Sheila Fraser, you so crazee

I’m pretty sure that in some Latin American countries, Sheila Fraser would have fallen victim to some sort of unfortunate accident. In Canada, however, she’s merely subject to a swarm of reporters tripping over themselves trying to spin her every comment to suit their agenda while the government points to shiny things in an effort to distract them.
“Look, over there, Jane Fonda’s talking!”
Sadly, it seems to work.

A reading from the book of Sheila
So as you may have noticed, the auditor-general issued a pretty scathing report yesterday.
Okay, first of all, I love that Sheila Fraser exists. I think she serves a really important role. But ever since she blew the lid off of the sponsorship thing, Canadians have elevated her and her reports to a demi-god-like status.
Which is why it should be up to the media to provide some context for her reports.
No such luck today.
Fraser herself tempered her critique of the passport office and emergency preparedness by noting that improvements continue to be made. Canada is pouring ridiculous amounts of money into security measures and most of Fraser’s legwork was done before the new public security department was even created. This little detail, however, was buried in most reports and non-existant in CanWest coverage.
Admittedly, the government didn’t do itself any favours by putting Anne McLellan and Pierre Pettigrew on point for this one. McLellan seems to default to confrontational mode and Pettigrew appears to have studied media relations under Chretien, but Fraser herself gave the government the benefit of the doubt in many respects.
I don’t know if I believe that the problems are being solved, but that’s not really for me – or the media – to decide. Get every side of the story that you can, then put it out there and let people make up their own minds.
By failing to acknowledge that Fraser’s report is already slightly out of date, the media (specifically CanWest) are not being responsible.

While most media outlets have dispatched a team of reporters to cover the publication-banned Gomery inquiry, an inquiry into the shooting of Dudley George in Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995 has been all but ignored by everyone but the Toronto Star.
Yesterday, it was revealed that a CSIS/RCMP agent may have gone undercover as a reporter to spy on Native activists during the standoff.
Um, what?
Reporters in this country are given special access – rightly or wrongly – based on their position in society. Now we have allegations of government operatives manipulating that public trust and nobody except the Toronto Star seems to care. Given the media’s tendency to naval-gaze and their inflated sense of self-worth in cases such as the Juliet O’Neil raids, this is even more surprising.
Time and time again, the Ipperwash inquiry has turned up troubling details about the government’s role in the shooting, and time and time again, the Star is the only outlet to report on it. Unreal. It’s a shame Dudley didn’t work for CanWest, then maybe his death would get some coverage.

But freedom . . . marching . . .
The Globe buried an interesting little story. Apparently the UN Development Program issued a report that said democracy is not marching across the Arab world quite as quickly as some (namely the U.S.) would like us all to believe. The report, which was written before the Iraqi elections and demonstrations in Lebanon, said most measures have been “embryonic and fragmentary” and have not amounted to a serious effort to end repression in the region. It actually singles out the U.S. for undermining the international system by repeatedly using or threatening to use its UN Security Council veto on Israeli issues.
Why is it anytime Bush proclaims freedom on the march, columnists and correspondents soil themselves and ejaculate praise all over the papers, but when a dissenting voice responds, it only runs in one paper? This isn’t some crackpot dictator making these claims, it’s the bloody UN.
I want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that this story will be picked up tomorrow and given adequate play. But given the coverage of such issues in the past (most recently the Citizen going to sleep on Lebanon), I’d be surprised. Tune in tomorrow for more.

Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to
The National Post’s Steven Edwards’ coverage of a UN staff meeting is brutal. Check out this lead: “Applause and expressions of confidence in Kofi Annan’s leadership opened a huge United Nations staff meeting yesterday in a scene that reminded some of an ordered political gathering in a one-party state.”
A scene that reminded some of an ordered political gathering in a one-party state? This from the same paper that came all over itself when the Liberals and Tories had back-to-back conventions just last month.
Granted, these rallies are pretty creepy, but why aren’t the over-scripted displays of leaderlust dismissed as such when Martin and Harper are on stage?
Oh right, cause the Post hates the UN.
At least pretend to be unbiased, eh Post?


  1. Interesting quirk I learned a couple years ago, which “in a post-9/11 world” may no longer be true. In the U.S., I believe it is actually illegal for the CIA to pose as American reporters for this very reason mentioned above.

    There’s no rules preventing them from masquerading as foreign press, though.

    Makes you wonder.

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