Monday, May 23, 2005

My Media Rant

***I was still working on this entry when 705Tory came out with an excellent post called The Anatomy of Spin--Tactics of Brain Washing. Discussed is the complicity of the press in the perpetuation of certain prejudices against the Conservative Party in general and Stephen Harper in particular. That post is a must read.***

When we decry the liberal bias of the media, we are offered the National Post and the Sun papers as examples of conservative bias in the media. Apologists for MSM will point to criticism or condemnation of the Liberals in publications and by broadcasters that we perceive as left-leaning, and they're right. All major media outlets condemn the Liberals for wrong-doing, because to do otherwise would be to expose their biases and sacrifice credibility to indulge partisanship.

Sometimes, as in the Star editorial of May 20, they are unable to control themselves and give way to ugly bursts of naked conservative bashing. They grant approval of Martin's barely legal tactics to stay in power, and lay blame for Martin's unseemly behaviour squarely at the feet of Stephen Harper. It's their paper, their editorial page -- their business.

Columnists come in with a bias. We know where they stand and we read them because of it -- either because we want an argument or an advocate. They can't pump their side too much, lest they come off looking like cheerleaders, and most try to give the impression that they are politically neutral. Here are four pieces from the National Post's Adam Radwanski. Has Harper's Time Come? (May 20th) and Sucking them in, Blowing them off (May18) Stephen Harper's Tipping Point (March 18) Harper has five weeks to prove he's PM material (May 2004 -- this one you'll note, was written early in the 2004 campaign, when Radwanski says the press was being 'easy' on the Conservatives) When you read them, remember that despite its ownership, the Post is considered by liberals to be a conservative paper. Radwanski's liberal history aside, he is trying to appear impartial -- and this is fairly representative of 'impartial' media.

Editorials and columnists are meant to show bias. They express the viewpoint of the author and the editorial slant of the paper's owners/shareholders/advertising base. But when opinion goes beyond the comment pages, it stops being bias and begins to be propaganda.

Back on May 16, headline bias jumped out at me, and I collected these headlines:

Prime minister calls for civility; Conservatives call for election campaign -- National Post

PM calls on Harper to resume respectful dialogue -- CTV

PM calls for return to dignity -- Globe & Mail

PM calls for civility -- Toronto Sun

PM to foes: Let's 'raise the tone' -- CBC

I was struck by the accusatory tone of CTV in particular.

Anyone who watches Parliament, knows that both sides give as good as they get, but that when things get particularly nasty and personal, it is often a Liberal mouth burning a Conservative ear. Where Conservatives are like attack dogs worrying any scrap of scandal, the Liberals go for the acid splash. A mild example from May 18, in response to a question from Diane Albozy, Scott Brison replied:

"I know I'm not allowed to say that's a stupid question, because Mr. Speaker, you've already told me I can't say it's a stupid question. I will say it's an obtuse question . . . "

He went on ripping into Albonzy with venomous enthusiasm, about how stupid she was without ever quite coming out and saying it. All the while, he apparently felt very clever indeed. So, although the headlines make it clear the PM is trying to restore civility to the House, his MPs carry on in the same old way, and no one notices.

Beyond the headlines are the nuances of language. English is such a rich language that there are often many words to describe the same things, and each word evokes a slightly different meaning. Earlier this week I visited Civitatensis, who had pulled an interesting quote from the Globe & Mail from May 19th.

Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe accused Mr. Martin of persuading Mr. Cadman by saying how awful it would be if the separatist won the vote.
But he said his party would continue to vote on an issue-by-issue basis.
“When we think a bill is good for Quebec, we will support it,” Mr. Duceppe said.
Mr. Duceppe refused to admit his party was wrong in forcing a confidence vote, adding the Liberals lacked the “moral authority” to govern.
“In the coming months, we will see that we were right, and that this government does not deserve to be here,” Mr. Duceppe said.

This quote is taken from a news story, not a columnist, not an editorial.

Admit is a word we use when we are implying guilt or blame. It is synonymous with: accept, acknowledge, avow, concede, declare, grant, own up.

The writer could have said: Mr. Duceppe still believes forcing a confidence vote was the right thing to do. But he didn't. He used a simple word to convey a very important meaning -- forcing a confidence vote was wrong.

It's subtle, but it is pervasive in the media. Taken with the boldly biased headlines, and the unabashedly biased editorials, one is left to wonder how the Tories manage to pick up even 30% in the polls --- and the polls . . .

It is a fallacy that polling companies engage in market research. They are well-paid advertisers. A poll is commissioned, the ask loaded questions to a random sample of people who bother to answer their phones to 'unknown caller', they release the results which are picked up in the media and advertised to the public. Advertising works and the public buys in.

It's a stacked deck. No wonder Stephen Harper has a reputation for being stand-offish with the media.



richard lindsey said...

No prime minister has depended more on the intellectual sluggishness of the Canadian people than Paul Martin. The media has certainly dumbed now the public, so people actually believe those polls that are constantly referred to. Ill-informed people and women shouldn't be allowed to vote because they vote for whom the media props up like Paul Martin, and the latter especially vote based on their emotions. They want someone who'll kiss babies, court the braindead youth vote and show their more personable side. Both groups of course, believe the CBC.

These groups usually don't even look at party platform but instead vote for which candidate the media has perpetrated as more personable or friendly. The CBC did a ridiculous poll on whom Canadians would rather have pizza with and you guessed it, Paul Martin came out on top. Of course, they like to portray him as a dull policy junkie who is out of touch with the common man. I say good, I'm glad Harper's not all show like dumb and dumber (Martin and Layton). Harper is smart, knows what's right, and won't bs about what needs to be done. Martin said at the last Liberal convention something to the effect: "Harper will tell you what he doesn't like about Canada, I will tell you what I love about Canada." That's what we need retard, someone who acknowledges our problems and the solutions to fix them! But there you have it, Martin appealing to the lowest common denominator, the morons who love warm and fuzzy liberal lies.

The CBC kept telling people an election would disturb their summer heaven forbid so naturally everyone flocked to the take the easy route. The CBC hailed the budget vote that staved off the election "threat" and to "bring on summer" instead. The CBC's Keith Boag warned that voter turnout would be very low if it was held in the summer anyway. Of course, that would be a bad thing for a CBC Liberal lapdog. I'm glad voter turnout is dropping and especially that the youth aren't voting. It's high time common sense Canadians take our country back from the fools that are destroying it.

Canadi-anna said...

Obviously you have some passionate opinions. If you don't have a blog, you should.
Everything you said is on the mark -- with the exception of women and the ignorant not being allowed to vote -- on that one I'll have to disagree -- or else as a woman, I wouldn't be allowed to vote and my political rantings would be for naught.
That kind of argument (women not being allowed to vote) tends to shut down conversation. People see that, and they make a snap judgement about you, the author. Personally, I'm not offended by it, but for people to take what you have to say seriously, you have to avoid that kind of sweeping statement. You have a well thought out, reasoned position, and you've brought up important points. Don't let those things be diminished by your anger at the Liberals.
Glad you decided to comment. If you have/get a blog, let me know and I'll drop by.

MindKnives said...

I always thought it was the Liberal Rat Pack that originally starting the heckling and lack of civility during question period. Last week, "The Hour" with George Strom........s did a brief snippet of incidents of extreme incivility in parliament including one which showed Darrel Stinson calling a Liberal MP a "son-of-a-bitch"to say something to his face. I did some research and found out Liberal MP John Cannis was heckling Darrel throughout an entire speech and called him a "racist." Liberal MPs always taunted the original batch of Reform MPs as hicks and rednecks and even racists! Of course such an incindiary name would elicit such a response! So much for civility eh Paul? Needless to say, "The Hour" didn't tell this side of the story.
That's my other problem, is Parliament really that mean-spirited? I don't think so. The media is so lazy and anxious for fireworks that they only focus on question period. Newsworld and CTV newsnet even cover it live for some reason now. They love the 10 second soundbites even though question period isn't a fraction of the MPs' jobs. How often do you read or hear about the non-partisan work that goes on in committees? Never. As a result, people believe question period is parliament! So the CBC et al have convinced Canadians that parliament is a bunch of animals because of a few 10 second soundbites of scripted, acted-out questions in the most staged part of the MPs' job.
And besides, politics is supposed to be loud, duh.

richard lindsey said...

canadianna, I'm sorry, I'm a crusty old fart! I don't truly believe women should be denied the right to vote. But I do think soccer moms, women who watch Oprah and soap operas, women who discuss celebrity gossip among other things aren't the type of people who should be voting. They don't follow or don't care the real issues closely and they and others vote for the wrong things and the wrong reasons. Like socialized day care for one. Look at dismal government health care is, can you imagine government run daycare?
The problem is simple: Don't have kids unless you can afford them! Liberals know all the women out there who shouldn't be having kids will think public day care is such a good idea. Yes I'm referring to the teenaged moms and the 20 year olds who have 4 kids! Daycare and the other billions of dollars Martin is spending are part of a feminized political agenda directed at the clueless women vote. And those of us who actually pay the most taxes get to foot the bill of course.
Some may call me a sexist, but I think I'm merely a realist.

bob said...

Dang you, anyway, Canadianna!
Every time I pay a visit, you expose me to 2 or 3 more good reads. I'm never going to get my bathroom painted [or finish the half-dozen posts queued up in the drafts folder].
Cheers in return.

Canadi-anna said...

Dear unknown-- I don't dispute your points at all.
It would be nice if things were different. We have a system that pays a woman more to be single and have babies than she can make working to support herself. She is doing the sensible thing in the circumstances, it is the circumstances that are wrong.
Crazy world, this.
Bob - I've been over a few times today, you better get something new up!

Mentally Challenged said...

Great Post on the Canadian Media, with
the links to prove your point!

On the subject of "prejudices" have
your caught "Feeling Crushed" at

It is a great post.

bob said...

your wish is my command...

Canadi-anna said...

Mentally challenged -- thanks for the link. What a sad story. We have to be careful in our language.
Thanks Bob.
And, Richard, it's good to finally meet you.