In the archives of this blog, readers might find one, two or more blusters directed at very experienced—and highly visible—professional pundits.
For example, I wrote that both Vaughn Palmer and Keith Baldrey had reported carelessly on the regulator’s rejection of BC Hydro’s Long Term Acquisition Plan. Both appeared to base reporting on inaccurate talking points obtained from interested parties rather than the actual BC Utility Commission decision.
In the case of Global TV, coverage of this important matter was so badly informed that, even a week later, a news anchor wrongly reported that the regulator’s decision was primarily aimed at stopping development of green power projects in British Columbia.
I also claimed that both Palmer and Baldrey had, for some time, invested too little energy and attention to turpitude underlying the disposition of BC Rail and its valued land banks. Who knows if that story will ever see the full light of day because powerful forces aim to keep evidence from public view. Without a vigorous and resourceful press, corrupt politicians have free rein in this and other fiduciary failures.
However, having recounted those unfavorable appraisals, I want to specifically applaud some recent work of the very same pundits. This past week, Keith Baldrey caught my attention in a television report from the Legislature. It was uncompromisingly critical of the dissolute Liberal government in Victoria. Baldrey, writing his weekly column for Canwest’s community newspapers, follows up and starts with this:
There is a rising stench enveloping the B.C. Liberal government right now, and it shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon.
There are numerous reasons for this growing cloud, and most of them are tied to the issues of credibility, truthfulness and transparency.
Vaughn Palmer also pulled few punches in recent days:
. . . Minimal disclosure was all but confirmed as official policy during the recent budget lock-up when reporters were rebuffed when requesting the kind of information that had been available in the past.
. . .Meanwhile, every day brings new disclosures, new controversies. Last week it was cuts in grants to charities and arts groups. This week, school sports and parent advisory councils. As news emerges piecemeal, the Liberals’ own agenda is derailed repeatedly.
. . . So the Liberals stumble onwards and mostly downwards. On the days when they aren’t struggling to explain the botched deficit projection, they scramble to justify the nickel-and-diming of programs they once touted.
Hard to think these guys pride themselves on their news management skills. These days they have trouble even keeping the excuses straight.
It’s fair to complain that hard coverage 44 months before the next election doesn’t excuse softball journalism preceding the May general election. However, we don’t know what licenses or limitations the employers impose on its commentators. We can guess, perhaps not with accuracy.
And, we should be aware that overall news-gathering policies will always be determined by corporate self-interest. A Vancouver Sun editorial published September 10 is a partisan defence by Liberal apologists who probably don’t even appreciate the irony of their own words:
When it comes time to vote, we pick leaders who make choices that reflect as closely as possible the values we hold. So we need to get as clear a view as possible of both what is being lost and what is being saved so we can judge for ourselves whether wise choices are being made.
Yes, media minions, we do need as clear a view as possible. And, you should focus on giving it to us, without interruption, confusion or hesitation.