Monday, January 30, 2006

The George W. Bush School of Media Relations











It appears our PM-in-waiting Stephen Harper may be the proud holder of a mail-order degree from this prestigious institution.
This very interesting lede in The Hill Times caught my eye this morning. Unfortunately all I can read is the tease, as a subscription is required to access the full article. It does sound familiar though, doesn't it? If you're keeping track at home, our soon to be PM who ran on an accountability platform is so far not accountable to:

  1. The Ethics Commissioner.
  2. Media that hasn't been pre-screened.
The Hill Times, January 30th, 2006
HEARD ON THE HILL

By Mike De Souza


The West, er, reporters want in too, eh?

Wanting in... The west may finally be in the Canadian government, but some aren't impressed. After about 30 minutes of taking questions from reporters who were pre-selected by Conservative handlers last Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister-Designate Stephen Harper walked away, with a number of frustrated Parliamentary scribes still trying to get some answers.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, for Christ's sake. Please. That's all you people have left. Just as ridiculous as "THIS IS A MULRONEY CONSPIRACY." Do you even realize why you lost the election?

EX-NDIP said...

Its the air in TO . . . not enough oxygen . . . they just don't get it . . . but Belinda is coming to the rescue . . . she'll sort them out!

A BCer in Toronto said...

Do you even realize why you lost the election?

Is is because we (they) didn't pre-screen media questions?

Robert McClelland said...

This doesn't surprise me in the least. After all, any party leader who would muzzle his own candidates wouldn't think twice about using his new position of power to cow the media into either reporting about him in a more favourable light or risk being shut out.

Mark Francis said...

See? If you were to pre-screen comments, you wouldn't have to put up with people like that.

;)

FUnny enough, in Canada it was Mulroney's team who was the first to really restrict media access like that. They picked it up from Reagan's handlers.

Anonymous said...

"Is is because we (they) didn't pre-screen media questions?"

You're kidding me, right? Seriously? It seems several times that Mr. Martin was trying to pick pre-selected journalists for questions, only to have them shouted over by people asking REAL questions about beer and popcorn, the notwithstanding clause, and the attack ads. Give it a rest, would ya? Talk about picking the fly shit out of the pepper shaker before the guy's even taken office. HARPER IS NOT GEORGE BUSH. He is not a Wolf in disguise, he's just a geek! Now move on, for Christ's sake.

The reason you lost was because Martin pissed enough people off. He played us for dummies. He became old, tired and arrogant, and thought we would buy every line that he fed us. Furthermore, John Duffy and Scott Reid certainly didn't help at all, and if I were the Liberal party, they'd be getting their pink slip right about now.

Instead of casting blame on others, why don't you look in the mirror? Typical liberalspeak.

A BCer in Toronto said...

See? If you were to pre-screen comments, you wouldn't have to put up with people like that.

True Mark, but then I wouldn't get gems like "picking the fly shit out of the pepper shaker"!

You're kidding me, right? Seriously?

I am kidding you anon. Seriously.

We lost, you won. Welcome to the hot seat. You can't just keep deflecting legitimate questions by bringing up past Liberal transgressions. When Martin screwed-up, did I bring-up Sinclair Stevens and Tuna, or Sir John A. MacDonald and the railway scandal?

News Flash, you're IN government now, so it's time for YOU to be accountable. I seem to recall you running on accountability, setting a new ethical standard, blah blah...

So, you can start by explaining why:

*It's OK for Stephen Harper to not cooperate with an investigation by the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner.

*It's OK for Stephen Harper, in his first formal press conference as PM-in-waiting, to only accept questions from pre-screened media.

Bonus points for explaining/justifying it without saying "Liberanos", "beer and popcorn" or "entitlement."

Carrie said...

I vote for screening. You still see the comments but you can choose to delete them ;) It's up to you though.

I've noticed that when any Liberal blogger starts digging into the Harper associations, the Conservatives come out in force in comments. If there was nothing to worry about, why do they get all hot and bothered?

I've got more coming on the Mulroney and Bush associations to Harper at my place.

Anonymous said...

"It's OK for Stephen Harper to not cooperate with an investigation by the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner."

In all fairness, sir, the Ethics Commissioner said he received all proper and important information from Harper's office. Look it up, it's in the black and white.

"It's OK for Stephen Harper, in his first formal press conference as PM-in-waiting, to only accept questions from pre-screened media."

That's garbage. And even if it isn't, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin did it for years. Hell, Pierre Trudeau cut the media off for 3 years!!! You'll have to do a little better than that.

"Bonus points for explaining/justifying it without saying "Liberanos", "beer and popcorn" or "entitlement."

Won't find that here, sir. You'll find a little bit more resistance and wit involved with me, pal. But it was a nice try.

Red Tory said...

Doesn't surprise me in the least. This is the way Bush handles the press. Reluctantly and dismissively. What's next? Phony town hall meetings with pre-screened audiences of pro-con cheerleaders?

fiddlefaddle said...

"Looks like a duck, ...etc."
Bet your ass this is the start of the orchestration.
And I really like the, "Oh, com' on now ...!" routine. It's been conservative party practise for a generation here in Alberta. It started with, "Ah, that's old hat ... for cryin' outloud, get with it!" ... in referenece to honest questions from concerned citizens over the billions Getty, Klein and yes, even Lougheed squandered, bungled and otherwise made 'disappear'. My response is now what it was then - try telling your banker you just 'lost' billions and see what he has to say - and, try telling Iranians a leader that doesn't take anything but controlled questions is good for the country.
I can hardly wait for Kenney the weenie to hold a 'news conference' where somebody actually get to ask a question following his orchestrated off the cuff speech.
There is less and less honest journalism going on in this country. We're turning the media over to dirt bag meat grinders who are completely 'owned' by the likes of the Sun chain.
The last remaining common truth market is on the web.
The fight has just begun!

A BCer in Toronto said...

In all fairness, sir, the Ethics Commissioner said he received all proper and important information from Harper's office. Look it up, it's in the black and white.

Not quite. Here's what he did say:

Unfortunately, although we made numerous attempts between August and November, we were informed Mr. Harper’s schedule did not permit an interview. We wished to clarify with Mr. Harper that Mr. Grewal first approached him on this matter after their Tuesday evening (May 17, 2005) caucus meeting and that it was only on Wednesday, May 18, 2005, during a telephone conversation with Mr. Grewal that he (Mr. Harper) was informed by Mr. Grewal that he was tape recording conversations with the Liberals about crossing the floor and the offers that were being discussed. However, as indicated above, these facts were corroborated by Mr. Norquay.

Who knows that other questions might have arisen had Mr. Harper himself made the time to speak to the ethics commissioner, rather then sending his communications advisor. The question, anon, is WHY could Harper not find the time? Did he not consider it important enough? Shapiro settled for Norquay because Harper was dodging him, and it was the best he could do. Even the Prime Minister (Martin) found the time in his schedule to answer Shapiro's questions. What was Harper hiding? Is sending a flunky supposed to be leadership?

That's garbage. And even if it isn't, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin did it for years. Hell, Pierre Trudeau cut the media off for 3 years!!! You'll have to do a little better than that.

No anon, YOU'll have to do a LOT better than that.

A) It's not garbage. I have a Hill Times article that says it's not garbage. Where's the attribution for your claim it's garbage?

B) You're doing it again. "Well the Liberals always did it." Heck, you every bring up Trudeau. Bravo. Not Laurier though? Even if I granted your premise that Martin and Chretien pre-screened questions (and I don't), so what? When you campaign preaching about setting the bar higher you actually have to reach it.

So, I ask again the question you dodged: Is it OK for Stephen Harper, in his first formal press conference as PM-in-waiting, to only accept questions from pre-screened media? Yes or no.

Chris said...

To answer your question, sir, about the prescreened media. To answer whether it was right or wrong is a bit too over the top for me. I don't think it was either.

But to get to the point: I would have preferred if Mr. Harper fielded questions from all reporters, yes. The problem is, half of them would have been loaded questions like the ever popular:

"Have you stopped beating your wife?"

or

"Would you take away a woman's right to chose" (times a million. Good ol' Red Star.)

No, he's the Prime Minister now. He controls the agenda, and unfortunately, what he says and doesn't say.

Martin ran from reporters when questioned, during this campaign, on how he was going to protect Arctic sovereignty after boasting that he was the only man to do just that. Was that right or wrong? Oh, right, you're not "in charge" anymore, so you're off the hook. Ha.

"We lost, you won. Welcome to the hot seat. You can't just keep deflecting legitimate questions by bringing up past Liberal transgressions. When Martin screwed-up, did I bring-up Sinclair Stevens and Tuna, or Sir John A. MacDonald and the railway scandal?

News Flash, you're IN government now, so it's time for YOU to be accountable. I seem to recall you running on accountability, setting a new ethical standard, blah blah...
"

I'd have to say, what a crock of sh_t. This coming from a party who continuously beat the "42 billion dollar deficit" drum for 13 years. Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. So are you telling me that if the lost 40 million from Adscam is found, especially if obtained by criminal means, we shouldn't hold those people accountable because "we are the government now?" What a load. What about other scandals that occurred under the Liberals that were hidden from the public, perhaps going to be discovered by the Auditor General once the Accountibility Act is passed? Do we, as the public, not have a right to know, because "we are the government now?" Your logic escapes me, and washing your hands of any responsibility displays why your party lost the election. That kind of thinking is dangerous.

I find it very amusing that the very same people who speak about the Conservatives being scary, right wing, extremist, propaganda-spouting jerks are the ones who say that you shouldn't paint an entire party with the same brush as they defended the Liberals for stealing our money and then trying to use it to buy back our votes. You are all hypocrites and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Oh, right, fuggeddaboudit, you're not in power anymore! Not responsible, somehow this is now the Conservative's mess. I don't think so.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Ok Chris, a few things.

*I'm not sure how asking if pre-screened questions are ok is over the top. All the reporters at the conference are professionals, and accredited members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Yes, he can choose to answer or not, but it's not right for him to not let the questions be asked. That's not how democracy is supposed to work.

*I never said speaking of past misdeeds is verbotten. I said bringing up past Liberal misdeeds to excuse current Conservative misdeeds is stupid. It's like saying well, the Liberals wasted X dollars, so we're allowed to waste X dollars too. It doesn't hold water.

*I think the Canadian public held the Liberals accountable actually. And the RCMP is still investigating sponsorship. I'm not sure what in the heck you guys are expecting to find when you "open up the books" but go right ahead, be my guest. I'll believe it when I see it.

Chris said...

"*I'm not sure how asking if pre-screened questions are ok is over the top. All the reporters at the conference are professionals, and accredited members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Yes, he can choose to answer or not, but it's not right for him to not let the questions be asked. That's not how democracy is supposed to work."

Once again, I agree. But asking whether it's "right" or "wrong" is strong language. A lot of those reporters show up with loaded questions, and I think at this stage in the game with the transition situation, there wasn't time for crap like that. I know what you're saying, and I didn't like it either. You have to understand, sir, that not all of us Tories are Alberta-loving neocons. We probably don't differ much on several items. But, again, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

"*I never said speaking of past misdeeds is verbotten. I said bringing up past Liberal misdeeds to excuse current Conservative misdeeds is stupid. It's like saying well, the Liberals wasted X dollars, so we're allowed to waste X dollars too. It doesn't hold water."

Once again, I agree fully. This is why the Accountibility Act is going to fix a lot of this mess up. But to state that "we are the government now" and that we can't hold the Liberals to account for misdeeds, that we should let it go, it hypocritical and dishonest. People have a right to know. And they will know.

"*I think the Canadian public held the Liberals accountable actually. And the RCMP is still investigating sponsorship. I'm not sure what in the heck you guys are expecting to find when you "open up the books" but go right ahead, be my guest. I'll believe it when I see it."

And see it you will. As I've said, though, on other blogs, you need to understand that even though you and I are on opposite sides of the spectrum, I respect your opinion and your right to it. We can learn a lot from each other, as far as I'm concerned.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I respect your opinion and your right to it.

And I yours Chris. And please, call me Jeff, or BCer.

Chris said...

"And I yours Chris. And please, call me Jeff, or BCer."

Will do. Thank you for your kindness, Jeff.

fiddlefaddle said...

Harper and the Conservatives decided another 'hem broidering' thing, was in order and since they used up the prayer session on 'the hill', thing, 'accountability' offered a chance to recreate the moral high ground thing. Uh, huh, it was indeedy-do the conservatives who dreamt this one up.
So the simple question is ....
if Harper and the conservatives are so high on accountability why would he decline to 'testify' (over a 4 month period) on an issue serious enough for the conservatives to air in the first place?
Answer? The true nature of Conservatives as demonstrated by 'the Grewal affair" is they are folks who lusts after pews at the front and wide embroidered hems, to be seen of men as important and honest, to preserve for the conservative the sole right to judge and declare what and who shall be inspected under the accountability microscope. To conservatives everywhere I say;
live by the judgement, die by the judgement,
you f'n dogs!
(Hearin' the footsteps comin' after yer ass yet?)

Scotian said...

I just love this assumption of guilt by so many Conservatives about hidden Liberal scandals. It is this guilty until proven innocent mentality that most worries me about this party and the movement conservatives that are the core support for it. Note that does not all CPC supporters, but the core of Reform/CA is what I am referring to.

As for Harper and accountability, when he lies to Canadians about criminal allegations, vouches for faked up evidence to support that allegation, and then does everything possible to cover it up once it becomes clear that this was a fraud, well it is very hard to understand why anyone would believe him when he talks about the importance of transparency and accountability.

This business with pre-selected media is just the latest example of CPC inability to walk the walk to the talk they talked so extensively regarding open government, transparent government, etc. As for this defence of "well he had to avoid those questions that would not have a favourable CPC premise to them" nonsense...TOO BAD! That comes with the job, and either Harper deals with it in an open and honest manner (which was what he promised after all to get Canadians to vote for him and the CPC over the Liberals) or he proves yet again that while he can talk the talk, he cannot walk the walk.

Chris said...

Here's a question. Why the hell should Harper have to face media scrutiny, full of loaded questions, when Mr. Grewal clearly went behind the party's back and obviously tried to arrange a floor-crossing? Him not running again clearly shows he was forced out.

This was not Harper's darling, this was Grewal's. Harper didn't hide squat, he advised his office to cooperate with the Ethics Commissioner. And that happened. No amount of Liberal spin (which has proven in recent memory to be lies and a lame duck anyway) is going to change any of this. Grewal was an opportunist who has ended up with nothing.

fiddlefaddle said...

Chris, tsk, tsk, tsk.

"Harper didn't hide squat, he advised his office to cooperate with the Ethics Commissioner"

The ethics commissioner asked
HARPER
to appear. Not his office, Jason the weenie, or his mommy. If one is accountable enough to invoke accountability and introduce acountability legislation then surely, one holds accountability in high regard enough to hold
HIMSELF
accountable to the ETHICS commissioner.
Now, the Ethics Commissioner is the guy to whom all those politicians are supposed to be - accountable.
So, if a dirt bag in the Conservative party tells a secret to the guy thats introducing accountability to Canada then the guy (HARPER) should make himself available to the Ethics Com just so he (HARPER)
looks ........ accountable, just like the common folk are.
And, given that Conservatives created God who in turn made up all the rules (you know, accountability shit) don't you think that it's also a piss poor way for HARPER to treat God, too?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Ok, I'll try to take this point by point again.

Why the hell should Harper have to face media scrutiny, full of loaded questions, when Mr. Grewal clearly went behind the party's back and obviously tried to arrange a floor-crossing?

*I think you're getting two things mixed-up Chris: Harper's phony press conference and Harper's dodging the ethics comissioner.

*Harper should face media scrutiny because he's (going to be) the Prime Minister. Comes with the job. And he can take a punch.

*But you meant to say the ethics commissioner's scrutiny. So why should he? Because he's an MP with information material to an investigation by the Ethics Commissioner, and the MP code of conduct requires him to cooperate

*You say Grewal clearly went behind Harper's back. Were you there? Harper was, if it was so clear why didn't Harper tell the EC that himself? And that's not all Harper could have testified about.

Him not running again clearly shows he was forced out.

*Unless you can show me article or release where Harper said he wouldn't sign Gurmant's nomination papers then no it doesn't. It shows Gurmant was smart enough to see he'd get his ass handed to him if he ran again.

This was not Harper's darling, this was Grewal's. Harper didn't hide squat, he advised his office to cooperate with the Ethics Commissioner.

*If I am called as a witness to testify in court, can I just have my office cooperate and not go myself to testify as to what I saw? Or in my case, my cubicle? Or do I, perhaps, have a duty to be accountable, demonstrate some integrity, and go in person?

Grewal was an opportunist who has ended up with nothing.

Conservatives (not all, and not necesarily you Chris) are only saying that beause Grewal has been discredited as a dishonest, tape doctoring hack. Until he was exposed for what he is, Harper and the others were standing by him as a conquering hero.

Scotian said...

Chris:

Harper vouched for the criminal allegation of Senate seat selling made by Grewal on May 19 05. His office took custody of the recordings then and for 12 days was translating, transcribing, and authenticating the recordings made by Grewal. On May 31 05 The CPC released a 75 minute release which appeared to corroborate the criminal allegation of Senate seat selling for MP votes. this was vouched for by the entire CPC, was vouched for as unedited accurate and truthful by Harper himself, with the addition of claiming that any Liberal complaints of missing material or editing was a desperate smokescreen and completely false. Then after a couple of days of saying this it suddenly starts coming out from independent audio experts that there are signs of editing.

At this point, June 3 05 the CPC releases its sole comment regarding missing material in the self described suicide note where they claim about 30 seconds of material is missing due to technical error. Then over the weekend of June 4 05 the CPC released an additional 35 MINUTES of material which had been edited from that May 31 05 release that Harper vouched for so strongly. When this additional material is put into the May 31 05 release we find out that these edits were clearly done to make Grewal look better, the Liberals look worse, and worst of all it conclusively disproved/discredited the allegation regarding Senate seat selling which was the core of the scandal according to Grewal and the CPC including Harper up to that point.

Then what does Harper do? He goes silent on the allegation, saying only that he stands behind Grewal, that Grewal is a good man being wrongfully persecuted by the media and Liberal war room, and that Grewal and the CPC did nothing wrong and have nothing to apologize for, only the Liberals did wrong according to Harper throughout the summer.

Now, this is the problem. Who edited the recordings released on May 31 05? If it was Grewal then how come the CPC did not realize this since they had the full recording to verify it against? If it was not Grewal then who was it, were they LOO staffers or was this done on someone's authority? Why once it became clear that the May 31 05 release was edited so heavily for content and turned out to support a bogus criminal allegation because of the editing was there no investigation into who did the editing? Why once the identity of the editor(s) was discovered in such an investigation was there no discipline taken for making Harper and the CPC into liars and slanderers? Why to this day has there been zero accountability for all of this within the CPC, and Grewal choosing not to run hardly counts, especially since it was Harper and his office that supported this allegation, took responsibility for the recordings and the authentication, translation, and transcription? Why has there been no apology from Harper or the CPC for committing slander by making false specific criminal allegations using fraudulently altered evidence that unaltered disproved that allegation, and for presenting such false charges and evidence to the Canadian people?

Sorry Chris, Grewal is a scandal of both a unique and unprecedented nature in the history of our country. It was also the worst scandal the CPC has had in it's short life, and the actions of the leader and the party was to bury it and deny it ever happened. Hardly evidence of accountability, honesty, or transparency.