It's the spin cycle, and I'm feeling agitated
To the loyal and dedicated readers of Megalomedia (he says with an optimistic tone), I guess it's time to tell you that there won't be Friday updates for the forseeable future. I don't have my early-ass access to the news on Fridays and therefore, don't feel right doing this bad boy up. And coverage begat coverage, and coverage begat truth. . . So the Globe and Mail informs us today on A1 that Bush and Martin will end their "phone freeze" in advance of their meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox. You remember the phone freeze, the one that yesterday's coverage was dedicated to trying to prove? Well, it's going to be over. Georgie will call. Put away the kleenex and keep your brother off the phone, he's actually going to call! This is so much like a cheesy 1980s teen drama that I don't even want to talk about it anymore. Sadly, the mainstream media doesn't feel the same. For Christ's sake, there was never a phone freeze! Yesterday you had conflicting reports as to the reason for Bush not calling. Most centred around the fact that he's the god damn president! And despite what our papers would have you believe, the U.S. doesn't care about our position on missile defence. Bush isn't calling because he's too busy "spreading democracy" (more on that later) around the world. He's telling Syria to get out of Lebanon, he's telling Iraqis that they are free and he's trying to figure out how to extend the deficit spending limit again so he can bankroll his next invasion. Get over it. You spin me right round, baby, right round Remember when journalists asked questions? Today's coverage of the delay in opening the U.S. border to Canadian cattle invariably linked the matter to Canada - U.S. relations and the missile defence debate. Conservative pin-up Belinda Stronach was quoted in the Globe, Gazette and more saying "when the Prime Minister should have been nurturing support throughout the American political system to keep the border open, he and his cabinet were skulking away from a proper discussion of missile defence with the U.S. government." At which point, the journalist should have asked something like this: "Don't you think it's slightly misleading to link trade disputes to missile defence? After all, the trade disputes are based on U.S. protectionist policies, not Canadian ones. And they stem from isolationist attempts to protect weaker U.S. industries from competition, despite the fact that the WTO - at least in the case of softwood lumber - has routinely condemned the policies." Well, okay, not exactly like that, but you get my point. Why do journalists let themselves get spun? If a journalist is just supposed to feed people vague questions and dutifully take down their responses, why not just use a tape deck? There needs to be context. Journalists have to understand the issue they're reporting on and explore the nuances. To carry on that theme, why do all the reports of public demonstrations in Lebanon and, previously, Ukraine and Georgia quote Martin and Bush praising the protesters without pointing out the inherent hypocrisy? Before both the Democratic and Republic conventions in the U.S. last year, protest areas were established out of the site of the delegates in order to protect them from that very same "people power." During Bush's visit to Ottawa last year, the government essentially abandoned the capital to the masses and took their meetings across the river to Fortress Gatineau. Why won't a journalist stand up and ask how these leaders can praise the democratic rallies abroad while isolating themselves from dissent at home? The press does its penance It appears that maybe, just maybe, the Globe and Post realized there were being a touch reactionary with their missile defence coverage. As such, they did their penance, manifested in a Lawrence Martin column in the former on A21 and a Warren Kinsella opinion piece in the latter on A18. Martin waxed philisophical on the rightward shift in the Canadian media and noted that while anyone reading the papers would think Canada was about to revolt over the missile defence decision, the majority of Canadians agreed with Martin's decision. Kinsella attacked the Post for its decision to run a half dozen U.S. editorials condemning Canada without ever giving the context for Martin's decision. Both pieces are interesting and fairly well done, but it's interesting to note that they both appear among a bevy of predictable columns and comments that follow the trend of the past week. It's as though the two papers realized, "Shit, we better at least try to look objective here." Kind of like going to confession on your way out to the brothel, isn't it? Your freedom update At first, I was really surprised when I saw a story on Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai appointing a female governor buried on page A7 in the Citizen. Isn't this exactly the sort of piece that the Bushies would want to play up? Women gaining status in a country formally run by the oppressive Taliban after a U.S. invasion? Then I read the Post's A13 story on the opium trade in Afghanistan and learned that opium production has almost returned to Taliban-era levels. . . and the Toronto Star's analysis on A24 documenting the myriad of problems facing the country, coupled with the skitishness of international donors who want to see progress fast. . . and I thought maybe the pundits decided to let this one slide. Or maybe it happened too late to be praised today, and we'll see some Marcus Gee-esque rants tomorrow, who knows? In other news, talks aimed at forming the Iraqi coalition government have stalled (Globe, CanWest, Sun and more). Apparently the love of freedom isn't quite enough to overcome centuries of conflict and inherent cultural divisions. Luckily that didn't stop a few scribes (Toronto Sun editorial, among others) from trumpeting the success of Bush's policies in the region. Freedom's got its jackboots on and its marching, people. It's marching.