Megalomedia - Wake up to your news

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Megalomedia - Deals with the devil since 1980

So I went to a screening of the really kick ass doc Control Room last night. There was a QnA afterwards with Sammer Khadar, the al Jazeera producer featured in the doc, as well as the founder of Reporters Without Borders and a really interesting French journalist whose name escapes me. Anyway, it started half-an-hour late, and before things got rolling, the various federal government sponsors had to blab for 20 minutes about how happy they were to be involved. Nothing saps the wind from the sails of a really engaging evening like having to rush through interesting debates in order to clear out of the room by 10 p.m. Lesson of the evening: All media are biased, and government agencies shouldn't sponsor shit. Jacko trumps Darfur, Joe feigns shock Last evening, I read on the BBC website that NATO officials agreed to consider a request from the African Union for support for their mission in Darfur. I did a happy jig, thinking that maybe, just maybe, something would be done to end the genocide. Then I wondered aloud if any Canadian papers would get the story. Before I answer that, let's put this in (here it comes again) context. NATO has never before authorized a mission in Africa. The UN says more than 180,000 people have been killed in the two-year old "conflict" Two million people have fled their homes. Canada is a member of NATO. Okay, now guess which papers ran this story? If you said the Calgary Sun, Kingston Whig-Standard, Windsor Star and Montreal Gazette, you win a cookie. That's it. That's every paper in Canada that reported that NATO, a military alliance of which Canada is a member, agreed to consider sending its first mission to Africa to help stop a genocide that has killed more than 180,000 people. For comparsion, about 20 papers reported on the latest developments at the Michael Jackson trial, including the Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald and the Toronto Star. And in the spirit of my Control Room adventure last night, it's worth pointing out that al Jazeera, Rumsfeld's enemy of freedom, got the story. For those who want to read the details, check out the NATO statement, the BBC story or if you feel like being added to a CSIS watchlist, the al Jazeera story. There's probably a lot more to get into today, but frankly, this Darfur thing has me really bummed. When is the Western world going to clue in to this? An admittedly unscientific search of the international press (Google News) came up with a New York Times article, a comment in the Washington Post and a handful of European stories, but on the whole, not much coverage. Hotel Rwanda and Shake Hands with the Devil got a tonne of coverage of the past couple years. Everyone swore that never again would we turn our backs on genocide in Africa. Well, the first test of that theory is proving to be a dismal failure. It's a shame. A fucking shame.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Socialist fantasy indeed

The Toronto Sun called the deal struck between the NDP and the Liberals a "socialist fantasy," but for some reason, they meant that in a negative way. Yes, I can see how money for post-secondary education, environmental initiatives, foreign aid and pensions will destroy Canada. They even agreed to keep corporate tax cuts for small businesses, so I'm not sure where the drawback is here. Of course, none of this will matter because Martin has already agreed to call an election once Gomery is done. The media coverage of this deal makes it sound like Layton is trying to save the government, but the government is already running on fumes. How anyone can believe any of these measures will last beyond this minority government is beyond me. It's all optics. Oh, and the paragraph of the day comes from the Globe's report on the deal: "The Conservative Leader, who began his day finger painting a picture of a tree at a children's rehabilitation centre in Sarnia and ended it at a farm demonstration in Chatham, said Mr. Martin has stopped governing the country to run his own election campaign." But on to the rage. More on Iraq, still CanWest sleeps The Globe ran a story on the U.S. weapons inspector's report today, noting that not only did he conclude that there are no weapons in Iraq, he said there is no evidence that any weapons were taken out of the country and hid in Syria. That's one of the favourite excuses for U.S. administration types when anyone points out no weapons were found, "Uh, well, he moved them! To Syria!" I am growing rather fond of these World section rundowns, so let's do another one. Here's some stories the Citizen ran instead of the weapons inspector's report: "It's three cheers for Jesus' team" (a story on faith-based cheerleading, complete with photo, of course) "Jackson trial witness bolsters kidnapping theory" "Fence-damaging camels to be hunted from the air" "Forget the ruby slippers" (a story on the sale of the dress from the Wizard of Oz) Whee!! Now let's do the Post: "Chili woman will be extradited" (a story on the woman who lied about finding a finger in her chili at Wendy's) "Capitol building in Utah to be lifted a fraction of an inch for earthquake-proofing" "Shooters in helicopters to cull camels in Australia" Really now, is a camel cull in Australia more important than revelations that undermine the case for war in Iraq? What about the Citizen's devotion to the Michael Jackson trial? This is getting depressingly easy. Raining leaflets of freedom This isn't so much a media critique, especially because it's a U.S. wire service story, but I have to point it out. The U.S. is distributing pamphlets across Cuba as part of an effort to stir up anti-Castro sentiment. One pamphlet has Bush's inaugural address in which he vowed to free the world of tyranny; the other features the UN Declaration on Human Rights. The story doesn't ask what my colleague Steve did: Did they drop a few on Guantanamo while they were passing over?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Well don't that beat all

I'd like to thank everyone who helped with the Actionline alert yesterday, several people contacted the Post and many others signed up for future alerts. And in case you're wondering if it made a difference. . . "A tanker explosion outside the main United States base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, that destroyed five fuel trucks on April 17 has been determined to be an accident, not the result of a Taliban attack. Incorrect information appeared in yesterday's Post." There it is, wedged into the bottom of A2. Not the best play, but it seems to be par for the course in the mainstream press these days to bury corrections on A2, rather than give them the play of the story, as is the ethical journalistic standard. In fairness, the erroneous detail was buried in the story too, and I think we should consider this a very good start. So again, thanks. I'd say the experiment was a success. I'd also really appreciate feedback on the endeavour. It's already been suggested that I link to the stories in question to give people a chance to see for themselves what they're complaining about, a very good idea that I hope to incorporate next time. Any other ideas or comments, please drop me a note at megalomedia.actionline@gmail.com Well, did they? Yesterday I pointed out that the Gazette was the only paper to report on the U.S.-prompted firing of a UN official who highlighted prisoner abuse in Afghanistan. Optimistically I suggested someone else might get it today. No such luck. Okay, they skipped it, but they had other important stuff to report, right? The Toronto Star and Montreal Gazette report today that the CIA's weapons inspector in Iraq said the search for weapons of mass destruction had gone as far as it feasibly could and turned up nothing. He added that there is no purpose in keeping detainees who are in custody because of their knowledge of Iraqi weapons. Hey, remember when this was the case for war? When Bush said they posed an imminent threat and much of the Canadian media agreed? Shouldn't this sort of story make the papers? For shits and giggles, let's see what the Citizen did run in their World section: "Alarms raised as media chase Prince Harry's car" "Air travel can make you sick: study" "Agressive jungle ants engineer unique way of trapping prey" "Exploding toads baffle experts in Germany" "Jackson's ex to testify for prosecution" Wow, that's some hard hitting stuff. How abou you, Post? "British lottery winner just a front man" "Judge rules that Jackson's ex-wife can testify against him" "Elton John plans to wed long-time partner in December for the tax breaks" The Globe skipped the story too, but in fairness to them, their World section is pretty good. It shouldn't be this easy. I shouldn't be able to pull five headlines out of a paper just like that. But I can, and that's sad. Polling polling polling, get those bastards polling. . . I hate polls. I hate polls because I worked as a telephone surveyor for one day, then quit. I've seen the kind of people conducting these polls and I have no confidence that they are presenting the already-biased questions objectively or with any clarity. That said, I also hate polls because they are easy to manipulate to suit your needs. Exhibit A. The Ottawa Citizen's lead story today has the following subheadline: "But poll has ban news for Martin: TV speech didn't halt Liberal plunge or help his reputation. The story cites an Ipsos poll done for CanWest/Global The Ottawa Sun ran a poll story too, originally from the Canadian Press, about a Decima poll. It's headline? "Speech put stop to slide" So which is it? Did Martin's speech stop his slide in support or not? I've already ranted about the fact that polls are media-generated stories, but here's further evidence of their uselessness. Two polls, designed to gague public opinion, came to two different and ultimately contradictory conclusions. What's the point? Oh right, generating coverage.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A call to arms

Okay, so I've been doing this site for awhile now. Until today, it was meant to raise awareness, to make people think critically. But as Senor Anderpants pointed out to me last week, CanWest and the gang aren't reading this blog. To that end, I'm pleased to introduce the Megalomedia Actionline. This is upping the ante a bit, and I need you to get involved. Please read this carefully and help me out. This is sort of a trial run, but if it's well received, I want to make this a permanent fixture on the Canadian media scene. Oh, and the daily media rant is below all of this Actionline stuff, so I hope you're all in for a long one. Today in the National Post, Chris Wattie wrote a piece on Canada's upcoming mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan. As background to the story, Wattie referred to the Taliban attack on fuel tankers outside the U.S. base in the city earlier this month. The only problem is that, as noted in the Lost Post edition of Megalomedia, it wasn't Taliban folks at all. The U.S. military's investigation showed that it was an accident blamed on faulty fuel tankers, not Taliban insurgents. The Canadian Press wire ran a story April 18 that corrected the allegations, but most papers didn't pick it up. Here's where you get involved. Step one, copy and paste the email below and send it to the National Post Managing Editor (news) and Chris Wattie, with a cc to the Actionline so I know how many people are involved. Step two, send an email to megalomedia.actionline@gmail.com with the subject "Sign me up" to get on the Actionline mailing list. To: smeurice@nationalpost.com, cwattie@nationalpost.com CC: megalomedia.actionline@gmail.com Subject: Correction required Dear Mr. Meurice and Mr. Wattie, In Mr. Wattie's April 25 story about the upcoming Canadian mission to Afghanistan, there was a disturbing factual error about a recent fuel tanker explosion in Kandahar. Though many outlets reported that Taliban insurgents were involved, a Canadian Press wire story from April 18 made it clear that U.S investigators concluded the explosion was an accident. This story wasn't as widely publicized as the original which blamed the Taliban, but I believe the National Post has access to the Canadian Press wire. Please correct this misleading and dangerous factual error in tomorrow's National Post. Thanks very much, (YOUR NAME) (YOUR CITY) That's all it takes folks. PLEASE get involved with this, it's time the media in Canada was subject to a little scrutiny. With your help, we can make it happen. On to the news of the day. Sudan makes the news! Well, a mere two weeks after the Canadian mission to Sudan was announced, the Citizen and Gazette finally get on the story, in the form of a feature on the Canadian general who will be deputy force commander. They never actually reported that Canada was sending troops, they just published a feature that assumes everyone knew. Interesting strategy, not one I'd take, but what the heck, I don't run a newspaper (anymore). What was Rice saying about open and transparent democracy? So apparently, a U.S. human rights expert working for the UN publised a couple of reports on prisoner abuse by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The guy has now lost his job after the U.S. pressured the UN to can him. Wow, that seems kind of sketchy, doesn't it? I mean, isn't that the sort of news people should know? The Montreal Gazette seems to think so, but nobody else does. Only one outlet got this story today. Brutal. I really hope it gets more play tomorrow, so stay tuned and we'll see. Credit where credit is due Syria's troops are almost entirely out of Lebanon. When I read that in the Globe I wondered if CanWest would report it. Well, they did. The Citizen gave the story some good play, while the Post at least gave it a brief. It doesn't change the fact that their coverage of the whole issue has been skewed, but it's a step in the right direction. Shameless self promotion, kinda There's an editorial in the Post today from Vancouver talking about crystal meth. Well, more appropriately, lauding fellow CanWest paper The Province's series on the emerging menace that is crystal meth. It ties nicely into a piece on media sensationalism I did for a 'zine called The Shotgun Solution under the pseudonym Mr. Anthrope. I promise not to do this a lot, but the piece fits the mandate of Megalomedia, so here's the link, or you can try to find a copy of the 'zine around Ottawa.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Special Friday Post: Dose ruined my weekend

Wow. Holy shit-ass fucking wow. I don't normally comment on Dose, the trendy new free daily for young people published by the "Calgary Herald Group" (or "CanWest" to the rest of us), but wow. On today's cover, they ran a series of screen captures from Martin's speech last night with captions made up of Martin quotes taken out of context to read: The Liberal Party / an unjustifiable mess / in full view of Canadians / and I myself / violated the public trust / You are entitled to / a general election within 30 days / Good night. Then, on their contents page (pg 3), at the very bottom in tiny type (about 1 pt bigger than their photo credits) they explain that "On our cover, we took Martin's words and mashed them up. And you can too. Put your own spin on them at dose.ca.mashup." Holy shit, do they not realize that they just admitted to spinning his speech? They are bragging about libeling someone and running an unethical, immoral cover. Hah hah, this is so clever. What ever happened to journalistic responsibility? Whatever happened to ethics? The saddest part is that this paper is aimed at young people. This is what CanWest, the largest media chain in Canada, thinks the youth of today want. Fuck you CanWest. We are not to be pandered to. We will not buy into your agenda and your bullshit. I am honest-to-god offended by this, as an ex-journalist, as a young person and as a fucking rational human being.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Trendiest rant ever

I feel somehow cooler today. Sitting here in my apartment, curled up in my new chair, typing away on my new iBook. All I need is a freakin' latte and an iPod and I'd be set. If those high school bullies could see me now. Defence policy update, sort of Well, to Mr. Phronetic, who posted a comment yesterday regarding my foreign policy rant, you were right - kind of. The Globe ran a really well-written analysis of the new defence policy by Jeff Sallot. The cynic in me has a feeling it was ready for yesterday's paper and got bumped by the pope, but since it's my weekend, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they took an extra day to give the statement a thorough going over. I was surprised, however, by the general lack of followup commentary. I expected the usual suspects to have their opinion pieces in today. . . David Rudd, Barry Cooper and the like. Instead, only retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie commented today, along with a few columnists and editorials. Mac was actually fairly complementary, which caught me off guard. We'll see what comes out tomorrow (though you'll have to read for yourselves, I'll be sleeping tonight's party off), but I have to say that the Globe may have saved itself today, but the CanWest crew certainly didn't. Tell us what we want to hear, the headline's already written Most papers ran something on Dalton McGuinty's drive to have Ottawa give Ontario more money. They were all headed with something to the effect of "McGuinty vows to make funding an election issue" (that was the Globe's choice) and the reportage followed the same tone. Thing is, a gaggle of reporters basically brow beat that out of him. CBC radio played the scrum yesterday, it went basically like this. McGuinty: I don't think Martin is listening, I'm mad about that. Reporters: Will you make it an election issue? McGuinty: Well, I just think Ontarians have made it clear what they want. Reporters: Will you make it an election issue? McGuinty: The funding gap is important, we'll deal with it any way we can. Reporters: Will you make it an election issue? McGuinty: "We will continue to campaign, either during a federal election before a federal election or after a federal election on behalf of the people of Ontario when it comes to the $23-billion gap" That last one is the actual quote that was reported. And the headline prophets rejoiced. This is Julie Van Dusen reportage at its best. Verbally batter politicians until you get what you want. Sure, McGuinty's comments were newsworthy, but he didn't vow to make it an election issue. Oddly enough, it was CanWest that played this the most straight, burying the comments in a broader piece on the political climate in Ontario. The SunMedia papers, Star and Globe were the worst offenders here. The Post played something straight, you say? Yea, but don't get too excited. Look at their A1 today first. They focus on Martin's Survivor preshow tonight by putting a nice big colourful box running down what he might do: Call an election, give a partisan speech, prorogue parliament (so far, so good) or declare war. What? Yea, there it is. They give the pros and cons (from the Liberal perspective) of each option and note that declaring war could help save his government (a la Bush), but pointed out that Canada doesn't have a natural enemy right now and might have to make up a war like in Wag the Dog. What the hell is this about? I can imagine the converstaion Editor: I want three options, election, speech or proroguery Graphics Guy: Uh sorry boss, this is a four-panel graphic. . . Editor: Shit, it does look nice like that, doesn't it? Hell, let's make up something utterly implausable and irresponsible, it'll be funny. Much of the illustration is borderline editorial, but that last panel is something out of The Onion. Who does that serve? How is that keeping Canadians informed? When the Sun pulls shit like this, I tend to shake my head and move on. They are a tabloid, after all. But CanWest likes to pretend they're above this kind of thing. I guess not. And did anyone hear what Condi Rice had to say in Russia? She's concerned about Putin violating the Rule of Law and she wants more independent media there. This from the administration that demands pre-screened questions at press conferences, issues video news releases for television broadcasts and pays pundits to spin for them. And let's not talk about their rule of law violations. Any "reporters" call her on this shit? Didn't think so. Maybe it's because all the questions were pre-screened.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPE!

We got a new pope! We got a new pope! We got a new pope! And so ends my impression of the Canadian media today (thanks for the idea Dan). Did I mention we have a new pope? For years now, the mainstream papers in Canada have demanded a new foreign policy statement and a new defence policy. It's been a major theme. The last defence white paper was drafted in 1994, they were fond of pointing out, the world has changed since then. We need guidance in the era of terrorism. Yesterday, a new foreign policy statement (including a defence policy section) was released, and the Toronto Star and Montreal Gazette saw fit to run just two news stories on it. And that's twice what the rest of the heavy-hitters ran. That's right, according to the Globe, Post and Citizen, all that was in the 116-plus page document can be summed up in a single story. New direction for the military? New rules on foreign aid? New structure in DFAIT? Trade issues? One story. Throw in the commentaries and editorials and there were 16 pieces on the policy statement in the Globe, Post, Citizen, Gazette, Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun and Toronto Star combined. For a comparison, let's count hits on the naming of the new pope from the National Post alone: 15. Now we're going to play the context game that I know and love. According to the 2001 Canadian census, 12.8 million Canadians identified themself as Roman Catholic. That's 43 per cent of the population. According to the 2001 Canadian census, just over 30 million Canadians existed. That's 100 per cent of the population. Each and every Canadian will be affected by the new foreign and defence policy guidelines. How can the corporate media bigwigs justify this imbalance in coverage? Remember that World Bank report on poor kids The Post pulled another "UN report on Arab democracy" stunt and rather than report on the World Bank's findings, it published excerpts from the report a few days after the fact. Context? Quotes? Nah, just toss in the report, let people figure it out for themselves. Border scare! AAAAAAHHHH!! The Post also continued its border security fear-monger-fest with an opinion piece from an important U.S. congressman talking about Canada's weak performance on border securit. . . wait a minute. . . that name looks familiar. . . Mark Souder? Wasn't he the one quoted in that story last week. . . yes, yes he was. So essentially, they gave him an opinion piece in which to reiterate the comments made in a news story last week. What's the matter, Post, couldn't find anyone else to spin your line for you? Sorry about yesterday, I didn't get a chance to repost my rant after my computer decided to take a nap. My new iBook should be here today, but in the meantime, I'll keep posting from work. Oh, and I added a link to a cool new blog by my good buddy Ryan. It's a megalomedia-esque take on the world of advertising. Check it out here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Lost post.

Argh. My browser crashed. I'd just finished my post and I crashed. I don't feel up to retyping it all right now, I'll try to get it up later. In the meantime, look at the CanWest coverage of the Minuteman border monitoring program. It might be coming to the Canadian border, but CanWest really doesn't spend much time talking about the problems with the program along the Mexican border. Also, the "Talban attack" that was reported in a few papers yesterday wasn't so much an attack as an accident that had nothing to do with the Taliban. The Canadian Press corrected their story and the Gazette picked it up, but the Citizen and SunMedia took a pass on correcting their erroneous story from yesterday. Man, my new iBook can't get here fast enough. Stupid crashing PC.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Rant: R-a-n-t. . . rant

Shhh. . . if we all talk very quietly, perhaps the Gomery reporters will stay asleep. That's right, today's front pages are all but deviod of sponsorship coverage and I gotta say, I forgot what this was like. Not since JPII passed on in Rome has there been so many A1s without election talk. Conclaves of cardinals, immigration reform, OHL playoffs, inter-provincial migration. . . such a smorgasboard of stories to choose from. Weekend update Okay, I admit, I tend to take a pass on the papers on the weekend. Fuck it, I need some time to play PS2 and not wallow in my own rage. But walking to the pub for a hearty Saturday breakfast I had to stop and pay tribute to the Citizen's front page. A1, above the fold, full coverage of the CanWest spelling bee. I have it on good authority that there were two additional pages of coverage inside too, and today's Post dedicates A2 to the story as well. Ain't nothin' like some naval gazing goodness on a Monday morn. The award for most misleading cover teaser goes to. . . The National Post for its wonderful photo of two Hamas (?) militants in menacing ski masks and the tease "Among us: Canada a base for 'virtually all' terror groups. Excerpt, A15." Wow, you read that and you'd think the photo was taken in Canada (it likely wasn't) and that terrorists were found in Canada (they weren't). See, it's a teaser to excerpts from Post reporter Stewart Bell's new book on how Canada is soft on terrorism. That's what the cryptic "excerpt" refers to. The book excerpts are bad enough, misleading and fear-monger-a-tastic, but this cover teaser is just nuts. It's blatantly sensationalistic and designed to play on natural fears. You can't tease to something in the A section and suggest that Canada is a base for every terrorist group in Canada without context. Putting "excerpt" does not provide context. This sort of bullshit is dangerous and it undermines the credibility of the paper. Come on, it's not like they exert influence over global economy policy or anything Two big stories came out from the World Bank this morning. They released a report that said almost 11 million children in poor countries die each year before the age of five, most from causes that are preventable in wealthier countries. They also concluded meetings with the IMF on debt relief for poor countries without a deal or a plan. These stories were missed in almost every major daily. The preventable disease report appeared in heavy-hitters like the Ottawa Sun, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Kitchener-Waterloo Record and Regina Leader-Post, but the Post, Globe and Toronto Star took a pass. The debt relief story was buried as part of a broader IMF story in the Globe and ran as full stories in the Toronto Sun and Winnipeg Sun. Two CanWest papers, the StarPhoenix and Victoria Times Colonist ran the story too, but under misleading headlines trumpeting the fact that world leaders agreed debt relief would be nice and burying the fact that no deal was reached. How do papers miss stories like this? Debt relief has been a buzz story as of late, it even has the rockstar appeal thanks to Bono. These are two significant stories about the worsening plight of the world's poor, shouldn't we care? Oh right, poor people tend to be brown, never mind. Man, I'm stoked for the Post interview with Suzanne Somers tomorrow. If I can get off the beaten track for a second I normally don't comment too much on Toronto Sun stuff, mostly because their trivial, sensationalistic "news" coverage focuses on stabbings in Toronto and the like. But columnist Connie Woodcock's blatant hypocrisy is worthy of mention as it points to a frustrating trend. Woodcock rants about the lack of morals in society, leading with her concern about the unhealthy image of beauty put forward by the likes of Britney Spears. This is in the paper that gives us the Sunshine girl every day. Listen Connie, if you want to be taken seriously, stop accepting a SunMedia paycheque. Columnists often pull shit like this, taking the moral highground on issues that their employers are the most guilty of undermining. I've ranted on stuff like this before and taken a pass on many other examples. It could be argued that they are trying to change the system from the inside, but I don't buy that anymore. It's been going on too long with no results. It's tokenism at best and dangerous hypocrisy at worst. If Woodcock really wants to take a stand, resign. The way the media wars are working these days, I'm sure a competitor would snatch her up and make the whole debacle into A1 material. It would be awful navel-gazery, but at least she'd have the chance to make her point. That's all for today, tune in tomorrow for the return of ElectionMania '05 and GomeryFest. I sure hope no other genocides take place this week, A1 is already reserved for the latest polling numbers.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Special Friday edition? Exciting!

That's right friends and foes, a Friday megalomedia post. I'm as excited as you are, so let's get to it. Everyone finally reported on the Sudan thing? Nope. Nobody did. MichenerMania! I know the Michener Awards are a big deal, but do papers have to dedicate so much coverage to their own wins? If you want to know who won, just look at the Globe today, their "lead" is a teaser to the story on A3. They actually bumped their main headline down a few inches to pat themselves on the back. Then they dedicate A3 above the fold, the second-most prime location in the paper, to their own award. Surprisingly the Citizen also gave the awards some coverage, despite failing to take home anything important. So fair play to them, I guess, but Globe, that's not cool. I was actually invited to the big partay last year, but turned down the opportunity based on my a) lack of interest in palm-greasing and back-slapping with corporate media big wigs, b) lack of respect for the office of the governor-general and c) lack of nice suit. Maybe I should have gone, whipped it out in the mashed potatoes or something, give the papers some actual news to report. Bush was confused about something? Almost everyone got the news that Bush wants to review border security legislation that would see travellers need passports or some other form of highly-secure identification to enter or leave the U.S. And almost everyone got Bush admitting that he learned about it from the media coverage of the matter (which is kind of troubling, isn't it?), but CanWest took a pass on the fact that Bush was also completely off base with his concerns. The Globe points out that Bush seems to think that passports are going to be required, and wondered if fingerprint scans might be acceptable too. Thing is, the legislation was unclear on what suitable ID would be. It's unlikely that only passports would be accepted. Biometric identifiers of all kinds would probably do. It's sad that the president was uninformed about this stuff, but CanWest seemed to forget what it had reported itself just last week. Advertorial or Edvertisement? The Citizen's second editorial today is praising the goodness of spelling bees, on the eve of the CanSpell National Spelling Bee, sponsored by CanWest. The whole thing is one big advertisement for their own event. "CanWest is sponsoring the bee because we want a Canada of readers and writers." Warms the heart doesn't it? That's a bold editorial stance if I've ever seen one. Do as we say, not as we do The Gazette ran an editorial today criticizing Parliament for focusing on election speculation and the sponsorship scandal instead of on making laws. Hmm, I wonder what could have ever pushed election speculation (eleculation?) and sponsorship issues to the top of the priority list. . . It's a wonder the Gazette building wasn't hit by lightning when this bad boy was shat out. The Gazette has led the way in excessive coverage of the Gomery inquiry, they have at least three different reporters there. And the election speculation is driven by the polls commissioned by the press. Yes, MPs should get back to governing the country, but the press has a role to play there too. If the Gazette wanted to set an example, that'd be stellar.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Grumble grumble grumble

Hi all. Good news and bad news. First of all, I will be posting a special friday edition of megalomedia tomorrow, so tune in for that. The bad news is that I'm in a really foul mood this morning and I have a feeling today's post will be less coherent and more curse-ridden than normal. Consider yourself warned. Sudan update None. Still nobody. We're sending 31 troops and nobody cares. But people are betting on who the next Pope will be, so that's important. Conflict of whatnow? There's a Senate committee looking at media ownership policy in Canada. Has been for awhile. About 200 people have appeared before it. But yesterday, the president of CanWest appeared, so, of course, CanWest reported on it. National Post A8, a news report on what the guy who runs the company that runs the paper had to say about how papers should be run. What the fuck is this about? How can they even pretend to be able to report on his comments objectively? It would be one thing if they had been covering this thing from day one, but they haven't. His testimony was frustrating enough, you should all read what he had to say, but seriously, reporting on it in the Post? (oh, and the Gazette). I know a lot of you reading this are probably not at all surprised, I sure as hell wasn't, but why aren't we engraged? Why do we chuckle then move on? Half the people reading this are fucking journalists, who'll shake their heads at the story then go back to sending clipping packages to CanWest papers in the hopes of getting a job. Fuck it, it's a disgrace. This is the sort of shit that drove me from journalism in the first place, nobody even cares about trying to be objective anymnre. Hait. . . oh man Joe, shut up about Haiti Allan Rock, our man at the UN, is in Haiti with a whole UN posse checking up on how the peacekeepers are doing. I'm gonna assume the answer is "not particularly well," what with all the illegal U.S.-supplied guns everywhere. This story was in the Gazette and Toronto Sun only, it'll be interesting to see which papers report on his findings. Where for art though, logic? The great Dallaire debate has been raging in the letters section of the Post ever since they printed that absured, offensive waste-of-space of a column on Dallaire in Rwanda earlier this week. Letters against Dallaire take one of two forms: a) Dallaire was a bad general because he followed direct orders and b) Dallaire was a bad general because the Canadian Forces put priority on language above talent. Look, Dallaire was a good general because he followed orders, that's what good generals do. His failing as a general was that he felt bad about the piles of dead black people and decided rather than continue drinking and trying to kill himself, he'd tell the fucking story and try to shake the Western world out of its selfish bubble of intolerance. If he'd never spoken up, he'd have been the perfect general, just doing what he was told. Watch Downfall to see more generals who followed orders and stayed quiet about it. As for the French thing, I have no idea. If the Forces do have a French quota that must be filled before merit, that's stupid. But Dallaire is well-liked by his troops and colleagues, and RWANDA IS A FORMER BELGIAN COLONY. BELGIANS SPEAK FRENCH. For fuck's sake, his French was an asset in dealing with some of the lingering vestiges of colonial authority that caused the fucking problem in the first place. Last but not least, check out the airline security story on the front page of the Financial Post section. The U.S. wants to start screening all passengers who fly through U.S. air space, even if they don't land in the U.S. So, if you hop on a flight to Vancouver from Ottawa, you'll be vetted by the U.S. if this passes. Unreal.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I think I've found the key to my rage

I came to a startling realization the other day - I have no means of escape from reality. I used to count on films and music, but my DVD collection is mostly comprised of leftie documentaries and the bulk of the music I listen to is angry, political punk rock. So yesterday I went on a DVD bender (fuck it, my birthday's coming up, I deserve a treat) and what did I buy? Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism and Hotel Rwanda. Yea, those'll help subdue my rage. Luckily I also bought The Incredibles, so Jack-Jack can make me a better person. O.K. seriously, this isn't funny anymore I actually had to go to the DND website today to confirm that Canada did in fact commit soldiers to Sudan. They did, it's here. Honestly, how is this story being overlooked? The Globe and Post both ran follow-up pieces on the donor conference in Oslo, but since they both used a Reuters wire story, they both missed the Canadian angle yet again. This is insane. The situation in Sudan gets limited coverage at best, but when it does, it's usually in the form of an opinion piece from an obscure academic or a columnist with a fleeting interest in the continent writing about the lack of Canadian action in the country. Now we have action and only the Toronto Star sees fit to report on it. I know 31 soldiers doesn't sound like a lot, but if you put it in context (you catching this, mainstream media?), it will be the fourth-largest overseas deployment for Canada, after Operation Athena in Afghanistan and UN missions in Bosnia and the Golan Heights. As of Feb. 25, 2005, Canada had 1,567 soldiers stationed abroad, the addition of 31 more to that number is pretty significant. It's all right here. There, see how easy that was? Context, the lost art of Canadian journalism. Election Redux You know what? Call the election. Call it now. Just fucking call it. The cycle has already begun, and the media spiral is just going to keep going. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Media decides an election might be called, newspapers commission polls, newspapers report on polls, politicians comment on the media-sponsored polls, newspapers report on comments, newspapers commission more polls, politicians comment and it doesn't stop until the election. I'm sick of all this. Columnists saying nobody really wants an election, politicians saying nobody really wants an election. . . you're all fucking liars. The media love elections, they get to ride on campaign buses and come up with fancy graphics - it's their bread and butter. The Conservatives want an election because they think they can win. The NDP wants an election because it thinks it can get more seats. The Bloc wants an election because they can probably sweep Quebec on the heels of the Gomery inquiry. The only people who don't want an election are the Liberals. Just do it. Call the damn election and get it over with. Because those of us who have to drag our sorry asses out of bed at 4 a.m. to analyze all this speculatory bullshit are tired of it all. Border Bullshit v2.0 So the Post ran a little story today on A6 quoting Peter MacKay quoting the congressman who was quoted in the Post. You follow all that? The Post generated a controversy all on their own, and are now reporting on it. My favourite part, though, has to be the little quote buried at the end of the story from McLellan's parliamentary secretary. "We are not going to get involved in the context of the comments from customs officers in the middle of labour negotiations." Interesting, there are labour negotiations going on. You think maybe the leaked testimony to the Senate committee was a bargaining ploy by border guards? Way to go Post, you spun their side for them, gave them legitimacy by quoting some "cotton-pickin'" congressman and then, ooops, admitted your bias. There, a short and sweet one for all you megalomedia fans, I have a breakfast date I gotta run to.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I hope one day my iPod playlist is international news

It's been one of those mornings where I have to laugh. Mostly because otherwise, I'd cry. And I've got a reputation to uphold. An old pet peeve, a shiny new example I've always been troubled by the reliance on wire services for international stories. Just yesterday, for example, a high-ranking Iranian official criticized Canada's handling of the Kazemi case - a pretty substantial comment. Sadly, since no Canadian outlets have reporters in Tehran, the papers relied on wire stories and the opportunity to contextualize the story for a Canadian audience was lost. Today, this goes a step further. There is a major international donors conference on Sudan going on and Canada announced $90 million in aid. No problem, the Agence France-Presse report got that as part of its overall list. But at the same time, Canada announced that up to 31 soldiers would be sent to help with UN peacekeeping efforts - including one who will be the deputy force commander of the mission. Only the Toronto Star got that detail, the Post ran an AFP wire story while some smaller papers (Calgary Sun and Saskatoon StarPhoenix) ran an AP report. The Post example is even more troubling given that just yesterday they ran a story attributed to an anonymous government source saying that a troop commitment was forthcoming - they bloody well knew the announcement was coming this week and they still missed the story. This from a paper that constantly bemoans the lack of Canadian involvement overseas. There's a chance that the troop commitment broke late and the rest of the papers will get the story tomorrow, but wow. I understand that it's not economically feasible to send reporters all over the world, but when there's a major conference with three Canadian ministers attending, at least pay attention to what's going on. Border crisis looms! Yesterday the Post led with a story about border security concerns based on a leaked report of testimony before a Senate committee. At the time, I was concerned that there were no additional sources, but I assumed that in the spirit of the corporate-media deadline race, they got it late, ran with it and would clarify it today. Erm, I was wrong. Instead, they run a story headlined "American 'patience running out' over border." Fairly ominous eh? Too bad it's fear-mongering bullshit. The American source is a congressman who was clearly phoned by the Post and read the list of concerns from yesterday's story. The congressman then responded as you assume he would, saying the U.S. wants Canada to spend more money and address these problems. Then Anne McLellan is quoted saying that Canada is indeed spending more money ($400 million in the last budget alone) and that alot of the problems raised in the report have already been addressed. This information is, of course, in the continuation of the story on A8. To clarify. Post gets list of concerns raised at a Senate committee. Runs story based on that. Then calls a Republican congressman and reads him the concerns. Congressman responds based only on those concerns. Post buries the context of the report (that it was dated and many of the concerns have been addressed) and headlines it "American 'patience running out' over border." And just who is this Congressman? Here's a quote from him. “You can say you passed laws all you want, you can go to all the meetings but the bottom line is if your cotton-picking computer does not work, what good is it?” Cotton-picking computer. 'Nuff said. Bush listens to an iPod. I don't care. Both the Post and Citizen ran stories on what Bush has in his iPod. The Post focused on the Canadian content (Joni Mitchell and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings), while the Citizen dwelled on the "controversial" lyrical content of "My Sharona" by the Knack. The Post even wasted one of their own reporters on the story ("Sudan conference? Fuck it we'll use AFP, we need Agrell on this iPod thing") and ran it is a teaser above the fold on A1. Now, it's pretty standard for the White House to issue bullshit like this to take the heat off something else. Now let's see, what could they want to bury. . . Oh lookie here, turns out Bush's nominee for the UN job, John Bolton, is under investigation for allegations that he twice sought the dismissal of security analysts who did not provide intelligence that matched his conclusion. In fairness, the Post and Citizen both got that story too, as did most Canadian papers, but seriously, why even bother with the stupid iPod story? And is Apple paying you for that nice photo of its products on A1, Post? And the Oscar for worst argument ever goes to. . . The Post's George Koch and John Weissenberger argue in a full-page commentary that Romeo Dallaire isn't a hero because he followed orders in Rwanda. That's right, because he didn't disobey direct orders from UN superiors, he's a bad general. This is my favourite paragraph: "What Dallaire has done, in other words, is to have taken a story of horrific black on black murder facilitated by the UN, and adapted it to the specious, one-size-fits-all anti-Western narrative popularized by Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore - glossing over his own less than honourable role in the process." Hey Koch, Weissenberger, why don't you try to run a fucking peacekeeping operation?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Rocking to the hip-hop in my head

Man, I downloaded a tonne of k-os yesterday, and I've had "Crabbuckit" in my head ever since. Damn you k-os and your infectious beats, damn you. And the Post limps in on Haiti Well, last week the Globe ran an opinion piece by Robert Muggah, who wrote a study on guns in Haiti. Today, the Post ran a news report by Steven Edwards on the matter. The interesting thing to note is that while the story has but one source - Muggah's report - it fails to mention one of the key themes in the report. As Muggah himself explained in the Globe, the U.S. has begun to violate its own embargo by shipping guns into the country. The report dedicates an entire appendix to the U.S. sale of guns, a chart that shows this past year marked the first substantial shipment of arms to the country in a decade. This leads to one of two conclusions. Either Edwards is lazy and didn't really read the report too closely (and the appendicies are listed in the table of contents, he'd have to be really out to lunch to miss it) or, and I'm just lobbing out ideas here, perhaps Edwards and the Post are trying to downplay the Western culpability in the proliferation of arms and violence. I don't want to harp on this, but Canada and the U.S. backed the overthrow of a democratically-elected leader to install an interim government that has been accused of violating civil rights and indiscriminate killings. If the U.S. is also providing the guns to the government-backed militias that are carrying out those killings, shouldn't the Post mention that? CanWest continues to sort of cover the UN report on Arab democracy The slow leak of information on the UN report on Arab democracy continued today, with the Post printing some excerpts from the report. That practice has always seemed sort of odd to me, why not provide some context for people? It's one thing when excerpts are included as part of a grander allotment of coverage, but just throwing in a report with no explanation or discussion just seems lazy. The Toronto Star gets in election mode The Star has apparently decided there's going to be an election, and as such, ran several stories on the issue, including what a Tory cabinet might look like, what important Liberal initiatives would fall by the wayside, how support for the parties looks these days. . . Only one problem, the election hasn't been called yet. It reminds me of my favourite CNN line during the early days of the Iraq War. The host actually said to a pundit: "All we have is rumours and speculation, but would you care to speculate on the rumours?" It's not like there aren't things to cover, and the Toronto Star is usually pretty good about staying out of this sort of sensationalized bullshit that dominates CanWest papers. I guess everyone lapses once in awhile. Random shots at random pieces The Citizen ran an opinion piece (A13) by Michael Reagan, son of Ronnie. In it, he describes how God has a plan for everyone, and for his father, it was to lose the 1976 Republican nomination, only to win later and defeat godless communism. Uh, what? Why the hell is this piece in the newspaper? Who cares what Mikey Reagan thinks God's plan for his daddy was? He talks about the Superhero Squad of Pope John Paul II, Maggie Thatcher and his daddy, and how God is playing out the last bits of his plan for them all. Wow, that's . . . important? Interesting? None of the above? Next, Lorne Gunter (Post A16) continues to amaze me by ranting at length, once again, about how religious minorities are being persecuted in the fight for same-sex marriage. Quit trying to play the victim, nobody is trying to strip away your rights. And finally, Matthew Fisher (Post A12) is complaining about the hyperbole in the press surrounding the Pope's funeral. Fair point, but it would mean more in a newspaper that didn't dedicate a week's worth of front pages to the Pope, or a special section on his death. Also, it would mean more from someone who didn't write that JPII was the greatest Pole who ever lived. Sure it was a quote, but he didn't have to use it. He also wrote "The final resting place of John Paul's heart is a drama that has taken on a life of its own in Poland since the Pontiff's death four days ago." A drama that has taken on a life of its own? Hyperbo-what now?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The donut guy played hockey too?

A few people have asked me why I haven't touched on all the Gomery Inquiry stuff yet. There's no really good reason, except for the daunting amount of coverage it's getting. Frankly, I can't make heads or tails of what I read day-to-day. As a general comment, the Toronto Star seems the most reserved, choosing to report on what little news actually comes out of the inquiry and passing on all the election speculation bullshit. But on to the other stuff. Why is this a special feature? During the election campaign, the Citizen started doing these bizarre little analyses of top stories by contrasting the spin with the truth. This site didn't exist then, but I often ranted about how silly this seemed. Then today, they brought it back to deal with the aforementioned avalanche of Gomery-related coverage. On page A4, Jack Aubry provides a "Just the facts" analysis of "The Spin," "The Counterspin" and "The Truth" about Martin's claim that the Liberals are the victims in the sponsorship scandal. Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't this be part of every story? By creating a special section to counter the various party talking points, aren't they admitting that the rest of their coverage is spun? The role of the press is not just to print the various party lines for them, it's to provide context. That the Citizen has to provide a special section to do this is absurd. Police and theives in the street . . . There's a really interesting opinion piece in the Globe today by Robert Muggah from something called the Small Arms Survey in Geneva. They're dedicated to monitoring small-arms proliferation around the world, and evidently, the U.S. has been violating a 13-year-old arms embargo by selling weapons to the interim Haitian government. You remember, the one that was installed after the U.S. led a coup to overthrow a democratically-elected president? Muggah is understandably upset at this development, and rightfully so. The interim government (see also puppet regime) is fragile, the country is unstable, and the last thing anyone needs is $7-million worth of U.S. guns in the streets. My question is why wasn't this reported anywhere before? Violating an embargo and adding to the already ridiculous number of guns in Haiti is a pretty significant story, no? Compare and contrast the historical significance of the following: Not to sound insensitive, but does anyone really care whether or not Tim Horton was drunk when he crashed his car and died 31 years ago? And if the answer is yes, is there anyone out there who can explain how this is front page material? Citizen A1, starting above the fold. Meanwhile, the Toronto Star was the only paper that bothered to report that Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. continued to dump tens of thousands of gallons of hazardous radioactive waste into the ground for a decade after promising to stop. It's understanable though, the Tim Horton thing was a scoop, they had to obtain records and everything. The AECL story came out at a public hearing. If a scandal breaks at a public hearing and no reporters are around, does it make a story? Joe admits he was (sort of) wrong Yesterday I expressed skepticism that anyone would pick up on the UN Human Development Report story on democracy in the Middle East. The Citizen ran an opinion piece by Marina Ottaway, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, about how the report should be required reading for the Bush administration. I stand by my assertion that it didn't get the play it deserved, but I suppose at this point, we take what we can get. Finally, some cow shit (heh heh) There's also a cute little piece in a couple papers about mad cow. Apparently, there's a rumour going around that the U.S. department of agriculture is covering up cases of BSE in the U.S. A whistleblower named Lester Friedlander, who inspected meat plants for a living, brought it up. So far only the Regina Leader-Post, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald and Montreal Gazette got the story, but he's appearing before the Parliamentary committee looking into BSE stuff next week. Stay tuned for that.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Sheila Fraser, you so crazee

I'm pretty sure that in some Latin American countries, Sheila Fraser would have fallen victim to some sort of unfortunate accident. In Canada, however, she's merely subject to a swarm of reporters tripping over themselves trying to spin her every comment to suit their agenda while the government points to shiny things in an effort to distract them. "Look, over there, Jane Fonda's talking!" Sadly, it seems to work. A reading from the book of Sheila So as you may have noticed, the auditor-general issued a pretty scathing report yesterday. Okay, first of all, I love that Sheila Fraser exists. I think she serves a really important role. But ever since she blew the lid off of the sponsorship thing, Canadians have elevated her and her reports to a demi-god-like status. Which is why it should be up to the media to provide some context for her reports. No such luck today. Fraser herself tempered her critique of the passport office and emergency preparedness by noting that improvements continue to be made. Canada is pouring ridiculous amounts of money into security measures and most of Fraser's legwork was done before the new public security department was even created. This little detail, however, was buried in most reports and non-existant in CanWest coverage. Admittedly, the government didn't do itself any favours by putting Anne McLellan and Pierre Pettigrew on point for this one. McLellan seems to default to confrontational mode and Pettigrew appears to have studied media relations under Chretien, but Fraser herself gave the government the benefit of the doubt in many respects. I don't know if I believe that the problems are being solved, but that's not really for me - or the media - to decide. Get every side of the story that you can, then put it out there and let people make up their own minds. By failing to acknowledge that Fraser's report is already slightly out of date, the media (specifically CanWest) are not being responsible. Ipper-whatnow? While most media outlets have dispatched a team of reporters to cover the publication-banned Gomery inquiry, an inquiry into the shooting of Dudley George in Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995 has been all but ignored by everyone but the Toronto Star. Yesterday, it was revealed that a CSIS/RCMP agent may have gone undercover as a reporter to spy on Native activists during the standoff. Um, what? Reporters in this country are given special access - rightly or wrongly - based on their position in society. Now we have allegations of government operatives manipulating that public trust and nobody except the Toronto Star seems to care. Given the media's tendency to naval-gaze and their inflated sense of self-worth in cases such as the Juliet O'Neil raids, this is even more surprising. Time and time again, the Ipperwash inquiry has turned up troubling details about the government's role in the shooting, and time and time again, the Star is the only outlet to report on it. Unreal. It's a shame Dudley didn't work for CanWest, then maybe his death would get some coverage. But freedom . . . marching . . . The Globe buried an interesting little story. Apparently the UN Development Program issued a report that said democracy is not marching across the Arab world quite as quickly as some (namely the U.S.) would like us all to believe. The report, which was written before the Iraqi elections and demonstrations in Lebanon, said most measures have been "embryonic and fragmentary" and have not amounted to a serious effort to end repression in the region. It actually singles out the U.S. for undermining the international system by repeatedly using or threatening to use its UN Security Council veto on Israeli issues. Why is it anytime Bush proclaims freedom on the march, columnists and correspondents soil themselves and ejaculate praise all over the papers, but when a dissenting voice responds, it only runs in one paper? This isn't some crackpot dictator making these claims, it's the bloody UN. I want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that this story will be picked up tomorrow and given adequate play. But given the coverage of such issues in the past (most recently the Citizen going to sleep on Lebanon), I'd be surprised. Tune in tomorrow for more. Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to The National Post's Steven Edwards' coverage of a UN staff meeting is brutal. Check out this lead: "Applause and expressions of confidence in Kofi Annan's leadership opened a huge United Nations staff meeting yesterday in a scene that reminded some of an ordered political gathering in a one-party state." A scene that reminded some of an ordered political gathering in a one-party state? This from the same paper that came all over itself when the Liberals and Tories had back-to-back conventions just last month. Granted, these rallies are pretty creepy, but why aren't the over-scripted displays of leaderlust dismissed as such when Martin and Harper are on stage? Oh right, cause the Post hates the UN. At least pretend to be unbiased, eh Post?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

If a government falls in a forest and nobody hears. . .

Wow, it looks like this whole minority government experiment is about to collapse. Too bad, I was looking forward to an entire session of all the parties denying that an election is looming while accomplishing nothing at all. Division of Powers 101: A primer on the Canadian constitution Sarah Schmidt reports today that the federal government is spending less on post-secondary education than in the past, despite surging enrollment. The story was all over the place (National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald and Regina Leader-Post) and you can almost hear the provincial governments and student lobby groups frantically copy-and-pasting this bad boy into e-mail listservs and placard-making machines. Only one problem, Ms. Schmidt. The federal government doesn't fund post-secondary education, the provinces do. Thanks to Paul Martin's spineless capitulation to the provinces in 1993, transfer payments are no longer earmarked, the provinces get a lump sum of money to spend as they see fit. Schmidt clearly understands this, as she points out "Ottawa estimates the provinces are spending $4.5-billion of the Canada social transfer for core funding for colleges and universities this year." She compares this as being "down from $6.18-billion provided for post-secondary education a decade ago, before the federal Liberals abolished the established financing programs and replaced it with the less generous Canada social transfer." However, despite this obvious understanding of the system, she fails to explain that a) the Liberals abolished the established financing programs because of provincial pressure and b) therefore, it's not the feds who aren't funding education. There are a lot of reasons to criticize the federal government's performance on post-secondary, but CanWest is clearly spinning this story to suit their provincial-rights agenda. And not very well. Is this supposed to make up for lost time? The Citizen ran an editorial welcoming a book on Rwanda by former UN special envoy to Rwanda Jacques-Roger Booh Booh. For those not up to speed on the Rwanda thing, Booh Booh was the ineffective, spineless jackass who fiddled while Rwandans got shot and hacked to bits. Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire had a few choice words for Mr. Booh Booh in his book, and evidently, Booh Booh's feelings got hurt. Thing is, the Citizen even acknowledges that his book is a crock of shit, but argues that "any new version of events, however biased, is a welcome addition to an all-too-thin oeuvre on the UN's handling of the worst mass murder in a half-century." This is right in line with the mind-boggling assertion that the free market theory can apply to intangible ideas such as truth. Perhaps the Citizen has a bit of a guilt complex going on - perhaps they welcome additions to the examination of the UN's handling of Rwanda because it takes the heat off of the media's equally shameful failure there. A biased recollection of events does not help paint a clearer picture. Booh Booh's book has already been slammed by independent watchdogs as being full of total lies (the editorial even admits this). Does he have the right to publish it? Sure. Should the Citizen blindly welcome it? No. Toronto Star, you break my heart Normally I love the Star. They tend to be reasonable in their coverage (see Gomery Inquiry: Waiting for actual news of). But Tim Harper's story on Yushchenko's visit to Washington opens with a horrible lead. "Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko made his first triumphant visit to the White House yesterday where he stood as both a symbol of George W. Bush's quest to spread freedom and the U.S. president's crumbling coalition in Iraq." Wow, he stood as a symbol of Bush's quest to spread freedom, did he? Was he wearing some sort of sandwich board? Did he have a cleverly-worded t-shirt? This sort of rhetoric is par for the course in American papers (like the National Post), but the Star usually avoids the journalistic-fellation of the Leader of the Free World. Makes me sad. Citizen continues to ignore Syria's pullout from Lebanon I was hoping that the Citizen would just be a day late on the story about Syria setting a deadline for withdrawal from Lebanon. No such luck. The story was bumped for such doozies as "Neil Young enjoys the Junos" and "Here's who's coming to the Pope's funeral." Interestingly enough, both the Syrian and Lebanese heads of state will be at the funeral, perhaps they'll chat there and the Citizen will finally notice. And as for the Neil Young story, the Ottawa Sun at least ran it in the entertainment section where it belongs. Not so for the Citizen, that's A7 material for them. Finally, anyone else sick of the bullshit posturing over Zhara Kazemi? Suddenly, Martin wants to protect the doctor who examined her so he can get to the bottom of the murder. Harper's pissed that the government has taken so long to expose the torture. The Post is mad at everyone for ignoring this for so long. Martin: It's your government. You want to get to the bottom of it, get in Iran's face. Harper: Torturing Canadians is bad. Torturing non-Canadians "suspected" of terrorist ties is okay? Fuck you, hypocrite. Post: See Harper.