The press gallery: making the Liberal party seem courageous by comparison - Macleans.ca
 

The press gallery: making the Liberal party seem courageous by comparison

How is it that Stephen Harper wasn’t asked about the census?


 

The Globe’s Steve Chase wrote this piece to explain how Stephen Harper, instead of being asked about changes to the census, wound up being asked today about a play that few people will see and even fewer will give a shit about.

But the article is interesting for a different reason. Read it and marvel at what has become of our national press gallery – reduced to milling about in cliques and engaging in whispered debate over how to obediently divvy up the meager allotment of questions they’ve been granted by a Prime Minister too arrogant to expose himself to scrutiny, too fragile to agree to anything so risky as a follow-up query and — someone has to say it — too gray now to use Just For Men without us all totally noticing.

Reporter No. 1: Shall we have him easily dodge a question about the census or shall we invite him to blandly talk around a question about the polls?

Reporter No. 2: Just don’t make eye contact with him – I hear he’ll turn you into a newt!

And how does the press gallery express its displeasure at the lack of access to the Prime Minister and encourage him to change his ways? By dutifully reporting – often without challenge – any allegation he makes whenever he deigns to appear in front of a camera.

OTTAWA — Federal opposition parties are pushing for an election that Canadians don’t want, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday.

Oh, yeah – the Liberals and the other opposition parties are really pushing for an election. Because you’d never want to let an opportunity like “28 per cent in the polls” just slip away.


 
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The press gallery: making the Liberal party seem courageous by comparison

  1. It has come to this. The once-intrepid press gallery reduced to a bunch of snivelling twits with David Akin, the blow-dried airhead of KoryTV/ToryTV, leading the charge.

    One more example of Harper's genius: successfully neutering the press corps, one member at a time.

    • They all want a seat in the senate. Now that 'journalists' can be appointed to the senate they will all play along. I blame this partly on Stephen, but mostly on the part of the 'journalists' who took the job. It is a betrayal of the everyman trust.

      • Glad to see that someone else understands "journalists."

    • It's been happening for some time now…

    • He's got them confused with the shelter kitties. Remember folks, help control the press gallery population, have your press gallery reporter spayed or neutered.

  2. I have a ton of respect for many members of the press gallery. Most of them take their positions seriously and report with dignity and intellect. What is a shame is that Ottawa has been allowed to plummet into a place where you can be blacklisted (and thus likely to lose your job) if you try to actually do your job. Ours should be a strong, inquisitive, and incorrigible press gallery ready to jump on the misguided policies of the government with the zest of youth.

    • "incorrigible" is good. Incorruptible would be better.

    • Defining characteristics of fascism :

      Point # 6 out of 14 : Controlled Mass Media

      Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

  3. Twitter is going crazy with it – something will erupt.

    • Wells seems f***ing pissed about it.

      • Literally.

        Who knew he was holding in so many f-bombs!

        • I did. His jacket has been straining under the pressure for years.

  4. Mike White: "Ok, we only have time for a single question, so make it a good one, press gallery. I'll just pick a name out of this hat here and… nope not that one… uh… this one is… it's blank… ah, here we go, is there a Rachel Harper?"

    RH: "Dad, can I stay up until 10 tonight, puhleeeeease?"

    SH: "It's a very important question, honey, but the answer is of course no. Ok, thanks everyone, good talk."

    One thing I admired about Trudeau was that he'd always have at the media, probably because he thought his policies were to a certain degree defensible. I'm starting to think Harper doesn't.

    • +1, olaf

      • It's cool that you read your own press chirpings.

    • Trudeau never had any doubts about his intellectual capacity. Harper, not so much.

      Mulroney and Chretien never shied away from the press either.

      • Ahh memory. Of course Trudeau was notorious for almost never having press conferences. Mr. Chretien was almost as bad.

          • Cheeky b*gger, no?

            non·pa·reil

        • Your memory is rather shaky. Trudeau, for one, didn't have staged press conferences. In fact, he often talked to them face to face, in their face, on the steps.

    • I am the eternal optimistic, I am trying to think of something to defend his actions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
      ………………………………………………………………..mmmm nothing : )

    • Maybe it's time for the what kind of vegetable are you question? He sleazed out of that one by claming to be a fruit. I'd like to see some follow up on that.

  5. That suit really brings out the blue in his eyes. Much better than yesterdays outfit. And no pig shadows!

    Now, where is my Grecian Formula?

    • But, but, that awful lip liner has to go. He wears it everywhere.

  6. But no wedding ring !?! Problems on the home front? Let's sick Hello! on him, maybe they can do better.

    • Question for the next mail bag:

      Which headline sells more newspapers: "Harper angers press gallery" or "Haper not wearing his wedding ring"

      • How about "Harper pockets wafer"?

        • How can you see into his pocket? Is there an app for that?

      • My money is on No. 2.

        • you'll have to ask the newspaper editor and owner who made the story up

    • I don't think he ever wears a wedding ring. I can't recall any pictures of him with one.

      • Maybe he should start wearing an onion ring…might improve his popularity.

        • Yeah, like the onion ring would hang out with Stephen Harper.

      • Rings are dangerous when using a lathe to spin, spin, spin.

      • I believe it was She Who Must Not Be Named (ie. Kady) who once informed me that Harper doesn't wear a wedding ring because he has an allergic-type reaction to metal on his skin. Or maybe it's because it messes with the polarity of his CPU.

        • C-PU? Will Right-Gard cure it? Or perhaps maple syrup smeared strategically?

        • Oh, now I get it — kryptonite!

        • Hahaha, why can't she not be named, I miss her…

      • And, some folks seem to think his not wearing a wedding ring is important? A lot of men don't wear wedding rings. My husband won't wear rings – he doesn't like wearing ring (even his school ring).

  7. Well – I’m glad someone else saw “the lesser shades of grey” around the time he was greeting Liz and Phil.

    I was beginning to think my eyes were failing me!

    • I can't either – so it's not just you!

      • good to know!

        • I was having such problems yesterday with my browser, I knew it HAD to be me, only with two browsers now. Plus, nobody else was complaining!

          I'm very grateful to you for posting. :)

          • anytime at all!

          • And not only that, someone must have been reading and fixed it!

  8. If PM Harper was Jay-Z. Jay-Z's Lyrics pretty much sum up PM Harper(You would have to listen to Hip Hop harcore since at least 1992 to get it)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzRwrPWWlCE

    HOV <>

  9. This is something I've never understood….why does the media put up with this treatment?

    Wasn't there something years ago about inflicting discomfort on the comfortable or some such?

    Actively going after news?

    I don't recall anything about huddling in corners.

    • Low self-esteem?

      • Cripes I dunno….they're supposed to be doing one of the most important jobs in the nation…and instead we get this??

        • One reading of Atlas Shrugged was a biblical moment for them — a beacon lighting the way to a new reality. A world with fat-bellied people living on empty rhetoric, unwilling to walk, yet eager to exercise new-found mind control devices. Children of those refusing shelter to suffering, they lay blame on the victims — yet, forever, they wail about the injustice they suffer at the "crimes"of "lesser" folk. It's a new "anarcho-fascism." A kind of law that is "our law — not your law." They yearn for a new totalitarian future, wherein every living being looks, feels and thinks as they do, or is banished to a cot in some orphanage for "societal anomalies."

          Or something similar, at least.

          • Wait, I'm confused. Are you still talking about the parliamentary press corps, or are you off on some wild tangent?

          • A tangent, of cos.

          • Once the opposition found itself divided by adjacent viewpoints, a tangent seemed inevitable. A sure sine something was up.

          • Hold on for a secant. Was that a math joke?

            Personally, I've never had much use for mathematics, but I can see how it would be useful to sum.

  10. So, I'm wondering what would happen if the reporters who got together to hammer out the two, good, English language questions got together the next time to specifically NOT ask any questions. Then, if one of them is lucky enough to get picked, they could just say "I have no question because you wouldn't answer it anyway" and then they could all walk out.

    On the other hand, journalists could be there to report on the reporter(s) in the pocket of PMO who ask the who-cares, unimportant meaningless drivel such as David Akins, the biggest sellout. Don't you guys have peer pressure or something?

    • WORD

    • Reporters walk out on Harper in question spat
      May. 23 2006
      '….But the Ottawa-based media have refused for almost two months to submit their names to any list prepared by the PMO.
      After journalists refused to be placed the list again on Tuesday, Soudas announced that Harper would be on his way shortly – and he would not be taking questions.

      The press gallery president then turned to his colleagues and suggested they leave.
      http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20060523/rep

      • Good, Wilson! I kind of remembered that, and I don't think anything has changed–in fact it has only gotten worse. At least back then, he wasn't saying ahead of time how many questions would be taken, or at least the article you posted to doesn't mention that. I don't know why they caved after that.

        A year from now, he'll be taking one question that needs to be submitted in advance unless they do something.

  11. Castrated f u c k s are the media in Canada…I've been saying it for years.

    • Not castrated. Bought.

  12. Are the Harry Potter spex an attempt to make him look intellectual? Perhaps now he can see the writing on the wall.

    • The man is "a Guild Navigator . . . a fictional humanoid in the. . . universe. Humans mutated through the consumption of and exposure to massive amounts of the [BS] . . . they are able to use a limited form of prescience to safely navigate [political] space in a country called . . ."

      • But we now know for sure that he isn't a magical creature as Jon Stewart once said, his hair actually does move with the wind, never seen that before, he is letting the hair loose now : )
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBSbHBOXxOM

        • hippie.

  13. Why should Harper know about it? It's a simple matter of freedom versus intrusion of the state, it doesn't need to go to Harper for approval. Just pick freedom and make the long form voluntary. Only the liberals give a damn because it would make it more difficult for them to implement socialist programs should they ever gain power again.

    • Remind me not to drop a Loonie in your paper coffee cup.

    • Do you not think that solid, reliable, evidence based data obtained through the mandatory long-form census would benefit any government of the day, whether Liberals or Conservatives?

      In other words, why wouldn't the Conservatives use this data to guide them in making more enlightened decisions regarding their own policies?

    • You have ADD or something? The subject is reporters and the press gallery.

      Now try to focus, stop reading the Con PM talking points.

    • Yeah because tax cuts don't need any statistical data about how they'll impact the budget, government service or the population they support, will they? Idiot.

      As for the fine article, Harper knows just about everything that goes on in his inner circle. While you might find it hard to believe someone else has such dedication to their job and country, Mr Harper is not an idiot.

  14. Scott, or any other journalist reading: does the list compiled by the PMO press secretary include the topic of the question, or just the name of the questioner?

    • Both?

      "No one believes more firmly than Comrade [Harper] that all [Canadians] are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?"

    • Are you trying to suggest "it's OK to be somewhat honest" ? Am I old-fashioned in thinking there is a wall between the truth and a lie? I see a solid wall; impenetrable. You can climb it, alright — yet there is nothing worthwhile on the other side. Brag to your friends — you climbed the wall. Brave, you are. Did you stay there? Why not?

      • I'll take a stab at paraphrasing:

        He's suggesting that you care so little about the truth that you've "climbed the wall" between truth and dishonestly. Once you've climbed that wall, you could choose to stay, to go back, or to climb down the other side into the world of lies, where there is nothing worthwhile. Did you stay on that wall? Why not?

        As far as I can tell, he's either calling you a liar directly, or he's suggesting that you willingly condone PMO lying. Either way, I'm pretty sure he's insulting you and accusing you of being complicit in dishonesty.

        • Or, maybe he's the double rainbow dude from YouTube.

          • Thankfully Crit is here to explain what it all means :)

      • I always advocate honesty as the best policy. Particularly for those I'm trying to deceive.

  15. It appears, myself included, that a lot of people are despising this obnoxious little man more and more as the days go by. Is this a normal reaction?

    • It depends. What have you been taking?

    • Are you talking about Feschuk or the P.M.? The latter looks better when the MSM attacks him unfairly. It gives him cred and makes the media look disconnected.

      Why waste another election on another Conservative minority?

      • What do you think ?
        Harper of course.

    • Go easy on Feschuk. Yes, he was a speechwriter for Prime Minister Paul Martin, but haven't we all done things that we regret?

  16. Let us keep slinging stones, unwaveringly, until the philistine giant succumbs, never to recover.

    • Yes, let's! Hurrah!

  17. Maybe he is gravely ill?

    Or a modern Thomas Aquinas.

    In spite of the vitriol, he deserves what we all deserve.

    The same thing is true of those substances which Empedocles said were produced at the beginning of the world, such as the ‘ox-progeny', i.e., half ox and half man. For if such things were not able to arrive at some end and final state of nature so that they would be preserved in existence, this was not because nature did not intend this [a final state], but because they were not capable of being preserved. For they were not generated according to nature, but by the corruption of some natural principle, as it now also happens that some monstrous offspring are generated because of the corruption of seed.

    • Talk about your "Oxymoron"! Sounds like the genesis of the Liberal party of Canada.

  18. What's the difference between an ignorant bully and a conniving coward? Nevermind…

    • Alliteration?

    • One is a Liberal voter the other an NDP

  19. "Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations."
    — George Orwell

  20. Sometimes a situation develops that is just out and out bullsh!t and you gotta call it, plain and simple.

    So I'm calling the press out on this: bullsh!t.

    If this is the best you can do, you may as well be serving fries with it too. McJournalism: mmm mmm good. Tastes the same no matter where you shovel it.

  21. A word in defense of David Atkin, he did pretty much call out Day as an idiot the other day. That said, the guy is also capable (and culpable) for a driveby smear when it suits him as well. He articulates a semi-legitimate beef with the play here. http://www.torontosun.com/blogs/thehill/2010/08/0

    To me the real issue wasn't which 4 questions but the number 4. From day 1, Harper's PMO has understood that the Ottawa press gallery is like a weak hockey referee in a game where one of the teams is a gang of thugs. Sure Scott Feschuk & Steve Chase whine meekly, but at the end of the day, each publication will want to achieve its balance. (Note: balance for the Toronto Star is about 80% left, the Sun's 80% right)

    The end result is that in the absence of dialogue and with the need to achieve their own balance, publications end up printing releases from the PMO's office almost verbatim. Remarkably having done that they then start to unquestioningly believe those releases to be true. One example that has stuck with me is the "5 priorities" Harper threw out during the campaign that they later claimed to have achieved. Of the 5, only the GST cut was achieved. It was also the only one of the 5 that received a proper discussion in the press. Nobody in the press seemed to bother to read the Federal Accountability Act, which while it has a great title while actually substantially reduced accountability by MP's. Cracking down on Crime has been a bait and switch topic for years without real substantive action (or according to Day, substantive results). Wait time guarantees are a joke, his day care plan reduced funding to day care facilities. Yet many in the press, (including Coyne I think) lauded the government on being prioritized, focused, getting results. I think, however, Sandra Buckler wrote the actual articles and should be given co-credit in authorship.

    • substantially reduced accountability by MP's

      To the Tories' credit, they did recently announce stricter guidelines for lobbying (just a few days ago). While they're about 4 years late, you've got to give them some credit for that, in helping achieve a more accountable government.

      • I would be happy to give them some credit to eventually getting around to this, some 3 months after it was first announced. http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/05/04/lobby

        It is however classic spin response when you are caught with your pants down, when the opposition proposes a rational solution to an problem

        1) make an immediate statement that you will go even further than anyone has asked
        2) in this case, going further, means trying to frame the issue as a "problem" with all parliamentarians
        3) wait for the public to stop paying attention
        4) make an announcement out of the blue, like it was all your idea.

        Don't get me wrong, I am completely in favor of the changes that were announced last May in response to a problem from a year ago that might actually be implemented this fall. However it is also worth noting, that given this is in response to the Jaffer incident.

        "None of the proposed lobbying changes would have made a difference in the Jaffer and Glémaud affair." http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/all-

      • No – what they just announced was a clever way to track dissent by making it illegal to meet with an Opposition MP without informing the government of your meeting and the subjects you spoke about. If Canadians genuinely think that enhances democracy and accountability, then all hope is lost.

    • the Accountability Act was watered down in committee,
      having a majority, the Opps were very much in the drivers seat,
      and have been since Jan 2006.

      • Of course, the Tories don't really claim "We didn't achieve that one of our five priorities because the opposition watered down the Accountability Act", they claim that the Accountability Act DID achieve their priority of increasing accountability.

        You can't have your achievement and say the opposition blocked it too.

        • um, is it not well known that

          1) The Conservatives were forced to open the treasury door and backrupt Canada due to the godless, communist collation's attack on the Canadian state.

          and that

          2) Harper's Economic Inaction Plan guided Canada through the economic recession, (we were never going to have), in such a fashion that we are now the envy of all those G8 leaders, (who make fun of Us at summits).

          So I don't see that if you are allowed to claim total credit for the great outcome of somebody bad forcing you to do a bad thing, why they can't claim the Almost Accountable Act is a cornerstone of Canadian democracy and would have even been useful if the godless, communist coalition had just stayed away from the HOC.

          Perhaps LKO you should stop being such a tightwad and splurge for a program, it is tough to keep track of all the twists without one.

      • Yup, always someone else's fault. Mommy, mommy, Johnnie hit me first

        ……..sigh

  22. Scott Feschuk is guilty of everything he accuses others of. His take on sports is always pure bunk and completely disconnected from what is really happening. He's a professional "sh%$%^%-disturber" who's opinions are always intended to stir controversy rather than project truthfully what is going on. (by the way, once a report resorts to sloppy, vulgar language it means that the rest of the article is just sloppy and vulgar and not worth paying attention to.)

    Scott's brand of "journalism" caters to the baser side of human nature. It's a little hypocritical for him to take pot shots at his colleagues.

      • And he really knows how to rock a pair of short shorts. Even his toughest critics will acknowledge that.

    • the baser side of human nature

      Urban dictionary defines "baser" as relating to drug addicts. Is Feschuk pandering to drug addicts? Is this an un-tapped market in the media?? :)

  23. "And how does the press gallery express its displeasure at the lack of access to the Prime Minister and encourage him to change his ways? By dutifully reporting – often without challenge – any allegation he makes whenever he deigns to appear in front of a camera."

    Thanks Scott. This needs to be said again and again until the press gallery gets it. Harper is using them to legitimize his propaganda.

  24. A friend of my husband just came in, saw me reading this and said that in the photo Harper looks like he's bullying the journalists with a dare to pull his finger

    • I don't know Ontario, commenting on the smells Harper leaves behind is so last month.

      • Hey, using Liberals 13 year stuff is so "last decade".

  25. As for that poll, you may want to check the fact that the CPC drops mid summer every year. It means less about CPC fortunes and more about vacation sampling and trying to measure intent when there’s zero call to action with nothing going on.

    But if you want to get your hopes crushed like every other time this has happened mid summer, by all means go ahead.

  26. You wonder why the PM and Cdn media lock horns.
    A global meeting, 2009 G20, and this is what our press found the most important issue to report on:

    ''..The BBC reported that Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, was 'in the loo' and missed the group photo of G-20 leaders at their conference in London.
    Chapleau native, now CTV News Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife reported that the PM's office is furious about reports that he was in the washroom, claiming he was meeting with his staff…'

    Why didn't Craig Oliver, he had the first question, ask PM Harper about the census issue, but instead asked about an Ekos poll?

    • Since when are BBC reporters members of the parliamentary press gallery here in Canada? Are you suggesting that Canadian media should have ignored what was said in the British press and only publish the PMO's side of the story?

      That Harper goes to the loo is not a story. But that the BBC reports on the reason why Harper left his counterparts waiting and wondering aloud the absence of the prime minsiter of Canada is of interest to Canadian readers. Harper was the only participant at that London conference who was not smart enough to read, understand and follow the agenda.

    • Well, was he in the loo?

      • Yes, it was an emergency. He was full of ___.

  27. I swear, if the journalists don't show up for the press conferences for awhile, things will change.

    Steve needs his photo opps; he needs to be seen occasionally in the media. He needs you as much as you need him, so just don't show up for one of his stupid pressers, say it's because he isn't taking questions and answering them appropriately, and see what happens.

    Like when they started having those briefings with Jason Kenney early in the morning; just don't go and see what happens. Let Akin have all the questions, and all the articles — I don't think it will last long.

    • With the always negative coverage from our national media, you think no national coverage will hurt PMSH…
      the PPG needs the PM more than he needs them.

      They are having a meltdown now because SunTV is only 4 months and 3 weeks away.

      • Are the assured of their license at this point? Oh, I forgot – even though CRTC declared no more licenses were to be issued – 8 of the 10 on the board are Harper appointees.

        • They always have to win by cheating, not on their own merits.

  28. Who needs the media anymore. I get my news from a variety of internet news outlets. If I want lefty opinion I go to the MSM. Harper knows they will always take a hostile position towards him so why bother. They did this to themselves from the start. To quote my favourite song writer Don Henley, "Even if you read the news paper cover to cover, that aint what's goin on: Journalism is dead and gone!" Suck iy up Libbies. Its the truth!

  29. Correction "it"

  30. Oops! And "it's".

    • And it's newspaper

  31. Reminds me of when one brave writer for the Globe didn’t follow the meme of the day that were a torture sponsoring pariah in Afg’stn.

    Yes, yes, we must have organized disclipline if we are to take down the dastardly conservatives with our ginned up faux scandals.

    Journolist anyone?

    • Pack journalism, they swim around like a school of fish, copy paste, copy paste, copy paste.
      There is no issue more important to our msm, than the next wafer to chase, due to their contempt for this PM.

  32. As for that poll, you may want to check the fact that the CPC drops mid summer every year. It means less about CPC fortunes and more about vacation sampling and trying to measure intent when there’s zero call to action with nothing going on.

    But if you want to get your hopes crushed like every other time this has happened mid summer, by all means go ahead.

  33. That's a good point.

    On the other hand, it does call Mr. White's explanation that he didn't 'know' the reporters got together into question.

    If only four people had questions, what were seven reporters doing there? One thing that I think hasn't changed over the years is that a reporter ALWAYS has questions! Even when they degenerate into "what kind of fruit would you be" type stuff, they'll ask it instead of not have a question.

  34. Seems like Mr. White ticked off Steven Chase over at the Globe & Mail.

    And when the PMO Communications is upsetting Jane Viper’s sidekick – you know the deck chairs are falling off the Titanic!

    Looking forward to a Fall election when an increasing ineffective spin team of White, Viper and wilson will become Whirling Dervishes in their fervour to make a Harper Sows Ear into a Silk Purse!

    • …they swim around like a school of fish, copy paste, copy paste, copy paste

  35. These guys have TV cameras, microphones and other recording devices. Any chance they can just start asking questions at will everytime they see Harper? What would the consequences be IF THEY ALL DID IT?

  36. Why does the press not prorogue and just report what the want about Harper? Why let him pull their strings? Show him that freedom of the press cannot be controlled by a Dictator style PM in Canada. Speak out for the people and do some proper investigative reporting rather than publich his drivel.