My June 1 time on CFAX1070:
Host Ian Jessop asked me about Premier Clark giving $150,000 in public funds to assist her brother’s associate in Haida Gwaii. It’s a subject that has been well covered by fellow bloggers Laila Yuile and Merv Adey. However, with the exception of Mark Hume at the Globe and Mail, it’s been of little interest to mainstream media, particularly the “Incurious Bastards”¹ of the BC press gallery.
At her indispensable website, Laila stated a point I believe is key to this and other issues, emphasis added:
Opposition leader John Horgan did the best prosecutorial inquiry in the legislature yesterday since Mulcair on Nigel Wright, Mike Duffy and the $90,000.
This time it was about a $150,000 story that’s been largely untold. A story that got vastly more interesting by the time John Horgan was through with Christy Clark in estimates May 11th.
…That fact should raise alarms in the public mind about media disinterest in official corruption in this province…
In a column this week, Vaughn Palmer might have showed that more than disinterest in corruption motivates pro-media pundits. To journalists with family members employed by Liberal Orders-in-Council or commentators grown comfortable on appearance fees from groups affected by political reporting, the motivations might be self-interest and partisanship.
For example, after noting a partial list of Liberal transgressions, Palmer turns his column into criticism of NDP leader John Horgan for spending both too much and too little effort disparaging Christy Clark. Palmer absolves Liberals of recent wrongdoing, not by weighing facts but by repeating an assertion of the Premier’s office, “there is no merit to this allegation whatsoever.”
Palmer sneers at Horgan for being grateful that social media provides a low-budget alternative to the “established media.” In truth, with the columnist’s $1.7 million a year boss accused by Shannon Rupp of gobsmacking audacity after begging for more tax advantages and public handouts, Palmer’s ailing media is less established than he admits. The blogosphere will undoubtedly be here after Postmedia’s hedge-fund owners finish stripping assets and move to deconstruct their next victims.
Palmer also derides the NDP for “raising only $1 for every $4 reaped by the Liberals.” He fails to state the governing party raised from corporations more than $400 for every $10 reaped by the NDP. Nor, apparently, is he bothered by much of that money coming from companies regulated by the provincial government. Of course, given Palmer’s personal position on conflicts of interest, that fact could never bother him.
By the way, something else not reported in the column was that BC Liberals have a surplus in 2015 of more than $6 million and the NDP in BC, running with less than half the Liberal budget, had a deficit of $300 thousand, after selling the party’s headquarters. It’s more evidence of an severly unbalanced field, where the province’s richest organizations and people ensure they get the best government they can buy. Apparently, no one in the BC Press Gallery is bothered by undemocratic conditions.
It may be a rewarding career move for a political pundit to serve plutocrats instead of readership but that’s a conscious choice that doesn’t offend some who once thought of themselves as journalists. Shannon Rupp, writing at The Tyee recently, delivered a pointed analysis of the 21st century press in our country:
But ”newspaper” hasn’t meant that for some time in Canada — if it ever did. Certainly newspapers’ former role as the watchdog of society has been diminishing in Canada since the concentration of ownership that both the Davey Commission (1970) and the Kent Commission (1981) warned us about.
And at this point, I think it’s fair to say that many if not most so-called newspapers are misnamed: they deliver less and less news (as defined by journalists) while filling their pages with ”content” — a word that could mean anything from listicles to infotainment to advertising written to masquerade as a news story.
In short, most newspapers have morphed into marketing platforms. Remember Postmedia running front-page ads for the Harper government in the last election? In another era, that would have devalued their product — the journalism. But since marketing is the now their primary business, not journalism, it was a smart business move.
It may be that some columnists are delivering what the industry euphemistically refers to as native advertising, which, according to MediaPress Studios, is “aimed to convince rather than inform the audience.”
Perhaps that explains why Palmer’s Tuesday column ended with a bold commercial plug for the book by former Liberal MLA Judi Tyabji-Wilson. He followed that a day later with a 900-word column promoting the Liberal-friendly publication and presenting a little of the Tyabji-Wilson political story. Somehow though, he missed important parts. But, you can go to Laila Yuile’s blog for omissions.
Almost 1½ columns of Palmer content probably has an undisclosed purpose. When the Liberal candidate list is complete for the 2017 election, remember this day. The purpose will be apparent.
¹ Credit to Lew Edwardson