There is a very well-known phrase — truth is the first casualty of war. Well, given what I have seen and heard during this Canadian federal election campaign, I would have to say that truth was the first casualty of mainstream media election coverage, particularly that provided by the state sponsored CBC, as well as the private CTV and, to a lesser extent, Global and CPAC.
Specifically, has there been equal coverage of all the political leaders? No, not even close. Have all the leaders been asked the same questions? No. In fact, I can recall few substantive questions being asked of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff or NDP Leader Jack Layton, such as the total cost of their promises, such as Cap and Trade and how that would affect the economy, as well as how they would change Canada’s role in Afghanistan or Libya.
The single exception would have been Peter Mansbridge’s interview with Michael Ignatieff, which was tougher than expected, likely because SunNewsNetwork had recently come on the scene.
But, perhaps the worst example of media omission and untruth relates to a Conservative rally last week (H/T NewsWatchCanada.ca). The CBCs Terry Milewski asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper a three-part, very long four-minute question, that sounded more like a diatribe.
Did, in fact, the partisan crowd drown out either Milewski’s question or the PM’s answer — as was reported widely? No, it did not. I saw the event live and noted that the PM answered the entire question BEFORE the cheering started.
Why the cheering? Likely because the public, no matter what their political preferences, are fed up with the media’s lies, omissions, innuendo and daily faux scandals.
For instance, today’s news is a perfect example. On the one hand, we have a photo image of a volunteer working for Liberal MP Joe Volpe, actually removing Green Party campaign literature from a mail box within feet of Volpe, which, apart from blogosphere coverage, gets no media attention at all. Yet, sending an incorrect e-mail for a Conservative candidate is top of the news at SunNewsNetwork. Why is this relevant? Because removing campaign literature is allegedly illegal according to Elections Canada rules, while sending a data base containing personal information to the wrong person via e-mail, while wrong and sloppy, is not illegal.
Now, the questions are: (1) Why does the media have such blatant double standards? And, (2) Why is truth going to be the casuality of this election?
Well, here is an essay worth reading that might answer that question. It is by a well-respected investigative reporter by the name of John Pilger. It is not about the Canadian media per se but about how the Western media lies about war by omission and how that deliberate avoidance of the truth leads to a type of media corruption.
Thankfully, however, as the long list of Canadian journalists who are fair on my sidebar proves, there are many journalists who try to rise above the unprofessionalism — including most of those reporting for the new SunNewsNetwork.
The crux of the matter is then, is the media bias and censorship a type of self-censorship and individual bias or is it censorship by management, or a bit of both? Either way, once the dust settles after May 2nd, 2011, the biggest loser in this election will not be political candidates but “truth” in the Canadian media.