Monday, October 08, 2007

The media and Harper: An odd relationship

The way is pointed to an interesting Lawrence Martin column in the Globe by Accidental Deliberations, on how Harper's bash the media strategy has resulted in a compliant and subservient press corps that ignores a cost of Conservative hypocrisy, failure and double-speak to instead focus on the leader of the opposition:

Rather than hurt him, Mr. Harper - is there method in his badness? - is getting increasingly favourable media treatment. To look at the recent coverage, you would think his government is on a roll. Breathless reports follow breathless reports on how he could destroy all opponents in an election this fall.

That's not bad for a governing party stuck at 33 per cent in the polls for months, one that has fallen six or seven points since it tabled its last budget in March, one that has lost more support in that time than the Liberals or NDP, both of whose numbers have remained stable.

This is usually the kind of news that gets you booed out of town. But, in the case of Mr. Harper, the scribes are doing more cheering than jeering.

What's the answer for the Liberals here? Treat the media even worse than the Conservatives? Trade the whale-watching trips and returning of phone calls for icy glares and lists to ask questions? Unfortunately, since we're in opposition we can't have the RCMP bully them.

Maybe that wouldn't be the best way to go though. I don't know the answer really. I do know one thing that would help the Liberal media strategy though. Stop leaking them so much juicy crap! Give them easy infighting stories to run of course they'll run them and ignore Conservative misdoings. I'm a journalist myself, we're lazy. Trust me.

Perhaps it isn't Harper's brilliant trash the media strategy that's at play after all. Maybe if we kept giving them so much to write about, they'd turn their attention to the Conservatives...and if not, then we should consider taking away the Wii.

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Werner said...

I saw your commentary on VLWC. I agree that the mainstream press are pretty compliant. However if the "progressive" forces in this country, like organized labour had started their own newspaper years ago then perhaps things wouldn't be as bad. We need something like a more modern version of the old British Daily Herald for this country. The Blogosphere is good as far as it goes but there needs to be an emphasis on print media as well.

Walks With Coffee said...

Harper conservatives created their own "media" channels. They pay blogging tories to write on the Internet; and, they have a media center for the MSM. They do all this without declaring such expenses and now that they are in power they use the public purse to subsidize their fake news channels. In contrast, conventional media in Canada is nearly bankrupt – it doesn’t pay the bills to write for the MSM. Accordingly, the MSM should not be thought of a “compliant” but rather suffering from “a cold” and sideswiped by unchallenged partisan propaganda (read bold-faced lies paid for by the CPoC).

PS: Don't say I didn't warn you!

burlivespipe said...

The CONs have learned some key 'tricks' from the liberal and politically correct.
When insulted, whether directly or indirectly by means of an idiom, feign outrage. Exaggerate your reaction to as many members of the press as possible. It gives the non-story legs (ie see Ambrose, hair, and Harper, fat).
When creating insults on your opponents, set the tone as high-brow as possible before coming in with a lie or total exaggerated accusation. Make sure that any kernel of truth is photocopied and easy to hand out. Media love handouts.
Let untraceable underlings do a lot of your dirty work. Whether its bloggers spreading malicious rumours or the reporter's reliable pal, mr and mrs unidentified source, someone will be bound to pick it up on a slow news day. And have them shout it when it comes on a day when the press is hard on your case.
Lastly, timeliness is godliness. Make sure the more explosive revelations, whether any truth to them or not, are exposed during the most visible moments, ie an election campaign. Have the police or some third party serve up part of the simple equation -- media doesn't, by and large, like to put more than 3 links together to get their story. Keep it simple but juicy!
Remember, even a war hero can be brought down by a dolt when he has the media following his planted scent to the scene of the 'crime'. They'll be so engorged by the hot-ness of one tidbit to overlook that the real crime was done by the dumb-ass!

Demosthenes said...

A fair bit of the problem is that too many journalists get their underwear in knots at the thought of being considered "biased" and "unobjective". They think that they think that by responding to the source of the loudest attacks, they'll balance things out.

Unfortunately, the Republicans (and, I suppose, the Conservatives) figured that out long ago, and realized that you can get them to go your way by simply shouting the loudest. Since liberals tend to be a little fairer and less likely to attack for no good reason, it has worked brilliantly.

The difference is that while the Republicans use a noise machine to keep journalists moving towards the loud nonsense coming from their direction, Harper seems to have figured out that he can do it all by himself.

Quite impressive, and shows you what you can do with a near-Stalinist control of your party.

Walks With Coffee said...

"Unfortunately, the Republicans (and, I suppose, the Conservatives) figured that out long ago, and realized that you can get them to go your way by simply shouting the loudest.

Fact is, the Blogging Tories was set up by Harper's team to (and I quote) mimic Bloggers for Bush. I kw, I was asked to set it up... but declined. I will testify to that under oath when the commissionaire of elections gets around to yanking parlimentary voting right to 17 CPoC MPs for cheque swapping, convention fraud, accounting fraud, money laundering, and scamming on the Internet... that was the plan from the start. I know, I am a first hand witness.

Gayle said...

Perhaps the real issue is not whether the media are biased - they are - but rather WHY.

Personally, I think the media love these minority governments, and they love the kind of stories they can get from the conservatives.

It is not about who they want to run the country, it is about getting people to watch their shows and read their articles.

Jeff said...

It is not about who they want to run the country, it is about getting people to watch their shows and read their articles.

Exactly. The media aren't pro or anti any party. They want a good story, and if we give it to them they'll run it, and lately we've been feeding them (negative) doozies. We need to turn off the taps so they go sniffing around the Cons again.

Also, not to be dismissed is the pack mentality. Once the media settles on a narrative, they tend to try to force things into that narrative, and ignore things that don't, lest they be shown to have been wrong.