Friday, December 04, 2009

(Un)Truth and Consequences

Last Saturday, I commented on Christie Blatchford's opinion piece in the Globe and Mail.

My beef wasn't that she shouldn't be allowed to express her opinion, but rather the manner in which the piece was presented, that is, as if it was the definitive view of the situation in Afghanistan.

I argued at the time that she approached the piece with an outcome in mind and made the pieces fit to suit her viewpoint.

Well, today we have have a correction, put out by the Globe and Mail. (What? You didn't see it buried in the print edition?)

CORRECTION - published Dec. 4, 2009

Comments released to a parliamentary committee this week about Afghanistan's Kandahar prison that the facility seemed "to be in reasonably good condition" and that inmates got "enough food" were misattributed to Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin. In fact, the comments were made by an unknown third party and quoted by Mr. Colvin in an e-mail. Mr. Colvin made several trips, not one, outside the military base in Kandahar. Incorrect information appeared in a column Nov. 28.

Now, these corrections may not seem like much, but consider her original assertion on one of these issues.

As context for Mr. Colvin's tour in Afghanistan, it should be noted that he arrived at Kandahar Air Field on April 28, 2006, and went several days later to the Provincial Reconstruction Team headquarters on the outskirts of town, where he spent about seven weeks – leaving the compound, as comfortable and safe a place as there is in that country, only once for a few hours.

That was his “outside the wire” tour, which means that in his information gathering, he would have relied heavily upon phone interviews with Afghans, contacts with the ICRC and other non-governmental agencies, and any journalists, local or foreign, he may have met at the PRT.

Mr. Colvin then headed off for a month's leave in July, spending the remainder of his time in Afghanistan at the Canadian embassy in Kabul, finally heading home in October of 2007.

By the kindest reckoning, he would have spent a grand total of a half-day outside the wire in Kandahar.

The condescending tone aside, she jumped to a conclusion to back-fill her assertions. In addition to misunderstanding Colvin's job description, (I presume intentionally because she does have access to this info), she was determined to completely undermine his credibility with that statement.

This type of misinformation has become far too prevalent and tragically, it inserts itself into the broader dialogue. I noted how many times the Conservatives quoted Blatch this week. That then seeps out of the House of Commons and ends up on panel discussions, etc., yet this is all nothing more than her personal conjecture.

It's time for more people to be held to account. Yes, opinion writing is interesting, but it must be clearly identified as such. In my view, the Globe relied on Christie's background and gave her the space to put out a story that should never have appeared in that format.

Lest you doubt the symbiotic relationship that I suggest exists, take a peek here.


Mark Richard Francis said...

She's treetop propaganda.

Karen said...

Hmm. Interesting phrase...tough to counter.

Steve V said...

Nice to see Miss Sanctimonous eating CROW, even if they sheepishly buried it. Don't worry though, people like Blatchford will return with fury, the next she can jump.

I actually have to wonder just what the fuck she was doing on all those visits to Afghanistan. She doesn't seem to have the slightest clue what was going on, and from what other reporters have said, it was common talk on the streets. It's really a testament to her own shortcomings it would seem, or maybe she was to enamoured with the big vehicles and outfits.

Anonymous said...

When I first saw her name in the Globe & Mail, I was shocked. She was trained on Sun newspapers, which are garbage in content.

To this day, I have no idea why anyone reads Blatchford. She has always written poor, inflammatory articles of little substance. Who the heck at G&M thought she was even worthy of hiring? Still can't understand that.

Jingles said...

There is truth in what goes goes around comes around. It's time people realized that.

RuralSandi said...

I saw another Blog responder note that this is twice that the Globe and Mail have tried to protect and stand up for Harper - with misinformation.

John Ibbitson on Harper's China trip - ignoring the fact of the following:

BEIJING, China, January 21, 2005 — The Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry, today announced that the Government of the People's Republic of China has agreed to recognize Canada as an officially approved travel destination.
At yesterday's meeting of the Canada-China Strategic Working Group, both sides agreed that China would grant Approved Destination Status to Canada and that both sides would encourage discussions on greater tourism cooperation.
"We welcome the news that Canada has been officially approved as a travel destination by the People's Republic of China," said Minister Emerson. "China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and the recognition of Canada as an officially approved travel destination has significant economic potential for the Canadian tourism industry."

- Harper steals Liberal policies again, but wastes 4 years. This proves it.

h/t: Impolitical (again) and HarperBizarro

Fred from BC said...

To this day, I have no idea why anyone reads Blatchford. She has always written poor, inflammatory articles of little substance. Who the heck at G&M thought she was even worthy of hiring? Still can't understand that.

It's simple, really. The Globe was trying to counter accusations that it was a 'Liberal mouthpiece', so they hired someone not quite as left-leaning as the rest of them. Is that a problem? The National Post has a couple of left-leaning writers working for them as well...what about that? Are you suggesting that all newspapers should be 100% partisan?

Jota C said...

Being a natural cynic, I can't help but wonder if Blatchford isn't just greasing the skids for eventual appointment to the Senate panoply of burnt-out "celebrity media hacks", which Harper seems to favour. The kind of analysis and twisted judgement in Blatchford's report on the Colvill testimony are just what Harper needs to reframe the Senate as effete and fuzzy-headed. Will he kick-start his reform agenda prior to the next election? Maybe. Stay tuned.

Karen said...

Jota C, if you've ever heard Blatch speak about the Senate, I think you might draw another conclusion.

While your premise is sound, it doesn't fit her profile.

Unlike Duffy, Blatchford would wither in the confines of the Senate. She possesses too much wanderlust to sit day after day through committee work etc.

At this stage of her career, she appears to have a fair bit of freedom to explore issues that interest her and the tedium of reviewing potential legislation doesn't fit, imo.

I disagree with her on just about everything, but I sincerely doubt she would relinquish her stated principles for such an appointment.

(For the record, I'm a fan of the Senate.)