Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Frances Russel, Lawrence Martin, Linda McQuaig & Conspiracy Theories as Journalism

"FOX North" conspiracy theory jumps the shark

With SUN Media's new television network applying for a category one broadcasting license from the CRTC -- which would require cable and satellite services to offer it -- the far left's compunction for conspiracy theorizing has officially jumped the shark.

Writing for, Frances Russell is alluding to an article by Lawrence Martin, wherein he himself alludes to anonymous "insiders" who infer that Prime Minister set to, at his earliest opportunity, appoint a CRTC chair and vice-chair who would be in favour of the network.

Martin goes on to suggest that Kory Teneckye, Harper's former communications director, has been molding what individuals like Martin already argued was a conservative-biased newspaper chain into a conservative-biased newspaper chain.

His evidence is the firing of Greg Weston, whom Martin suggest was fired as retaliation for breaking the G20 "fake lake" non-story. (The "fake lake" which was, for the record, a hit with international media. The Canadian government showcasing Canadian media technology to the global media -- what an outrage!)

Martin deliberately overlooks the detail that various news outlets have been tightening their belts in the current economic climate. (Perhaps if Weston spent less time chasing non-stories and more time chasing real stories, he may have escaped the axe.)

The irony is so deep it could be grilled medium rare and then eaten with a knife and fork: Lawrence Martin, the long-time Liberal party shill, declaring Sun Media to be a Conservative party shill.

Perhaps the most suitable response is to admit that he may be right: after all, it's long been said that it takes one to know one.

Moving beyond Martin, it's clear that vitriol, rather than any rational objection to a conservative news network, drove Russell's pen as she wrote this column. If not, one would wonder what to make of this:
"The tone of political discourse, already shifted sharply right with the advent of Conrad Black's National Post in 1998, is about to take a quantum leap further down that road. The signs are numerous and ominous: The internet is already doused daily with the vitriol of thousands of anonymous far-right bloggers who slander and libel politicians, the media and all opponents with vile, often illiterate postings. Parliament and the country's entire political culture is being dug ever deeper into a mire of character assassination, personal insult and attack, smear campaigns, relentless and ruthless partisanship and denigration and demonization of any and all opponents."
Naturally, Russell the far-left demagogue has nothing to say about the legions of far-left bloggers who not only do precisely the same, but are often even more vicious and ruthless about it.

Russell's next exhibit is a column by none other than the Toronto Star's perpetually-reality-challenged Linda McQuaig:
"'There's been a tendency in the Canadian media to dismiss the threat of a Fox News transplant on the grounds Canadians wouldn't fall for that sort of nasty, right-wing extremism,' she writes. 'But that comforting notion may be naïve.' Most people don't have time to follow politics in detail, she continues. 'If they hear constant sound bites suggesting global warming is a hoax or public health care just doesn't work, after a while the message starts to seem believable.'

She points out the media already blasts Canadians with a steady chorus of right-wing ideas. 'A Fox-style network here -- if Harper gets his way -- would turn that into a deafening cacophony.'
Of course, McQuaig doesn't elaborate on this particular claim. Would it be the CBC "blasting" Canadians with "right-wing ideas"? The same CBC whose executives overwhelmingly donate to the Liberal Party?

Of course not. This is simply another case of McQuaig refusing -- simply refusing -- to familiarize herself with reality.

It's hardly surprising that for all the objection to SUN Media starting a TV news network, there isn't one rational, factual or even coherent argument among them. The worst-kept secret regarding media bias is that everyone is in favour of media bias: they simply prefer that the media would share their bias.

Underlying this controversy is the fact that Canada's left seems to want the CRTC to, for no rational or logical reason, enforce the maintenance of the the dominant bias they prefer -- and they're peddling some rather bizarre conspiracy theories in order to justify it.


  1. I have no problem with private networks having a bias, it is the national tax funded broadcaster that is the significant problem.

    The liberal media have a bias for their own ideology and what is disturbing is their attempt to prohibit a private company from competing with their biased news networks on an even footing.

    It reeks of fascism and censorship. The market will decide what people want to watch.

    Liberals are terrified after watching Fox News TV steal the viewers who voted with their clickers. Advertisers will follow.

  2. I'm not convinced that Canadians live and breathe by their TV news -- it will be interesting to see how SUN TV will go over with Canadian viewers. If it's successful, all the more power to them.

    I predict that the Canadian left will adopt two separate (but related) tactics:

    The first is to attempt to deny SUN TV a category one license. If they're successful in doing this, they'll lobby cable and satellite providers to not cover it, so even those Canadians who wish to subscribe to it won't be able to.

    Failing either of those things, they'll likely attempt a Canadian version of the Turn Off Fox campaign in the US, which is an astroturf campaign funded by (guess who?) George Soros.

  3. I support the licensing of SUN TV, as I supported the licensing of Al Jazeera. They represent a legitimate perspective, and the more voices, the better.

    I do NOT support the issuance of a Category 1 license. This is not a public broadcaster mandated to provide a range of open opinions: this is a privately-owned channel with an explicit political bias.

    You use the phrase "deny SUN TV a category one license" as though that were some special measure. In fact, category 1 licenses are very rarely granted, because they limit the choice cable operators have in putting together their packages.

  4. In your opinion, Balbulican, which of these two things you speak of is more important?

    The nature of ownership? Or the range of opinions?

    Because if the matter is the nature of ownership, the CBC would only pass muster on one of these points.

  5. They're both important, Patrick. In terms of the ownership, issuance of mandatory carriage status to a privately owned company would represent a conservative government directive to private sector cable operators and DTH providers that they are compelled to give up a valuable piece of digital real estate to sell a specific product by fiat.

    As to the alleged left wing bias of the CBC - different debate, but one I've had too often to take much interest in.


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