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When Sunday Morning Political Panel Producers Attack!


 

(Note to readers: Apologies if this originally appeared in a slightly more minimalist format; I’m playing with the WordPress Post extension for Firefox, and didn’t realize it was quite so — stark in what it would publish.)

As demonstrated yesterday on CTV’s Question Period:

TABER: Yeah, exactly. So we’ll be hearing from him. On that note, we’re out of time, gentlemen. I want to thank you, Lawrence Martin, Jim Travers for your time. We’ll see you throughout the summer. Craig, we’ve got to address a complaint. We received a complaint from the Prime Minister’s director of communications Sandra Buckler about something you said on the show about the fact the Environment Minister or the Finance Minister would not come on to talk about Dion’s green plan.

OLIVER: And it was accurate for me to say they had both turned us down. However, they did offer us Jason Kenney, the Minister of Multiculturalism, to attack the government’s green plan, and we said, sorry, we’re not talking about multiculturalism, we’re talking about taxation or we’re talking about environment. And so they’re insisting that we should take their person. And the question really is who’s producing the show? Are we producing the show or is the Prime Minister’s office producing the show? Would somebody tell me?

TABER: I think Sandra Buckler has an idea about who’s producing the show, and I think that she, when she offers someone, she expects…

OLIVER: She thinks we should take her candidate.

TABER: Exactly.

OLIVER: Any time somebody’s offered by her, that’s the person we should have on the show. Not somebody we choose.

TABER: And we have to say that Jason Kenney of course did appear on the show, but we spoke to him in a panel situation with other MPs about, you know, what the accomplishments of the government were.

OLIVER: And we were glad to have him.

TABER: We were very glad to have him, we’re always glad to have Jason Kenney on the show. So that’s the complaint, we’ve addressed it, and as we leave you we’re going to leave with you pictures from the studio of Parliament Hill and the preparations for the July 1st celebrations. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you next week.

You know, guys – and by guys, I’m including you too, Sandra, and Carolyn as well – it’s a generic term, so don’t think this is just directed at Dimitri and Ryan  – I understand that you really, really don’t want to send your Environment Minister out there to talk about climate change. I’m not being sarcastic, even — I totally get it; you’re worried that whoever takes on the role of attacking the Permanent Tax on Everything will inevitably wind up saying things that, if ruthlessly taken out of context – say, in a TV ad during an election campaign – could make it seem as though your party is insufficiently committed to the environment.

If you can convince reporters – or producers – to put Jason Kenney up, more power to you. But when someone says no – especially someone putting together a widely watched Sunday morning political program – it means ‘no.’ Not ‘Well, I’m not sure’ or ‘Maybe if you stomp your feet and threaten me with dire consequences, I’ll reconsider.’ It means you call up the actual minister, and tell him to do his best to skewer the Liberals without providing them with ammunition to use against the party, or the government, in future, and then you hope for the best. Otherwise, you get – well, this. And this? This isn’t what you want.

Viewed in context with that Finley fundraising plea I posted earlier, not to mention Oily the Splot, and the Prime Minister’s uncharacteristically indelicate language to describe Dion’s plan this weekend, and really, the impression people are going to come away with is a) your party really doesn’t have an alternative policy to propose, as far as reducing emissions, and b) you know it, and you’re absolutely terrified that everyone else – including, in the worst case scenario, the voters – will figure it out too.

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When Sunday Morning Political Panel Producers Attack!

  1. Craig Oliver has a legitimate complaint… it’s too bad he always comes off sounding like a cranky old man every time he goes on a rant.

  2. i love talking in blogs it is blogtastic! oh yeah

  3. Is it just me or dies Criag look like the penguin in a batman comic?

  4. Craig Oliver would come off as a cranky old man ordering a pizza, using voice-activated directory assistance, or cooing at a baby.

  5. Where is ITQ this week? I miss the liveblogging.

    Isn’t there a major trial you can go sit in on or something? :)

  6. ITQ is working out her schedule for the next few days, no worries! And yes, that thought occured to me too, Scott M. — although I’m not sure if I’d actually be allowed to “broadcast” from the courtroom, even if it was only via BlackBerry. I’ll keep y’all posted. Don’t worry, I’ll find *something* to liveblog.

  7. @Scott M @ 10:45am

    . . .he always comes off sounding like a cranky old man every time he goes on a rant.
    ———————

    Maybe you should listen to Tara Nelson read the news. Oh well, it’s either her or the machine-gun staccato of Kevin Newman.

  8. We are missing the main point here: CTV is standing up to PMO!! They must have decided Harper will lose the next election. If Duffy turns on them they are finished!

  9. Really? You think the talking heads on either network (Duffy, Newman) have that much influence with folks outside the blogosphere?

  10. Whooee! Craig’s a sharp tack, sez I. Apparently, the PMO doesn’t produce CTV Question Period. I ain’t so sure they don’t produce Mike Duffy Live, though. I wonder why Sandra didn’t offer to send Emerson. He’s minister of everything. Funny that the only competent Con minister is the one they got from the Grits.

    I ain’t heard much from Poilievre, lately. Wasn’t he supposed to be the Con’s new hatchet man? Guess he had some troublems wieldin’ the tomahawk.

    JB

  11. What explanation was given to making Kenney the approved talking head instead of, say, the environment or natural resources minister?

    And why wasn’t the odd assignment of Kenney to this issue seen as a news story in itself?

  12. Sure would be good if some of that Oliver rebel attitude would rub off on Mike Duffy.

  13. Mike Duffy? Journalist? I don’t think so….he’s Harper’s on TV strategist…..FOX News of Canada.

    We really do need some decent TV journalists – I mean, really, Taber, Duffy – gasp.

  14. Sorry Kady, but I’m not with you and Craig on this one. The PMO has every right in the world to decide who thay want to be the government spokesperson on any issue.

    CTV has the right to say no thank you to whomever is offered, but they have no business complaining about the PMO exercising its rights to determine its own spokespersons.

  15. So the government offers someone to discuss these issues, and Craig Oliver and Jane Taber go on a nonsensical rant about who’s producing their terrible, terrible excuse for a public affairs show…

    That’s a shame, but I don’t think Harper et al. need as worried as you suggest Kady. I haven’t seen either of these ‘journalists’ conduct a decent interview in years. If Steve Paikin had a Sunday morning show, then we could all start paying attention and muster up the energy to care who the government sends to talk.

  16. I saw an interview the other day that explains this : This is a tax grab and not an energy program so Jason Kenney would more than appropo since that is his area of expertise – which might be usefull to see how the mechanics of tax relief will never quite match the amount collected … as usual with Liberal Programs and as an after thought – who cares who the spokesman is what counts is someone to answer the questions?

  17. Um, this wasn’t about Oliver complaining. This was Oliver responding to a complaint from Canadas New PM. Like in the Macleans Magazine case, editorial control trumps political correctness but unlike Macleans, the show called ?. has adressed the complaint publicly. Mabey they took advantage of the complaint to mock it but thats the fun of balanced media. The unbalanced come off looking silly. Speaking of balanced media I’ve always thought that imperfect physical specimens like Oliver and Duffy were a sign of Canada’s relative sophistication. No?

  18. Speaking of balanced media I’ve always thought that imperfect physical specimens like Oliver and Duffy were a sign of Canada’s relative sophistication. No?

    True. Either that or all the photogenic Peter Jennings’s and Alex Trebek’s have shuffled off to Buffalo.

    BTW, there was an earlier comment about Oliver using voice-activated directory assistance. Not too funny. Craig Oliver is legally blind. He can’t see as far as the teleprompter and relies on his sharp intellect and memory to work without a net.

    JB

  19. ummm… sorry, I am missing something in all this?

    the Government offers a minister to come on and talk about climate change;

    CTV wants the Environment minister to talk about it;

    the gov says he cannot, but another minister is available…

    CTV turns them down.

    Kady, this is the government’s fault for QP to go ahead and run a show bashing the government without the government’s input?

    btw, some of the posters above saying that CTV is the Fox News of Canada, really ought to get a dose of reality…

  20. I have always enjoyed Craig Oliver, he’s intelligent, asks fair questions and has a good sense of humour. Good on him for not letting the Conservatives have their way.

  21. No blindism offered or intended; everyone gets that “What City?” robo-operator these days.

    Kady if you’re looking for liveblogging, aren’t the Senate and its committees still hard at “work”?

  22. Grow up, Kady. Every political party, even the Conservatives has the right to put forward whomever they like as their spokesperson.

    I’m not sure I understand their grounds for refusing Kenny. He gave the rebuttal to the Liberals’ announcement on Thursday, and he was doing interviews Thursday and Friday on the issue. They surely are not saying he is not capable of putting on a good performance. You personally may not like the fact that John Baird was not there, but the Conservatives see this as a tax issue, not an environmental plan, and they are entitled to use a tax person as their spokesman.

    The Liberals of course are trying to paint this as an environmental plan, not a tax grab, so by trying to insist on an environmental spokesman from the Conservatives, is QP actually trying to shift the emphasis on the issue to the Liberal perspective ???

    Say it ain’t so !

  23. Frankly, this letter says more about the people who actually believe these lies than the one who wrote it. Everyone knows that the Tories are flushed with cash so if one is dumb enough to buy into that nonsense, they deserve to be swindled.

  24. Also, I’m more interested in the fact that Baird the Attack Dog seems to have been muzzled than CTV’s need to be picky about its guests.

    Why would Harper all of a sudden feel the need to put Baird on lock down? What has Baird done now? Did I miss a scandal?

  25. “I’m not sure I understand their grounds for refusing Kenny.”

    because they can

  26. Actually, even if the government wanted to treat it as a tax issue, wouldn’t it make more sense to send, say, the Revenue Minister? Or the Finance Minister? Why the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity? As for the oddness of the strategy being a story unto itself, if I recall correctly, that was the first question asked at Kenney’s very first post-Green Shift press conference: Why are *you* here, and not the Environment Minister? It is absolutely the government’s prerogative to offer whichever spokesperson(s) it wishes; it is also the right of the media outlet to which it makes that offer to refuse that spokesperson — and to explain exactly why it did so, on air, if it so chooses.

  27. The government may choose to offer whoever they like, and media may choose to interview that person, or not. A problem arises for media when the government designates only one person to be a spokesprson on an issue, and pretty well bans all other government members from speaking on an issue.

    In this case, the Minister designated to speak has no responsibiltiies related to the issue in question, while the Ministers who do have responsibility (Baird and Lunn) are apparently being muzzled.

    Whatever be the case, CTV had every right to choose not to go with the designated spokesperson.

    But the interesting question here is why Baird and Lunn have been silenced on the main issue in their portfolio. And why didn’t more media question this odd PMO decision.

    And as for Kenney’s credentials in the area of tax policy, I don’t think he has any such credentials beyond his stint with the conservatives anti-tax lobby group in the 1990’s.

    If that is the basis for his alleged expertise on a carbon tax, then it is thin gruel indeed.

    – JV

  28. @ jad: Kenny is “a tax person” ??
    Kenny is responsible for *multiculturalism*. How in the world is that related to this file?
    If they can’t send the environment minister or PS, why not the finance minister or PS? Or someone with an official role remotely related to the subject.
    If Kenny’s the best tax expert they have, why isn’t that reflected in his official role? Or another way, why aren’t we getting the best tax guidance this gov’t can offer on a day to day basis (with Kenny in a related role) instead of just when required for political damage control?

  29. I just wanted to add that actually, Baird *was* allowed to speak to the issue last week in the House, but only when it wasn’t in response to a question from the Liberals. When the Bloc Quebecois or the NDP asked him about environmental policy – including, in the case of the former, with an explicit reference to the concept of a carbon tax – our always enthusiastic environment minister nearly overturned his desk when he leapt out of it to speak, so eager and excited he was to take the question. It was only when the question came from a Liberal that he had to cede the floor to Jason Kenney.

  30. “Why would Harper all of a sudden feel the need to put Baird on lock down? What has Baird done now? Did I miss a scandal?”

    Baird was escorting Harper’s wife all over town. It was okay for awhile, Baird being more of a man’s man and all, and then Harper saw the Seinfeld episode where Elaine successfully converted one of them.

    That was it for Baird. The End.

  31. Why not accept who the government chooses to speak on the file, and grill them when they appear on the show? If they’re so incapable of speaking on the environment, then it’ll show, right?

  32. “It was only when the question came from a Liberal that he had to cede the floor to Jason Kenney.”

    To me, that’s funny. He’s actually willing to let the party deny him his own portfolio. He must think he’s above getting Ambrosed.

  33. @ Dennis: No. Why waste valuable airtime on someone who has no apparent qualifications to speak in depth on the subject, and give them an opportunity to spout talking points?
    These people (higher ups on both sides of the house) aren’t idiots (for the most part anyway, and despite how it may look…), and the Conservatives are particularly good at sticking to the script (even if it comes off a bit silly). All in all it adds up to a low risk of good news tv.

  34. “Why not accept who the government chooses to speak on the file, and grill them when they appear on the show?”

    why justify their existence?

  35. Two Hats, if he’s that awful, and so attached to a script, then Oliver and Taber should have a field day with the guy, shouldn’t they?

    However, what they chose to do is to tell the government how it should be conducting its communications strategy, instead of letting viewers see for themselves — with Oliver and Taber controlling the questions.

  36. And wasn’t Ignatieff on that show recently discussing foreign policy? Isn’t that Rae’s file? Why did the producers accept that guest at the time? Or am I missing something on that one.

  37. I think the confusion here may be partly due to the blurring of the lines between the Conservatives as a party, and the Conservative government. The party seems to have settled on Jason Kenney to be the spokesperson for the anti-Green Shift ad campaign — which, of course, started with Oily the Splot, which was created and financed by the party, not the government.

    If I’m understanding correctly, though, Question Period wanted to hold an actual debate on the merits (or lack thereof) of the policy, with representatives from the government – as government – and the opposition. In that context, it makes little sense to substitute Kenney for Baird, since he doesn’t seem to be willing – or, perhaps, able – to discuss the alternative policies that the government has proposed. Again, government, not party.

    I’ve been meaning to write a post on the whole subject of blurring lines — a touchy subject if ever there was one, and one that no party with any aspirations of ever forming government is likely to turn into a cause celebre, lest it eventually be used against them. But when you see the silhouette of Sandra Buckler behind the curtains at a Conservative Party press conference, or get identical email from Dimitri Soudas as Ryan Sparrow, it does get a little — fuzzy.

  38. Personally, I think the confusion is that some folks aren’t in a hurry to recognize that “Kenney or nobody” is a choice that can go either way. In a free world…

  39. Does anyone know how Question Period actually ended up discussing Dion’s plan, and who the participants were?

  40. “Baird was escorting Harper’s wife all over town. It was okay for awhile, Baird being more of a man’s man and all, and then Harper saw the Seinfeld episode where Elaine successfully converted one of them.

    That was it for Baird. The End.”

    LOL!!!

  41. Ok so seriously now, Kady… Can you get us the 411 on why Baird has been silenced? I find this oh so very odd and would love to find out what his offence was.

  42. “especially someone putting together a widely watched Sunday morning political program”

    Widely watched program. That’s hilarious!!!!!!

  43. What’s also funny is Buckler actually had the nerve to complain. She thinks the show owes her something?

  44. Kady, I read somewhere (God knows where), that the Conservatives want Kenney because he used to head the Taxpayers’ Federation. It seems kind of a stretch to me, but that seems to be the spin.

  45. I can’t believe I’m defending Buckler but you have to admit that it was a bit disingenuous of Oliver to claim that the govt refused to appear on the show. He could have said that they offered up Kenney.

    But nevermind that… What did Baird do to fall from grace?

  46. Dennis had a good point when he points out that it was OK for the Liberals to substitute Ignatieff for the Liberal foreign policy critic, but it is apparently not OK for the Tories to do the same.

    CTV just needs to be consistent.

  47. Iggy’s the frigging second in command. When they sent him they upped the stakes.

    THINK!, dammit.

  48. Give me a break, Brian. You want to compare substituting the Minister of the Environment with the Secretary of Multiculturalism something something to an Opp critic switching place with a deputy leader?

    C’mon. Baird is part of the Harper inner sanctum and, in keeping with this govt’s attack dog style politics, he has done quite the masterful job of representing his master in and out of the Commons so this indeed begs the question…

    Why would the Minister of the Environment not allowed to do the talk shows and rebut Dion’s carbon tax policy? Why is Baird not allowed to go out there and tout his party’s environmental policy?

  49. Ignatieff is Deputy Leader, and as such, he can pretty well speak officially on just about anything.

    – JV

  50. “…Why is Baird not allowed to go out there and tout his party’s environmental policy?”

    risk management.

    they need him in decent condition for the next campaign. its a talent pool thing. better to risk the lightweight disposables. Kenney’s damaged goods anyways.

  51. This is a bit tangential, but I’d be skeptical about any assertion that Jason Kenney is seen as a low-ranking figure by the Harper centre.

  52. Ah but Geiseric, if that is true it would therefore mean that the Tories know that Canadians would favor the LPC carbon tax over what they have to offer, would it not?

  53. I’d agree with Paul but it still does not explain why Baird who is indeed considered high-ranking would have been set aside on an issue that clearly falls under his purview.

  54. “Ah but Geiseric, if that is true it would therefore mean that the Tories know that Canadians would favor the LPC carbon tax over what they have to offer, would it not?”

    I don’t know about that. My take on it is they can’t afford to have their front row actually seen engaging in what they’ve been passing off as dialog lately.

    Goodale nailed Kenney (I think it was Kenney – one of their voiceboxes, anyways) big time on Newman last week for being petty. and did it in a dignified fashion, too.

    better to stick with the oil stain.

  55. Yes it is true that Iggy may be the dear deputy leader, but I have little doubt that Bob Rae would be disappointed if he were not chosen to be the official spokesperson for a foreign affairs file if CTV asked for a Liberal Party spokesperson on some foreign policy file.

  56. “…Rae would be disappointed if he were not chosen…”

    how do you think Baird feels about getting lowballed?

  57. “I don’t know about that. My take on it is they can’t afford to have their front row actually seen engaging in what they’ve been passing off as dialog lately.”

    I think that makes sense but what do you do when the proponent of the said “dialogue” challenges you to a duel…er…debate? You offer up Kenney?

  58. Has anyone thought that maybe … just maybe now … That Jason is being groomed for the environment file which is why Stevie wants him to step out on when it comes to this portfolio?

  59. grasping at straws, uh Wayne?

  60. “…You offer up Kenney?”

    Me? I wouldn’t offer up Kenney for spare parts, but if I were trying to insult the opposition by treating them lightly, he’d be at the top of my list.

  61. Hey Boudica (I LIke the name – strong woman she was) it was just a thought so why would you think there were any straws involved? I don’t follow the logic?

  62. I agree – this is a big shift from a political news organization that has always been seen as in the bag of the neo-con and neo-liberal interests.

    it’s good to know – but really we know what’s going on – the bumbling know-nothings of the Harper Squad have pissed off many in media with their idiotic and dictatorial attempts to bully anyone and anything that does not 100 percent agree with them.

    no one but themselves to blame.

    I am this close to joining the Libs….

  63. “However, they did offer us Jason Kenney, the Minister of Multiculturalism, to attack the government’s green plan”

    And exactly which government would that be, Mr. Oliver ???

  64. “And exactly which government would that be, Mr. Oliver ???”

    The government-in-waiting Harper and his sandbox friends attack every day.

  65. You mean the government-in-waiting that hides under its desks every time a vote is called. Forty-three votes to date, I believe.

    They’re gonna be waiting a long time, buddy.

  66. I don’t know, Jad- the most recent e-mail I recieved from the Libs begging for my money mentioned October as a possible election date.

  67. Well, I see four segments offered in video clips at their Web site: http://www.ctv.ca/politics .

    The only one dedicated to politicians discussing Dion’s plan is with Dion. No other politicians from any parties seem to have been involved in the debate.

    This is Craig Oliver’s view of providing a debate with his viewers?

    I might also add that Dion is refusing debates with both Jack Layton and Elizabeth May.

    It almost looks like Oliver is being used by Dion. No?

  68. I think it’s more likely Craig Oliver meant to say “*defend* the government’s green plan” rather than “attack” the Liberal plan. I can totally imagine making that kind of mistake on air, especially if I was flustered over a weird behind the scenes power struggle with PMO over who was going to appear. However, that is doubtless far too mundane an explanation to assuage any fears of the secret Liberal bias within the walls of CTV.

  69. I am surprised at the number of respondents who think there is nothing wrong with offering up the Sec of State for Multiculturalism to responds to an issue of environment, or if you prefer, taxation.

    It’s called ministerial accountability, and there seems less and less of it in Ottawa these days. Evidence? Look at the number of questions answered by a minister without portfolio, Peter Van Loan, instead of the relevant minister responsible. So much for the promise of accountability.

    As for Mr. Kenney’s legitimacy as a tax expert because of his days with the Taxpayers Federation, I would submit that organization is well known as an arm of the Conservative Party, not really a bastion of objective analysis.

  70. Yeah. While in principal any Gov. member can speak on any Gov. policy that’s not the reality today. Would it seem reasonable if the Gov. Sent Van Loan to do every interview? Cause that’s been the trend in the house. Does it seem reasonable to take a cabinet system that’s supposed to garuantee “responsible government” and make it less important than the communications dept. which has no constitutional standing? That’s rumoured to be the terend too, and a much more disturbing one.

  71. OMG, John Bairds not gay is he? OMG!

  72. Iggy spoke for the Liberals ’cause Rae was out of the country. Simple as that.

  73. “I’ve been meaning to write a post on the whole subject of blurring lines…”

    That should be an interesting read, Kady. (Is ‘blurring lines’ a euphemism for spinning the spin?)

  74. Oh jeepers, the line-blurring post! I was totally going to get on that this week, but I’ve somehow gotten sucked into the Green Shift trademark kerfuffle. I’ll get back to it soon, I promise. Basically, I want to look at the notoriously tricky job of maintaining a clear line between party business, and government business – which becomes distinctly murkier when you have Ryan Sparrow – acting in his party capacity – and the PMO deputy communications director apparently tagteaming on a political issue. Like, say, the Permanent Tax on Everything.

  75. The point is that there is a privy council officer who is being provided additional remuneration in exchange for being responsible for the environment portfolio. That means being accountable about the decisions he is supposedly making, including the advice he is providing to caucus and the prime minister. If he is no longer performing those functions, then appoint someone in his place.

    Anyone who thinks the current appointee shouldn’t have to answer or be accountable for this, and that media should accept whatever flack the PMO sends in his place, have already relocated to some kind of virtual republic in their own minds.

  76. “I can totally imagine making that kind of mistake on air, especially if I was flustered over a weird behind the scenes power struggle with PMO over who was going to appear.”

    Maybe it would have been less confusing if the government of the day had some adults in the room.

  77. I just wanted to add how similar I think this situation is to the current one where the New York Times rejected John McCain’s rebuttal to an earlier piece written my Barack Obama. In both instances, you have a media outlet in essence telling conservatives how they should respond to Liberal policy statements. Interesting.

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