National Post Exposes Media Bias

Yesterday, The Winnipeg Free Press ran a column that quoted some material from this blog and some other progressives. The National Post’s blog features the following retort:

In her reaction to Budget 2010, the Winnipeg Free Press’s Frances Russell quotes the following: Larry Brown, national secretary treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees; Erin Weir, an economist with United Steelworkers; Armine Yalnizyan, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; Brian Topp, executive director of ACTRA; that is all. We won’t bother summarizing Russell’s conclusions – we’re sure you’ve already worked them out from that not-very-diverse cast of characters.

Basically, I think that any day the Post feels compelled to respond to left-wing economists is a fairly good day. However, this response is pretty feeble.

Russell’s column obviously puts forward a certain point of view. It was an opinion piece, after all. Does each column printed in the Post (or other newspapers) typically encompass a diverse range of views?

News articles, by contrast, are supposed to be balanced. But they often quote a bunch of bank economists, maybe with someone from the C. D. Howe or Fraser Institute thrown in for spice.

Here’s what Tom Flanagan wrote a week ago about the Canadian media:

Our situation in Canada is very different from the USA, where the national media are definitely liberal (except for Fox News). In Canada both the Sun chain and the CanWest papers tend to be sympathetic or at least open-minded toward the Conservatives. The Globe and Mail sometimes indulges in quixotic crusades against the government (e.g., prorogation) but is pretty fair overall. The Toronto Star is relentlessly hostile, but nobody ever said you could make friends with everyone. I would say that, compared to most countries with which I have any familiarity, the Conservatives in Canada actually have friendly media to work with.

9 comments

  • Funny you should bring his up today Erin.

    I had an extremely traumatic media morning

    This morning I got up at 7:15 I think it was and clicked on my Ottawa CBC radio 1.

    Who was on there but none other than Preston Manning and Deb Gray promoting an upcoming reform- conservative outreach initiative for gathering ideas on promoting and expanding the notion of democracy in Canada.

    Can you imagine, Preston Manning and the reform now trying to tell us they are trying to promote democracy. And not a once did they mention the obvious- like how about not proroguing parliament would be a small step and about the 101 other dictatorial like things that the conservatives have initiated, including allowing the show I was listening to at the moment to be aired. Talk about an Orwellian moment!

    How many fingers am I holding UP?

    Apparently they were making the rounds to all the local CBC stations.

    Is it just me or has the CBC now just a puppet of Harper? What ever happened to the union at the CBC?

    I know that Kathleen Petty was having an extremely hard time keeping a straight face, you could here her grimace right through the radio.

    Wow I am sure there is a whole lot of stress leave happening at the CBC these days- I feel for all those workers who actually do understand the concept of neutrality.

    paul

  • We shouldn’t equate Preston Manning and Debora Gray with Steven Harper.

    They may disagree with us on how involved the government should be in the economy, but I think they genuinely believe in democracy and are probably not happy with much of what Harper has done.

  • The problem is Darwin, that is where all the right wing grass roots baloney leads to because all the right wing neo-con economics leads to polarization which leads to breakdowns in social cohesion which leads to less democracy, which leads to fascism and dictating to keep the social order so that one can maintain power.

    Preston Manning—> Steve Harper

    That is the lynch pin of why Darwin, you do not understand the concept of civilization, because you just cannot seem to connect the dots.

    Sorry dude but I really don;t see how the two are not related.

  • Paul that all seems a little extreme. First I think you could make the argument that people like Gray and Manning view a big state as a barrier to social cohesion and then they (wrongly) posit market relations as the solution. Think about both the welfare and unemployment programs. They individualize and then in very bureaucratic and patronizingly technocratic fashion begin the processes of monitoring and directing the individual person in poverty or unemployment. Hardly a case of building social cohesion. The error is to argue that market solutions are somehow less coercive and more socially cohesive. Presumably they believe this because they view (wrongly) market relations as involving substantively free choices and free associations.

    Second, Canadian conservatives are too ignorant of and derogatory towards the arts to be able to muster the level of standards to meet the requirements of the fascist aesthetics. Their political theatre manifests as a type of organized crime without the Armani suits. Plato said somewhere that the greatest tyranny to suffer was to be ruled over by fools. To which we could add that if they be poorly dressed fools it just adds insult to injury.

  • good points Travis, I was a little short of space.

    However, it does all start by being fairly simple minded which was at the heart of the reform movement- which believes less state somehow equates to more democracy or individualism I guess. (The whole american thing- individual rights and the rest of it all.)

    The same thing that is rotting the USA is at the basis of what the reform was and I still believe is the plan of Harper.

    This under a neo con economic plan results in more and more pressure and forces that bring about polarization in income and social protection, which historically brings on a breakdown in social cohesion, so that prison building and private security become your number one industries

    It seems that was what is partly being implemented right now with Harper.

    Her further exasperated the deficit with his corporate hand out of tax cuts, and now part two is to start whittliing away at the government behind the guise of deficits.

    It was all pretty predictable- the only wild card has been the recession and Harper’s fear of losing power. This under a minority he has been able to pull off.

    But you have got to admit with a whole pile of such macro social variables as media bias.

    The thing I do believe that will bite him is his lust to cut government. It was merely a year and a bit ago that the entire financial and for that matter right wingers were screaming at governments to spend and save Bay/ wall street, and without receipts the likes of Bush and Harper were wildly handing out public cash with hardly a trace to see where it actually was going.

    Now after some of the biggest fiscal spending shocks by many countries across the globe to kick start the economy, we have those same voices, not only screaming austerity, but profiting off it, as in the case of the credit default swaps made against Greece, raising the price of capital for them.

    What a haphazard way to deal with such a delicate thing like European unity- does anybody read history anymore.

    So I can see Harper following the lead with the demand for austerity and raising interest rates.

    Without any fundamentals being changed- how is it that we have gotten anywhere to prevent it all happening again.
    \Thankfully some in the EU have woken up and stated that they have been too late in coming up with a solution for greece and the rest of the EU that is sliding further into the red. Leaving it up to the like of Goldman Sachs will only destroy the sovereign.

    So when the austerity measures and the rate increases hit, you will see a negative shock hit the economies such as Canada, and that will be Harper’s final mistake and out he will be swept- with the rest.

    Sorry I am a bit all over the place but it is all linked up-

    Good to see you posting Travis- at least somebody with a brain is back at it.

  • Think about the welfare and unemployment programs, indeed. While the right don’t like those programs, and seek to reduce the amount they pay to recipients, they at the same time are always very insistent on increasing the bureaucracy and patronizing technocracy involved, stepping up control over and monitoring of recipients. So you get things like making recipients take useless busy-work courses teaching irrelevant, symbolic “skills”. I suspect you would never find the right completely eliminating welfare, just as you don’t see them actually deporting illegal immigrants en masse. The point is to keep the mobs of un- and under-employed cowed, precarious, under control and willing to accept minimal wages.

    Neoliberals pretend to advocate market solutions as a replacement for intrusive large governments, but in fact systematically create intrusive large governments–just ones oriented towards enforcing market solutions. The pretense is part of the whole game of taking the political out of economy–giving the impression that market solutions (and, specifically, capital-oriented market solutions) are something that come from nowhere without human intervention, when in fact they are a social creation like any other institution, and one which needs to be propped up in various ways to keep functioning.

  • Interesting points Erin. I agree with you. The Post doesn’t try to be balanced I think — they try to appeal to a right-wing audience.

    One question though: you imply quoting mostly bank economists makes for unbalanced articles. I was under the impression that on the grand spectrum of economists, bank economists are more or less in the middle. Are you suggesting that journalists go for union economists and Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation/Fraser Institute economists to capture the far ends of the spectrum too?

  • I see bank economists as tending toward the political right. Of course, they may still be in the middle of economists if the profession as a whole is tilted to the right. As you know, the Progressive Economics Forum seeks to redress that balance.

    Whatever your view of bank economists, a bunch of them in the same story provide the same lack of diversity for which the Post faulted Frances Russell.

  • Given it is Sunday and you all are talking about left and right perhaps a little Judeo-Xtian-Islam exegesis is required.

    Jesus said in Mat. 25:31-46 (King James).

    “Then shall He say also unto them on the LEFT HAND, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me no meat … then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee? Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not unto Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal”

    As is well known the right hand of God is love and light and the Left hand vengeance and darkness. Interesting then that Judas should be depicted to the right of Jesus (but left for the audience) (by Leonardo) clutching a bag of silver with his right hand and reaching for the same piece bread as Jesus with his left.

    Seated to the right, clutching for the same bread as Jesus; with a purse fat with assassins silver. Such is Judas. But of course no Judas, no betrayal and no universal salvation of humanity.

    As the Tragically Hip lines goes:

    It gets so sticky down here.

    Thus ends the Sunday sermon.

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