August 8 2003
RE: Letters National Post [[RM archive copy]] Thursday, August 07, 2003, [[RE: Leading news outlets show left-wing bias RM archive copy, George Jonas, Aug. 6.]]
Your letter writer, Gordon S. Clarry, Barrie, Ont., brings up a number of interesting points, and I wonder if I might take just a wee bit of your space to respond - he does, after all, express an interest also in "...rekindl(ing) the debate on the role of government funded media in a democratic society...", and I would welcome such a thing myself.
First, Mr. Clarry avers that the CBC is viewed as a "lap-dog" of the government that funds it - I think he ought to clarify that this statement does not apply, as implied, to everyone in the country, or even a majority, really, but primarily to the right-wing minority, who are really quite adverse to the CBC's mandate to cover ALL of the news in the country, and give equal voice to ALL perspectives - for some reason, the right-wing media seems to feel that such fairness to all voices is biased in favor of a particular viewpoint, or perhaps does not give "their" viewpoint the exclusivity they wish, as "their" media tend to do. (As an example, a recent statistical analysis of the Iraq war coverage from the British media found that the BBC actually gave MORE prominence to supporters of the war than all other media in that country - yet Jonas, whose column your writer is referring to, still labelled them "proven leftist"!! because, one assumes, they did try to inject a small bit of coverage of those who opposed it. One does wonder indeed what the "writers of the right" would consider "fair and balanced" reporting!)
Which leads, of course, to the next point - it would be very, very instructive if your writer, or your newspaper, could provide some details on exactly who they consider the overwhelming "liberal media" in Canada to be - I must confess, from my perspective (middle of the road sort, although I expect that would qualify as radical leftist-Marxist-anarchist from an average neocon), it seems that almost all of the media in Canada, with the admitted exception of the Toronto Star and CBC radio (both which seem quite balanced, in their presentation of both sides of any position), is currently, and has been for many years, of a very right-wing (very non-liberal/leftist) orientation. The National Post, for instance - surely noone would accuse this venerable national paper of a "liberal" bias, would they? Or what about the Sun and Citizen chains of papers that dominate most major markets - hardly!! - and I expect they would have some rather harsh words for anyone accusing them of such a thing! The Globe, Canada's "other" national pretender, used to have a fairly centrist editorial perspective, but I think few would argue that it has been, in editorial stance, anything other than strongly supportive of neocon policies for at least the last 10-15 years. And this would cover - what - 90-95% of the major print media (I must confess I do not watch television, so have no idea what the tv news is like, but my understanding is that it is pretty shallow overall, pretty sensationalist, and pretty rightist in orientation) - so where, actually, is this "liberal" media hiding out?
It might again be instructive, in looking at this "liberal" or "non-liberal" situation of our media, to examine the editorial stances of the major Canadian players the last few years - right-wing ideals such as free trade, globalisation, privatisation, lower taxes, less government, and so on, have been almost universally promoted by the Canadian media - can you point to anyone (again, excepting the Toronto Star, whose support for these things is occasionally tempered by reason, or even opposing voices) in the Canadian media who has NOT supported these things, and demanded ever more and more of them from our governments? Or, from the other perspective - "liberal" values such as strengthening our healthcare and education systems by properly funding them, "fair" trade rather than "free" trade, NO privatisation for important government services, trade agreements that do much more to protect citizens, and that kind of thing - exactly where are the regular voices supportive of these things in the Canadian media?? - point to those ideas being regularly promoted from the editorial pages of a bunch of papers, and I will say, ok - a liberal media!!
Or along these lines, make a list, if you will, of the 20 or 30 major columnists currently being featured in Canadian papers, and divide them into liberal or neocon supporters - and you know as well as I that the great majority will be of the neocon persuasion.
I think you know as well as I that "liberal" voices are, in reality, few and far between - in actual fact, the Canadian media is very right-wing at this time in our history.
And that, then, to get back to the subject of this letter, is why we need the CBC. Given that most of the people in Canada are somewhere around middle-of-the-road most ways, including political - meaning they believe such things as free markets are ok, but they also favor a fully funded, reliable health care system over excessive corporate tax cuts, and some regulation on corporate excesses, and so on - who is speaking for these people - a majority of Canadian citizens! - in the Canadian media, outside of the Toronto Star and the CBC? Most Canadians strongly supported the Romanov Commission report on health care last year, for instance - and most of the Canadian neocon media was even more strongly opposed to it, and attacked it in the editorial pages. Who, then, outside again of the Star, was speaking for the majority of Canadians??
It is NOT the job of the media to "lead" (some might say propagandise) the citizens of a country, I might remind you, but to provide them with the full spectrum of information they need to make intelligent decisions about issues of the day. Currently, the right wing media, such as the Post, Suns, Citizens, and Globe, give citizens a strong representation of the neocon, corporate point of view, and strong advocacy of that position - but who (again, outside of the Star) is giving Canadians a similar kind of information from the so-called left or liberal perspective?
You know as well as I do - almost no one. And that is why the CBC is so necessary in this country, to promote a well-informed citizenry. And again I would remind you that the CBC is very careful to provide all sides of any issue, much more so than the print media listed above tend to do, and cannot, in any fair analysis, be considered "liberal" - and before making such accusations, I would expect any writers to provide some reliable statistics on their coverage.
Again, if I am wrong in this analysis, it would be most instructive of you or your letter writer to take a few minutes and point out who these liberal types are, and in what media, "flooding" our country with left wing liberal views as your writer suggests - might I suggest that he and you know as well as I why you are not doing this - because it cannot be done. The Canadian media is NOT liberal-left in bias - it is, in reality, quite strongly right-wing neocon in bias.
Please - accept my small challenge and prove me wrong - or else cut out this nonsense of talking about a "liberal" media.
And lay off the CBC, please - surely you are not all so terribly frightened of the essential weakness of your position that you have to prevent anyone at all from speaking from the other side???