Posts Tagged ‘media’

Big Media: Big Candidate Bias

Turnout is at all time lows.  Cynicism at highs.  Decline the vote and none of the above  initiatives increase.

Mark Twain: If you don’t read newspapers, you are uninformed.  If you read newspapers, you are misinformed.  If you ingest TV news or talk radio consider yourself contaminated.

Ok, ok, I know.

Thanks to the internet, we might eventually dispense with the old adage, also from Twain: Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”  I’d like to pick a fight.  I buy ink by the teaspoon.

Big media seared my brain when they played up a photo of PM contender, Robert Stanfield fumbling a football (after many successful catches) as if this was policy!  Trudeau later trounced Stanfield.  I remember a contrite CBC commentator admitting their role decades later.  That’s why Stanfield is now called the best PM that Canada never had. Canadians put up with this? Sheep.

Canada is down to half a dozen corporate entities that own most media outlets so it is easy to blacklist any journo who goes against the grain.  Big change from the old days.

Many writers have expressed disgust and pointed out the consequences more eloquently and academically than I can.

PACT, Party for Accountability, Competency and transparencey) points out that debates exclude a very legit Green Party while a contrary comment asks how could a debate include all 60 plus TO mayoralty candidates.  Compromise?

For now,  I’ll focus on the upcoming municipal elections. Here’s a local example of how big media discourages consideration of lesser known candidates.

http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/toronto2014election/2014/04/29/meet_the_longshots_mayoral_candidate_diana_maxted.html    By: 

Why the discouraging (series) title: Meet the Longshots?  Why not something more neutral like Mayoral Candidate X focuses on Y?

Note the juxtaposition of adjectives:  “Once a week .. we’ll introduce you to an obscure candidate vying to be Toronto’s chief magistrate.”

Ridicule is the first defence of the status quo. Ask yourself why.

Photo chopped off the top of her head? = brainless? Fair?

Interview questions

1 You want to be mayor, not a councillor. What makes you qualified to run Toronto?  Holy moley, a typo in the Star!

2 And how are you going to do that exactly?

These questions sound reasonable, even necessary.  A sneering hack pretending  diligence, toughness.

3 OK, so here’s the big question: You’re up against big names like Rob Ford, John Tory and Olivia Chow. How are you going to get your name out there?

For candidate Jeff Billard | Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/toronto2014election/2014/04/15/meet_the_longshots_mayoral_candidate_jeff_billard.html   By: 

Somewhat different questions.  BTW, there were other  germane questions about platform which I excluded so as to not try your patience too much. Still here? Thank you!

4 Some politicians start out running for school board or council before vying for mayor. Did you consider that?

5 How do you feel about major debates featuring only the high-profile candidates? 

6 What level of vote support would you consider a success? 

Let’s unpack.  First, the Star pointed out that these questions/answers were excerpted from a full interview.  Meaning these are supposed to be the most cogent information gleaned from candidates.  BS.  You can be sure that candidates got excited about their pet idea, but little of that reached the article.  What did reach us were inadequate answers to impossible questions.  Why impossible?

For Q1 & 2, who do you think runs Toronto?  The mayor? If you think that, especially under Ontario’s weak mayor system, think again.   Reality: full time bureaucrats run the city.  The mayor is only ONE vote –  on a council of 45.  The creation of actionable motions  and related reports falls to said bureaucrats.

Since the mayor can be outvoted so easily, he can only remind councilors that he/she is the only person elected by the WHOLE city.  If the public wants that vision and voted for it, then the mayor has a basis to call for cooperation.  Other than a few perks, THAT’S ALL.

Ergo, manipulative question.

The issue is crucial.  If most candidates want a grey city and one itsy bitsy candidate wants a pink city, then why should the media deflect attention away from pink?  Given exposure, the people might prefer pink over grey.  But we the people can only choose what’s ‘allowed’ by our unelected, unaccountable corporate masters.  No dark horses, no young mayors for them.  Sheep.

Q3 is just meant to belittle a candidate without a webpage.  Necessary?

Q4,  Trick question on running for mayor vs councilor.  Councilors have a 90% incumbency rate for a reason.  Unless they really screw up, their helping of  constituents, name recognition, picnics, occasional meetings are likely to leave a positive impression.  Even if one issue rubs a constituent the wrong way, there is always another more  favourable  issue.

So as Mr Billard pointed out, unless one is a malcontent, going for mayor is the straighforward best strategy.  Plus its much easier to put one’s views forward in the many interviews and debates.

Not to mention the crucial developer-fundraising issue that favours incumbents.  Arrg.

Q5.  Unless Mr Billard harped on it, the exclusion question is just there to introduce negativity and divert attention from the positive elements of his platform.

Q6 just drives home the point this candidate doesn’t stand a chance and would be a wasted vote.  Despite my support for decline, there is no such thing as a wasted vote.

Conclusion.

If you’re a candidate, avoid mainstream media like the plague.

If you’re a voter, avoid mainstream media like the plague!

Don’t worry, the best info is on the net. Even better, phone candidates of interest.

I guess we should be happy the Star didn’t use the perjorative word ‘fringe’.  If  you run across similar examples, please let us know.  What tricks have you noticed? I’ll edit this page accordingly.

Till then, I remain, your unelected curmudgeon! (Not that I didn’t try!)