In 2006, Rafe Mair wrote News Media, Defanged for The Tyee. It included the headline:
Politicians, not too long ago, feared the press.
Of course miscreants particularly feared Rafe Mair during his post-politician days. Rafe had been a successful lawyer and a capable cabinet minister in Bill Bennett’s coalition and service on both sides of the firing line gives Mair an unusual perspective. He remembered his time in government:
Let’s go back 30 years. Every morning we ran a gauntlet of reporters and broadcasters who analyzed everything we did and reported it or commented, usually adversely, on it.
The day started with the late Marjorie Nichols and Allan Garr and Dave Todd whose articles invariably dealt with government policy with which they disagreed, the airwaves had Gary Bannerman, Pat Burns and Ed Murphy as resident attack dogs and Jack Webster did a morning talk show on BCTV. Allan Fotheringham weighed in from time to time and Jack Wasserman…
I hated the media in those days. I thought they were unfair, which they often were; ill informed, which they often were; and just plain nasty, as they always were. But somewhere along the way I had an epiphany.
I was reading a horrid article by Marjorie Nichols and the light went on: this was the same Marjorie Nichols who was always on NDP premier Dave Barrett’s tail. This was the same Marjorie Nichols I used to enjoy so much when I was campaigning to get a Socred nomination in Kamloops. What’s happened to Marjorie? I asked. And I realized that nothing had happened to Marjorie; the change was in the government.
Now, what we get, with surprisingly few exceptions, is journalism that serves and promotes corporate or personal interests. Of course, we don’t expect the monopolist Shaw family of Corus & Global or the vulture capitalists behind Postmedia newspapers to promote a just society so we’re not surprised they give prominent voice to their own right wing social and financial agendas.
We also shouldn’t expect reporters like the infamous trio — Alex Tsakumis called their Friday morning work on CKNW ‘Cutting the Cheese from the Ledge’ — to report negatively on industries and business groups that pay them inducements through appearance fees and “training and consulting” compensation.
I doubt that Marjorie Nichols took fees from any group who was keen to gain positive treatment in her commentaries. LIke Marjorie, ethical journalism is but a memory in British Columbia.
Just last week, Vaughn Palmer was writing this in the Vancouver Sun:
Why is Christy doing well in overall polls? I think she is picking up some of the softer NDP supporters.
A harmless recall of a partisan’s opinion? Or, a message to badly informed readers to continue trusting the moribund Liberal Party?
|Robert Lewis, Allan Fotheringham, Marjorie Nichols, Jack Webster, 1986|
Rafe Mair wrote regularly at The Common Sense Canadian.