Saturday, September 27, 2014

Another Pundit Supports Trudeau's Rejection Of Sun News

Reaction continues to be mixed on Justin Trudeau's decision to boycott Sun News following resident madman Ezra Levant's tirade against his entire family. Pollster Bruce Anderson is now the second pundit to support the decision, as he makes clear in his inaugural digital column for The Globe and Mail.

His has several reasons for taking this stance:
First off, if a competing politician uttered the things that Mr. Levant said about Justin Trudeau, we would expect an apology or a resignation, or both. If we wouldn’t tolerate such shameful behavior among political competitors, what would it say about how low we are willing to see media standards fall, if there were no consequences.

Second, maybe someone can explain why any of us should have to answer to anyone for the sexual habits of our parents. I’ve never heard a voter in a focus group say “I’d vote for candidate x, if his or her parents had been more sexually conservative.”

Anderson also points out, in addition to the distasteful content of the Levant screed, it is inaccurate:
Watch Mr. Levant’s description of events, and then read the account of how the bride’s father saw the same moments. I suppose it’s possible that the father of the bride was lying, but I think another explanation seems more likely.
Labelling the unhinged Levant's performance an embarrassment to journalists, and to those in conservative politics that he is normally aligned with, Anderson feels that Trudeau's response was a reasonable one, since he is simply
holding the publisher to account and using what leverage he can muster. His goal seems not to end or disrupt or manipulate media relations in a permanent or pervasive way, but to say this isn’t normal and it shouldn’t be treated as such.
In the instances of such scurrilous attacks one can either ignore the insults or speak out against them. In Anderson's view the latter is the more noble choice:
I fielded one call from a conservative who said that Mr. Trudeau was taking the coward’s way out by refusing to engage with Sun. I tried hard to understand that logic.

But in the end I couldn’t help but think that cowardice in that situation is doing nothing to defend your honour, and that of your parents.

I certainly get the need to protect professional journalism. But this week anyway, it needs more protection against what Ezra Levant would do to it, than what Justin Trudeau would.
It has been my observation that, like the bullies they are, extreme right-wingers are quite happy to mete out abuse, but cry like babies when held to account. Expect no agreement with Andersen's defense of Trudeau from that quarter.


  1. I'm honestly surprised at the outrage of many pundits, columnists and journalists. Seriously. They have all missed the ball completely. I find it particularly disturbing that these people are more outraged at Justin Trudeau and his handlers for boycotting Stun News rather than at Ezra Levant's clown show. How could they even call him a journalist? Calling Trudeau sr a slut and saying Margaret was no different hardly qualifies as journalism, but more as tasteless, cheesy sleaze. What Ezra Levant, Brian Lilley, etc do on Stun News hardly qualifies as anything remotely close to journalism. So why the outrage on the part of journalists? Journalists should be far more outraged at Levant's own behaviour and even be insulted that what many say what he does is journalism. As for the network, well, they haven't rectified anything. They haven't apologized, nor did they have Levant apologize or publish a retraction or anything remotely close. So, yes, the network is as responsible.

    As for that conservative who calls the boycott of Stun News an act of cowardice, perhaps that person should look to his/her own boss, Steve harper himself, regarding cowardice-- a dude who takes no more than 4 questions--if he is so inclined. Otherwise, nothing at all. How often have conservatives declined to be on all party panels on shows like Power and politics or Question Period? The dude who keeps journalists and reporters behind a chicken wire fence.

    1. Well-expressed, CK. I find myself in complete agreement with your thoughts here. It seems to me that some of the criticism from journalists over Trudeau's rejection of Sun News may in fact be as a result of the freeze-out of the media that Harper is notorious for. They perhaps don't want this to snowball, but as you suggest, there is really no pattern emerging here, since Sun News has about the same relationship to journalism as Josef Goebbels had to truth.

  2. .. since when did the First Nations
    or Canadians get out of sorts
    when dealt a bad hand by the weather
    ebb and flow of the caribou or salmon
    a rude slash to the shins.. in shinny
    an early pumpkin killing frost, or floods
    .. or played for fools ..
    ripped off.. by carpetbagger scum
    or political animals

    the weeping Calandra.. cries now, only for his 'career'
    Ezra aint got no tobacco or asbestos to pimp for
    So sad .. Too bad..
    Kent, Toews, Poilievre, Del Mastro, Clement, Baird
    Shea, Duffy, Moore, Wright, Christy Clark.. goodness gracious .. !

    Brush these twerps aside please..
    they carry no trueweight.. nada, none
    Define them as Canadians ? You must be mad ..

    The who.. that 'controls' them
    or somehow commands pimps or funds them
    is insidious & disastrous

    How he 'controls' or directs them is the answer and the antidote ..

    We gave him control of government..
    and all that entails ..
    lets look at how he abuses that trust..

    1. The litany of abuse at the hands of our overlords is indeed long, Salamander. May we retain sufficient memory of that abuse in 2015.

  3. I think the reason why journalists are uncomfortable with Trudeau's Sun News ban is he is not just banning Levant, he is banning an entire news agency which is something that most journalists, no matter what their political stripe, would find troubling. Levant is a commentator and pundit, not a journalist. Sun News does have journalists who ask questions,,,that is their job. For Trudeau not to answer their questions poses a dangerous precedent in the minds of other journalists. I think Levant was just baiting him, (he IS a lawyer, after all and that's what lawyers do when they have someone on the witness stand), and Trudeau, in his inexperience, fell for it. I think he missed a golden opportunity to rise above it and take the highroad. He's a little too thin skinned for politics. You need to be tough to run a country and you can't run away (or be seen to run away) from a confrontation. I would have preferred Marc Garneau as leader as I believe he would have the smarts to do the job. Every time I see Trudeau commenting on something, he looks like he is trying to remember his lines. I think the election debates will reveal whether or not he has what it takes.

    1. While I share your misgivings about Trudeau, Anon, I do think he made the right choice in this instance only because it lays the responsibility at the feet of Quebecor, the owner of Sun News. If it wants to employ someone like Levant and thus be identified with his irresponsible ranting, then, in my view, it also must bear the consequences.

    2. Sorry Anonymous, can't agree with you. Levant was being Levant, ascribing to him motivations as you have strikes me as trying to rationalize the actions of a man whose history of over the top rhetoric and smears is so well documented it has suffered multiple CRTC complaints/actions as well as court. As to the discomfort of the media types, well the Parliamentary Press Galley accredited Sun News so therefore they are guarding their turf, pure and simple. How many of them called Levant a journalist, when he is anything but, he is a personality and an agitator, pure and simple, not much different in style and substance than an old school carney barker.

      Trudeau has been smart in the way he handles this network/chain, because the TV network was clearly set out to be an arm of the CPC, not a real news network, and the owners of Sun Media have been content to let it be, despite the real contamination it brings to their more serious journalistic operations and employees. He is not shutting out any other news entity, he is only shutting out the one news media source that has a proven track record of clearly biased propaganda attacks on him and his party thinly disguised as journalism. The focus needs to be on what Sunnews really is, and this is the best way to do so. If Trudeau gives them credibility as a news/journalism source then it becomes that much more a powerful tool for the CPC and its partisans that run Sunnews to attack him and his with down the road.

      As to your point about Garneau being the better option, clearly 80+% over those that voted for the Liberal leader thought otherwise, and can you seriously tell me that the Libs with Garneau would have been able to rebuild and restore their operations, fundraising, and media profile so much without the Trudeau magic (call it what you want, but it is more than just his name it is also what he himself gives off)? Not to mention would Garneau have done the same job of on the ground rebuilding at the riding and constituency level the party when neither Dion nor Ignatief did despite having much better resources for doing so?

      I think Garneau would make an excellent Minister of Foreign Affairs, but PM, nope, he lacks something important for that job, and it s not brains and intelligence, but then how many PMs in our history had intelligence as their top selling feature as a leader? The only one I can think of is PET himself, the others had political intelligence and capabilities, and there I am less dismissive of Justin Trudeau as you and so many others have been. Now, does that mean I am in lockstep with him, or do not see that he is still learning some of the fine points? Of course not, but I think his grounding is the best of the three options, I think he has the best material around him to draw on to run a government both in terms of possible ministers and in terms of staff, and after the disaster the Harper years have been to our institutions that is not a small selling point.

      I think too many people see what they want to see in Trudeau, and too few see him as he simply is, and so far that has been one of his biggest assets. Not so much for those that favour him, but for those that oppose him that see him as some sort of creampuff, a lightweight, a front man, someone "out of his depth", No, I think he has far more chops than is given credit for, and he is wisely letting his opponents punch at the straw image of him while waiting for when he feels the right time to really start clobbering the Harper government. Timing is as important in politics as it is in boxing, and we know hes got it in the latter so I am willing to believe he has it in the former. He did run a campaign that got him a first ballot 80+% win to become leader with remarkable gross numbers voting, that is not all simply based on name recognition, he has to work for that high a percentage, and that shows better leadership ability than I see many willing to credit him with.

      To be concluded...

    3. Conclusion:

      I see this fight with Sunnews as just another element in that, because he recognizes the environment/playing field he is in, and differentiates between the honest media and those that pretend to be such so as to advance the agenda of this government. He is refusing to play in a rigged match, and more power to him.

      I've been watching Trudeau over the years, and I have slowly grown more and more inclined to believe in him, based on his actions, not what people tell me, or some sort of gooey sentiment about his name or his father. Yes, he makes mistakes from time to time, takes positions I disagree with (but then all leaders and parties do for me, I am a centrist pragmatist first, not an ideologue), but he learns from them, and he speaks far more openly about what he thinks and believes than has become the norm in our highly partisan political environment. He also consistently has a positive flavour to his approach, and you underestimate the appeal of that politically in normal years at your own risk, in times as filled with anger and bitterness as ours it may well be the jewel beyond price.

      So I do not think Trudeau was in any way manipulated by Levant here, I think you give Levant far too much credit and Trudeau far too little. I think Trudeau has a game plan he is following and he is far less bobbing and weaving around than many seem to think. I don't think he is perfect of course, far from it, but I do think he gets shortchanged far too much by those that either dislike him, fear him, or hate his family name. I also think those that fail to recognize why Garneau failed was far more about his own limitations than it was Trudeau's name need to consider just how well they really understand what they are looking at. I like Garneau, I respect him, but he never struck me as a good possibility for a party leader, especially one at the crossroads of existence that the Libs were in at the time. It takes more than being good astronaut material to be a good politician, let alone party leader/potential PM.


      Sorry about this, went a bit further astray than I intended, but it really does irk me to see so many people dismissing Trudeau as a lightweight despite what he has shown in terms of leadership ability for his party to date between his campaign for leader and how he has reformed the Liberal party/brand since becoming it in a year and a half. I also find it annoying that some place Garneau on such an elevated pedestal without recognizing his limitations as a political leader, which we shown in his leadership run. He has substance, he has a lot to offer, but he lacks what is most important for any party leader, that spark. He lacks the ability inspire politically (in other important ways,yes, but I've not seen it in this respect), and that is an important quality under most circumstances, the ones the Libs were/are in it cannot be overstated in importance and value.

      For all that I despise him Harper does have that, and so does Mulcair (even if I don't think other aspects of him work so well), it is more than charisma, or warmth, it is almost indefinable, but you know it when you see/feel it, and there is where Garneau I felt fell flat. I think he is excellent senior Cabinet material, even possibly deputy leader, but not the top spot. I also find a lot of those that claim to favour him these days are acting much like concern trolls do, and that also bothers me, so this is what happens. Like I've said before, I tend towards the long-winded blowhard form of writing...LOL

    4. Always a pleasure to read your comments, Scotian. Your thoughts always give me much to ponder.