When Sunday Morning Political Panel Producers Attack! - Macleans.ca

When Sunday Morning Political Panel Producers Attack!

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(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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