Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Harper: "Media, Bad Media"

Stephen Harper hates the mediaIt's interesting when politicians start blaming the media. Harper accuses the media of "being the opposition of the government". Are things that ugly already?

The media is upset with the latest controversial policy regarding questions to the prime minister. And they should be. Geoff Norquay explains:

The reality is that every new government wants to keep a tight lid on its messages and this one in particular.

I'm puzzled with such announcements. What does this have to do with the way the press functions? Are you telling me Harper is not able to keep his mouth shut when necessary? Is Harper not up to the job of prime minister?

It really isn't about the press; it's about the Conservatives, and their need to control how to "get the message out". Questions are not needed. It's simply a lot easier to answer questions from conservative-friendly journalists than from unrespectful others; you might not have the right answers up front (like Rumsfeld in this video - Realplayer).

"Real politicians" make the news themselves. Stephen Harper is one of them, using a false story by the National Post to make up his own story about a new Iranian law forcing Jews and minorities to wear badges. When the truth of the actual story was questionable, he continued with the following:
"Unfortunately, we've seen enough already from the Iranian regime to suggest that it is very capable of this kind of action," Harper said.
"We've seen a number of things from the Iranian regime that are along these lines . . .
"It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the Earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany."

An apology has been given by the National Post, but no comments yet from Stephen Harper; prime ministers obviously don't apologize to the public. I guess we won't be able to ask him about it either.

What is it what we, voters (and non-voters), want from a govenment? I believe that transparency is essential to a well functioning democracy, where a government is responsive and responsable to it's voters. We need to be able to ask questions, all questions, and let it be up to the prime minister (in this case Stephen Harper) in what way she/he likes to answer.

I always enjoy looking at some of the blogging tories blogs to see what kind of reasoning they can come up with. William Deemers argues that "the media lacks the ethical will to stick to reporting the news, but instead takes it upon themselves to create news ".

When it comes to news you have to take the good with the bad. Yes, free speech has limits which are outlined in our laws. I would be surprised if the majority of Canadians want any change. I also hear often from Conservative circles (and from William Deemers) that
Harper is [...] caught up with his work as PM and does not have time [to] waste every other minute talking to journalists.
Bush supporters claim the same thing too and I can only point to this story by the Washington Post. And mister Harper, it's simply part of your job to take questions from the press; get used to it or step down. Compared to European politics (which I continue to follow) we already see very little of what's going on in Ottawa; deny voters essential insight and we'll see what will happens with the next elections.

Footnote:
I'm wondering if Harper is considering other US tactics too: How about paying reporters to skew the news?. Maybe he'll be in for the same approval ratings of Bush too.

2 comments:

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

The One-Eyed Harper:

There is an old proverb which is very profound:
In the land of the Blind,
the one-eyed is king.

We hear from many sources that Prime Minister Harper is a brilliant, strategic thinker; a policy-wonk par excellence ... I wonder if this is true? Let's examine it a bit.

Compared to the rightwingers who ran the Reform and Alliance parties (who wished to rush out and immediately start lopping off the heads of some of their enemies), I can see why Harper would appear to be a startlingly brighter and more strategic thinker.

So when Harper told these folks: Look, let's not rush out straight away. Let's rather gain power, then we can line up ALL our enemies (starting with the liberals and the Liberals), and lop off ALL their heads and then bury that party and make Canada save for a thousand years for morally-right conservatives. Let's cut a deal with some guy whose name begins with an M and take over the prog party, and rename it. Then let's hide our fringe candidates in their kitchens, muzzle our people, talk about a handful of "safe" subjects, keep our major policies under wraps, and aim for winning power first. Then we can change the country, doing most of the stuff out of sight and out of Parliament. Heck, we can even marginalize the press in the Parliamentary Gallery – we just won't talk to them. And, by the way, here are a few speeches I made and a few papers I wrote about conservative ideology, Canadian politics, and the shades of green cheese in the moon. Just to establish my wonkish credentials...

Good message. Well received.

But consider this: go through his speeches. Apart from reproducing rightwing neocon views found south of the 49th parallel, just where exactly are the brilliant insights, strategies and ideas?

Maybe he is in the land of the blind, and maybe he is just a one-eyed average policy wonk who is an obvious choice for king ... in the land of the blind.

If you look at Harper's past and present through this prism, a lot of his actions (Cabinet appointments, roughshod dealings with Parliament, fracas with the press) are explicable: the blunderings of a one-eyed man.

Phillybits said...

I noticed your site linking my post via Technorati about the Canadian story about Iran and their 'steenkin' badges.'

Thanks for the link, but also, looking over your blogroll and some of the banners you have on your site, might I interest you in at least perusing Blogs Against Torture?

I'm not sure if you found my site directly, or picked it up from an RSS aggregator, but if not, feel free to stop by again and if so, please take notice of the Blogs Against Torture blogroll at the top left of my blog. All the information otherwise about Torture Awareness Month and Blogs Against Torture can be found via the banner and 'Join Us; link on my site.

Thanks for reading.

--Phillybits.

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