Saturday, November 7, 2009

Media and democracy. . .

I find recent event rather creepy an ominous concerning the political climate in Canada. This is not only because I find the governing party deeply corrupt and anti-democratic. What I find particularly disturbing is the fact that the media has gone silent on almost everything of significance. Now there is no doubt that the media can get very tedious with its constant sensationalizing of political stories. But in the past couple of years they have simply stopped talking about any story that makes the Tories look bad. In recent months there have been terrible scandals which normally we could depend on the media to talk about but nowadays these stories barely get any play at all. And it is much more than the giant check scandal. The Tories have done things which, in the past would have not only have forced governments to resign but the ruling party to plummet in the polls. They have now been found to be vetting potential civil servants for their support for the government. This is the kind of thing that brought down an Attorney General in the Bush administration. Here it barely makes it into the media at all. Conservative MPs heckle opposition members when they ask legitimate questions about things like swine flu while people are dying. Government ministers withhold important documents to manipulate votes in the House. The Government is steeped in financial abuses that the media barely covers. 

There was a time when these stories would be constant headlines that even a Prime Minister who doesn't watch Canadian news would be unable to ignore. 

The funny thing is that I am no Liberal but at least when they were faced with a serious scandal in the sponsorship event, they actually had a public inquiry. This government simply ignores serious scandals, blames someone else, or sacks a civil servant. And the media goes merrily on ignoring all of it. Just the isotope incident would normally be enough to bring down a government. I mean, the government actually sacked a public safety officer who was doing her job, following pre-established protocol while trying to avoid a nuclear accident! And then a year later she was proved right and Chalk River was shut down! But the media has nothing to say. 

All of this reminds me of the US media in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. 

The funniest part of all of it is that the Conservatives are setting so many bad precedents that they will lament later on when some other party is in power. All of us will eventually lament the Americanization of our political system, the concentration of power, the lack of accountability etc. etc. And when some new group of Tories are crying foul when the pendulum has swung the other way, I will laugh - then I will cry. 


Anonymous said...

We are so many who are crying. And WE have no way to stop the insanity. It's creepy and it's illegal and it's undemocratic. Yet somehow they have the right to call US 'undemocratic'. I wonder sometimes, what is the real goal. There doesn't seem to be any by all the parties. At this time in our new C, there is no talk of a Coalition to do something for US. Why would that be?

Skinny Dipper said...

I can watch the pre-Olympic coverage on CTV and find no critical thinking in the news about the Olympics. It's all "Ra, ra, ra" for the Olympics. This doesn't mean that I want CTV to be completely negative about the Olympics and its impact on Vancouver. I would like to see more reports and opinion pieces about the advantages and disadvantages of holding the games in Vancouver.

kirbycairo said...

Indeed, the media seems to be little more than a cheering section, and the Olympics is a great example of the situation. The Olympics is a deeply political event with shadows of corruption. Furthermore given the abandonment of the amateur status there are also deep shades of racism in the modern olympics because western countries with the most money win the greatest number of medals. But there is not one shred of real analysis in the media about any of it.

Gazetteer said...

Heckuva post Kirby.

Especially the last part.

And when that pendulum does swing and many of the legitimate levers of opposition are not there, one can only wonder if the the Conservatives will go bat-guaono crazy with all this anti-everything/ tea-bagger/divorced from reality stuff.