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Journamalism, Part 2

I’m going to borrow Pogge’s phrase here used to describe what he thinks (and is correct in thinking) is bad or inaccurate reporting on some of our Canadian media and point it at the journalists/pundits in another fashion. In this instance, I’m taking aim at the pundits and journalists who months ago ridiculed Stephane Dion and the Liberals for abstaining on the Throne Speech last October and claimed it was done because the Liberals/Dion were weak, or had no principles, etc. I’m not blaming them for being critical of the Liberals abstaining – I wanted the Liberals to pull the plug back then too – but what I’m taking issue with is that some of these very same journalists who did the ridiculing back then are now calling on the Liberals and Dion to compromise on their position on Afganistan and not plunge Canada into an election over it, apparently for the good of the nation or to avoid partisan wrangling over it, or something similar (it’s already too late for the latter point – the journalists should blame that on the Conservatives and Government House Leader Peter Van Loan for calling the Liberals the “agents of the Taliban intelligence agency“, but that’s another story).

An example of this would be James Travers of the Toronto Star. This is what he said in his column back in October after the Liberals chose to abstain on the Throne Speech in questioning whether Dion was competent as the Liberal leader.

A beleaguered Liberal leader only made it easier to answer yesterday by choosing temporary self-preservation instead of a risky election fought on principles. His tortured reluctance to topple the Conservative minority over a throne speech crafted to offend his sensibilities buys time. But it does little to inspire confidence in Dion’s fitness to lead or repair the fissures in a party that once prided itself on being the Western world’s most successful.

Never mind that Dion wanted to go but the Liberal caucus persuaded him otherwise – again, another story. Let’s now see what Mr. Travers had to say about the Afghanistan motion and what the Liberals should do regarding this. Perhaps, you might think, he would laud them if they take the Conservatives down because they were doing so on principle. Not quite. Look how he frames this:

Strangely, Dion is likely to accommodate Harper… There’s an alternative to a lemming-like march to the polls. Opting for candour, Liberals could admit an election isn’t in their or the country’s interest. Economic and political instability are a lethal mix and it’s foolishly premature to decide the future of the Afghanistan mission before NATO completes a critical review. Still, when old warhorse nostrils flare, tests of strengths are hard to stop here even when opinion polls and common sense advise patience. So Canada is heading toward another election that Harper has the best reasons to want and Liberals would be wise to postpone as long as possible.

He answers his own puzzlement at how strange he thinks it is that Dion wants an election over this by mentioning the Liberals were repeatedly embarrassed for “sitting on their hands during confidence votes”. Well, yes, Mr. Travers, and YOU were one of the ones in the punditocracy castigating them for that strategy and questioning Dion’s competence and the Liberals courage. Now all of a sudden, going on principle isn’t a good thing, and Liberals should admit that, change their position on Afghanistan, and that sitting on their hands this time will benefit the Liberals?

Mr. Travers isn’t the only one to do this I’m sure, but I wonder at times if these folks even read their own old columns to see how hypocritical and self-serving they sound.

Someone else on the blogosphere mentioned the chattering classes were beating the drums of war back in 2003 when we were trying to decide whether to go into Iraq or not – but Jean Chretien bravely did what he felt was the right thing, even though he knew it would earn him the anger of the US and the derision of some of the media geniuses here. For my part, I’d suggest to Stephane Dion to do the same thing (and he appears to be doing so thus far). Go with what your gut and your heart tells you, and forget about listening to the advice of the media “experts”


4 comments to Journamalism, Part 2

  • Pogge:

    1) thanks for letting me borrow the term

    2) Using the handy-dandy editor that you see directly above the text box will allow you to enter things in italics or bold or underline, or strikethru, or allow you to link to good articles , merely by highlighting said text and clicking the button.. simple as 1-2-3 😉

    3) I’ve edited your piece from my end to reflect your italics.

  • Ottlib

    Mr. Travers isnt the only one to do this Im sure, but I wonder at times if these folks even read their own old columns to see how hypocritical and self-serving they sound.

    Short answer is no. Columnists are not held accountable for what they said last year, last month or yesterday. Most people will not remember what Mr. Travers said so he can safely say whatever he likes regardless of whether it is hypocritical or not. That is why politicians should make a point of ignoring their advice. At the time of the Throne Speech and the mini-budget in November, Scott Reid wrote a piece in The TO Star with the headline, "The Media is the enemy". In the actual piece he stated not because they are biased but because they can give advice to politicians knowing full well that they will not have to live with the consequences. So, he stated, ignore them. He ended his piece by stating (and I am paraphrasing from memory):

    The advice of media pundits can be had for the price of a newspaper and it is worth about the same amount.

  • No direct HTML, I see. Please assume the bit between the <i> tags was quoted from the original post. ‘Cos it was.

  • Im going to borrow Pogges phrase here

    By all means. I stole it from Atrios.

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