Two Wrongs DON’T Make Things Right

Vancouver’s two highest rated evening news programs, on Global and CTV, added insult to injury Monday night … giving Opposition Leader Carole James second-class treatment in the days leading up to two major by-elections in the city.

There are more than 100,000 voters in Vancouver Fairview and Vancouver Burrard eligible to vote Wednesday in what many see as a test of the popularity Premier Gordon Campbell and his Liberal government.

Last Wednesday, less than a week before the vote, Global and CTV (and a couple of lesser lights as well) WITHOUT KNOWING ANY OF THE CONTENTS IN ADVANCE turned over part of their major evening news hours to allow the Premier to make a 12 minute speech … free of charge, right on the evening news!

It was an unprecedented horrible journalistic mistake that I believe cast a dark shadow over the integrity and impartiality of both the news shows and the networks involved. And judging by the reaction,   many members of the public agreed with me when I said so (except some politicos, who think one-sided partisan broadcasts, as long as they are from their own far right or far left wing perspective, are great!)

On Monday night, NDP Leader Carole James delivered her own address to voters at the same hour (6:15 p.m.) that Campbell had given his. But both major stations refused to give the Opposition Leader the same privilege they had given the Premier.

CTV covered the Opposition Leader’s address the way all news shows should have done originally with the Premier: Legislative Reporter Jim Beatty delivered a news report, listing in written graphic point form 14 of James’ key points/promises, supplemented  with a couple of clips from the NDP … and then Beatty’s own analysis of the contents.

And, to CTV’s credit,  it was all turned around and aired at the same time in the program that Campbell had delivered his free 12 minutes.

Global, in my view, really treated James unfairly.  Not only did they not run her address, but they didn’t report on its key points/promises until the back half of their show.

And even then, they offered up Legislative Reporter Keith Baldrey verbally detailing only one of James’ specific points and then they just ran clips of her listing others … and, unlike CTV, no graphics to augment the presentation.

And although both stations gave the story the kind of coverage that kind of story should normally get … they were BOTH terribly unequal and unfair in this case, because with two possibly very close by-elections only days away, Jane should have received the same  air time and treatment they had awarded the premier.

Even The Province newspaper … in my opinion, no great friend of the NDP … came out in an Editorial  saying James deserved equal treatment… and her News time air time.

What we ended up with reminded me of what we see on government-beholding television stations in those “new” democracies that still don’t get it quite right: a long uninterupted, unedited speech by the Glorious Leader in prime time … followed much later by coverage of the Opposition Leader, but showing only selected clips, all cut up and dished out in pieces.

And the worst part of it all: some will defend that as meeting the proper standard for political coverage in B.C. in 2008.

Harv Oberfeld

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16 Responses to Two Wrongs DON’T Make Things Right

  1. Thanks for your strong comments Harvey – there is no question that those stations who carried the Premier’s address live should have done the same with Opposition Leader Carole James’ today, as I said this morning on CKNW’s Bill Good Show.

    There’s also no question that the Premier’s views have more weight – because he is in government. But that does not negate the fact that he is also leader of a political party trying to influence voters in the final days of two key by-elections and a general election in May.

    But there’s much more to discuss – see my column on Tuesday in 24 hours about how I believe Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals are cheating voters with their own money by running outrageously political advertising at taxpayer expense right up to the by-elections.

    Or see my column on my blog on Tuesday:

  2. ” … those “new” democracies that still don’t get it quite right: …”

    Well, until recently, Campbell’s federal brethren were running what was near as damnit to a one-party state for quite a while there, so I suppose its not surprising to see HM Gordie taking on more than a few of the ways and trappings thereof.
    His apparent disdain for having the Provincial Parliament take up his valuable time also comes to mind in that vein. Rather Trudeauesque, one might say, for those of us who remember.

    And its great to see you in the blogosphere, Harvey! I’m a fan.

  3. Gary E says:

    After reading your posting Harvey I couldn’t help but wonder just how many people in BC are being taken in by the obvious political bias of the Mainstream Media. I am honestly beginning to beleive that they are taking lessons from Herr Goebles back in the 30’s and 40’s.

    (Response: Manipulation of the media ..or attempts to do so ..are not new and not restricted to Herr Goebbels. All political parties and governments try to spin and sway … BUT fair media fight it and try very hard not to take sides. And we used to achieve that here in BC! But I believe somehow we’ve lost that in many instances … and hope by a lot of us pointing it out over and over .. and by viewers turning them off or not buying one-sided papers we may force at least a few to try harder. I can dream, can’t I 🙂 ho)

  4. RS says:

    And on the theme of how the media manipulates and is manipulated, check out Donald Gutstein’s piece in the Tyee.

  5. A. G. Tsakumis says:

    Hi Harvey:

    Great posting, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s one thing to lose, but to lose to a stacked deck is beyond the pale.

    The bias against Carole James and the NDP is appalling, frankly. But hardly a surprise. Regardless, allowing Gordon free time in the middle of a campaign is shameless.

    But the notion that the media make the decision for the electorate is neither topical nor correct.

    More to the point, Don Gutstein’s pathetic piece in The Tyee on Dion’s downfall being a result of media bias, is laughable. He quotes the Post as being Canada’s Fox News—more hilarity. The Post should be so lucky.

    Gutstein, who teaches at Simon Fraser, a notorious bastion of the exclusive secular progressive set, either was observant of another federal election or was (in my opinion) simply fabricating his piece as he was going along.

    Stephane Dion lost because the message was crystal clear: He was feckless and ineffective from the beginning. Gutstein’s hypothesis would hold as valid, if the majority of what’s written and said by journalists was ultra right wing lather or even centrist piffle. In point of fact, the Grits, notwithstanding their anemic campaign, received a pass by the media. Imagine the Tories having the problems the Grits did. They’d have been crucified. And yet, even with the polls in deep in the toilet, STILL some predicted a Liberal minority. There was about as much chance of that as my winning a Mr. Body contest…but the liberal elites in the press still tried to make their case. Shameful.

    The VAST MAJORITY of press in this country are so utterly left, that it boggles the mind how anyone could say otherwise.

    Accordingly, labels are the rule of thumb: Tsakumis is opinionated; Oberfeld is plaintiff…

    I was asked, some months ago by an editor (NOT at 24hrs. which is one of the best outlets to work for) not to be so “Conservative” in my opinions. I asked if they had ever asked someone to be less “Liberal”. Needless to say, the conversation stopped rather quickly when I mentioned the word CENSORSHIP.

    Another time, in a column I wrote about the abortion donnybrook over Morgentaler’s OC, one producer suggested to a colleague that my column (where I said Morgentaler did not do enough for womens’ health, post-abortion) was “not pro-choice enough” (like her), when in fact, I stated that I was pro-choice in the column itself.

    The liberal media elites that run this country do not tolerate small c conservatives like me (even though I am pro-choice, support gay rights fully, including marriage, and think our Premier is a charlatan and has done nothing for underprivileged children and autistics, etc.) Unless you work for the fine folks at 24hrs, that are really balanced or the National Post, who, love them or hate them, have the best and most fair writers in the country, you are subject to a left leaning diatribe that is as injurious to democracy as it is a disservice to the public that they, falsely, claim to “serve”.

    Radio is loaded with cooking tips (which is fine once in a while) and advice on vitamins, with little real talk radio–the tough follow up question is non-existent…television has become about pandering to ethnic minorities and pretty people, who talk about nothing. Read the script and get out. Although I have to say, Global does do a great program, as does CBC. And print media is littered (add emphasis at will) with lazy, inarticulate, often times illiterate ramblings from people who feel they are owed a pulpit.

    And they get all the awards, too. One prominent Sun writer hasn’t the first clue how to read a study, poll or train of political thought, but his vacuous drivel is featured, in fact, prominently trumpted with “awards” and rewards–and the Sun wonders why they need to change their look to be more like 24hrs? why their readership is bolting?.

    Oh, and the next provincial election will not be about what Gordon Campbell does between now and then to “show” Carole James to be dangerous, but rather, what he can do to erase from long time supporters’ minds, that he is not dangerous and that they should not stay home.

    Thus far, his narrative is far, far from compelling.

    Blessings Harv.

  6. Patrick Bell (NOT the MLA) says:

    Way to go Harv. Too bad we couldn’t get your blog out there more so that more people could read your views on media responsibility.

    I personally think that the opposition needs to get more crafty to direct media traffic to them. They have to come up with something really controversial or provide some fantastic sound bites the media can’t deny.

    (Response: Thanks Patrick. It’s kind of an insider’s underground blog. Pass it on to those who really care… and help it grow. 🙂 ho)

  7. RS says:

    There are a whole slew of generous reasons not to believe someone who tells you that their opponents’ arguments are “politically driven.” Not the least of which is, that they, too, may be rapt by precisely such a fever. By ALEX G. TSAKUMIS

    ’nuff said

  8. D. Johnston says:

    I have now stopped watching the 6 pm newscasts from channels 9 & 11, unless there is an important story. Canadian news is poor and getting poorer.

  9. As D. Johnston notes, it’s really very simple.
    Boycotting major media networks and the print newspapers is one of the best ways to go.

    I’ve stopped buying the Vancouver Sun, or the Province altogether. They know their readership is down, they’re grappling with it, but aren’t ready to face the cold, hard reality it’s because they’ve stopped performing the duties of a free press. And as if that wasn’t enough, they’re spending lots of $$$ going around suing people too a la SLAPP lawsuits (The Tyee, the bunch). It’s disgusting and shows their true colours. Why would anyone want to put a dime in to their coffers for putting such a chill out on free speech. It’s unconscionable in a democratic society. Plus, most of the hacks they have writing for their papers are simply past their “best buy” dates anyways. Enough white middle-aged people already. Get some ethno-cultural and age diversity in there. Even moving into blogging isn’t going to be enough to save them. Since it’s all the same old corporate media and opinions anyways.

    The “news” Global TV puts out these days isn’t worth the time spent watching it, so I don’t. And a lot of other people don’t either. I thought there was something fishy about that McMynn interview and wondered if he got paid for it. He’s a good guy though and his support of the police is understandable.

    CanWest is on the way down and out, they know it too. Like the BC Liberals, their friends, too much greed, too much arrogance, too much hubris. It has left them out of touch with their audience, who feels betrayed, disgusted and doesn’t trust them anymore. All bad things come to a bad end eventually.

    Marc Edge’s piece in the Tyee: Why Did I Buy CanWest Stock? and book, “Asper Nation”
    hold some big clues about their demise.

    A thanks though to those who are adding alternatives to corporate media, Harvey, Sean Holman, Tielemann, bloggers, indie media. We may not all think of it this way, but each of us are contributing to sustaining democracy and free speech in BC and Canada.

  10. BC Mary says:

    Damn right I think of it this way, Westcoast: my blog exists because Big Media wasn’t reporting on Basi-Virk/BC Rail. And the many issues locked inside that trial are simply too important to be ignored.

  11. salvatore bennedetto says:

    So what percentage of those voters actually came out and put an x on the ballot???

    No sitting government has ever won a byelection that i can remember. So what?

  12. A. G. Tsakumis says:

    Not that I think Harv’s blog should be a platform for this kind of debate, but “RS” should get his facts straight…

    The quote he posted is from one of my recent columns…my positions in any of my columns should NEVER but subject to ‘political’ scrutiny (for purposeful slant), since I have taken many different perspectives and stances that would have me on everything from the NDP to the Tories support lists.

    My objection to mainstream media bias is simple, and obvious: Most are ardently left-wing and allow that to colour their judgement, every time–I, and a minority of others, don’t. I look at issues from a logical pov and if that happens to fall in line with the bailiwick of a particular party, so be it. Hardly intentional.


    Truth reveals:

    media manipulation is as common as tree’s in BC, the eveidence is at avery turn…no accountability of media, all owned be private people in power.

    lying and coruption with out criminal actions ever being considered,politicians take for granted of telling lys to manipulate the situation to thier advantages.

    government treating nurses, doctors, teachers, ambulance drivers, ect with out the respect they deserve…ignoreing the needs of every britishcolumbian as if it were russia run putan.

    forestry workers left out in the help from any government, only bending to US concesions like a fag in a gang bang, taking up the ass in style.

    Police force murdering and beating citizens constantly…then lying about it at every turn with out any criminal charges proves government interventio and a system majorly flawed

    the list goes on and on….where will it end>


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