Perhaps Vaughn Palmer has a Red Telephone, a hotline for when BC Liberals want news initiated, altered or decried. The record is public and to evaluate, readers need simply ask, “Who and what is served by Palmer’s work?”
The pundit often has no intention of giving a whole story, with background, options and various points of view. The LNG story is only one example but it is likely to cost taxpayers billions in subsidies and foregone revenues. Look through the Vancouver Sun for comprehensive and critical assessments of government actions on natural gas and you will come up empty. It is not an accident or a surprise that Fazil Mihlar could slide from being the Sun’s Editorial Editor to become Assistant Deputy Minister for Natural Gas Development and advocate for the public to be hands-off when it comes to natural resources.
I criticized Palmer’s service on the gas file but I fault his larger body of work too. Usually, Palmer’s commentary makes narrow points that assist Liberals, discredit opponents or explain why the government can do or cannot do particular acts. By example, when social media was reporting that, without immunity, BC Liberal Executive Director Laura Miller refused to speak with police about an economic and political scandal in Ontario, Palmer was quick to echo a defence,
This effort did not last because it was overwhelmed by evidence. For example, the search warrant material sworn February 19 by a detective of the OPP’s anti-rackets squad, included this,
In the late 1990’s, my mother-in-law reserved the Vancouver Sun front section – I dared not touch it first – until she finished with Vaughn Palmer’s revelations of NDP government misdoings. An inquisitor capable of applying flames to feet, Palmer covered fertile ground and did it with relish.
Serving the public, not governments, is what pundits should do. While Palmer no longer does it, Bob Mackin does and Christy Clark’s Never Ending Campaign is an example you should not miss.
The Vancouver Sun added an experienced political reporter when it hired Rob Shaw from the Times Colonist. Now it is time for the Sun to assign Bob Mackin to the pundit’s role, enabling Vaughn Palmer to work for PR firm Hill+Knowlton, where he need make no pretense of objectivity.