Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Tim Harper discusses Stephen Harper's current list of distractions - with Rob Ford and his Senate appointees naturally topping the list. But sadly, while John Ivison may be right in noting that actual citizens are having trouble getting the Cons to bother administering federal programs, the combination of scandal and dishonesty doesn't seem to be slowing down their anti-worker omnibus legislation in the slightest.

- On the Senate front, Scott Stelmaschuk compares the Duffy payoff and cover-up to the long-forgotten Chuck Cadman scandal - with the key differences in exposing the story being that Duffy both took the Cons' offer, and managed to document some of the dealings in writing. And Michael Harris points to Helena Guergis as a cautionary tale for anybody hoping to curry Harper's favour.

- Meanwhile, Rinaldo Walcott sees Ford as an ugly example of selective privilege. And John Cruickshank discusses the challenges facing the media in dealing with Ford and others who have no qualms about lying to the public - while hinting that the Star may be more willing to highlight false messages as an integral part of news coverage:
Journalistic fairness says subjects have a right to comment in stories about them. The Supreme Court of Canada insists this is indispensible to responsible journalism.

The Toronto Star has repeatedly quoted Ford denying the existence of a damaging drug video. We have quoted him denying that he has smoked crack cocaine.

But our reporters had seen the notorious cocaine video and knew that he was seeking to deceive Torontonians.

Were we unfair to our readers in allowing the mayor to practise his deceptions on them? Are journalism’s conventions too restrictive in an era when some leaders use lies and manipulative spin as basic tools to tighten their grip on power?
The Star has begun a practice of documenting factual errors in accounts of the mayor’s economic claims. This, in itself, is a departure from usual journalistic practice in which the fact-checking or “reality check” function is separated from the news coverage.

Until now, we have not questioned the mayor’s motives in providing the citizens with false news in our stories.

We have let him make his case as we would any news subject.

But the mayor has made all the Toronto media agents of his deceptive propaganda. And this can’t help but further erode the trust Torontonians place in politicians and the media.
- Finally, Jared Milne's detailed discussion of Red Toryism in Canada is well worth a read - even if I'm dubious about his claim that Stephen Harper has done much of anything to conform to its principles. 

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