Unintended consequences of hilarity

When I decided to start running ads on this site I had no idea of the hiliarity that would ensue, but Google’s intelligent ad generator is picking up some gems. Megalomedia, your source for Canadian media analysis and sponsored links to paranoid left-wing websites.

If a Liberal wins in Labrador, does it make a sound?
I gotta say, I was a little surprised that the Globe and Post didn’t run the Labrador by-election on A1. After weeks of fronting Chuck Cadman’s every bowel movement, they took a pass on an actual story about the balance of power in Parliament. With one more MP, even losing Cadman’s support on the next confidence vote could leave the two sides tied with the tie-breaker going to the Liberal speaker. But instead the Post runs a sensational but ultimately resolutionless story about the Bre-X (remember that?) scandal and the Globe leads with a slightly-misleading headline about the sponsorship audit (more on that in a sec).
While the outcome of the by-election wasn’t a shock, it certainly wasn’t a given either. While the papers did offer fairly thorough coverage, I have a hard time believing that whether or not the geologist behind the Bre-X scandal is dead is bigger news.

“Oh man, I’m gettin’ an Audi!”
“Forensic study backs allegations from Brault,” screams the front page of the Globe. “Forensic sleuths bolster Brault’s credibility,” says Christie Blatchford on A5. “Inquiry unearths Groupaction cash,” adds the National Post. Gee, with all of those headlines you’d assume the forensic auditing team looking into the sponsorship books had come back with some cold, hard evidence clearly illustrating the money trail.
What’s that Toronto Star? “Audit team turns up no smoking gun.” Hmm, how peculiar.
As all the stories evenutally explain, the auditors said the Liberals may have received more than $2.5 million from ad firms that got $1.4 billion in sponsorship and advertising contracts, but they can’t be sure. and they also can’t rule on whether or not the alleged $2.5 million was ill begotten or not.
Let’s extrapolate the Globe’s headline for a second. Brault said he funnelled more than $1 million to Liberal organizers in return for more than $66 million in sponsorship contracts. Those are the “allegations from Brault” that the Globe led with. The forensic report said in a footnote that the $1.76 million estimate they listed was “per allegation by Mr. J. Brault, the actual amount paid to the Liberal party is unknown.”
All the stories do a fairly good job of putting it all in context, but the need for context extends to headlines too. The forensic report did not back Brault’s allegations, it merely refered to them and emphasized that the amount of money is not known.
Call it a nitpicky detail, but it’s a pretty damn substantial detail to me.

Did Joe just praise the Citizen?
I try to give credit where credit is due, and today, the Citizen and Star both kick the Globe’s ass with their coverage of the nomination of Yves Cote for the Canadian Forces ombudsman. This is one of those times when it’s easiest just to present the information and let it speak for itself.

DND news release: M. Côté would bring to the Office almost thirty years of experience with the Government of Canada. He started his career as a Legal Officer with the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Department of National Defence in 1977. He left the Regular Force four years later and has since occupied various legal positions within the government, including General Counsel in the Human Rights Section of Justice Canada, Government Coordinator for the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia and, most recently, Counsel to the Clerk of the Privy Council.

Globe story: Mr. Côté has spent almost 30 years as a government lawyer, including a stint in the 1970s as a legal officer with the military Judge Advocate General’s office. Most recently, he was counsel to the Clerk of the Privy Council.

Citizen story: A news release announcing Mr. Cote’s nomination cited his term as a military lawyer with the Office of the Judge Advocate General beginning in 1977, when he served as a prosecutor and defender, but the statement did not mention the two years he spent as the Canadian Forces legal adviser from 1998 to 2000.

So he was the legal adviser as recently as five years ago eh? I wonder why the department would neglect to include that little fact. Citizen? “A spokesman for Mr. Graham, Steve Jurgutis, disclosed Mr. Cote’s term as legal adviser, but said he could not say whether Mr. Cote advised the Canadian Forces about cases under investigation by the ombudsman.”
Oh, possible conflict of interest, I see.

Hrm, I wanted to talk a bit about coverage of Africa, but I’m running long. I’ll try to work it in again soon. For now, I’m off to nappy-land.

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