Keep Attacking The Media

December 1st, 2018 | R. Rados
keep attacking the media

Had Stephen Harper's government authorized Stats Canada to secretly access all of our banking information and credit history, or paid journalists $600M for positive coverage, everyone would be a lot more outraged. Not because these scandals would have been worse under a Conservative government, but because media would have covered them differently under a Conservative government. Sure, they talked about it on Trudeau's watch, but it's not about whether or not they talk about it, it's about how and how often they choose to talk about it. Had it happened under Harper, the media and journalists would have dedicated days more worth of outrage, expert analysis and criticisms about some Orwellian future. None of that happened under Trudeau. Instead, we heard about it for a day before journalists shifted to Tony Clement's infidelity and Instagram behaviour. Had it not been for the Conservative opposition, these Liberal scandals would have fell to the wayside, just like coverage of Darshan Kang, Kent Hehr, Bill Mourneau, the Aga Khan and all of the Trudeau government's other scandals.

There has never been a better or more defensible time to ruthlessly attack the media than now.

Journalists aren't victims. The media monopolies protected by the CRTC aren't victims. The executives at Bell Media, Shaw, Rogers and the CBC aren't poor, hard-done-by victims. Unifor and Postmedia aren't victims. The real victims in all of this are Canadian taxpayers and the truth. The way the media and journalists have chosen to conduct themselves deserves criticism. In some cases, it deserves straight up, brutal verbal assault.

Journalists and media executives can spare us the sanctimonious horseshit about attacks against them being a threat to democracy. What is a threat to democracy is their blatant partisanship and refusal to report the truth without selective editing. An important part of the democratic process is our ability to sift through the information, question everything and call out the bullshit.

Journalists don't get a free pass. When journalists lie, express blatant bias and refuse to do their jobs, we owe it to democracy to call them out and to delegitimize them.

Ever since Americans decided to throw a human hand grenade into the White House, the media has been in overdrive trying to convince us that democracy is under attack, but not all of us have such a short memory. We remember how they treated Mitt Romney—who happened to be the cleanest and most respectable person to run for president in my lifetime. They ignored Obama's poor economic record, they laughed at Romney for calling Russia a major geopolitical foe and they turned his legitimate business relationships into scandals. The media was in bed with Obama, just like they were in bed with Hillary.

Americans eventually saw through it all. Now it's Canada's turn.

Journalists have expected us to believe they've been the victims as they accept Justin Trudeau's $600M bailout. Meanwhile, they've been feeding us sanitized versions of the same scandals—or worse scandals—that plagued the previous Conservative government. When Bev Oda spent $16 on a glass of orange juice, we heard about it for weeks. Justin Trudeau's lavish spending and excessive expenditures have barely been a blip on the radar. The Mike Duffy trial dragged on for months and every tiny, unproven allegation or detail that could make Stephen Harper look like a criminal was overblown, repeated, recycled and republished for weeks. CBC stacked its panels with Liberal supporters and disgruntled Conservatives, Peter Mansbridge fawned over Justin like a proud dad, every Conservative misstep became a headline and every newspaper had an op-ed dedicated to proving the Conservative government's corruption.

Canadians bought it all.

Canadian news coverage during the 2015 election was like one, long, uninterrupted and continuous Liberal ad campaign. Not only that, it was shameless and in-your-face blatant. Unfortunately, it still is.

Not a lot has changed since 2015. Darshan Kang was in the news for a day. I had to read about his sexual misconduct allegations on a conservative blog, because the CBC only dedicated a five-minute segment to it—which I missed and had to find on their website. Tony Clement's sexual impropriety was in the news for five days, causing his name to trend at the top of Google News. A simple comparison in Google's news trends between January 2016 and today shows an obvious bias between three separate sexual impropriety scandals:

Notice the big blue spike that trump's the tiny red and yellow spikes. The yellow spike represents Kent Hehr's coverage, which is only half the size of Tony Clement's coverage. Darshan Kang received such little coverage that he barely generated anywhere near the same level of news searches as Tony Clement.

Even the Liberal's newest scandal involving Raj Grewal got half of the coverage Tony Clement received.  

Look at how much coverage and interest Bev Oda's orange juice scandal generated in comparison to Kent Hehr's sexual misconduct scandal:

How about Justin Trudeau's twenty-year-old groping scandal? The time between sexual impropriety incidents and present day didn't seem to matter during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in the United States, which the CBC covered extensively. Kavanaugh was accused of groping and trying to kiss a girl in high school, which CBC pundits and reporters thought was a big deal, since Kavanaugh was about to become a supreme court judge. Trudeau was accused of groping a reporter, but CBC brushed it off—despite Trudeau being the leader of their whole country.

What we've been seeing in Canadian journalism is either gross incompetence or corrupt and very deliberate political bias. I'm betting on it being the latter.  

They Need To Be Held Legally Accountable

If journalists in this country are deliberately choosing to cover certain scandals more than others based on their own partisan interests, we have a big problem. It's no longer legitimate journalism when personal beliefs and interests bleed into the work. If it's no longer legitimate journalism, it doesn't deserve funding of any kind. Furthermore, this kind of illegitimate journalism needs to be investigated by the CRTC and some independent organizations.

Unlike private media organizations, the CBC operates under federal funding. This means there should be a legally imposed mandate for honest, unbiased journalism. If Postmedia and other private media enterprises want to accept massive infusions of federal cash, they too need to be held legally accountable for unbalanced, biased and factually one-sided reporting. Independent commissions need to be established to enforce standards and laws, while violators have their licenses revoked and are fined massive sums of money.

If this sounds too draconian for Canadian media executives and journalists, they should refuse to accept taxpayer bailouts. As long as money flows from the public treasury into the pockets of media executives and journalists, there needs to be a set of strongly enforced rules and standards. The Liberals won't push for these kind of reforms, so it's up to the Conservatives and NDP.

It's not just about enforcing rules and standards, it's about implementing the right rules and standards. News should be measured using a logical system that calculates and monitors all political coverage, while looking for and counting instances of negative or positive references. In 2019, developing this kind of system shouldn't be that hard. Banks and social media platforms are already doing similar things with tracking technologies and computer algorithms.

Again, if this sounds too draconian, there are two simple solutions for journalists: report the facts honestly and in a balanced way when filling your pockets with my money—or don't fill your pockets with my money. Systems and mandates like this should not apply to a private sector funded by private money. In the private sector, you don't get my money unless I trust you. If no one trusts you, you don't get paid. That's how it was intended to be.

All publicly funded journalists should have a legal obligation. It's just that simple. Other political parties shouldn't be afraid to campaign on these kinds of things. Canadians are becoming more privy to the corrupt and dishonest antics of journalists and media. Canadians are losing trust in mainstream news while becoming more receptive to holding journalists accountable.

The media's coverage of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has been anything but fair and balanced. It's clear that Unifor and the CBC have no intention of letting Singh get traction among Canada's left-wing voters, out of fear he may dig into Liberal numbers. When it comes to keeping Trudeau in office, journalists will spare no one.

It's time for all parties to break up the partisan Liberal monopoly in Canadian journalism. It's up to the rest of us to keep attacking them, calling them out and exposing their illegitimacy.

Don't worry, we won't stop.