I may be looking through rose-coloured glasses but I remember the media of the 1960’s and 70’s as being the source of information and news. Now, however, apart from NPR and public television in the U.S., they all seem to be primarily the source of opinions, even when “news” is allegedly being reported.
I mean, check out any CP story and it is editorialized — usually leaning towards a progressive or liberal viewpoint. For example, check out this story today. There are six sentences in all about NDP Leader Jack Layton having a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Note that the fifth sentence is editorialized. Subtle but editorialized nonetheless. The article should just have reported what Mr. Layton proposed, nothing more. But, they don’t seem to be able to help themselves.
Of course, a few journalists lean in the other direction and those of us who lean right know where to go — which is why we can hardly wait for SunTV. Not because we want the bias to go in that direction, at least I don’t want that to happen, but in the hopes that both sides of a topic or argument will be heard and debated.
The problem, however, goes much deeper than even bias or a lack of balance. It is the way the media are actually trying to influence what is happening in our society. Examples are everywhere. Think about the recent mayoralty race in Toronto. Some media sources did their best to destroy Rob Ford’s chance of winning. Why? Because he was conservative leaning. Yet, the people of Toronto saw the manipulation for what it was and voted for him in droves. Had the media coverage been more balanced, and less patronizing, who knows what the outcome would have been.
But, the manipulation is not just anti-conservative. Think south of the border. During 2007, a good year before the November 2008 presidential election, the U.S. liberal media decided that Barack Obama should be president and so went after Hillary Clinton and even her daughter Chelsea in a very negative way. The result was that Clinton lost the Democratic nomination. Simultaneously, the U.S. media went after — and still go after — Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol Palin. But, did the media do the American people any favours? I think not because it is likely that Clinton would have made a far better president than Obama. But, that is not what happened because the media were able to influence public opinion.
In Canada, we have our own examples and they are not all anti-conservative either. Prior to the 2005/06 federal election campaign, it became obvious that the parliamentary press bureau (PPB) wanted to get rid of former PM Paul Martin and we did a lot of reading about him not being able to make decisions — the media referring to him as Mr. Dithers. In my opinion, Martin actually did the right thing about the sponsorship scandal but was criticized and condemned for it. Remember the analogy the media used during the election campaign when the wheels fell off the sleigh he was riding — that it was indicative of the wheels falling off his campaign?
Also, because of the media’s dismissal of Martin as a serious contender, many conservatives don’t seem to remember how positive that campaign was for Stephen Harper. In fact, I remember being pleasantly surprised. But, therein lies the reason the western media threatens our democracy. As long as we agree with them, we are happy.
Well, as Joanne (Blue Like You) indicated in a comment she left on yesterday’s post (related to one Lorraine left at BLY), we only need to look a little deeper and we will find that the media is likely behind the current anti-conservative/pro-coalition campaign as witnessed this week with the Bev Oda pile-on. Need proof? Greg Weston is alleged to have said on CBC’s P&P something to the effect that: “It was “good for US” if the Bev Oda affair continued as it would make civil servants upset and THEY are the ones with the brown envelopes.” For his exact words,check out this link and fast forward to the 18:45 mark (H/T Joanne).
Brown envelopes. Public servants leaking information. That is wrong on so many levels and, no matter what our political affiliation, clearly a threat to democracy. Canadians are not stupid. We know the differences between the various political parties. We can make up our own minds. We can also see how fickle media support can be.
The crux of the matter is that, given the silence on my television screen these days, some of us have simply turned them all off and that can’t be good for democracy either.