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Credible conclusions

Doug McArthur, from SFU’s Public Policy Program, wrote comments here about Jessica MacDonald’s disconnection from levers of power in Victoria. The Prof is qualified to speculate about whether or not MacDonald jumped or was pushed. He served his own stretch in that job, as senior deputy to two British Columbia Premiers during the nineties.

At the time of her unheralded departure, MacDonald circulated a letter of explanation to provincial staff. McArthur says the letter leaves him unconvinced that her leaving was voluntary.

However, another statement by McArthur interested me because it reinforces opinions I’ve written here, here and here about submissive reporting by our political news titans. Media coverage of the farewell letter is McArthur’s subject:

The media has been amazingly gullible on this. Columnists have accepted and amplified her letter as if it were all true and completely transparent. Not one that I have seen has asked why such a letter was needed and what really went on with her leaving. Not that it matters that much, but that much gullibility by the media makes you wonder about its judgment on all of the other information the government feeds it. Might this be part of the explanation of why this government is able to get away with so little media scrutiny?

From me, one thing can be added. I stopped wondering about their judgment and concluded they too often provide “. . . sight without understanding, fact without truth.”*

*Words from a story by Claire Armitstead about the extraordinary Carol Reed film “The Fallen Idol.”

4 replies »

  1. I couldn't agree more, on the topic of whether CanWest is a free press or whether it is an extension of Gordo's Public Affairs Bureau.

    We appreciated your comments about the yellow journalism performed by CanWest on the subject of the former Victoria police chief.

    Had it not been for the dignified rebuttal made by Mrs Brenda Battershill about how she and her husband had been part of the Loon Lake community for THIRTY-FIVE YEARS before Times Colonist “discovered them”, I don't think the whole charade would have unraveled as rapidly as it did.

    But CanWest was caught pants-down, right out in the open. It's left to the citizens to emulate that child of yore who pointed and said: “Look, CanWest has no clothes on!”

    It shouldn't have to be this way. I can remember a notion that a free press is supposed to function as another arm of a democratic government — keeping the citizens honestly informed so that we can fulfill our duties to society?


  2. Adding to the disturbing topic of yellowish journalism, I saved this curious item from the most recent bashing of former Chief Constable Paul Battershill. It ends just as it is shown here, and I couldn't find any related articles about “secrets” …

    The Battershill saga
    Times Colonist, File
    CHEK News
    Published: Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Just a year ago, Paul Battershill was the highly regarded police chief of the city of Victoria. He had a reputation as a progressive police officer — Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe called him a “New Age kind of guy.”

    Then suddenly, on Oct. 11, 2007, he was placed on administrative leave, and on Nov. 6, he was suspended with pay while the RCMP investigated allegations of misconduct against him.

    Eleven months later, Battershill resigned, five days before a scheduled disclipinary hearing. His resignation was accepted because the Victoria Police Board had suffered a “loss of confidence” in Battershill, Lowe said.

    Until now there has never been a public airing of the allegations against the former chief. But today, for the first time, Times Colonist reporter Rob Shaw reveals the events that set in motion Battershill's downfall. Using sources who were present at the events, he has pieced together the heretofore secret events that led to resignation of the police chief.

    [That's all there was. Text stopped there. So far as I can see, there never has been a “piecing together” of the “secret events” told to him by his un-named sources.]


  3. Fantastic quote from Armistead Norman.


    In the case of many of the specific folks I think you are referring to, I truly believe that they do in fact see and understand that if they do start publishing the truth (or at least dismissing demonstrable falehoods out of hand) that they might very soon loose the kind of access that keeps them firmly ensconsed in their titan-booths.




  4. why don't they do some investigative reporting on simular stories,like gordo and lara !I think they don't want to upset the people that are going to put the squeeze on us to pony up subsidies to these people that call themselves the media,because I sure don't.


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