Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let the Writing of the False Narrative Begin

As we wind down to enjoy the holiday season, Christmas for some of us, various celebrations for others, news this Saturday was a bit light.

A couple of articles however stood out to me. They would fall into the category of what I call the phoney narrative. That would consist of a journalist attempting to create a narrative that doesn't really exist, but he/she does put it out there in the hope that some of their compatriots who are less than stellar at their job will pick up on it and give it life. They seek to gain false consensus. I won't use the term legs, as it relates to the story because that is precisely what these articles lack. Substance and fact. Those vital essentials are manufactured. The narrative is laid out in a way to prove itself.

Here's an example. Note this line:

The Liberals are most vulnerable in the northern Saskatchewan riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, which could be another blow to the party after three humiliating byelection losses in Quebec last September.

First, it's well know that the Sask. riding is not a given. So, another blow, is created out of full cloth, not a reality. Second, the 3 losses in Quebec were not humiliating. 2 would have been nice to win but they were far from shoe-ins, yet the media decided that they were a test of Dion's leadership. It started as a small story then grew into the main narrative of the by-election. Indeed in Outremont, we did not work hard enough and some criticism was warranted. The rest, nonsense.

So back to the current blurb put out by the CP. It's got that OMG ring to it. If Dion doesn't win in Sask. the he's a weak leader label will be pasted all over him. What BS.

The other story that had me sit up straight was this one. To begin with, you know the Con's and their supporters are nervous when they take a Dion plan and dissect it. There is an obvious need to discredit anything that the Lib's may put out that will appeal to the masses. Also, as an aside, why is the government spending our money to analyse what Lib policy is? The point here though, just as the Con's did with the environmental plan put forward by Dion, they are creating the narrative that it will ruin the economy. (Don't even get me started on what that idiot Flaherty is doing to it.)

Obviously, Dion did not create this plan in isolation. It certainly was passed through numerous hands for analysis and was then embraced by all groups that deal with poverty. Never mind any of that though. No, the National Post was more concerned to find what the counter attack by the Con's might be and run with that. Pimping is a bit crass, but use your own term.

I will remind you of the McGill study conducted during the last election.

They determined that out of 3035 mentions of the Liberals, 40 were positive, 445 were negative. That's a 11-1 ratio, versus a 10-1 ratio in the previous election.

The Con's on the other hand had 2730 mentions. 144 were positive and 127 negative. So that is slightly positive, but their negatives were cut in half from the previous election.

There is much more contained in the survey of course, but the fallacy that there is a left media bias needs to come to an end now. It is clear that the right owns most of it.

That aside though, I simply want that journalistic integrity be restored. We do not need them to drive the narrative. Frankly, we the people are clever enough to take in the facts and decide what they mean on our own.

There are many who do that well. I think Coyne is honest, Martin, Kady O'Malley, Petty...oh there are many. I'm grateful that they speak truth to power. I hope they encourage more of their friends to do the same.

Watch for the phoney narrative and the the lack of integrity that follows the leader.


Ron said...

Without a doubt you are right on about the existence of the "phoney narrative". Unfortunately, like beauty, it is, for the most part, in the eye of the beholder. I enjoyed reading your take on it because I have such a different one.
Your comment "Obviously, Dion did not create this plan in isolation. It certainly was passed through numerous hands for analysis and was then embraced by all groups that deal with poverty." is one such instance. You assume passing it through all the groups that deal with poverty somehow mitigates the warning of great cost. Is it your assumption that these people costed the programme against current and future revenues? Without exception, every interview and article I see by groups that deal with poverty expressed the need of more money. So, looking at Dion's policy and giving it a passing grade is hardly an endorsement of its economic viability.
Another "phoney narrative" you identify is the fallacy that there is a left media bias. OK - can you please identify any media outlet in Canada (with a circulation/viewer base in excess of a thousand) that questions abortion on demand? Can you identify any such media outlet that proposes a smaller government model with less funding to left wing agencies such as LEAF, Human Rights Tribunals, Court Challanges Programme, CBC etc. Can you identify any such media outlet that opposes the gun registry or supports property rights in the constitution. Can you identify any such media outlet that disagrees with union domination of the public service. If every outlet starts from a predominatly liberal base, it will most likely report on, or in, a liberal manner - not because they sit down and say they are going to do it, but because reporters report on events through their eyes. Having gone through a decidely liberal educational structure and then to a decidely liberal university environment, they arrive on the job with a liberal bent and view events from that prespective.
Finally - Watch for the phoney narrative and the the lack of integrity that follows the leader. The greatest "phoney narrative" I see at this time deals with the concept that Dion is a environmental leader. He was in cabinet for many years and the Environment minister for 18 months and during that time Canada had the worst record amoung industrialized countries. The Liberals had all the opportunity in the world with three sucessive majorities to do something and here we are - this problem didn't start 2 years ago and won't be solved in 6 months but Dion is not any type of leader on this issue. He talks a geat game but he totally failed when he had the chance.
Anyway --- as I said -- while I agree there are many examples of phoney narratives, sorting them out is extremely difficult because, like beauty, they are in the eye of the beholder. I get bored easily listening to people I agree with and that is why I enjoy blogs like yours - keep it up.

ottlib said...

One thing about narratives is they need new material constantly fed into them in order to flourish.

The "Dion is not a leader" began with the media taking up the Conservative attack line. It was nourished by the loss in Outrement and then the unrest amongst Quebec Liberals added more manure to that particular narrative.

The same thing is not going to happen with the Saskatchewan by-election. First and foremost, the byelections are more than two months away. Second, any early attention for these by-elections will be focused in TO and Vancouver.

So, the narrative you point out will not amount to much and if the Liberals win the by-elections in TO and Vancouver not many people will care what happens in Saskatchewan.

Jay said...

You are quite out here, hey fella.

"left wing agencies such ...LEAF, Human Rights Tribunals, Court Challenges Programme"

You seem to mixing up being a compassionate human being with being a centre or leaf political party. One would hope compassion is an all sides.

But thanks for admitting the right could care less about human life.

I think you are paranoid. I know a really right wing lady through and she would never deny anyone human rights nor anyone's need for them. You see she was an abused wife and these programmes have helped her very much in dealing with her ex husband. She realized quite late in her life what status of women council was for.. She still is a conservative but she recognizes the value of these programs. They are for everyone.

As for the right/left wing media bias. Anyone ever think that maybe theses media outlets report things which are common sense and what people want. It has nothing to do with left or right wing bias. Maybe some political party's just don't have anything anyone wants by chance not by deliberate bias. Ever think, it's because no one is interested or we moved on 20 years ago from those types of positions on issues.

I dread the day when we are expected to have a media outlet specifically for a political voice because no one cares a shit about what they have to say. Lets not forget we have neo-nazis. They can take the same non-argument the conservatives have with regard to supposed media bias. And they could argue the same way Ron has why they don't get any airtime or consideration.

knb said...

ron, with respect, you misread my comment.

What I meant by Dion passing his plans through many hands, is that he would not release a plan that was not properly costed. Indeed it was well received by the groups it may affect, but they would not have been the first to see the plan.

You know, I find it odd that many on the right seem to forget that the Liberals's were able to begin putting programs forward, new or some that they had to cut in order to balance the books left by the PC's, all without incurring a deficit. I understand that the right does not believe in social programs, but for the life of me I do not understand why. The pull yourself up by the bootstraps logic is so flawed and exclusive, ironically it renders the right to snobbery.

As to the right media bias you seek, you are correct, that wildly right bias does not exist in Canada and for that I am grateful.

The reason? The audience such media would address is far too small. They, you perhaps, are not representative of most Canadians. I respect your right to your views, but they are not mainstream.

To the phoney narrative you support about Dion, I have only this to say. The right can blame Dion all they want, (13 lonnnngg years nonsense) but it's factually incorrect. You know the childish ad that the Con's use? "It's not easy to make priorities", tells me that he fought for his plan but the PM did not see that as a priority at the time. There was Kelowna, there was Childcare, there were many issues on the table. The point is, Dion was not PM and did not have the final word. The result will be different when he is PM.

Prior to becoming Environment Minister, obviously he was not consumed with that file, he was consumed with his own.

The simplicity with which the Con's present their argument is both laughable and laudable. Laughable, because it's factually inaccurate, laudable because it often works.

I'll be the first to admit that Liberals have difficulty in reducing their message to sound bites. I believe it's because they attack the complex issues which are difficult to explain in 10 seconds.

On the other hand, the Con's aren't interested in the complex issues, and I do not mean that in a condesending way, but rather a statement of fact.

I'd say the Con's focus on, forget programs that require explanation, let's stick to those that don't. Fight crime, (which every government does of course), fight terror, (keep 'em scared), lower taxes, (the Lib's were doing that) but now they have themselves embroiled in issues that require explanation, ie, Environment, Chalk River, and Afghanistan and there is no doubt they are coming up short.

Sound bites may stand the right in good stead when they are not in power, but the reality of life in this country tells them that more depth is required. Heretofore they have tried to manage using their old model. The media will try to sustain that message. You may not consider Can-West and all the other groups that own media in this country on the right of spectrum, but a daily glance at how they sustain ludicrous stances by this government tell another story.

Lib's will go after social issues, they are real. They do not ignore the other issues, crime etc., because they are real too, but they do not define us.

I do not know where you live, but being in Ontario, in Toronto, it's not tough to see the result of Harris and that incompetent man Flaherty have taken their toll. What they created must be addressed.

Instead, Flaherty continues to sprinkle money around that really makes no difference at all, while ruining the economy of individuals and the country. That Harper appointed him as Finance Minister after having seen what he did to Ontario, is absolutley unbelievable to me.

Anyway, I'm off on a tangent now, I apologise.

I'm pleased that you enjoy coming to a blog that has an opposite view. I also appreciate that you took the time to debate the issues.

I won't end up agreeing with you, nor you me, but to gain a better understanding of where you come from is enlightening.

knb said...

ottlib, I agree with your last statement, but I still think they will pile on. It's a perfect opportunity to once again latch on to the leadership issue.

We'll see. At this point, my opinion remains that the federal election will occur first...though events will dictate that of course.

You know how much I respect your opinion, so I'll be the first to give you credit if you are correct, :).

knb said...

Jay, I obviously think there are many who lean to the right who believe in social programs.

Those who do not, imo, live in an environment that has never exposed them to the need, nor have they ever been exposed to the need.

To me, it's an insular world that they live in and of course they project that thought, that concept on the other side.

One is real, one is not.

I doubt anyone watched CPAC this afternoon. I was on my laptop doing other things and had CPAC playing in the background.

It was the Environment Committee, with John Baird as the star.

What a flipping idiot. He could answer not one question.

Such an important issue, yet he's more concerned about PR. This is pre-Bali btw. The man is an idiot.

Again I'm off on a tangent. I apologise to you too.

It's Christmas in my life now, (though I am not a Christian), so I'll beg off now.

I may try to find the time to post about what this holiday means to me, but we'll see.

sassy said...


Sorry for the interuption with my o/t addition.

Thanking you for your insighful and fair blogging, and wishing you and yours compliments of the seaaon.

From my own experience, I realize that, given your recent loss of a loved one, this Christmas may be less bright. Hopefully warm memories will ease the sadness, if only just a little and only for a moment.

knb said...

Sassy, how very thoughtful of you. Thank you.

This Christmas will be a bit different, but we're looking forward to being with family.

I hope that you too will have a chance to slow down and enjoy the holidays with loved ones.

Thanks again and thank you too for your thoughtful contributions to my blog.