Friday, April 24, 2009

Mr Ignatieff goes to Washington: The media filter in action

If you think the media can't tweak a story, you're crazy. Take Michael Ignatieff's trip down to Washington, DC this week, where he's been invited to take part in a high-level foreign-policy think-tank and meet with several Obama administration heavy-hitters.

The following two stories both cover that same trip, but couldn't be more different in tone.

First, from the Toronto Star:

Ignatieff downplays ties to Washington
The Toronto Star
Friday, April 24, 2009
Page: A15
Section: News
Byline: Mitch Potter

It's great to have friends in high places.

But Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff admits his Washington connections won't give Canada special advantages in the event that he one day becomes prime minister.

"As for my contacts, let's not overdo this. Relationships between Canada and the United States are relationships between states," Ignatieff told Canadian journalists last night in a roundtable interview after a day of meetings in the American capital.

"I very emphatically do not want to oversell my personal relationships. They're great and I use them, as one would. But I'm under no illusions this gives me some special advantage.
And now from Canwest:
Ignatieff flaunts political clout with White House; Liberal leader vies for Obama's attention
Edmonton Journal
Friday, April 24, 2009
Page: A5
Section: News
Byline: Sheldon Alberts
Source: Canwest News Service

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on Thursday sought to demonstrate his personal clout with members of Obama's inner circle, huddling privately in Washington with the U.S. president's senior economic adviser and offering advice alongside the White House's special envoy for Afghanistan at an invite-only conference of foreign policy elites.

Ignatieff's whirlwind two-day visit to the U.S. capital -- which included a dinner with Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command -- came sharp on the heels of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's declaration this week that he considers himself a "conservative defender" of the liberal Obama on foreign policy.

The developments may signal the beginnings of a pre-election competition between Ignatieff and Harper to show Canadian voters their access to -- and influence with -- a U.S. president who scores higher approval ratings in Canada than either of them.

"I'm grateful for the access that I have, but I'm the leader of the Opposition, and I expect when I'm in government my access will improve even further," Ignatieff said following a 45-minute meeting at the White House with Lawrence Summers, director of Obama's National Economic Council.

Now, can you guess which news organization is currently lobbying hard for a government bailout?

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RuralSandi said...

If a government bailout is given - there should be a stipulation. The media receiving taxpayer bailout monies cannot be partisan.

Why? Because those funds would come from taxpayers of all political stripes.

If they can't accept that - no bailout.

Gauntlet said...

Man, until I went to comment I was convinced this was a blog post from my extreme-right-wing law professor blog that I read. :)

First, I don't think there's any real difference in tone. Both stories are "hey, look how well connected Ignatieff is." One is buying Iggy's play, which is start talking about how you don't think your connections matter that much, and people will notice that Harper doesn't have any to start with. The other is just denying Iggy the chance to seem humble.

Second, this are dailies we're talking about here. The reporters do not have time to sit down and work out the political implications for their employer's employer's employer of spinning a story one way or the other. They just take some facts, pick a narrative (which is going to add bias, but the source of it is probably less conscious than you're suggesting), and do their best to meet deadline and avoid pissing off their editor.