Cutting Edge of the Ledge, a weekly CKNW segment, is a classic display of journalism gone wrong in British Columbia. The participating trio – Good, Palmer, Baldrey – spreads a ubiquitous fog of political misinformation over the province, using radio, broadcast television, cable TV, daily newspapers and community papers as well as occasional public appearances courtesy of generous industry groups. In the radio gig, they are helped by NW screening calls to ensure friendly voices get priority over potential critics, if any survive the station’s policy of banning those who ask hard questions. Despite only a handful of callers to each Friday segment, we hear the same voices regularly.
Last Friday, Good kicked it off with a flourish, introducing the new Liberal leader talking about her colleagues, “It has been quite a week. . . Christy Clark . . .”
It’s a great group. People are excited about the change that we’re talking about, people are excited about the opportunity tuh, tuh, you know, to have a fresh start for government. So I think people, eeeeh . . . It’s a great group, many of them I worked with, one of them I started working with, way back in, gosh, 1991. Many of them since 1996, 2001. . .
Of course, Clark’s voice clip launched a round of predictable cheerleading. Palmer is “encouraged” that Clark isn’t saying a whole bunch before she’s had her transition briefings. Baldrey says she is getting rid of comparisons to Bill Vander Zalm and Clark is “being smart, ducking – not ducking – ignoring the media.”
Bill Good agrees, “She’s taking her time to be ready…”
The trio is pleased with Clark and the Liberals’ but Palmer worries the BCTF will cause trouble for the new Premier because they’re miles apart on major issues. Baldrey is sure this is a negotiation headed for complete breakdown and disaster and probably a school strike. He says:
The BCTF asks for the moon and the sky and the stars and, unlike other unions, doesn’t bargain, doesn’t really get in there and start modifying its demand or compromising. It stakes out a position and doesn’t move from it and that just leads to mandated settlement or legislated settlement as we’ve seen in the past. And, I think we’re probably headed that way as well.
Having dealt with one potential Liberal enemy in the teachers’ union, the trio then defend government over its embarrassment after an adjacent doughnut shop was pressed into service as overflow for RCH emergency.
Baldrey and Good have a theory about media manipulation being part of a continuing program by RCH doctors:
This is an extraordinary story. There’s been problems at Royal Columbian in the past in terms of that emergency ward being overcrowded. It seemed to hit a new level this week with patients being put into the neighboring Tim Hortons doughnut shop. At the very least, it created a, it creates an image that is unpalatable for pretty well every British Columbian.
On the other hand, the doctors insist that it was perfectly fine, that patients were never at risk, they got the appropriate care. I also know Colin Hansen says there was another ward available to the doctors, of twelve empty beds that they did not use and I still haven’t heard an explanation of why they did not use . . .
Good was concerned that the Tim Hortons incident gained so much attention,
I suggested there was some media manipulation going on here.
What a shock it must have been to three newsmen with almost 100 collective years of experience. Imagine after all that time finding out that people with agendas use the media to gain public exposure. That pretense ranks with one acted by Claude Rains in the 1942 movie Casablanca:
How can you close me up? On what grounds?
I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
Croupier [handing Renault a pile of money]:
Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault [sotto voce]:
Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault [aloud]:
Everybody out at once!
I will write separately about Baldrey’s claim “there was another ward available to the doctors, of twelve empty beds that they did not use . . .” Have you seen any credible reports of that claim or is it bull crap direct from the Liberal government?
Did Baldrey check the veracity of the claim? Well, I did and I can say that the Global TV political reporter was merely doing damage control for the Liberals, something he does regularly.
Of course, after leadership, the ruling party’s biggest difficulty has been HST. The Dull Edge from the Ledge trio was prepared to deal with that too with what amounted to a rehearsed 90 second commercial spot for the government. Bill Good began:
Now, I understand you two took an HST test yesterday.
Ministry of Finance has produced a Know Your HST quiz, one of those things that if they’d done a while ago, it might have helped them a bit. There’s two of them, 12 questions on each, and you click on the questions and they come up on your screen and you get a chance to answer yes or no. I managed 10 out of 12 on them, which means I am pretty good on the HST but I still got some things wrong.
I got 10 out of 12 as well but it does, it was interesting but it answers some of the myths that are out there, asking do you think your grocery bill has gone up because of HST, or down, but it does give you some questions like, one Vaughn and I both got wrong. An imaginative picnic basket where you put a loaf of bread, some cheese, some batteries, a blanket, and a basket, and a couple of other things and how many of those items are subject to the HST. I thought there’d be a number of those items, but apparently just one, so it sort of educates you on the impact of HST and clarifies some of the confusion that’s out there, and I agree with Vaughn, if they had put this out there a little earlier with people perhaps some of the confusion and the apprehension would not be quite as high as it is.
Good closed with the government web address and his pals challenged listeners to beat their scores. If these so called journalists had any sense of professional ethics, instead of promoting the HST tests as answering myths spread by opponents of the tax measure, they would report the tests actually provide selected information that aims to minimize the apparent effect of the tax on ordinary consumers.
The fact remains that, for business to save $2 billion a year while HST brings in the same or more than the old tax system, someone has to make up the for the cash going into pockets of companies like Shell Oil, Encana, Terasen and, oh yes, ones like Global TV, Postmedia and Corus Radio. The someone is the powerless group of ordinary consumers.
HST is a wealth transfer that takes money from consumers and pays it over largely to big business. Do you suppose Good, Palmer and Baldrey don’t know that? Of course they do but it suits their personal business agendas to be mouthpieces for the Liberal government and its loyal business supporters.