Pay no attention to the campaign debts behind the curtain: Liveblogging the Conservative Party ad release presser - Macleans.ca
 

Pay no attention to the campaign debts behind the curtain: Liveblogging the Conservative Party ad release presser


 

IMPORTANT NOTE: It turns out I was completely wrong in my prediction, and the press conference wound up being all about the Cadman tapes. That’s the magic of semiliveblogging. Anyway, just wanted readers just joining us now to be aware that there is a plot twist ahead.

10:40:11 AM
I had high hopes for a slow, leisurely start to the day, but thanks to the Conservatives, my morning has already been thrown wildly off schedule: I’m currently in a cab, which is whisking me off to deepest, darkest Vanier for a hastily-announced party press conference and ad release. It starts at 11—yes, I’m probably cutting it a little close as far as time—and it will, we assume—we being me and the cab driver—that the latest round of non-election media buys are going to focus on Stéphane Dion and His Terrible, Horrible Money Problems: He may not be a leader, but he sure managed to rack up some impressive debts!

10:49:57 AM
Okay, so maybe I was completely off base in my predictions, because according to pre-presser gossip—I’m out of the cab and in the briefing room, by the way, but more on that later—James Moore will be here, which can only mean one thing: Cadman. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing. I mean, it could be the lawsuit, it could be new information, it could be anything.

Anyway, while we’re waiting—the room. Actually, first, the building—which could not possibly be more anonymous or trickier to find, what with it being on Middle of Nowhere Drive, and doesn’t even have a visible street number; I had to ask some guy smoking a cigarette outside if this was the right place. Once inside, a smiling blonde staffer walked me upstairs—past the obligatory Stephen Harper wall poster, of course—down a corridor, and into the “media centre,” where I rejoined my people.

The room is slowly but surely filling up, but for some reason, no one seems to want to sit in the front row—possibly because the way the chairs are arranged, it looks like you’re part of the stage show.

10:58:50 AM
Two minutes to go! This is exciting, isn’t it?

11:00:37 AM
And here we go! Or rather, here we read: I’ve just been handed an enormous binder full of affidavits and other court filings: the upshot seems to be that the Liberals are using a “doctored” audio tape—the infamous Harper interview.

News release headline: Liberals using doctored audio tape—Two leading North American forensic audio experts have confirmed that Zytaruk tape is “edited,” “doctored” and contains a “fabricated soundbite.”

11:06:52 AM
Ooh, apparently this stems from an injunction request, filed this morning, ordering the Liberal Party to stop using the tape.

More clips from Moore—who I can’t see, because the room is so full of cameras. The tape was allegedly “doctored” more than once. He claims that the tape has now been “thoroughly discredited” before going back to his usual spiel.

11:09:58 AM
Okay, he’s moved onto the French statement, leaving us to mull over what, exactly, is going on here, and frantically pick through the mound of documents—hey look, an affidavit from Ray Novak!—before the questions start.

One thing this suggests, incidentally, is that the tape really has hurt the Conservative case as far as Cadman is concerned, and may have even hurt the Prime Minister’s credibility. I mean, this entire binder is devoted to the tale of the tape—they’ve clearly spent a fair chunk of change on this line of defence. Or attack.

11:13:48 AM
Questions! First, from a French reporter: Did they use the original tape? They used the tape provided by Zytaruk, Moore says.

How did the tape change the meaning of what the PM said? Hm, not really an answer there—reporters pressing him on it. The gist: it was a longer conversation, and the tape was doctored. Doctored!

Oh dear, this isn’t a good sign for the Conservative spin factory: “Are you calling ‘white noise’ a fabricated soundbite?” That doesn’t sound like quite the revelation that the news release promised, and Moore seems to be getting a little frantic.

Will there be action against Zytaruk? Sounds like not.

11:17:59 AM
More questions. The Toronto Star wants to clarify whether the words “financial consideration” occurred—no yes or no answer, just that “the tape was doctored.” That’s the line they want us to leave with—not how, or why, or what it changes as far as the actual conversation.

Another attempt to get Moore to explain how it was manipulated, and he suggests that we go through the binder. But how? How?

I’m not sure if this was such a good idea.

11:21:02 AM
David Akin wonders whether the experts were paid, and Moore notes that all the costs are being covered by the party.

Also, if the Conservatives sent a copy of the tape to these forensic experts, how can they guarantee that they didn’t doctor it first? I see a chain of evidence handling problem here. Then again, I watch a lot of Law and Order. NOTE: After the press conference, I brought this up with Ryan Sparrow, and he assured me that the tape went straight from the publishers to the party’s lawyers, who sent it to the experts. It’s still not clear, however, how many people would have had the opportunity – or for that matter, the motive – to “doctor” the tapes. I guess the Liberals are off the hook, though, since they never had access to the tape sent to to experts.

11:24:10 AM
I didn’t think about it before, but this is a particularly tough crowd to sell on tape editing—or “doctoring”—since journalists use recorders all the time.

In other, worse news for Moore, someone—Graham Richardson, to be precise—managed to read one of the affidavits, and confronts him with the observation that the expert doesn’t say the tape can’t be trusted at all.

11:26:47 AM
And—there goes James Moore, leaving a roomful of vaguely hostile journalists in his wake, all asking much the same question of each other, now that he’s gone: How does this change what the Prime Minister allegedly said? What was added, or taken away, or otherwise “manipulated” so as to alter the meaning of his words?


 

Pay no attention to the campaign debts behind the curtain: Liveblogging the Conservative Party ad release presser

  1. I believe this is my all time favourite liveblog.

  2. I love this – another pseudo-scandal biting the dust leaving us with a woman scorned and dollars will get you donuts that the Foreign Affairs investiagtion will end up with some faceless bureaucrat filing the papers in an outbox rather than an inbox – I sure hope Julie shows up for the Committee to dump some dirt on the floor I will be Recording CPAC and that is for sure. I love Canadian politics the last few years I have not had so much fun since Mulroney!

  3. Any particular reason why “today”? Is there some sort of Committee hearing or something? I mean didn’t the RCMP clear Herr Harper? Why resurrect this beast?

  4. You say “Okay, he’s moved onto the French statement, leaving us to mull over what, exactly, is going on here, and frantically pick through the mound of documents—hey look, an affidavit from Ray Novak!—before the questions start.”

    I really hope that, as a rule, the bilingual members of the press corps are paying attention twice, and making sure whomever is speaking (from whatever party) is SAYING THE SAME THING IN BOTH LANGUAGES. (And not just not contradicting themselves, but actually communicating the same message.) Because if they’re saying something different, that’s news too. And if they routinely say something different, that’s worth a “national conversation”.

  5. Agreed. Well done, Kady.

  6. It’s not clear to me whether the word “lame-arino” appears on the tape or whether it just hovered in the air after James’ newser. But I hear that word in my ear, oh yes I do.

  7. Is the intelligent and capable MP James Moore some kind of masochist?

  8. Wayne–how is it a pseudo scandal when, as Kady notes, the affidavits don’t actually say that the tapes can’t be trusted? I know you take the things the Tories say at face value but I think this rather categorically proves that their relationship with the truth worse than relationships I’ve been in, which is to say, pretty bad. . .

  9. [ps–I know you do the committee thing, but you’re so much better at live blogging than Andrew. Hint. Hint.]

  10. I love the answer to the Toronto Star’s question on whether the words ‘financial considerations’ were uttered! Sounds like a yes to me. I can’t wait to hear more about what parts of the tape are unreliable.

  11. Uh Wayne, did you actually read Kady’s commentary, or did you just decide to randomly leave more of your COns talking points here?

    If Moore is holding a press conference on an issue that has largely sunk into the background while Nafta-Gate and Bernier-Gate has overshadowed it, the Cons. obviously are worried about it enough to try and discredit it – too bad for them that it appears Ryan Sparrow and James Moore are engaging in Inspector Gadget-type news conferences.

  12. Wow, seems like a lot of money and effort to discredit something which apparently was consistent with everything the Conservatives have said. I mean, if it’s much ado about nothing, why the press conference to smear the nothing?

    The more the Conservatives obsess about this tape, the more it speaks to just how damaging it actually is.

    Kady, I think this is an attempt to short circuit the looming court case, get the Liberals to apology or reach a settlement. Either that, or as someone else noted, prevent the Liberals from using this tape in an election ad. The bizarre timing of this announcement, a full three months later, the RCMP conclusions reached, basically a forgotten story, tells me that they are worried about this tape in some capacity moving forward.

  13. The Liberals used this tape as their only basis for attack for weeks on the so called “Cadscam”; despite repeated assurances to the contrary (including publically by Cadman several times in the weeks before he died) that nothing untoward had happened. Now the tape, their only source of any “evidence”, has been revealed to be doctored. This is getting interesting … hey does anyone out there know the status of Harper vs Dion I can’t wait for that trial to begin unless of course the Liberals settle out of court – which would suck big time.

  14. Was is actual tape (i.e. microcassette) analyzed, or was an mp3 copy of a tape analyzed? Did Zytaruk use an electronic recorder that spit out a compressed file? More questions than answers.

    Regular digital compression artifacting can be spun to look like “doctoring.” I’d take this over to independent sound geeks for a second opinion.

  15. Tim: I brought that up during my conversation with Ryan, and he told me to read the affidavit. It appears that *a* tape was analysed – not just the wav file that the publishers were distributing – but not the original tape.

  16. Hmm, just looked at the comments on the G&M website regarding this story and came across this gem:

    “100% Conservative from Victoria BC, Canada writes: Brilliant : another pseudo-scandal is biting the dust leaving only a woman scorned now : I can’t wait for the Foreign Affairs investigation to wrap up and dollars will get you timbits it will all turn out to be some bureaucrat who filed some papers in an outbox rather an inbox…”

    Strikes me as ‘eerily similar’ to Wayne’s first comments from above. Just an observation I thought I’d share.

  17. Wayne:

    The tape hasn’t been “revealed” to be doctored – the Cons. are just trying to claim it has – there’s a slight difference there. Try thinking for yourself once in awhile, rather then showing yourself to be a dependable Con Kool-Aid drinker.

    It’s interesting they’re trying to get the Liberals to stop using this tape, but they won’t take action against the author of the book who taped this and who has been saying all along in public the tape is legit. Why wouldn’t they go after him too, if this was anything other then a partisan exercise on their part?

    Alan: I’m not surprised if “Wayne” is busy going around doing that – that’s what the Cons have their supporters do. I’m sure Wayne has the Cons talking points in front of him as he types all this.

  18. What a comedy show. I hope some media types are going to Zytaruk and asking him what its like to be accused of either a) circulating a doctored tape, or b) being a liberal patsy. Me thinks he’s the person who should be consulting a lawyer at this time.
    Aren’t PvLoan and Jimmy Moore beginning to look like clones out of the CON cereal box? Apparently, beefy dudes make better offensive tackies in politics, too.

  19. Wayne–what part of “maybe you should read Kady’s post and understand the facts” are you not getting? There appears to be no doctoring, or at least nothing significant at all. Moore looked like an idiot at the presser.

    Facts and conservatives don’t ever seem to be friends.

  20. Someone call up Gurmant Grewal; he’ll know what to do!

  21. Actually, the I feel the CONS real motive is that they think The Liberals are going to tumble them tomorrow and they didn’t want this to be a campaign ad.

  22. With respect to the question: “How does this change what the Prime Minister allegedly said? What was added, or taken away, or otherwise “manipulated” so as to alter the meaning of his words?” —
    I think it unlikely that Harper (or anyone) would remember verbatim a brief conversation that took place several years ago. There is no reason to think that this particular incident would stand out in his mind. Harper would have been juggling many balls at the time and to expect an exact explanation of how wording on a tape may differ from what he actually said and the order in which he said it is unreasonable. If there is clear evidence that the tape was doctored — regardless of how — this should be sufficient to have it taken out of the public arena.

  23. Brillian deduction. So if the tape was doctored so that various ramblings and interview set-up noises were removed before the interview, it shouldn’t be allowed in the public arena? How much sense does that make?

    Even the experts hired by the conservative party don’t say that the tape can’t be trusted, and they swear to their statements in the affadavits. In other words, the authenticity of the conversation still isn’t in doubt.

    Financial considerations were offered, Harper knew about them and thought they were a waste of time. Not that they were improper, or unethical, but just a waste of time.

    There are ways that Harper can explain the “financial considerations” offered that I think most Canadians would be willing to accept. After all, if we’re willing to accept is 180 turn-arounds on unelected senators (Fortier), floor-crossing (Emerson), softwood lumber (Cave to the US), Income Trusts (Taxable), and Public Health Wait Times Guarantees (non-existant), then why not on bribery, hm?