The Ottawa Citizen article below confirms what I was expressing the other day, namely that the Globe and Mail's coverage of the robocall scandal is grossly biased in favour of the perpetrators of this criminal conduct.
On robocalls, reporters dig while pundits sit and snipe
By Andrew Mitrovica,
The Ottawa Citizen
March 8, 2012 6:17 PM
It’s at times like these that I miss being part of a newsroom. I miss chasing an important story with the sometimes-exhilarating mixture of excitement, adrenalin and a whiff of angst experienced by investigative reporters.
The angst, of course, derives from being scooped by fellow investigative reporters who, while temperamentally colleagues, are also fierce competitors. That would have certainly been the case if I was still sitting at my ramshackle desk at The Globe and Mail and having to pick up a copy of this newspaper to read the fine work of reporters Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher as they broke open the robocall scandal now engulfing Ottawa.
Alas, since I long ago vacated the pressure-packed world of daily news as an investigative reporter, I have had to resign myself to being a spectator of sorts. Like millions of Canadians, I have read McGregor and Maher and a bevy of other talented and determined investigative reporters — in print and broadcast media — go about the hard, painstaking work of trying to unearth the truth about whether there was a concerted effort by the Conservative party or its agents to suppress the vote across the country during the last election.
In particular, the industrious work of McGregor and Maher, the Globe’s Daniel Leblanc and Steve Chase, the Toronto Star’s Tonda MacCharles, and the CBC’s parliamentary bureau, have kept the story alive by unearthing fresh information that has fuelled necessary and pressing questions in the House of Commons about this still murky matter.
It has also prompted, in large measure, 31,000 Canadians and counting to contact Elections Canada regarding telephone calls of a harassing nature or directions to the wrong polling station during the last election campaign. Elections Canada and the RCMP are investigating the unsettling allegations.
By any journalistic measure, what these reporters have uncovered is serious business and assuredly in the public interest. But to read and hear some of the know-it-all pundits who populate the media, they would have you believe that their brethren’s reporting, and the reaction to it during Question Period, is the kind of silly, inconsequential stuff that grips myopic, scandal-mongering reporters and grandstanding politicians. (My goodness, broadcast media have convened pundit panels to discuss whether the revelations even constitute a “scandal.”)
Exhibit A: my former colleague at the Globe, columnist Margaret Wente, penned a predictably contrarian piece earlier this week that effectively dismissed the brewing scandal as the product of hyperventilating opposition politicians and diseased journalists.
“Opposition politicians, along with a fair portion of the media, have clamped on to the Harper government like a pack of rabid Chihuahuas,” Wente wrote.
Perhaps I don’t share Wente’s pithy sense of humour, but I’ve worked with some of the reporters who are diligently digging into this story and not one of them even remotely resembles a “rabid Chihuahua” in the way they approach their careful reportage.
Of course, in her missive Wente wrote a short and mild disclaimer that she “didn’t want to make light of voter fraud” and then proceeded to do just that. Wente ended her column by declaring that: “... it’s ridiculous to think there was some massive scheme engineered by higher-ups. We’re not Russia after all. It’s unpopular to say so, but we’re just a boring little democracy that usually functions pretty well.”
I remember when Wente was briefly the Globe’s editor. I hardly think that if she were still at the paper’s helm she would be dissuading her reporters and editors from pursuing this story because she was convinced that it was “ridiculous” to even consider the possibility that political operatives conspired to attempt to suppress the vote because Canada is a “boring little” country.
In her piece Wente turned to the ubiquitous Michael Bliss for backup in insisting that mounting evidence of possible widespread voter suppression hardly constitutes a scandal. The historian told Wente the following: “From the point of view of anybody concerned about our political system, it’s a non-scandal.”
So there you have it. According to a high-profile columnist and an “eminent” historian it’s case closed before the case has even been thoroughly examined.
Exhibit B: like a stern schoolmaster, Globe political columnist John Ibbitson also didn’t spare the opposition the rod in a recent column when it came to their — heaven forbid — “hyperbole” over the robocall “affair.”
Let’s see; thousands of Canadians have contacted Elections Canada over fraudulent, harassing phone calls during an election campaign and the opposition should, according to Ibbitson, behave like well-mannered school boys and girls, while Elections Canada and the RCMP take possibly years to complete their jobs. I’m sorry, if there ever was a story that merited outrage from the opposition benches, this is it.
In his short column, Ibbitson does a perfunctory job of chastising the Conservatives, before suggesting that if Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his former election campaign chair, Guy Giorno, “emphatically” made their cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die declarations that they had nothing to with the alleged electoral fraud, then without evidence to the contrary, Canadians should “give them the benefit of the doubt.”
Maybe I’m just a cynic, John, but what on Earth would you expect them to say? That they were guilty as charged?
If my lengthy career as an investigative reporter taught me anything it was not to make the assumptions pundits tend to make. While this scandal continues, no doubt, to unfold, I will be relying instead on the gumshoe reporting of McGregor, Maher and company as they burrow for the truth.
Andrew Mitrovica is a former Globe and Mail investigative reporter.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/robocalls+reporters+while+pundits+snipe/6272965/story.html#ixzz1oaJ5CeDm
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Posted by Brent Fullard at 9:56 PM