Friday, December 05, 2008

Is the media pro-Conservative?

Stephen Harper did something unprecedented yesterday that has grave ramifications for our democracy so I decided to take a look at all of the media reports on it today to see what they said.

By and large I was not impressed. Although much was generally negative I found the criticism very muted. In fact, my home town newspaper, The Ottawa Citizen, did not even feature the fact Mr. Harper shut down Parliament to prevent his government's defeat. Instead it feature the Ipsos poll. I was aghast. The leader of the government ran away from Parliament to avoid being defeated and they put a poll on their front page under a banner headline about the poll.

As well, I noticed that all of the news organizations paid an inordinate amount of time talking about Liberal disunity. Again, the leader of the government opened up the possibility of future leaders governing without the confidence of The House for up to a year and they are talking about the Liberal Party. Unbelievable.

Where is the outrage over what Mr. Harper did? Why are they not howling from the rooftops?

I can guarantee that if Paul Martin would have done this in 2005 we would never have heard the end of it. They would have kept it on the frontpages for weeks. I can also guarantee that today will be the last day we hear about this. Oh certainly, there will be a few more stories buried in the back pages for a few more days and then that will be it.

When I see this combined with the remarkably lopsided coverage of the last election I can only conclude that the media is indeed pro-Conservative. It took me awhile to get here. I have always disliked the media because I have always believed that they are lazy, unimaginative, self-righteous and they have the herd instinct of the African Wildebeast. However, I always rejected the notion that they were biased.

That view has changed.

The only question for me is if this is permanent or just the swinging of the pendulum. I do remember how the media pretty much destroyed Stockwell Day during the 2000 election so I know the Liberals have not always been the victim of this. So we will have to wait and see but for now the media is definitely pro-Conservative.


Blogger Christian Conservative said...


Oh man, thanks for that laugh, I needed it... really broke the tension of this past week for me.

December 05, 2008 8:12 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Yeah Christian I was pretty tense too when Harper shut down our elected government this week and our nation took a step away from democracy...

But I am glad we can all just sit back now and laugh. Hahaha

December 05, 2008 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's great, Aaron.

To their credit, ottlib, the Liberals have given them plenty to focus upon. One has to stop tripping oneself up and have a media strategy if one expects the media to focus on anything except the obvious failings before their eyes.

There has been plenty of criticism of Harper this week, some of pretty sharp.

December 05, 2008 8:54 PM  
Blogger ch said...

Well, if you look at the Ipsos poll, it was commissioned by Canwest and Global and the questions are simply Harper propaganda, along the lines of "do you think Harper should fight to stay in control against an unholy alliance or do you think the coalition, propped up by separatists, would be better?"

I kid you not. Look at the poll. So that answers your question, doesn't it, ottlib?

In fact, all the polls that came out on this situation seem like complete garbage, if you look at the full poll information. The Compas one involved only a 100 or so handpicked CEOs, so you were basically just getting a few personal opinions picked by the company that holds Conservative government contracts. I assume the company would like their contracts to be renewed, so that probably made it easy to pick the CEOs for the poll.

December 05, 2008 9:13 PM  
Blogger WesternGrit said...

Any country where the media is SO concentrated in just a few hands, is in trouble. The Liberals get positive media, when we're in power, or about to be.

Unlike Europe - where there is more balanced media ownership, and papers/channels catering to a wide variety of interests (older established societies) - we have a tiny country, that has been allowed to mimic the giant to the South. American rules work in an economy with 10 times our population... where there are thousands of media outlets, and where there is a distinct 2 party system.

Our media has never matured. Here is what a typical graduating young reporter is faced with: If I want to grow my career, I can work for CanWest/Global, Quebecor, or Bell-Globe Media. If I step out of the corporate line at even one paper, I can be guaranteed no work anywhere else because the executives from these companies trade back and forth like hockey cards, and I will be "damaged goods". If I don't want to worry about advertiser's concerns, and overbearing bosses editing my stories, then I can go work for the CBC, for less money of course.

Lot of choices for journalism grads these days. This is exactly as it was described to me by a friend who left journalism and now produces TV programs in Toronto.

The only way to fix this in this little country of our's, is to break up the media monopolies. Do not allow companies to own cross-media. CanWest/Global, and Corus control most of the TV and Newspapers in my city of Vancouver. Do you think that allows for fair reporting, when advertiser's concerns come first? Obviously not.

Media monopolies need to be broken up.

Another important thing to keep in mind, is that the media latches onto those who are in power, until they fall out of favor. But, you fall out of favor quicker, if you're organization is a, ahem, "shit-show". Right now, our organization seems to be. There doesn't seem to be any coordination anywhere. Part of that is media concoction... Know why? Because the Cons made a point of showing off their mega-million dollar "war room". This shows competence, and competent communications and strategy, even if they're total idiots in their presentation.

Still... there are now some chinks in the Con armor. The media is starting to pick at irregularities. I think, for the most part, the Cons have the longer term image problem from this recent issue. They have only one solution - get rid of Harper. Now, if they do that, they could guarantee a majority. A number of names come up as viable leaders... People like Prentice and Lord would be tops on a short list. They would both be more broadly acceptable than Harper - especially with a big money ad campaign behind them.

December 05, 2008 11:32 PM  
Blogger The Mound of Sound said...

WesternGrit has it nailed. Concentration of ownership and cross-ownership of media outlets are corrosive to democracy. And yes, Big Business media cabals are decidedly pro-Conservative. Fewer owners means less diversity, fewer voices, less democracy. We used to understand that clearly in Canada.

December 06, 2008 1:58 AM  

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