Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drip, Drip, Drip...

The only surprise I had watching the story of the 'branded' cheques from the government today, was the surprise exhibited by some of the media.

I say that, because surely there is a track record of skirting or blatantly ignoring the rules by this government that should have triggered some intellectual curiosity before now?

I mean we're still not clear on the In and Out scandal, the mis-use of 10 per centers, or the distribution of stimulus dollars favouring Conservative ridings, the Government website now all Tory blue and referring to the Harper government versus the Government of Canada. What about, all social network links on the Action Plan site leading you directly to Harper's pages on Facebook, etc, and of course the massive advertising campaign designed to pat the government on the back rather than inform Canadians?

I heard Tonda McCharles say two remarkable things last evening. First, she admitted that the press goes after the shiny object, until the next one comes along and second, she placed the responsibility of Ignatieff receiving coverage squarely in his lap, :"that's his job", meaning to capture her/their imagination.

I say remarkable, but I can't argue with her. On the first count, I've long argued that the industry has taken that turn and I think it's doing us all a disservice. Chasing and reporting on a shiny object is of little import when the subject of that particular story is then allowed to dull it down to the point that it no longer attracts the attention of the journalist.

I heard Tim Powers trying to do that tonight about the cheques. Think about how many times the government has come out and defended itself, always ending with a 'much ado about nothing' statement. Often, (not sure why), that is taken as fact and there is no follow up. How is that pap ingested?

On the second point, I do think that Ignatieff has a responsibility to attract attention, but yesterday for instance, he announced some pretty compelling environmental policy. This, after being berated for months by the media for not delving into policy. Was it covered? Barely. Why? Well, as far as I can tell that would take some knowledge of the subject which I don't think journo's are given the chance to establish.

For instance, it was subsequently reported today that Ignatieff's announcement was overshadowed, (read irrelevant), because of Harper's announcement in Alberta. Anyone who understands the file would quickly realise that Harper read a lot of words and said nothing. He's speaking of a project that is unproven and an expenditure that is spread over time, in other words...means very little. That said, I don't expect every journo to be an expert in every field, but something is wrong when we don't get the fact's juxtaposed to what we are being told/fed.

So back to what has been going on with this government. Yeah, yeah, I know the Conservatives are still flailing around dragging up the sponsorship scandal, but really, much of what is going on with the current government is in direct contradiction to what came out of the Gomery report that examined that scandal.

You remember him don't you? The hero of the right? The man that exposed the ills that resided, not so much in the Liberal government, but that took place under it's watch. Well he made a number of recommendations in that report to guard against that kind of thing happening again. Guess what? Harper is ignoring many of them.

Blah, blah, blah, Accountability Act, seems to be the come-back, except they haven't implemented the serious aspects of it. Why does that not get reported, in conjunction with all that has gone on? It seems to me that would be a pretty simple story to follow.

For the record, my objective here is not to berate the media. Susan Delacourt was on this cheque business in July and many stories have been written that expose the ills of the current government, but there is no through line.

No, my point has more to do with a narrative not being part of their mission anymore. Or, so it appears to me.

There is a compelling narrative here and it is one that does not bode well for the government. It's consistent, in most cases it's measurable and in fact it's an interesting story. The story of a government that came to power professing everything under the sun. One that has failed on almost every count, yet Canadians don't seem to realise that.

The Accountability Act is step one, but then of course we have the 'no deficit', 'no recession' comments/nonsense, we have the vow not to partake in patronage appointments to the judiciary, boards or panels and of course, no appointments to the Senate. Ha! All of the above is laughable of course and falsely justified by Ministers, the PM and the apologists, ad nauseum.

The Liberals have raised all of these issues, yet somehow, they seem to be sloughed off by the media and in fairness, perhaps as 'one offs' they look like nit-picking...but taken as a whole, it's not too damn tough to see the pattern here.

To me, the pattern of this government is one of contradiction, 'believe we're doing what we say, but don't look at what we're doing'. That holds true to the accountability issues raised above, but pertains to just about every file.

Look at the Afghanistan detainee issue. The appointee shut it down today because of a lack of co-operation by the government. Climate change? Well appeal to that huge base that still lives in la-la denial land and sort of deny it, do nothing of substance, but suddenly defend the need to defend the North that is more vulnerable due to melting ice. Huh? Interfering in arms length institutions? Oh yeah...think AECL. It goes on from there of course.

So, the drip, drip, drip of contradiction will hopefully be explored and exposed. Who will allow/change the model and let the intelligence of our journo's to shine? I don't know the answer to that.

Until then, keep up the posts, the comments and the tweets. And if there is still someone out there that disputes the impact of Twitter, you're living in another world.

Update - An unlikey suspect steps forward. Ivison. A part of a sentence I disagree with though:

The Conservative Party needs to rediscover its humility in short order...

Rediscover? Tell me when they ever held that trait. Hubris has been the order of the day from the start.


Lizt. said...

KNB .. a very good read, and everything I heard about. ...Why is the media on Harper's side all the time,.... do they not know his failings and how could they be so unaware?

penlan said...

The media is on Harper's side, as has been said over & over again, because they are afraid of reprisals - not having access to info (as if there's any anyway), etc. The media, print & T.V., need the income from the govt. ads. Thus they do not delve into exposing the truth on many fronts.

The thing is that if they all did start doing in-depth reporting on a consistent basis they would capture the publics interest & increase sales as people would want to know more, follow what is going on.

IF Harper were to get a majority their income would actually decrease as Harper would not have the need to push the Cons & the Govt. with ads, photo-ops, announcements etc. So if the media were smart they would begin to shake things up now & tell us the truth. And we also know that a Liberal Govt. will be open to the media & accountable & transparent in a way that Harper & Cons have not been since day one.

RuralSandi said...

I don't agree with Tonda McCharles - it's HER job as a reporter to find news. It's lazy journalism.

The media are afraid of Harper - it's called "funding". Macleans, for example, get huge funding from taxpayers. Coyne has pointed out in the past that media get funding.

PS: KNB, you may not have read it and it isn't on Liblogs today - sadly RED CANUCK has passed away. His brother informed on RED CANUCK's blogsite.

RuralSandi said...

An article in, of all papers, the Sun today:

Media muzzled
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's disdain for the press is clearly felt


Last Updated: 15th October 2009,

As I stood in the tiny, cramped foyer, jammed cheek-to-jowl with other media types, I could almost feel Prime Minister Stephen Harper's disdain for us rabble radiating from the next room.

The photographer in front of me swayed slightly, inadvertently jamming his equipment into my ribs. I stepped back onto the foot of the one behind me. Apologies were muttered all around.

An RCMP officer and a federal government media handler stood with their backs to the door into the main part of the building, where Harper and Premier Ed Stelmach were preparing for the first photo-op of the day.

........and it goes on.

KNB said...

Oh no. Thank you for letting me know Sandi. I kept hoping for remission.

He was a fascinating man and far too young to be gone.

RuralSandi said...

I wonder if Red Tory knows. He's been away from blogging (doing some work) and they were good blogging friends.

I don't see a comment by RT on Red Canuck's site.

KNB said...

Yes, he knows

penlan said...

For those who would like to leave a comment here is a link to Red Canuck's blog where his friend informed us of his passing:

Omar said...

Has anyone else noticed "Canada's Action Plan" signs placed outside their local Service Canada? I noticed ours late last week. It is a cheap looking thing attached to a metal stop-sign like post. It's planted out front of the building in a real awkward looking area and like I said, looks real chintzy. But I suppose for Con government propaganda purposes, it is the trumpeting message and not pleasing aesthetics that are at play.

KNB said...

Can't say that I have seen anything. Next time you're by that way, grab a pic if you can and send it to me. ;)

Omar said...

No problem, I'm down there everyday. I'll take a couple of shots of it tomorrow morning.