Stephen Harper’s facial expressions and providing Canadians “Better News Through Polling” .
They remain virtually silent on the assaults on members of their own profession – silent, because for the most part, the majority of mainstream media in Canada functions as nothing short of a communications arm of the Liberal Party. In other words, they see themselves as nothing less than an unelected arm of government.
So, when the most compelling critics of the Liberal Party they hold dear face libel actions for simply speaking the truth, the majority of Canadian political punditry breathe a collective grunt of approval, and commission another poll to create new opinions to feed back to the electorate who ensure they stay near the top of all the right invitation lists.

Yet Another Publication Ban

…but with a twist:

The judge in the Robert Pickton murder trial has taken an extra step to stop banned court information from leaking onto the Internet.

BC Supreme Court Justice Jim Williams refused a ban requested by Pickton’s lawyer that would order people not to talk about the case outside the court.

The normal pretrial ban remains in place � with the order that the media not mention website addresses that might contain court-banned material.

It looks like Canada’s judiciary has learned from the past few months.

Death Threats?

Michael Coren says he’s been receiving death threats:

I receive death threats and abuse on a regular basis. My address and phone number have been placed on the Internet by gay militants and people told to harass and assault me. Jokes were made when my father died, insults made about my family.
I have been told by editors and publishers that I will never work as a writer in various places because I defend marriage. But I will not react in kind and I will not surrender. I do, however, want people to know that there is hatred at work.

As a staunch advocate of gay marriage, I am upset at the notion that Coren would be threatened for his views. He’s entitled to express them, just as we on the other side of the fence are allowed express our views.

So much for ‘tolerance’.

Garrison Mentality At The CBC

This morning the Fraser Institute quantifies the obvious;

[A]nti-American bias at the CBC is the consequence of a “garrison mentality” that has systematically informed the broadcaster’s coverage of the US. Garrison mentality was a term coined by Canadian literary critic, Northrop Frye. He used it to describe a uniquely Canadian tendency reflected in our early literature, a tendency, as he put it, to “huddle together, stiffening our meager cultural defenses and projecting all our hostilities outward.”
To gauge the extent of anti-American sentiment on CBC, one year’s coverage of the Corporation’s flagship news program, The National, for 2002 was examined. The authors chose 2002 because it followed the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, but was prior to the US invasion of Iraq.
In total there were 2,383 statements inside the 225 stories that referred to America or the United States on CBC in 2002. As with most news coverage, the largest number of statements was neutral; they constituted 49.1 percent of the attention. Thirty-four percent of the attention to America or the United States was negative, over double the 15.4 percent positive descriptors. Only 1.6 percent of the statements were considered ambiguous.
The main issue, constituting 27 percent of the coverage, was relations between Canada and the United States. Within this category 41 percent of statements were neutral. Of the remainder, statements were over twice as likely to be negative as positive regarding Canada/US relations (39 percent versus 18.9 percent).
Terrorism was the second most-often cited issue area where CBC mentioned America, at 10.8 percent. Here the negative comments overwhelmed positive evaluations by a 9-to-1 margin (37.6 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively).
Neutral statements, however, constituted 58.1 percent of the total coverage, which somewhat restored balance inso ar as even a factual report on terrorist activity is usually seen to be a negative reflection on terrorism.
The third most mentioned American issue on CBC in 2002 was build-up to the war in Iraq. At 10.5 percent, this topic was covered almost as extensively as terrorism, which received 10.8 percent of the CBC’s attention. The negative evaluations of the American policy in Iraq were only slightly lower than on terrorism, comprising an 8-in-10 negative-to-positive ratio, compared to 9 in
10 for terrorism.
In total, despite the relative short period of time after the 9/11 attacks, the CBC’s opinion statements of America during 2002 were overwhelmingly critical of American policy, American actions, and American purposes.


London bureau chief for Fox News Channel Scott Norvell writes on bias at the BBC. It’s hardly worth mentioning the obvious – that the piece could have just as easily be written altering the letters to CBC and hold true in all but the local details;

The BBC’s world is one in which America is always wrong, George W. Bush is a knuckle-dragging simpleton, people of faith are frightening ignoramuses, and capitalism is a rot on the fabric of social justice. Through this prism, the United Nations is the world’s supreme moral authority, multiculturalism is always a force for good, war is never warranted, and U.S. Republicans sprinkle Third World children over their Cheerios for breakfast.
Few with a grip on reality believe that there is a cabal at BBC House wringing their hands and plotting the renationalization of the coal industry or state-mandated racial sensitivity training for all 6-year-olds. But there is little doubt that, as Mr. Aitken puts it, a center-left groupthink dominates at the BBC and colors its entire output. It’s not deliberate. It’s worse. The producers just can’t imagine that someone could possibly oppose European integration or any of the other left-wing causes because to them, and their friends, these are self-evident truths. It simply doesn’t even occur to them that reasonable people could disagree with them.

And Now Gormley

And now for the local media.
Again, as much as I like and generally agree with local radio talk host (and former MP in the Mulroney government) John Gormley, he scored a big, fat, miss this morning on the Grewal tapes, by loudly dismissing them as “shenanigans” and “how politics is done in today’s Canada”.
I cant help but be reminded of a few of the topics covered on John Gormley LIve in the past week or so; the trashing of Saskatchewan provincial parks by teenage partiers during the May long weekend, the lack of “responsible parenting” in the town of Rosetown and just yesterday, the growing problem of graffiti in Saskatoon.
Well, perhaps it’s time that John revisits those same topics from the perspective of the messages young people hear in the media about behavior and ethics in government – the very government that writes and enforces the laws they flaunt.
Until you, John, are willing to hold lawmakers in the highest offices in the land to the ethical standards that Canadians deserve, and our constitution and laws demand, you might reconsider your outrage and denunciation of parents when a bunch of drunken teenagers drag an RCMP officer into the water at a lake party.
The two are not unrelated.

Hey Wells, Wake Up

Bob Tarantino delivers a well deserved reality slap to Paul Wells.

If I can be so bold as to identify a new iron-clad rule for Canadian political coverage: there is nothing the Liberals can do which is so substantively grievous that its importance cannot be outweighed by minor tactical dithering by the Conservatives.

Mr. Wells – as much as most of us like you, Tarantino has properly nailed you on this one.
Blogger or not, those in professional media have a responsibility to keep their eye on the ball when events of this magnitude occur. Deflecting readers from the core issue – the threat to our democracy, and possible criminality suggested by the content of the tapes – with petty criticisms of the opposition is not responsible journalism.
A signficant number of those in media visit this site. I really want to know – what is your explanation for what is happening? Editorial firewalls? Laziness? Denial? You can use the comments anonymously, or send me an email privately.
What irony there is in the disclosure of the identity of Deep Throat against this backdrop. Contrast the general level of professionalism and quality of commentary in the Canadian mainstream over the mounting scandals of this government, with the dogged pursuit of Richard Nixon by two rookie reporters at the Washington Post – and tell me why Canadians shouldn’t be utterly disgusted with you.
There has to be a logical explanation as to why so many of you are flushing your journalistic integrity down the toilet to provide cover for this government.

Christophobia In The Media

Charles Adler is as fed up as I am with the smear campaign against Christians in the Canadian media.

Do you think the Globe and Mail would use headlines such as “Indo-Canadian activists capturing Liberal races,” or “Muslim Activists forcing Liberals to shift position on Israel?”
The truth is the Globe gets a free throw in this country, as do other media, when it comes to castigating Christians.
If The United Church of Canada gets involved in advancing gay rights, the Globe and Mail is not likely to be concerned. The Globe would never suggest United Church members stay away from Liberal or NDP nomination meetings.
But, when evangelical Christians and socially conservative Catholics get involved in politics in order to advance their issues, look out.

If these uppity evangelicals would just respect the system we have in place, they’d convert to Sikhism��or Islam where their views have been declared legitimate by the Official Media Handbook On Canadian Religious Diversity, and then take their opinions on public policy to the political marketplace.
updateViolet Nightshade serves up a lesson in tolerance, from the persective of the “gay community”.

Don Martin, You Got A Problem

Every so often, someone in media exposes their cultural bigotry towards the rural west. I just sent a letter to Mr. Martin.

Mr. Martin – as a lifetime resident of the rural prairies, I cannot adequately explain how abhorrant these cultural slurs (“prairie knuckledraggers”) towards our lifestyle and values are becoming.
“Knuckledragger. Redneck.”
For reasons unexplained, these are the favoured terms of elitist politicians and media alike, when referring to those who have committed the “crime” of adhering to the conservative values that have been the mainstay of rural culture since the founding of our nation.
Yet, to you, we are someone that “mainstream Canadians” should fear – indeed, something less than fully human. We are “knuckledraggers”.
(Let me ask you – when writing about an immigrant politician in Toronto, would you refer to those in their community as “spearchuckers”?)
You are devaluing our culture, you are demeaning an entire class of Canadians and in so doing, suggesting we do not deserve a voice in the political process.
I suggest that you owe a great number of Canadians a sincere apology. You may not agree with conservative rural values, but you have no right to dehumanize those who hold them.
Kate McMillan

update – May 30 Don Martin replies;

I can’t believe I’ve been so misunderstood by so many readers. Apologies
indeed for not communicating better. I was attempting to belittle the stereotype, which seems so ingrained around here in Ontario, of Prairie residents somewhere low on the evolutionary chain. They’re anything but . And I know that as someone who in Alberta (rural for part of the time) for 22 years. I only moved here reluctantly five years ago and will return eagerly at the first opportunity.
Again, apologies.

Well, I’ll take him at his word. But if the stereotype was being “belittled”, it was with a good measure of subtlety, considering that suggestion that certain politicians try to distance themselves from it.
I’d rather they attack it for what it is.

Her Nanny Won’t Let Her

I don’t suppose that when she wrote;

“… when the U.S. corporate media were cheering the attack on Iraq these [conservative/right wing bloggers] weren’t attacking them for their complicity then.” … and … “Why are the U.S. corporate media downplaying Iraq…”

… that she realized her words were an admission that she doesn’t actually read conservative blogs or the “US corporate media” .
But onward newbie blogger! Hard on the heels of the dismissive “corporate media” posts, she recovers from the bout of Zerbisiamnesia to explain why her brand new Toronto Star hosted “blog” doesn’t allow comments;

It’s not like this is some independent blog not worth suing. It’s a billion dollar media corporation that pays huge premiums for libel insurance. And, Canada has very onerous libel laws, much tougher than in the U.S.
Then there are our hate laws. They’re there for a reason.

Talking down to her readers. Nice touch.

But never lose hope. The Star is not closed to the idea of opening up the comments sections … one day.
Personally, I would love an electronic free-for-all. It would save me a lot of cutting and pasting. (Please, a favour? No fancy typefaces!) But, as it says at the bottom of this page, the Star has the copyright. I am but a wage slave and therefore must put up with those trucks above my head. That doesn’t mean the Star isn’t fair game. Look here and here.
In fact, you can bet that the suits are watching this blog very nervously because they know that, to maintain even a shred of cybercred, it has to be free-ranging. That they went with the intemperate me as their beta blogger — others will follow — suggests that they are either out of their minds or taking this enterprise very seriously.

“Either, or.” In the two dimensional Land Of Zerbisias, possibilities only come in twos!
Here’s another, Antonia – instead of hiding in the skirts of your corporate nanny, consider blogging like a grownup.
Get your own.