Sun News Network: Hard News. Straight Talk. Short Skirts.

Levant probably figured the door would burst open to reveal two censors and an angry sheik, but nothing

Sun News Network launched yesterday with a half-hour “pre-game show” in which we were introduced to some of the on-air talent and their thighs. “They said it couldn’t be done and boy were they wrong,” anchor Krista Erickson declared – although to be fair, I’m pretty sure what they actually said was “It shouldn’t be done.” Still, it’s done now.

If you didn’t see the launch, you can watch some of the buildup while simultaneously watching this random guy watch it and talk over the national anthem for some reason:


You’re probably thinking that an upstart news network would hire a bunch of dull, uncurious people and set them to work on stories that no one cares about. But not Sun News! Sun does things differently. Curious reporters! Stories people care about! Eat that, status quo. One reporter emphasized that she’d be interviewing people “in the middle” of the day’s big news stories, proving yet again that the mainstream networks get it wrong with their stubborn allegiance to News Gathering From the Distant Periphery.

Other apparent guiding philosophies of Sun News:

  • People in the West think differently from people in Toronto and Ottawa.
  • Free speech? Good.
  • Political correctness can suck it.

Pat Bolland, a broadcast veteran, is one of the Sun News personalities. He pledged that his new program, The Roundtable, which he’ll co-host with Alex Pierson and his moustache, would be a “breakfast show with bite.” That seemed to be description enough, but Bolland decided to elaborate – saying that, no, on second thought, actually the show would be more of a “western omelet” and their female correspondent in Calgary would be the “meat out west.” The Meat Out West: Always nice to get a nickname on your first day.

Another Sun News program was described as “rock and roll – no teleprompter… Sometimes you just have to throw the script out the window.” This is especially true in cases in which you can’t afford enough scriptwriters.

The employees of Sun News having sufficiently congratulated other employees of Sun News for being employees of Sun News, the pre-game show came to an end. There was Champagne and awkwardness.

SNN’s first programming day began seconds later at 5 p.m. ET, with the debut of Ezra Levant’s daily program, The Source. Here’s what happens on Levant’s show: He stands behind a lectern for 45 minutes and talks. Then he moves to a chair and talks. Then he gets back up. The production values are such that you spend most of the show wondering when Ezra’s Mom is going to call him up from the basement for dinner.

Levant devoted much of his first hour to wondering how long it would take for “the censors” to come and try to shut him down. His best guess was that it wouldn’t take too long, because he’s all controversial and opinionated and stuff. Nope, shouldn’t take that long at all. [Whistles idly, glances at door.] He seemed kind of let down that no one came to forcibly silence him. As a viewer, I can assure you I felt the same way.

Ezra’s show came off as a little canned, in that its focus drifted from an old story about the CRTC to an older story about CBC’s Vote Compass thingy to a five-year-old story about those Danish cartoons that depicted the prophet Muhammad. On tomorrow’s Source: the latest from the Ford Hunger March of 1932!

Levant, who years ago published the cartoons in his magazine, yesterday showed them on TV in the name of “freedom” – or, at the very least, in the name of freedom’s distant cousin, “desperately trying to generate some buzz on the first day of my new TV show.” (You’ll be shocked to discover that at least one news organization picked up the story and ran big with it.)

Ezra’s show ended at 6 o’clock, but weirdly he was back on TV just after 7 p.m. as a guest on another Sun show – The Caldwell Account with Theo Caldwell, whom viewers may know from his appearances on TVO’s The Agenda as well as his memorable turns in Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club.

Is it considered a good sign that the third show ever aired by a news network needs to bring in as a guest the host of the first show ever aired by that network? Not to worry: Theo’s got a humdinger of sitdown interview coming with Jeb Bush later this week. Meanwhile, Ezra plugged his book about oil, telling Theo: “God gave oil to all the world’s bastards, except for us.” Levant probably figured for sure that the door would burst open to reveal two censors and an angry sheik, but nothing.

Caldwell has a signature line, which he repeated at least twice yesterday: “In the marketplace of ideas, you need buyers and sellers. That’s how you find the price of the truth.” I’m not sure that actually makes any sense, but I’m willing to put it on a poster alongside a kitten dangling from a tree branch and give it a shot.

Ezra’s show is about freedom. “We going to talk about freedom every day,” he said. Meanwhile, Theo said “the fundamental tenant of this program” is that “freedom is paramount.” Boy, I’d sure like to see those two get into it! And then, after telling everyone for some reason that he is heterosexual, Theo said: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the Caldwell Account is open.” Felt a little forced.

His first topic was Libya. Theo and his guest agreed that Moammar Gadhafi is “one of the worst human beings on the face of the earth.”


ALSO: There’s some good marketing as well as some terrific unintentional humour in the Sun promo reel, which has been on the website for a while now and aired yesterday during the pre-game show. But nothing beats the segment where Ezra – fresh off reading the Sun at his desk and looking up as though struck suddenly by profound thought – wanders out into the newsroom to talk loudly and gesture theatrically at some poor, defenceless colleague trapped in his cubicle. Do yourself a favour and watch. The Ezra bit is at 2:45 or so.

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