Friday, May 26, 2006

Harper's Scary Media Viewpoint

The more I hear Harper speak about the media, the more his opinions concern me:
Mr. Harper said: "I don't think this story is really of much interest to ordinary people. I think what they are interested in is what is the government doing, and do they agree with it or do not agree with it."

The news media, he continued, "will always have their opinions about government policy," but the public will ultimately make up its own mind.

The greatest asset of a democracy is a free media, that has the ability to critically analyze. Harper seems to have little regard for this essential check on government propaganda. Harper is right to say people are interested in what the government is doing, but he doesn't acknowledge that we need an independent voice to filter through the politically charged rhetoric.

How can the public "make up its own minds" if they aren't provided as many facts, and varying opinions as possible? For all the over-exaggerated talk of a biased media, Canadians have no problem finding ideologically friendly news outlets. All political conversations find references from the media to either support or discredit a viewpoint. Harper endorses a simple view- government will tell you what we are doing and you should except that as fact and form your opinion from there. I don't want to be overly dramatic, but Harper sounds like a complete fascist on dissemination of information.

According to Harper, my income taxes were cut. If that is all the information afforded me, then obviously my opinion would tend to support his initiative. However, the media informs me that, in fact, my income taxes actually went up a half point, compared to the last government. The media broadens my perspective and allows for a more informed opinion. There is an inherent hypocrisy in Harper's view, on the one hand advocating a reduced role of government in people's lives, while at the same time wanting absolute power over what we are told, and in turn what to believe.

Harper's disdain for the media, is actually a disdain for the notion of true freedom. If Canadians can make up their own mind, they are also sophisticated enough to separate honest reporting from biased agendas. Harper's overreactions and fixation on message control should serve as a warning sign to what this government is actually all about. Transparency and accountability are fine slogans, but philosophically Harper offers a diametrically opposed viewpoint. Rather than empowering people, this is an elitist ideology that affords the peons little opportunity for independent thought. The media is our filter, and while not perfect, it is our eyes and ears that blunts politicism. I have heard a lot people dismiss this whole debate as a waste of time, but I see it as a window into Harper's ideology and what I see is truly scary.

Great post on the same subject.


Mike said...

Testify Brother!

The same government that gave us an "Accountablility Act" without the Access to Information act to allow us to actually get the information to hold the government accountable, cannot be trusted to tell the truth.

He is exibiting the classic neo-con ability to use myth and lies to further his agenda, because, as any neo-con will tell you, he knows better than we do.

Andrew said...

"He is exibiting the classic neo-con ability to use myth and lies to further his agenda, because, as any neo-con will tell you, he knows better than we do."

Mike, that tinfoil sure much chafe. ;) Harper is not a neo-con.... that word is used specifically to attempt to tie Harper to Bush. If anything, Prime Minister Harper is a Liberal-in-Conservative clothing.

As for the substance of this post, I believe that Steve is twisting Harper's words away from their intended meaning and trying his darnedest to make the PM look scarey.

Harper is not suggesting that he wants Canadians to digest raw propoganda... and besides, we're not that dumb. What he's saying is that the PPG-vs-PMO non-story is one that induces eye-rolling, and just distracts from the things the government is doing.

You may notice that despite the ongoing media feud, stories continue to run - both good and bad - about the government's policies.

All the scare mongering from the statist-left is really getting tiresome. Can we knock it off sometime soon?

ottlib said...

Andrew, whatever you have been smoking I certainly hope that you are willing to share.

Nobody becomes President of the National Citizens Coalition if they even dream that the candidate has any Liberal leanings.

Stephen Harper is a neo-con and he has been one for decades. You just have to read what he has written and listen to what he said before he decided he wanted to win an election.

Koby said...

"Mike, that tinfoil sure much chafe. ;) Harper is not a neo-con.... that word is used specifically to attempt to tie Harper to Bush. If anything, Prime Minister Harper is a Liberal-in-Conservative clothing."

Liberal in Conservative clothing now that is tin foil hat stuff. Maybe we should run down all Conservative talking points over the last year and compare them to Republican talking points.

The media is biased. There is no doubt about it. The Sun media chain is a defacto extention of the Conservative party. Ditto Macleans and Canwest global is the Fraser Institutes PR firm.

As for the media being pro Liberal, the McGill media studies should have put that to bed, but alas for Conservatives, as on of their candidates put it, "the facts don't matter". Declan sums it up.

"During the campaign there were 3,753 articles written about the election in the 7 newspapers studied (The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, the Toronto Star and the Vancouver Sun, La Presse and Le Devoir)

Of those 3753, 3035 mentioned the Liberal party. Out of those 3035, there were 40 with positive mentions of the Liberal party and 445 with negative mentions of the Liberals, giving a 11 to 1 ratio of negative mentions to positive (slightly higher than last election's 10-1 ratio).

Meanwhile, for the Conservative Party, the figures were 2730 total articles, including 144 positive mentions and 127 negative mentions, for a slightly positive overall slant (the positive mentions were similar to last election, but the negatives were cut in half).

The NDP garnered 2% positive mentions and 3% negative mentions, while the Bloc received 2% positive coverage, 4% negative.

The numbers for the party leaders are quite similar with Martin getting 5 negative mentions for every positive one, while Harper received more favourable than unfavourable mentions."

Scotian said...


Unfortunately for your contention about how the only basis for calling Harper a "neocon" is to tie him to Bush with no other basis existing is wrong. Remember, the neocons were also followers of Leo Strauss and his teachings and shaped their ideology and methodology on his works. In Canada the Calgary School was also heavily influenced by the writings of Leo Strauss and looky there, Harper is a member of the Calgary School. So in truth there actually is more basis to consider Harper as a "neocon" than simply linking him to Bush because of Harper's own associations and political history.

Steve V:

Good post, and I completely agree with you. I honestly believe most Canadians believe we have a diverse media where differing political perspectives are represented. Therefore the idea that the PPG is only Liberal in nature and acting as a de facto arm of the Liberal party sounds like pure paranoid fantasy to most people, at least that has been the average "man on the street" reaction I get back when I talk to people on the bus, in coffee shops, and so forth. Now, I live on the East Coast not in Ottawa, so the idea that this is only being paid attention in Ottawa is also something not supported by reality.

No, this is yet more straw on the proverbial camel's back. The thing about piling straw on that camel's back is that until the straw that breaks the back and sends everything crashing down is put on that back the camel's back looks strong and sturdy. As well it is never obvious which straw will be the breaking point straw until after the fact. I see the current polling much the same way on this matter, especially given the lack of an alternative thanks to the Libs being in a leadership race with no clear successor as of yet for Canadians to consider as an alternative option in the next election. That though will change before the end of the year and then the dynamic is almost certainly going to change I believe and not in Harper's favour. So this argument that despite all the conflicts between the media and Harper his and the CPC's polls are in slim majority territory means this is not being paid any attention to, or that the public is siding with Harper is yet more faith based thinking.