Really? No cozy incestuous relationships? No dirty tricks?
On March 30, 2009, Stephen Harper, PMO staffer Kory Teneycke, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, and Roger Ailes, president of Murdoch-owned Fox News and former communications adviser to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush Sr., all sat down to lunch.
We know this because it showed up in the mandatory disclosures made by media consultant and former White House flack Ari Fleischer to the U.S. Justice Department. Ari, you will recall, had a personal contract with Steve to grease US media wheels for him. Teneycke had a dream of a Canadian Fox news channel.
Four months later, Teneycke had left the PMO — barely a year into his job as Harper’s chief spokesman — only to pick up a contract with Quebecor to explore a project that Ottawa insiders almost immediately described as a fledgling “Fox News North.”
Three more PMO staffers followed Teneycke to SunMedia: an issues management adviser, an advertising manager, and an issues management researcher, described as “a guy who could dig up any dirt on the opposition in a jiffy.”
Teneycke himself had to take a brief three-and-a-half month leave from heading his new project, when conflict-of-interest embarrassments ramped up following his Sun op-ed and public admission to prior knowledge of the hacking of an Avaaz petition, hostile to his setting up Fox News North.
Teneycke was back in the Sun saddle during Steve’s re-election campaign in April this year when a fifth PMO ex, Harper’s former deputy chief of staff Patrick Muttart, sent him a photo of an Ignatieff look-alike posing in full combat gear in Kuwait in 2002.
“Ignatieff linked to Iraq war planning” ran the SunMedia headline and story, sans photo, before Teneycke apparently tumbled to the ruse.
Patrick Muttart was working for the Con election war room at the time, while simultaneously heading the “Canada/US practice” at the US PR firm Mercury Public Affairs, where he works under Terry Nelson. Nelson, former political director of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, and McCain-Palin campaign manager, now a Senior Advisor to teabagger and 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, is famous for the race-baiting campaign ads and phonejamming dirty tricks done under his GOP watch, and for employing the media advisor on the original Swiftboat Veterans For Truth ads, which used lies and doctored photos to smear John Kerry’s war record during his run for US president.
Amusingly, the CTV piece, Harper immune from Murdoch-style scandal, makes extensive use of analysis from Muttart to assure us a similar scandal could not happen here. We just don’t have the same “intense, quasi-incestuous” clique of political and media elites, Muttart says, without irony.
Besides, as another former Harper Chief of Staff, Ian Brodie, explains about Canadian papers: “So few people actually read most of them.”
Yet somehow the rightwing National Post muddles on for 13 years losing $9-million a year, no one seems to know who owns CanWest/PostMedia now (besides it being some US hedge fund — and so much for the rule limiting foreign ownership to a third), and 99% of the papers who endorsed a candidate in the last election all endorsed Steve.
We could have a Murdoch-style scandal here and it would be out of the news cycle again the same week, no damage done.
Update: More from David Climenhaga at Rabble.