By Frank Moher
And now, to blog the bloggers and columnists on the Conrad Black Trial . . .
Even as Christie Blatchford engaged in some generous genital-licking of Mark Steyn as part of her coverage, referring to him as “a very funny columnist” (which is often true), she was also showing him how to do the job. Steyn, who was a favoured columnist at both The National Post and The Daily Telegraph when they were owned by Black, has been covering the trial in his Maclean’s blog with the alert air of a puppy who senses that his master might be in some sort of trouble. Blatchford is known to be just as much a Black patriot, but she knows better than to appear so.
And so while Steyn works the ad tanimens (“I sat behind [prosecution witness] Paris as he waited to take the stand and, to judge from the back of his neck, he’s been working on his tan”), Blatchford presents more equable, if tenuous, arguments supporting Black’s justifications: “After all, what good would a non-compete agreement be with a newspaper company if the owners — with, in Lord Black’s case, his larger-than-life personality and considerable experience — can just form a new company and open up shop the next day?”
Now, given that in once instance Lord Black sold American Trucker magazine and then agreed not to compete with it, this strikes me as tenuous indeed; the notion that he might turn around and start up a rival American Trucker magazine from his home on the Bridle Path Estates in Toronto seems pretty much risible. However, Blatchford is at least not stooping to examining the prosecution witnesses’ tanlines to determine their worthiness.
Elsewhere, Patrick Gossage (who I believe had something to do with the federal Liberals a long time ago, but I can’t be bothered to google it) takes the position in Toronto Life that the presence of Lady Black-Amiel in the courtroom is a liability, given the “irreversible perception of Barbara” as a, oh, whatever. The fact that the words “Barbara” and “Amiel” are as meaningless to Chicago jurors as “Peter” and “Mansbridge” is lost on Mr. Gossage.
Meanwhile, the best (if not the most aggrieved [Steyn] or most entertaining [Douglas Bell in Toronto Life]) blogger on the Black trial is Michael Miner in the Chicago Reader who writes: “Canadian reporters in Chicago should take note: Conrad Black, aka Lord Black of Crossharbour, is nothing we haven’t seen before. Black’s blunder was to take his company public, putting his vast vanity and indulgences on a short leash held by stockholders. Sam Zell is buying the Tribune Company to take it private, where goofy media moguls can do what they please.”