As the story of the Green Shift develops and our PM reacts, I'm going to watch how each story develops in the news.
Not so much with an eye to bias, but more with a view to accuracy and how a story is shaped (knowingly or not) as the issue unfolds.
Dion got some pretty positive reaction from journalists and the media that matters, but few have pronounced on Harper's juvenile reaction or his lack of real debate on the subject. They've written about it, but no real assessment has been offered that that I've seen.
So today, after the infantile "screw everyone" comment, Dion was asked for a reaction. The Globe has a Canadian Press story on-line. Look at the title.
Dion scolds PM for harsh words on carbon-tax plan
Scolds? What image does that conjure up? Tsk, tsk? That's not what Dion did, he called Harper on not debating the issue.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion says Stephen Harper's latest comments on his party's carbon-tax proposal are vulgar and disrespectful, and he is challenging the prime minister to an “adult” debate.
Mr. Dion was reacting to Mr. Harper's harsh words on Friday, when the prime minister told a small crowd in Saskatoon that the Liberals' carbon tax plan would “screw everybody across the country.”
So okay, we know why and how headlines are written, just the same, Dion reacts to PM's harsh words would have worked just as well.
A little further in is where I see the narrative that Harper is pushing, slipping into the story just a bit.
Mr. Dion unveiled his carbon-tax plan this week , which would see $15-billion in new taxes on carbon emissions and target fuels such as heating oil.
He also wants to cut income tax rates for individuals and punish polluters by shifting the tax burden to carbon-fuel users.
There is a separation of sorts between the two concepts, (tax and tax relief) with the only linkage being, target fuels such as heating oil, in the first paragraph to, by shifting the tax burden to carbon-fuel users, in the second.
Compare that to a more detailed story in the Globe by Campbell Clark.
Mr. Dion unveiled a carbon tax plan this week that would see $15.4-billion in new levies on carbon emissions that would hit fuels such as heating oil, and especially industrial polluters. It would start with a $10-a-tonne levy on greenhouse-gas emissions, rising to $40 a tonne in its fourth year.
At the same time, income tax rates would be cut, and other breaks such as an additional child-tax credit would also cut tax bills for individuals. Personal and business taxes would be reduced to match the amount of the carbon tax.
This overview presents a far broader and more accurate description of the plan.
Am I nit picking? You bet I am because I have watched media quietly leave out salient facts that distort reality and shape a false narrative for far too long. Some of course do that with intent. Others I think, are meeting deadlines, trying to get on to the next story or are trying to be the first to report on the item. That is what I think is failing to give us what we deserve in terms of information. So, to be clear, it's not bias I'm looking for here.
I suspect the first story was reported as it was because it would take time to actually present the plan in more detail and this reporter obviously was solely interested in what Dion's reaction was. It is much easier to simply write a story focused on only one detail that you consider may be important, while providing just enough context to make the story relevant. What's missed of course is the fact that this may be the readers first exposure to that information and they have been short changed.
The intellectually curious may be prompted to look for further details, but my guess is that few actually do, particularly if the article is written in a way that feels like all the bases are covered.
Now, as stories go, this one is small potatoes, so I use it only as an example of what I intend to look for. We saw this trend in the US, we've seen it here on many issues. On this issue, I am going to try to follow it.
Well what do you know? Before I've even finished my post, there is a more extensive story.
Better headline, but again, reacts would suffice. The term 'scold' is still used, but more context is given.
Let's watch how this plays out.
As an aside related to that last article...a debate? A televised debate on the issue? Wouldn't that be fantastic? Harper doesn't possess the courage though. A 13 year old who spits from the side lines never has the courage to run on to the field.
Let's keep watching.