Stockwell Day shoots an old canard

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind seeing a Conservative politician writing a column for CBC. Even if he is a creationist. But I’m dismayed to see, once again, a spirited defence of the “left-wing media” myth being promulgated here in Canada, especially by the state broadcaster.

As befits a retired Cabinet minister, Day doesn’t make the argument particularly well. Instead this column is a strange, rambling mishmash. He worries that Justin Trudeau’s reliance upon left jabs during his asinine boxing match with Senator Douchebag is an ominous warning sign that Trudeau would swing far to the left as future Liberal Party leader. He says that the media suffer from “Kennedy envy” and that they will support the American Federal Reserve’s use of quantitative easing to bolster Obama’s re-election prospects. Hilariously, Day says that “quantitative easing” is a new term for deficit spending by governments. Yikes. This sort of ignorance is scary, folks, when it’s coming from a Cabinet minister. Then, to top it off, he thanks the covert counterterrorism forces who were active at the London Olympics. Huh?

Anyhow, the left-wing media. I’ve written about this before. It’s hogwash. Every major newspaper in Canada, with one exception, endorsed the Conservative Party of Canada in the last election. Conservative contributors to op-ed pages outnumber Liberal and NDP contributors by a wide margin. Representatives of business groups and social conservative organizations outnumber spokespeople of labour, environmentalist groups, and other progressive NGOs by a similar margin.

In response, Day waves a single flimsly factoid: a claim that most reporters identify as liberal. That may well be true. It doesn’t surprise me, and it doesn’t particularly matter. Claims like this surface frequently. For instance, it turns out that employees of News Corp, which owns Fox News, give much more to the Democratic Party than to the Republican Party. That obviously doesn’t alter the fact that Fox News’s very-far-right-wing commentators are engaged in open political warfare against the right-wing Obama administration.

Which is another point, incidentally, that people seem stubbornly reluctant to accept: there is, at present, no significant organized political left in the United States. In Canada, the New Democratic Party might qualify — although you’ll notice that many actual committed leftists disagree with me on that point. The Liberals are not a left-wing party. They were not left-wing under Chretien. They certainly are not left-wing in British Columbia, where the provincial Liberal government is currently trying to shore up its dwindling re-election protests by engaging in — you guessed it — a good old-fashioned pogrom against economy-hating “leftists.” And so on. But I digress.

I have a standing offer to anyone who can demonstrate to me that there is clear evidence of large-scale left-wing bias in the Canadian media to write a guest column making the case for it. Every so often someone tells me that they’re working on it and will be supplying data soon. Yet they never seem to finish their work. I wonder why? So, to those who doubt me, the offer remains open. Make a case that the Canadian media is mainly left-wing, and we’ll publish it.


  1. says

    Yellow Journalism

    Asked to give a toast before the prestigious New York Press Club, John Swinton, the former Chief of Staff and editorial writer at the New York Times, made this candid confession at a banquet held in his honor in 1880, nearing the end of his career:

    “There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with.

    Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

    The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men.

    We are intellectual prostitutes.”

    [It’s worth noting Swinton was called “The Dean of His Profession” by other newsmen, who admired him greatly]:

  2. says

    You no longer have reporters, you have repeaters.

    The new game began in Canada on Aug. 27, 1980. “Black Wednesday”, as it became known, was the day newspaper corporations across the country colluded to swap properties and kill competition. The Ottawa Journal and the Winnipeg Tribune folded, and Vancouver Province’s owner, Southam, bought the Vancouver Sun. The two had been in bed together since 1950s via a press-and-profit-sharing agreement at Pacific Press that killed the third paper and defended against upstarts.

    Suddenly competition for readers was no longer necessary; these publicly traded corporations now focused on advertiser-pleasing copy as the technique for pulling more ads.

    At least Postmedia has an understandable reason for changing standards: they’re legally obligated to maximize profits. But the fact that the commercial-free public broadcaster also ignores the public good suggests that there is a new definition of journalism.

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