Megalomedia - Wake up to your news

Thursday, June 30, 2005

A reading from the book of Cross

Most people who know me know that I'm a big fan of the stand-up comedy of David Cross. Allow me to share with you one of his more sparkling insights. As he tells it, he was sitting through an episode of Paris Hilton's "The Simple Life," watching a commercial for electric scissors, when he realizes that the terrorists might be on to something, hating our freedom. "You know what," he muses. "I hate our freedom. That's all we've done with it? We're fucking assholes, man." Which leads me to the coverage of Karla Homolka. Evidently "THE SCHOOLGIRL KILLER" reads the papers, cause she's starting to worry (quite rightly, I figure) that her life might be in danger when she gets out of jail. So she asked the courts to bring down the big top on the media circus outside the jail and give her some privacy. The judge dismissed it. Predictably, the papers heralded this news in many an editorial celebrating press freedom. I'll let them have that. I don't like when papers cover themselves, let alone editorialize on themselves, but I want to believe that the media - concerned about the public good as they are - would exercise restraint and take their court victory as an affirmation of the believe in the role of the media in a just society. Sure, some lesser publications may go over the top, but at least the papers of high esteem would take the road of the same description, yes? No. Globe and Mail, A1. Columnist (for lack of better word) Christie Blatchford analyzes the letters Homolka exchanged with various love interests during her time in prison. Complete with a copy of one of the letters, full colour above the fold. The article about the court ruling is wedged into the corner, as though to say, "see, this bullshit is justified." If you don't have a Globe handy, have a look at their A1 here. I'm not sure what is more astonishing. That Blatchford has the nerve to mock Karla's "junvenile" language (Ms. Pot, meet Ms. Kettle) or the fact that it comes five days after writing a column entitled "Are you as fed up with Karla as I am?" in which she writes "I don't care, any more, what she eats, wears, says, does or, God forbid, believes - unless and until she breaks the law." You fucking hypocrite. For the record, she also wrote about Homolka three days after writing that column. The Globe wasn't done there, sadly. On A9 they report on the results of handwriting analysis they commissioned on Karla's letters. They sent it to two analysts, one of whom "got a certificate after completing a mail-order course from Handwriting University." Amazingly, they even debunk their own story, by ending it with "apart from forensic expertise used to verify document authorship, courts take a dim view of personality experts such as handwriting analysts. However, scores of such people around North America try to sell their services to customers looking to, say, gauge the suitability of a mate or hire the right employee." As they say in their editorial, "no court or government body should tell people (or the media which reflect their interests) what they have the right to know about Ms. Homolka." Do you feel your interests reflected yet? Globe, I'm ashamed of you. Why on earth did the Post skip this? Read this story from the Globe's A1 (they were kind enough to limit Karla to half a page). Terrifying isn't it? It essentially says that in the face of a large-scale tragedy, the people in charge of our security panicked and threw out all the safeguards in place to protect Canadians' privacy. Umm, what? This is the sort of panic-induced bullshit I can understand when Ozark yokels arm themselves to the tits in the face of certain Armageddon, but from the RCMP? Shouldn't they have more . . . what's the word? . . . restraint? professionalism? sanity? This is, quite likely, the most terrifying bit of testimony to come from the Arar Inquiry (and does a fair bit to discredit all of Anne McLellan's assurances of privacy protection under the new integrated security regime we're now part of). CanWest's Neco Cockburn (a man I know and respect a great deal) is covering the inquiry and his report is in the Citizen and Gazette, among others. Yet the Post takes a pass. What gives? Is their blind adherence to the security-above-all mantra so strong that they don't want to report on anything that questions the post-9/11 security regime? And finally, Ipsos vindicates Megalomedia Yesterday, in the midst of my anti-Marsden diatribe, I highlighted the blatant hypocrisy of criticizing skewed polls while skewing polls later in the same column. Evidently I was too kind, as John Wright, Senior Vice-President at Ipsos-Reid points out in a letter to the Post. She didn't just skew the poll results on the same-sex marriage thing, she actually skewed the results of the poll she accused of skewing! The Post hides their letters behind their subscriber-only wall, but since it's fairly short and entirely poignant, I will copy and paste below. (National Post, June 30)

In her column of June 29, "Blue Martin Puts On A Pink Dress," Rachel Marsden states: "According to an Ipsos-Reid poll from last November, 51% of Canadians agreed with the statement that decriminalization of pot is 'a sound idea as many people will no longer have to suffer a criminal record for a relatively minor offence.' Notice the torque? If they're going to load a poll question like that, they may as well just say that if pot isn't decriminalized, Baby Jesus will bawl his eyes out."

In fact, Ms. Marsden has cherry-picked only part of the actual poll question -- thus applying her own torque to an issue she obviously feels strongly about.

In the survey in question, respondents were read a factual introductory statement that indicated as follows: "The Canadian government is considering legislation that would not legalize marijuana but would make possession of small quantities not a criminal offence so a person would not have a criminal record but may have to pay a fine instead."

Next, respondents were asked whether they thought "this is a sound idea as many people will no longer have to suffer a criminal record for a relatively minor offence and the Canadian government should go ahead with its proposals"; or if they thought "this is a bad idea as marijuana is a gateway drug that can only lead to harder drugs and threatens the war on drugs wherever it's being fought so the Canadian government should stop these changes right now"; or if they "really don't care about this change." It makes little sense to criticize the pro-decriminalization option as "torqued" when the anti-marijuana one provides countervailing language.

The survey results indicated that half of Canadians (51%) agree this potential legislation would be a "sound idea"; 33% agree this potential legislation would be a "bad idea"; 15% say they "don't really care about this change"; and 1% said they "don't know."

The idea that this poll somehow distorts the attitudes of Canadians is demonstrably false. Indeed, the level of support for marijuana decriminalization reported by respondents has actually been higher in various other polls going back several years. In a 2000 National Post poll, for instance, fully two-thirds of respondents indicated their belief that "possession of marijuana should not be a criminal offence."

We don't think there's anything loaded or divine in our polling on this issue -- merely a true reflection of what Canadians think when they have a bowl full of cherries, not just one or two plucked by a columnist who is obviously out on a limb.

Couldn't have said it better myself, John.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hey look, the sky didn't fall at all

Before I get to the media analysis today, I want to take the opportunity to have my say on the issue of the day. Forgive my self-indulgence. A strange thing happened to me this morning. I was listening to CBC Radio on my way to my morning media analysis job as the hourly news came on, and the first item was (no surprise) the results of the same-sex marriage vote. And as I listented to the roar of applause from the gallery that accompanied the yes votes, I felt a surge of pride. My normally jaded and cynical heart (at least for all things Parliamentary) withered and I actually teared up a little bit. Despite the best efforts of fear-mongering Conservatives, and despite the bungling and missteps of an ineffective minority government, Canada became only the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages. Fucking 'eh. I don't know if I buy into the whole "It's the charter, stupid" argument. To me, this is more about saying gays are people too. It's about saying what happens between two consenting adults who love and treasure each other is of fuck all business to anyone else. If two guys want a state-sanctioned certificate that says they love each other, who are we to say they can't have it? It's about saying to the world, in Canada, you can be who you want. I'm not one for melodrama and grandoise declarations of nationalistic pride, but today, I am honestly really fucking proud to be Canadian. I'm glad that despite the best (and worst) efforts of many, this morning any two loving adults in Canada can march into a civic office and say "marry us." I'll say more about the coverage of this in a second, but I think Globe columnist John Ibbitson summed it up the best. "After the certain, swift passage by the Senate, and royal assent, it will become the law of all the land. And Canada, once again, will have stumbled to the front of the pack of civilized nations. ... So, enjoy the summer while it lasts. And congratulate yourself. You are part of the most diverse, tolerant and open-minded place on Earth." The debate was ugly, the performance of many MPs sub-par. But at the end of the day, it got done. I'm going to go crank up the Dead Milkmen's "Stuart" and celebrate the fact that, at least on this issue, Canada got it right. On to the analysis Okay, back to business. The coverage of the vote was, for the most part, predictable. The Globe tended to focus on the need to move on from the sourness of the debate, while the Toronto Star celebrated the vote in an editorial. The surprise was the acceptance, begruding as it was, of the vote by the National Post. Their front page contains a point-counterpoint wherein Andrew Coyne actually argues that the vote was a good thing and it's time to move on to protecting religious freedoms. It's as close to a pro-same-sex argument as you'll get from the Post. Beyond that, there was little in the way of commentary on the matter at all, save for a "let's move on" editorial that argues that few Canadians will actually be affected by the vote (interesting, given their opposition to it in the past, but whatever, we'll let them turn tail with some dignity). The general consensus is that the whole debate was messy, nobody performed particularly well, and at the end of the day, it's probably best that it's over. Not really the triumphant dawn of a new era that you might expect it to be, but it's all very Canadian. So if the Post wasn't gay-hating. . . Don't worry, they were still proudly displaying their right-wing prejudices in their comment section. I want to discuss three of their columns today: Barbara Kay's name-dropping praise of her cottage in Maine (she lives near George Bush Sr., let's all be impressed), George Jonas' patronizing take on the Trudeau/Almrei affair and Rachel Marsden's attack on Paul Martin, which the Post was kind enough to make available online. It's here. I'll save Marsden for the last, because there's a lot to say. These are three great examples of types of columns that piss me off. Kay's piece is basically a self-indulgent rant about how great her cottage in Maine is, how close she lives to the Bush family retreat and how she can totally see why Bush likes it. What's your point? Yay, you can afford to holiday in Maine, who really cares? Jonas offers up a variation on the "kids today with their rock-and-roll music" theme so beloved by himself, SunMedia's Peter Worthington and the like. He criticizes Alexandre Trudeau, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein's support for security-certificate victim Hassan Almrei (read more in the Globe article here) by dismissing them as well-intentioned but misguided kids who don't realize how dangerous terror is. He even recounts meeting Trudeau and Lewis as kids, as though he needed to reinforce the patronizingly parental nature of his column. At least the Post's editorial on the same subject comes right out and calls them all "terrorist-huggers." It's one thing to criticize their actions, but it's even more condescending to pretend they're just misguided kids who would do differently if they knew better. And Marsden. Oh Rachel Marsden. Canada's Anne Coulter. Rebel of the Right. If you didn't read the column, do so here. I'm going to pick this bad boy apart pretty liberally, so you'd do well to read it first. Okay. Line One. Yes, Martin used to be Chretien's "right-leaning counterpart" and now he's gone more socialist. But there's another explanation. He used to be finance minister, now he's PM. See, the finance minister is in charge of finances, and therefore must be the "right-leaning counterpart" to other elements of cabinet. That's why Ralph Goodale said he opposed the NDP budget amendments. It's the finance minister's job to scrutinize spending. The PM, however, is supposed to lead the country. Opinion poll after opinion poll said that Canadians rank healthcare, education and the environment ahead of tax cuts. The government now has money to spend (thanks to Martin's work as finance minister) and Martin is spending it. To suggest that he is "indulging in political cross-dressing with his new socialist comrades" ignores that fact that the Liberals, Bloc and NDP MPs together outnumber the Conservatives. In our great parlimentary system, a majority of votes reflects the will of the nation. Flawed as the system may be, that's the way it works. If those MPs agree to vote on spending initiatives, then theoretically, Canadians do too. Don't get me wrong, there are reasons to criticize how Martin has spent the money. But to suggest that it's all "a desperate power grab" is disengenuous. On to your assertion that "we didn't actually elect [Mr. Layton] to govern." You're right, Rachel, but I don't see where Layton said we did. What he said was "when you elect New Democrats, you get better government." Which is his right to say. Canada did elect more NDP MPs last election than the election previous. "Hand these socialists 16% of the popular vote, and they'll take the crushing defeat as a mandate to run the place," you say? Well, that 16 per cent is more than they got before, how is that a "crushing defeat?" The Conservatives were glad to use the NDP to suit their agenda when they tried to topple the government, why can't the Liberals use them to support it? Coalition governments are in power all over Europe and have been for some time. But we're not allowed to cite European examples are we, no, you'd be happier with a U.S.-style two-party system. On to the same-sex thing. Ipsos-Reid president Darrell Bricker pointed out that "only about a quarter of Canadians thing that same-sex marriage is a great idea," did he? If I know polls, there are usually more options. How many Canadians thought it was a good idea? Or didn't have strong feelings one way or another? It seems to me that if the numbers still added up to a majority of Canadians being opposed to same-sex marriage, you would've presented it that way. Now let's compare that to what you argue a few paragraphs later, that a recent poll that showed Canadians supported decriminalizing pot was "torqued," or misleading. Yes Rachel, it IS disenguous to present misleading poll results isn't it. Okay, this post is already getting too long, so I'll stop there. Needless to say, I don't much care for Ms. Marsden. But don't let that ruin your day. It's a great day. A gay day. Go revel in it. Pump your fist, raise your glass and bask in the homosexual glory of it all. Somewhere, Stephen Harper is crying.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Happy Same-Sex Marriage Day

God willing (or not, depending on your take), the House will finally pass the same-sex marriage bill and the media can move on. But leave it to Stephen Harper to underline his blatant hypocrisy one last time before they do. Saying the Bloc's support robs the bill of its credibility? What does that do to your (failed) attempts to bring down the goverment with Bloc support, Mr. Harper? CTV News actually beats the rest? I'm doing the MediaScout today, so I was forced to watch CTV News last night, but for once, I'm glad I did. They were the only people to report on one of the more troubling elements of the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico integration (sorry, co-operation) deal - the fact that Canada will start accepting FDA drug trials rather than conducting independent ones. Uh, what? I'm going to go on about this at length in the Scout, so go there for some troubling background info on the FDA, but for the purposes of Megalomedia, let me just say that the media has a tough job when dissecting these sorts of agreements. There are hundreds of measures - some new, some re-announced - in this agreement, and it'd be impossible to cover them all the first day. I just hope for the sake of national debate that someone else gets on this story in the next few days and makes Canadians aware of this shit. I'd link to this story, but I really can't find it anywhere online yet. Conflict of whatnow? Okay, check out this story from the Globe, it was repeated fairly extensively in other papers too. Does anyone else see a problem with journalists offering to post bail? Granted, the term is extended fairly loosly here, Avi & Naomi, Alexandre Trudeau and Heather Mallick aren't really hard-nosed news reporters, but if you were the Globe and Mail, par example, wouldn't you have a problem with Ms. Mallick getting so involved? Oh, and national security certificates are an insult to Canada and everything Canadians (theoretically) stand for. SHARK ATTACK! Why are we covering the shark attacks in the U.S. so extensively? You want to stop shark attacks? Stop swimming in shark-infested waters. Okay, that's going to have to do it for today, kids. I'm off to the happy land of MediaScout, where I shall ruminate on FDA approvals in Canada, Harper the Hypocrite, Pakistani rape victims and tsumani relief six months later. Cheers!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Megalomedia: Now with nougat!

Before I get into today's post (and there's a lot to talk about), I want to send the proverbial "shout out" to Globe and Mail letterwriter Michael Warden, who writes: "If Christie Blatchford is as fed up with Karla Homolka as she claims (Are You As Fed Up With Karla As I Am? - June 25), why does she keep writing columns about her?" Amen, my brother. Replace "Christie Blatchford" with any Canadian columnist and "Karla Homolka" with an appropriate noun of choice and you have one of the biggest problems with Canadian pundits. They dwell, they dwell, then the complain about over-coverage of an issue. Preach on, Mr. Warden. Fill that ethical void with the creamy goodness of Caramilk Eight CanWest papers ran glorified press releases on behalf of Cadbury today, trumpeting the release of eight new chocolate bars and a rebranding of the entire line in Cadbury's trademark purple. Two papers (Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Windsor Star) saw the story as A1 material, while five (including the Ottawa Citizen and National Post) saw fit to toss in a photo. The Citizen and StarPhoenix actually ran photos of Cadbury's products for them. Only the Calgary Herald ran the story where it might be justifiable - in the business section. The papers tried to mask this as a news story by citing a StatsCan report on chocolate consumption, a marketing prof and a "nationally recognized candy commentator." But honestly, where's the news value here? I know that a few Megalomedia readers work in CanWest newsrooms, so if you're not bound by some sort of confidentialty agreement, please post a comment and explain how this story was brought up in the pitch meeting. 'Cause in my mind, there was a big box of free chocolate on the desk. I'd link the story, but all the papers seem to have buried it behind their subscriber-only wall of protection. We're here. We're Queer. Let's play up the stereotypes Wow, Rosie DiManno's A1 column in the Toronto Star on the Gay Pride parade in Toronto is an insult to anyone who favours gay rights - even us straight folk. I can't link to it because the website requires registration, but allow me to quote a few gems: "Pride Week in Toronto is a time when straight women can fill their eyes - if not their arms - with luscious, lip-licking, libidinous masculinity, running the entire gamut from he-man to girly-man variety.

"None of whom, alas, gives a toss about us.

"The old adage that the best-looking guys are all gay never feels truer than during this annual celebration of all things queer. Or, to be more formally inclusive and gender-permutated about it, all things LGBTTIQ lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex and queer. We don't know what intersex means, to be honest, but we like the sound of it."

She then went on to lament the fact that the parade has become more mainstream - as though the normalization of gay culture is a problem to her.

"If anything, yesterday's parade could have used a shade more rude, lewd and crude.

"Not to promote stereotypes, but Pride Parade - that's the correct term for it, nowadays, as we are reminded by a glossary of terms contained in the Office Pride Dictionary included in our media package - has grown up so much, become so mature, it is verging on the downright PG-rated conventional."

Actually Rosie, that's exactly what you're doing - promoting stereotypes. And if I were gay, I think I'd find it all rather patronizing. Hell, I'm straight and I find it patronizing.

The Post doesn't like the Globe? Who knew? The Post dedicates two columns/opinion pieces to their ongoing petty war with the Globetoday. The first, by George Jonas, attacks a recent Jan Wong column in which she spread wallets around the city to see if they'd be returned. The second, an opinion piece by a Ron Podonly, criticizes recent Globe coverage of the Middle East dispute.

Both pieces actually raise legit points, but they both discredit themselves in an attempt to tailor them to the newspaper war. Jonas focuses on Wong's decision to throw a wallet over the gate at one of Conrad Black's properties. Rather than attack her fabrication of news (something Wong does far too often, remember her "I snuck a knife onto a plane once, while travelling on a VIP ticket?) he goes after her for attacking Black - the Post's founder and friend of Jonas. Podonly singles out the Globe for inaccurate reporting to serve an agenda - and overlooks the fact that the Post was blasted for inserting the word "terrorist" into wire copy from the Middle East.

There are many reasons to attack Jan Wong. I may at some point soon dedicate an entire post to her. And there are many reasons to criticize media coverage of the Middle East. But to do so in a way that smears only the Globe just smacks of petty bickering and does nothing to advance their case.

And finally There's a whole flurry of torture-related stories flowing around the U.S. that have largely been ignored in the Canadian media. I'll toss a few links your way, they're worth checking out. First read this. Then compare and contrast with this. You have 30 minutes. Begin. Please double space.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sleeping next to a terrified, hypocritical elephant

So the U.S. is trying, once again, to ban flag burning. Read about it here. It's not the first time they've tried, but it's the first time there's been the necessary Republican control of both House and Senate, and the rampant patriotism to make it go. I doubt that I have to point out the blatant hypocrisy here - the freedom loving U.S. curtailing free expression, but I was surprised that so few papers picked up the story. AP put it on their wire, which in today's Canadian media climate makes it a choice candidate for the international sections. Yet neither the Globe nor the Post ran it. Oh well, for shits and giggles, check out this site. National Post News Services or Reuters Lite? The Post finally picked up on the allegations that China has spies in Canada monitoring Falun Gong practitioners. Sort of. They actually refer to Canada casually in the eighth paragraph or a story on the whistleblower's concerns that he could be sent back to China. Actually, for an article from "National Post News Services" it sure has an Australian focus. Almost as though it was a direct copy of a Reuters story, with a token paragraph on Canada tossed in for good measure. This is the first time the National Post reported on this story at all. Shouldn't they have provided a little more context? This is the latest example in a weird trend in the CanWest papers. You'll see a lot of stories attributed to the National Post News Service or CanWest News Service, but really, they're wire stories with a line changed. It's an attempt to disguise the fact that they do little to no actual international reportage, and it's misleading and dishonest. Agent Orange Update The Globe finally ran a story on Agent Orange, in advance of today's meeting at Gagetown. Well, CP ran a story and the Globe grabbed it. Still nothing from the Post, Star or Citizen. In defence of the wires This site dedicates a great deal of time to criticizing wire services. That's a bit unfair. Reuters, Agence France-Presse and AP/CP do a really good job of filling the gap in international reportage. Often, the actual wire stories are well researched and well written, and it's the individual papers that chop up the copy. So when I piss all over the wires, understand that it's the reliance on them I'm against, not the actual work they do. Today, I want to give some mad props to an AP story for a wonderful little dig at Condi Rice. Check out the story here. I love the fourth paragraph, it's a perfect little subtle jab at Rice. " Rice did not elaborate on how the war in Iraq might affect terror groups in other parts of the world." It seems almost like editorializing, but it's rooted in fact and answers a question that a reader would (or at least should) have after reading that quote. Well done, AP. Bushies love tossing out rhetoric like that, we need more reporters to start calling them on their shit. And finally. . . The Star fronted another Guantanmo story today, this even more troubling than the others, in my humble opinion. It turns out doctors who treat the prisoners (sorry, evil doers) are required / encouraged to pass on medical information to the interrogators. The Star article requires a subscription, but a similar report is here. Fuck doctor-patient privilege, we need to know if Mohammed al-Jihad over there has a bum knee we can lean on when we're "interviewing" him. I'm hoping that the Star was just the first off the blocks with this, and that the rest of the papers grab it tomorrow. This is a serious revelation, and the more play it gets, the better.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Like Lorne Gunter, but with a conscience

I was looking for something on the National Post's website this morning and noticed that Lorne Gunter has a blog called "As I Please" - a suitably arrogant title for an arrogant prick like Lorne. I often wonder why columnists feel they also need blogs, as though their daily (or weekly, or whatever) soapbox doesn't give them enough time to impart their pearls of wisdom upon the masses. Oh well, heaven forbid they look out of touch. What does Ed the Sock have to do with sex? There's a story in the Citizen today about the importance of warm feet for good sex. Researchers at the University of Groningen (I've never been prouder to have visited that city) determined that people have better sex when their feet are warm. This was part of the same study that told us all yesterday that the section of a woman's brain that controls fear and anxiety shuts down when they have an orgasm. What a great study. This story is pretty easy to find online, but I chose this link for the headline. That's all well and good, it's an interesting enough story and sex sells, so what the hell, run it (the Citizen ran an above-the-banner tease to it on A1, of course). But what gets me is that the story ran with a photo of Ed the Sock. Umm, what? Granted, they couldn't very well run a picture of people gettin' all freaky with their socks on, but why Ed the Sock? Because he's a pop culture icon. It's part of a trend I've noticed recently where papers will run pop art to illustrate stories. The facing page in the Citizen has a story about a StatsCan study comparing rural and urban lifestyles and mindsets, underneath a giant picture of American Gothic. The Globe's article on the study is here, the Citizen is a subscription-only link. Yesterday's Citizen tease to the Saddam Hussein story had a photo of Doritos and Raisin Bran, while their article on the biology of romance on Monday had a huge picture of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. It is laziness? Or are they hoping to increase readership by including unrelated but easily recognizable images? Either way, it seems like bullshit pandering to me, use that space for something important. Post takes a pass? When I read a Citizen story about a CSIS report that said the war in Iraq is breeding more terrorists and that Canada is a likely target, I really expected it to be on A1 of the Post. TERROR THREAT TO CANADA, or AL-QAEDA EYES THE GREAT WHITE NORTH, or something. But no, it wasn't reported at all. Since the Montreal Gazette also had it, I assume they could've run it as part of their CanWest story sharing, but they didn't. That really surprised me. Why would the Post pass up such a great opportunity to fearmonger on their cover? "The CSIS characterization of Iraq as a source of future extremism contradicts the position of the United States government, which has always insisted military action there is advancing its 'war on terrorism.'" Oh right. That's the war the Post wanted Canada to fight too. We can't say anything bad about that. Agent Orange, Agent Smorange When I wrote the MediaScout last week, I noted that only CBC and the SunMedia chain had covered the Agent Orange and Agent Purple sprayings at CFB Gagetown. The post is here, the Gagetown stuff is at the bottom. I really thought that the rest of the papers were just waiting for an easier angle on the story before getting on board. Well, a Commons committee is hearing testimony about the matter, but still nobody else is on the story. It's here, courtesy the Sun's Stephanie Rubec. Is it just my DND coverage bias acting up? Does nobody else think this story deserves coverage? SunMedia's Greg Weston did all the legwork on this story, then CBC broke it open even further with some good ATI work, but nobody else wants to cover it, even when it's dished up in a nice, easy Commons committee. What gives? Seriously, am I out to lunch on this? Okay, that's enough for today. The Post and Sun both gave me some big-ass CFL previews to read, so I'm going to crawl into bed and find out how badly my 'Gades are going to do this year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Back in the saddle

Sorry again for yesterday, folks. Things at the office still aren't sorted out yet, but I was able to get through my papers at a comfortable pace and, low and behold, spotted a few things for you. Well, I guess it's a start Self-help guru Tony Robbins is suing the Vancouver Sun for libel. I've long argued that Canada needs a good ol' fashioned, high-profile libel suit to rein in the media in this country. It seems that editors across Canada think they're operating in the U.S., with all the ‘Mr. Doe allegedly killed three people' and things of that nature. Sadly, Robbins' suit seems a tad frivilous, and in a worst-case scenario, could strengthen the resolve of the Canadian press, but it's a start. Cambodia, that's where again? I'm going to comment on this at length in today's MediaScout, but it warrants mention here as well. Only the Globe reported on revelations that police on the scene of the school seizure in Cambodia last week may have fired the shot that killed the Canadian child. Why? Because other papers rely on U.S. and European news wire services that aren't following the case in detail. But don't worry, everyone reported that Saddam likes Doritos. I don't want to say that having freelancers working for you around the world is the best strategy, but given the penny-pinching state of the Canadian conglomerates, it's a damn sight better than anyone else is doing. Okay, I know it's a short post, and after yesterday, you all deserve better, but I have to get to work on MediaScout. Check it out though, it should be a doozy. Ripping into the US for selling weapons to Hussein, funding the Contras and overthrowing the government in Haiti. It's a leftie-rant-a-palooza. And I'll try to get this bad boy up to snuff tomorrow.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays

Wow, Murphy had the run of my office this morning, let me tell you. Saving you the messy details, I'll just say that my usually-relaxing stroll through our nation's media became a frenzied search for stories for my client, and I didn't get a chance to turn a critical eye to things like story placement and neglect. I was taken aback by the prominent placement of a story on Dance Dance Revolution in the Ottawa Citizen (it can help kids with ADHD learn to read, let's run it on A3 above the fold with a big photo) and the massive photo of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise (Tomcat, I'm told) on the back of the A section to illustrate a story about the biology of romance, but that's about all I have for you today. Tomorrow's a MediaScout day, but I'll try to have something more substantive for you here as well.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Quick hits

Oh man, sorry this is such a late post. I got busy at work this morning and had to rush straight to the MediaScout. Just a few quick thoughts today anyway. The Post continued its on-again, off-again coverage of the Arar Inquiry with a Don Martin column attacking the former Canadian ambassador to Syria whose testimony was reported across the board yesterday. However, they elected not to coverage day two of his testimony, which could be even more damning than day one. Read the coverage that the Post skipped here. As a follow-up to the Uzbekistan story I linked to at the end of yesterday's Megalomedia post, I point you to the Globe's coverage today. You can probably guess what I have to say about this, but if not (or if you really enjoy reading my thoughts), check out today's MediaScout. Remember when I praised the Citizen and Star for outdigging the Globe on the new Canadian Forces ombudsman? It's here, if you forget. Well, the Citizen decided not to follow up. Turns out the Commons defence committee killed his nomination. The Star was the only paper to report on it. Okay, that's it for today. I'm off to a CFL preseason game tonight, man I've missed football. Go 'Gades, Go.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

On the perils of misquoting

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of media analysis, I want to go slightly off topic and talk about the military's first gay marriage (read about it here). I think the best part of this story is a quote from a Canadian Forces spokesperson in the CanWest story (you need a subscription, but it's here). The guy basically said the military doesn't much care whether their soldiers are gay, straight or otherwise, as long as they can do their job. I'm not going to suggest that's the attitude of the rank-and-file, as I don't know one way or another, but man, I long for the day when we can all look at gay rights issues that way. I understand that activists have to make their fight into a spectacle in order to have their voices heard, but I look forward to a time when it's no longer an issue. Live and let live, and all that. PAT MARTIN HATES AMERICA!!!! I got to the National Post before the rest of the CanWest papers today and read an interesting piece on Pat Martin and the Devils Lake drainage controversy. Now, the original Canadian Press article can be found here. Go read the lead at least, you'll need that to follow the rest of this post. Now, the Post took that story and ran it under the headline "Let Americans freeze in the dark, NDP MP says" with this lead: "Canada should be prepared to cut off energy supplies to the United States and "let the bastards freeze in the dark" if the George W. Bush administration allows the Devils Lake diversion to flow polluted water into Manitoba, NDP MP Pat Martin said yesterday. Interesting, that's not what the CP article said. The Post goes on to explain in the fourth paragraph that Martin was quoting Manitoba residents, but based on the headline and lead, you'd think we had another Carolyn Parrish incident on our hands. The Citizen and others make it even worse by cutting down the CanWest story and just running the lead and second graph. The fact that Martin was citing Manitobans is never explained. This is irresponsible and dangerous. Given that CanWest papers, primarily the Post so frequently decry the poor relationship beteen Canada and the U.S., you'd think they'd be wary of fanning the flames unnecessarily. But no, sloppy journalism wins again. A quick word on a shitty editorial The Post ran an editorial supporting Guantanamo Bay that made my stomach turn, but I have to highlight one particularly confusing passage. It's the last two sentences of the lead. They've just finished describing some of the interrogation techniques, then say: "We would not quite go along with those right-wing bloggers who say this sounds less like true torture than it does the plot for the long-awaited sequel to Animal House. But it certainly resembles the latter more than the former." Read that again. Did the Post just essentially say "we wouldn't agree with people who say this sounds more like Animal House than like torture, but it certainly looks more like Animal House than torture?" Do they realize that "sounds like" and "resembles" are not opposites so much as synonomys? And finally. . . I saw this and thought it was interesting. Try as I might, I couldn't find this story anywhere in the Canadian media.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Let's see, what was in the news today. . .

Okay. I realize that these days, the media can’t provide context for all the major issues they report on. I don’t like it, and I don’t necessarily agree that it has to be this way, but the atmosphere right now doesn’t allow for it. That realization made, it’s indicative of the sorry state of the Canadian media that so much coverage was given to the whole Jackson case, especially today’s coverage of the verdict. Since I’m MediaScouting today, I was up watching The National and CTV News last night, and they set the tone for today’s print coverage. All told, CBC dedicated almost 15 minutes of their hour-long broadcast to Jackson coverage, while CTV gave seven minutes of their half-hour news show. I happened to listen also to the World At Six on CBC Radio, their flagship news program, where there was a six-minute report dedicated to the case, followed by more coverage during As It Happens. Then there was the print coverage: top story in every major daily; five separate bylines in the and GlobePost; six in the Citizen. . . even the usually-restrained Toronto Star had five bylines on the story. Now, why can’t we clear that much space for discussions on Haiti? Afghanistan? Bolivia? Lebanon? There are major developments happening right now in all of these countries, yet there’s fuck all to read about them in our papers. What about the StatsCan report on Native unemployment? The unemployment rate for off-reserve Natives is two-and-a-half times that of the non-Native population, yet only the Globe saw fit to report that. CBC News uncovered the use of Agent Purple - a herbicide more lethal than Agent Orange - at CFB Gagetown in the 1960s, but despite the Canadian Press putting out a wire story on it, only the Gazette really gave it any play (the Post ran a small brief). See my MediaScout post today for more on this story. The worst part about all of this is that I’m not even remotely surprised. The Canadian media can rally a small army of reporters and commentators to wax philosophic on what the acquittals will mean for MJ’s music career, but have to rely on wire stories from U.S. and European wire services to discuss Canada’s aid packages to Darfur. They’ll clear space for a timeline of Jacko’s creepiness, but not for more evidence of Canada’s shameful neglect of the Native population. The world will keep going on around us, and our media focus will shift from Karla, to Russell Crowe, to Michael Jackson. It’s a fucking disgrace. Oh, and to everyone who had to listen to me speculate on today’s coverage (Hi Amy!), I have to admit I was wrong. I guessed the Post and Sun would run the same headline, but I was totally off. The Sun had “He Beat It!” while the Post went with “Jackson Beats It.” Totally different.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Oh My Allah, Hamas is going to kill us all!

I have to admit, even I was drawn in. "HAMAS VOWS TERROR" screamed the Post's A1 in bold, all-caps font. "'Big mistake' for Canada to ban group: spokesman" read the subhead. I was worried. Was a Hamas spokesperson vowing terrorist attacks on Canada because of the ban? Nope. Despite the implied link, those two statements are not related. Hamas vowed to continue its attacks on Israel and also criticized Canada, the U.S. and others for banning the group. This all becomes somewhat clear as you read the story. This isn't the first time I've criticized the Post's fear mongering headlines on A1 (see this post and this post, for example), and I'm afraid it won't be the last. Canada's other national newspaper is taking a real turn for the tabloid these days. As much as I dislike the paper, I think it's important to have many dissenting voices at the national level. It's a shame to see the closest thing the Globe has to competition pandering. Need more terror? The Post also printed edited, translated excerpts from an al-Qaeda Internet posting defending the death of innocent people in their campagin against the infidels. This is confusing for a few reasons. One, borrowed editorials (and I guess that's what this is supposed to be) are usually picked up to bolster the paper's editorial stance (the Star calls their borrowed editorials "Worth Repeating"). Does this mean the Post backs al-Qaeda? I doubt it. But opinion pieces and columnists that counter the paper's stance are identified somehow, this piece is just attributed to "al-Qaeda." There's no context or explanation. Forgetting all of that, though, let's assume it was printed to illustrate the evils of the al-Qaeda way (which is why I assume they printed it, feel free to debate me on that point. It is, after all, under the headline "Voices of Hatred"). Does anyone else notice how much it sounds like Bush, Rumsfeld and others who defend "collateral damage" in U.S. actions? The only difference is Bush and Rummy feign concern for the innocent lives lost, while this (edited and translated) al-Qaeda posting is a bit more callous . This seems to be the lastest thing for papers to do, print excerpts from speeches or online postings in their editorial pages with no real explanation or context. I guess it adds to the debate, but it just seems weird to me. Perhaps one of you can explain it to me. A few shouts-out Okay, I've been picking on the Post today, but they actually co-opted one of the points I was hoping to argue today. I've been really frustrated by the lack of coverage of the latest surge in violence in Afghanistan, especially since Canada is ready to expand operations there. Today, however, Matthew Fisher wrote a fairly solid piece on the dangers Canadian soldiers will face in Kandahar, AND it ran quite prominently on A3. Fisher concludes with his own little shot at the press, noting that Canadian papers have stopped covering Afghanistan because it's been awhile since any Canadians have been killed there. Well done, Mr. Fisher. Also, the Globe beat me to the punch on talking about the G8 plan for Africa. I've been wanting to comment on this homogenous view of "Africa" that much of the Canadian political establishment and media want to propogate. The fact is, Africa is made up of many different countries with many different problems and backgrounds. Yes, there are key themes that dominate the continent, but there is not one overarching solution for Africa. Doug Saunders does a good job illustrating this, read his story here. Okay, that about does it for today. As for the week ahead, I'm doing the MediaScout post twice this week, tomorrow and Thursday, so check those out. And of course, I'll be here spewing forth my thoughts through til Thursday, so keep coming back. Cheers!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Separation of church and whatnow?

If I may, I'd like you all to indulge me in a wee scenario here. Say, for the sake of shits and giggles, that a long-standing U.S. ally - let's pick Saudi Arabia for fun - was in the process of appointing a new ambassador to the States. The two countries are fairly staunch allies, but there have been strains on the relationship as of late. Concerns about poor performance in the war on terror, fundamental differences in social policy. . . things of that nature. Now imagine that Saudi Arabia appointed an ambassador that had very little knowledge of the U.S. and claimed that Allah himself told him to take the post. You can just about imagine the uproar in the States. The media, the government and the population at large would be furious, no? Such religious zeal has no place in diplomacy, right? Okay, now replace Saudi Arabia with the U.S., the U.S. with Canada, and Allah with God. That's right, our new ambassador from the U.S. said God told him to take the job. His comments are here. Only the CanWest papers saw fit to report on this little development. Fuck you John Ivison The Post's John Ivison responded to a new poll that showed Tory support plummeting by saying that if Canadians elect another Liberal government it would be a failure of Canadian democracy. Uh, John? I think you need to bone up on your definition of democracy. See, a free vote? That's democracy. Just because you don't like the result doesn't mean it's not democracy. Arrogant piece of shit. I don't want to see another Liberal majority either, but if that's what Canadians want, that's what Canadians want. Look, we did journalism! The Citizen dedicated A1 above the fold and all of A3 to coverage of the re-opening of a New Brunswick murder case after evidence emerged that the man charged may not be guilty. Big news, to be sure, but what could possibly justify the two pages of coverage? Oh, it was a Citizen reporter who first broke the story of the possible wrong conviction. You can tell, because they ran a photo of the original story on A1. And they ran a separate article detailing how Gary Dimmock did journalism and broke the story on A3. Look, I'm thrilled that a possibly innocent man is getting a chance to clear his name, and I can see running the story on A1. But enough of the back-patting, own-horn-tooting. You're a journalist, you did some journalism. Some damn good journalism, for sure, but that shouldn't be the story. Let someone else brag for you. Read more of the good journalism here, the supplemental content is subscriber-only. I don't want to call it a coverup Pretty much everybody covered the latest report from the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations that suggested CSIS and the RCMP may unfairly target Muslims as part of security investigations. Everyone but the Post anyway. I'll let you decide if that shows a bias or not. And if you're a Post-only subscriber, here's what you missed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

It's a good day to be a cynic

So the National Post and Montreal Gazette threw me a gem today. The Post reprinted an editorial that appeared in the Montreal Gazette yesterday criticizng papers for reporting on their own National Newspaper Awards victories. The editorial read: "We've won our share of these awards but not this year. Perhaps being shut out makes it easier for us to say this, but shouldn't all newspapers treat this annual competition more like a news story and less like a corporate press release?" Yes, yes they should. Which is why I'm baffled that two days before the Gazette printed that editorial, they ran a story called "Best in writing, design honoured at Gala, Five CanWest journalists win National Newspaper Awards," then cited their own newspaper in the criticism of newspapers praising themselves. The same story appeared in the Post yesterday. To clarify, both the Gazette and Post ran editorials criticizing papers for reporting on their own victories after reporting on their own victories. Just in case you missed that. Haiti The Globe's Jeffrey Simpson came as close as anyone to providing a good explanation of just how fucked up Haiti is. He doesn't go into Canada's role in the overthrow of the democractically-elected president, but at least says that it may be up to Canada to take a lead in revamping the UN mission there. I've already gone on at length about Haiti here, so I won't repeat it. I'm just glad somebody seems to be waking up to the story. Fun link My friend Steve from the Monday Morning Riseup on CKCU FM sent me this link you may be interested in. Apparently Amnesty International, who we can all agree is a fairly respected human rights group, called on foreign governments (read: Canadian government) to detain senior U.S. administration officials as war criminals. Nobody picked up the story that I can find. Watch the press conference here. Okay, I have to go write the MediaScout now, so the rest of my musings can be found there. It should be a good one, so please check it out. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Apparently I worried a few people with the downer post this morning. To show that I'm fine, I'm posting a new link I discovered. Feel what it's like to be Karl Rove here.

Grumble grumble grumble

Forgive me if today's post seems uninspired, but frankly, some days it's like Groundhog Day. The Gazette was the only paper to report on Haiti, though not particularly well. The Star was the only paper to report on the Ipperwash Inquiry, where it was revealed that OPP officials declared "We're going to war," just before marching on Ipperwash mere hours before unarmed Native protester Dudley George was shot. Michael Jackson's trial got more coverage than Darfur, Congo or Zimbabwe, despite the fact that nothing new happened and the jury is still deliberating. Russel Crowe's arrest for throwing a phone was covered by absolutely everyone, including the National Post and Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspapers. I just don't have it in me today, folks, and I'm sorry. Most days, doing this site is theraputic. I feel like in some small way, I'm raising awareness and making a difference. But today, I'm just bummed. There's nothing really new to comment on and far too many things I've commented on in the past. Better luck tomorrow.

Monday, June 06, 2005

See, we only peed on it

There's a wonderful moment in The Fog of War, a terrific documentary detailing the life of former U.S. defence secretary Robert McNamara, where he admits that they used to love releasing bad news late on a Friday in the hopes of missing the major media news cycle. The fact that I watched the film Friday night, an hour after I read that the Pentagon admitted Guantanamo guards, kicked, soaked and pissed on Korans, was deliciously ironic. Or at least Morisette-ironic, I can never tell anymore. For those that missed the story, you're not alone. The Globe and Mail, National Post, Ottawa Citzen, Toronto Star, and a laundry list of other Canadian papers did too. It's not that they didn't have access to it, as the Canadian Press put the story out on the wire and it was picked up by the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Vancouver Province, Winnipeg Free Press, Montreal Gazette and others - they just chose not to run it. If you're interested, read it here. Interesting, especially when you go back over the things that those papers said about Newsweek's now famous article about Koran desecration. "The whole sorry incident shows just how eager many in the Western media are to smear the United States administration and undermine the moral foundations of the war on terror. Would Newsweek and others have been as outraged by a Bible burning or as ready to sympathize with people who took that burning as justification for running amok and killing scores of people? We doubt it." - "One bad story, 16 dead," National Post, May 17, 2005. "Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the Koran story, however, is that Newsweek's editors did not recognize the explosive nature of the material, or anticipate the international firestorm it would spark. Had they done so, they wouldn't have run the piece as a tiny brief, and would have verified their facts and sources more carefully." - "Newsweek's mistake," Ottawa Citizen, May 21, 2005 "Newsweek magazine made an error with fatal consequences when it reported this month on the alleged desecration of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, by United States military interrogators." -"Newsweek's stumble," Globe and Mail, May 18, 2005. Yup, you'd figure that given all that, these papers would want to report on the news that the Koran WAS desecrated by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo. But no. For shits and gigles, let's do a quick rundown of the whole story, shall we? - Newsweek reports in a short brief that a U.S. Army Southern Command report on allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo is expected to include allegations that the Koran was desecrated. - The story is out for a few days, nobody in the U.S. administration says anything. - The story is picked up by a few Arab outlets. - Riots break out across the Muslim world, some protesters are killed in the melee (16 was the last number I heard). - The Pentagon, Rumsfeld, Bush et al. scream at Newsweek, deny the story and call it irresponsible - Many media outlets pick up on the tone, decrying the irresponsible use of unnamed sources - Those same media outlets continue to use unnamed sources themselves, do not notice the hypocrisy - Newsweek retracts the story after their source recants - Newsweek apologizes for the violence caused by their story - FBI documents show that inmates did actually complain that their Korans were flushed down the toilet (see this post and the related comments) - Story goes mostly unreported - The Pentagon admits to several incidents of Koran desecration - Story goes mostly unreported What the hell has to happen before the mainstream press picks this up? More coverage was given to a semantic debate about whether or not Guantanamo is a gulag or not. It's unreal. Throw it into the water son, the ocean will take it away A few weeks ago, there was quite a bit of concern that the U.S. wanted to test-fire a rocket over the Atlantic. Apparently the booster rocket was going to splash down perilously close to some oil platforms. All went well, though, and the test went off without a hitch. Erm, except that the booster rocket's fuel tanks are filled with a potentially lethal combination of chemicals. Yea, the story is here. A few papers grabbed the CP story, but the Globe and Mail decided to edit out some fairly important information. Namely, the comments from Environment Canada about the nature of the threat. Now, I've already gone on a bit about cutting up wire stories recently, so I won't rehash that all now. Just read the CBC story I linked to above and decide if you think the EnvCan quotes are important. The Globe didn't.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A wee rant on Haiti

Today's post is going to zero in a bit on one topic that I've talked about a few times before. Haiti. The National Post ran an update piece on the situation in Haiti, which included an interesting little factoid: "At least five kidnappings are reported every day, said police director Leon Charles. Three foreigners have been among the roughly 150 people abducted and then released for ransoms ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than US$1,000. Among the three foreigners was a Canadian, who was seized last week and later freed after his family reached a deal with the kidnappers." That was the 13th paragraph, and marked the first time I've read that a Canadian was abducted in Haiti last week. Does that strike anyone else as odd? I ran a little search and found out that the Canadian Press put the story out on the wire on May 27, in time for the May 28 papers. In fairness, quite a few papers got it, such as the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Calgary Herald and Victoria Times Colonist, but the big boys took a pass altogether. Anyone want to venture a guess as to why? The Post hints at the reason just below the aforementioned kidnapping paragraph. "The violence stems from the continuing confrontation with supporters of Jean Bertrand Aristide, the former president who fled into exile last year under pressure from the United States, France and Canada." They chose to omit the phrase "democratically-elected" between "former" and "president" but you get the idea. This was a coup d'etat sanctioned by our government. A detail that was kind of overlooked at the time, and I get the feeling that the media might feel a touch bad about that. You can just about imagine the reaction of an average Canadian reader. "Wait, all this killing is related to the overthrow of a government? An overthrow that we supported? Why didn't I know that before?" So why did the Post run this story today? Let's see what's a little higher up in the piece, in the lead for example: "A year after the United Nations sent 6,000 troops and 1,400 police to Haiti in an effort to stem its relentless violence, the impoverished Caribbean country still wakes up every day to new reports of the dead and dying." Oh, so the UN is failing? Let's read on. "On Friday a spokesman for [interim President Boniface] Alexandre said the UN mission to the country had failed and that UN forces were 'reluctant to support Haitian police during operations against bandits, particularly in the capital.'" So the Post passes on this story for more than a year, then reports on it when the UN gets blamed. Unbelievable. Canada has soldiers and police officers in Haiti right now, but the only time the major papers want to report on the country is when they can do so in a way that suits their agenda. Today there was some coverage of an upcoming humanitarian mission led by Quebec Premier Jean Charest, but stories like that usually refer to the violence that followed the "massive popular uprising and the departure of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004," as the Gazette did today. Wake up, Canada. Our government helped overthrow a democratically-elected government in Haiti. The media let them off the hook for it. And now we've turned our eyes elsewhere while people continue to die. I'm fucking ashamed and you all should be too. Learn more: The Canadian government's version of events is here. The website for a U.S.-based pro-Haitian-democracy site is here (fairly partisan). An article about a documentary film that exposes the lack of media coverage is here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

An orgy of observations

Whew, put a good night's sleep in this kid and he finds all kinds of stuff to write about. Let's start where everyone in Canada is starting today. The Grewal Tapes. First, the links you need: The transcripts and tapes are here. The Globe's coverage is pretty good, so check it out here. Okay, first of all, I just want to say that this whole thing is pretty sickening. While it's unclear if Paul Martin knew about any offers made to Grewal, it's pretty damn clear that his senior aide and a cabinet minister did. People wonder why "young people" are so cynical about politics? Look no further than this story. Now, as for coverage, both the Globe and Post bumped their lead columnists to A1 for this bad boy - always a sign of a big story. I have to say that John Ibbitson in the Globe hits it pretty much on the head. Nobody looks good in this. Counter that with Andrew Coyne in the Post, who paints it entirely as a Liberal scandal, and you see why people sometimes have a hard time taking the Post seriously. Sure, every paper is going to have an editorial bias, but to stick to the party line even in the face of this kind of blatant, self-interested political gamesmanship is pretty unreal. Priorities, priorities, priorities The Ottawa Citizen runs a hard-hitting expose on the anti-nipple sentiment that plagues society. From Desperate Housewives digitally airbrushing out Teri Hatcher's nipple to Victoria Secret's new nipple-hiding bra, why are we so obsessed with obfuscating our minor protrusions? It's a lovely story, right down to the gigantic picutre of Pamela Anderson that accompanies it. For the record, a second Doctors Without Borders official was arrested in Sudan for publishing a report that hightlighted the systemic rape of women in Darfur. You can read it here, but not here. The Citizen had more important things to report on. And speaking of priorities The Post didn't report on that Arar Inquiry today. That's hardly new, they only ran two articles on the inquiry in the month of May. The Citizen and Globe have passed that mark just this week. I wonder why the Post wouldn't want to cover an inquiry that uncovers more and more flaws in Canada's anti-terrorism legislation? What's worse, no coverage or shitty coverage? The on-again, off-again coverage of the Ipperwash Inquiry by the Globe is getting really frustrating. Yesterday, they reported that OPP tapes from the day Dudley George was shot accused the Native protesters of firing first. The story did a good job of noting that there has never been any evidence of Natives shooting unearthed at all, but it still led with the news of the day, that OPP tapes accusing the Natives of shooting first were played at the inquiry. Today, the news is that OPP officials admitted to circulating a false report about what led to the shooting. At the time, OPP officials said protesters threatened police vehicles with a baseball bat, something that was absolutely false. The man in charge of the entire OPP operation wasn't told it was made up until years later. Globe? Nothing. Hmm, if the OPP officers on scene were willing to lie about being threatened with bats, and no evidence exists that Native protesters ever fired a shot, doesn't that maybe call into question the allegations that the Natives opened fire first? At the very least, shouldn't all the details be reported on? Unlike the Gomery Inquiry, Ipperwash isn't being covered by a fleet of CanWest reporters, so it's hard to find really thorough, exhaustive coverage to point you all to. The Star requires registration for their site, but check out the inquiry's website for transcripts and the like. New Kid on the Block I was reading through a really right-wing piece in the Post's Issues and Ideas section this morning, wondering who the hell had written it. It was entitled "Don't call Guantanamo a gulag" and suggested, among other things, that the "terrorists" there should count themselves lucky because "under normal wartime practices, these enemy combatants would already have been lined up against the nearest wall and shot." It went on to declare that "while there may exist a few incidents of serious abuse, merely having people pose for pictures in undignified positions isn't a severe form of 'torture.'" Fair point, if that was the unflattering pictures were the only allegations. I'm more concerned about the sleep deprivation, forced homo-eroticism and the use of snarling dogs to terrify people. But whatever. I assumed I was reading some U.S. right-wing publication's editorial, as the Post often uses the I&I section to reprint things like that, but nope, this was the debut of the Post's newest columnist - Rachel Marsden. For fans of Fox News, Marsden is the Canadian correspondent on the O'Reilly Factor, that should tell you what you need to know. She's also been called Canada's Ann Coulter, if that helps. I'm really glad to see that a Canadian paper has adopted the U.S. tactic of having columnists push the Bush Administration's party line. But maybe I'm being too critical. Maybe it's just a coincidence that her column came out the same day as this story. And finally. . . Several CanWest papers run Tim Naumetz's story about opponents of same-sex marriage fax-jamming Liberal MPs with anti-gay-marriage messages - essentially tying up their fax lines. The MPs are upset and want the speaker to investigate, but Tory Jason Kenney says that Canadians have a right to political expression. Interesting. . . I don't have a fax machine myself, but any Megalomedia readers who do may want to consider sending Kenney a few hundred faxes thanking him for his support for political expression. His contact info is here.