Are you ready for some character assassination? -

Are you ready for some character assassination?


First, I’d like to thank the Conservative Party of Canada for running their newest attack ad approximately 2.96 million times during Monday Night Football. Weeks from now, when we reflect on the first weekend of the 2009 NFL season, the memories will surely blur together and we’ll all recount New England quarterback Tom Brady completing a thrilling game-winning pass to Michael Ignatieff’s mercenary recklessness. Final score: Patriots 25, Canada’s Awesome Economic Recovery That Ignatieff is Totally Ruining With His Ambition and Effete Hand Gestures 24.

Second, here’s my favourite passage from this morning’s Globe (though, full disclosure, it doesn’t quite top the recent passage about the horse being sexy):

Amid the drama yesterday, Mr. Ignatieff delivered what was being billed by the Liberals as a major speech about Canada on the international stage. However, his message about Canada’s place in the world was lost in the all the breathless speculation about an election.

This is an all-time classic media move: when reporters write about how one event was overshadowed by another, but do so in a way that completely overlooks their pivotal role in the whole overshadowing part.

The passive voice is critical here – Ignatieff’s message “was lost.” Got that? It “was lost,” like a kid’s homework or Stephen Harper’s capacity to feel. This sounds better than resorting to the more honest “What’s-his-nose Liberal guy gave a speech or whatever but we were all too busy squealing girlishly at rumours that Steve and Jack were holding hands behind the portable.”

And did you catch the above-it-all tone in the passage? – the mildly condescending use of “breathless speculation.” It’s the print equivalent of the TV reporter who rushes to stake out some devastated, in-the-news family – then has his camera operator pan across the assembled media horde as he gravely intones something along the lines of, “Check out all these guys. Vultures.”

The worst part is that Iggy’s speech was actually big news. Check it out: “Under this government,” Ignatieff told the Canadian Club, “Canada is becoming the country that dares not speak its name.” You heard him, ladies and gentlemen: under Stephen Harper, Canada is becoming the Lambada of the global community – the forbidden country!

Let us all now arch our backs and grind our pelvises in shame.

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