The Notion Of A Left Leaning News Media Is Dead
Posted August 10th, 2011 by Derek McBurney in News, Politics
Previous article: The Hikes, vol. 2
It seems to be popular conception that news media in Canada has a "liberal bias", that is, it's friendly to so-called "liberal" beliefs and those who uphold them, even at the expense of purely objective truth. It may not be so obvious, often rather a subtle, almost subliminal bias. As a news-addict, reading far too much every day, I'm here to say that any notion of a left-leaning news-media is dead. Those that say otherwise aren't being honest, because afterall, everyone wants to play the role of the underdog, even when they're not.
This was the day I realized our left-leaning news-media was a myth. This interview was a few days before the election, and CTV chose to skewer Liberal leader Stephane Dion. They lied to him. Stephane Dion asked if he could start over, to which the interviewer said yes. But they didn't start over, as the entire interview was aired. Even though the question ('what would you do then if you were leader now?') was even more broken than Mr. Dion's answer, the result was politically damaging, and CTV violated any notion of journalistic ethics to make sure it aired. This isn't the stuff of a news-media that's "left-leaning".
Now it wasn't always this way. I certainly remember when the news-media inserted subtle and not-so-subtle jabs against "the right". Observe:
But this example, from over five years ago, isn't remotely as concerning as the bias behind the Dion clip years later from the same news organization. Chalk the stupidity of that parliament-on-fire picture up to the same mentality that causes photographers and editors to think it's clever to use the background as a halo.
Regardless, five years have passed and news-media in Canada has shifted far away from any indication of so-called left-leanings. Just take a look at newspaper endorsements in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections:
In total, in 2008, I found 20 papers that endorsed the Conservatives and 4 endorsing the opposition. In 2011? 28 and 4, respectively.
Perhaps the Conservative Party of Canada has the best vision for the country, but seeing as only 37.65% to 39.62% of Canadians and 83.33% to 87.50% of newspapers thought so in 2008 and 2011 respectively, that's beside the point. The most substantive and quantitative indicator of right-leaning bias in Canadian news-media is the discrepency between those percentages - the percent of newspapers supporting right-leaning political parties and that of actual Canadians.
Despite these results, the myth of left-leaning news-media continues to remain. If Canadian news-media is still left-leaning, it's putting on the greatest contortionist act of of all time. But it is not, and the myth remains because it's serves it's supporters in a couple ways:
Supporters use the myth as a defense for shockingly disturbed views. The more extreme the supporter, the stronger they prop up the myth. When the mass-shooting in Norway happened, readers at The Globe and Mail made their disturbed views known. The anti-Muslim tirades were to be expected sadly, but what was surprising was just how far they went. There were those condemning efforts to raise money for famine in Somalia as they believed it would help raise the next generation of terrorists. Unfortunately these comments were only removed from the article after it was discovered that the Muslim terrorist was a non-Muslim Norweigian. During the deletions, readers cited The Globe and Mail's "left-wing bias" propping up "political correctness". Is it really political correctness at that point, or just correctness? Many of these same people frequently mention how they would like the CBC destroyed in any way shape or form, believing it to be the bastion of a liberal-dominated media. Now let's be honest, how "left-wing" can a broadcaster be when two of their most prominent personalities are Don Cherry and Kevin O'Leary?
The myth scores political points for a political movement hellbent on being considered the underdog. Canada's conservatives pride themselves on being a political movement fighting against the tyranny
of a systematic bias from all levels of society to do what's right for Canada. That the news-media bias has actually been in their favour this entire time, (as proven by the charts above) is of no concern. In fact, Canada's conservatives now control many of the institutions supposedly stacked against them, but why let reality get in the way of a good underdog story?
Infact, why let reality get in the way of any story? Kenneth Harvey wrote a piece for The Globe and Mail criticizing Interm Liberal Leader Bob Rae for bumping him off a plane seat. Nevermind that Mr. Harvey wasn't allowed on the flight regardless of Mr. Rae, and that Mr. Rae was part of a frequent flyer program that guarantees him a seat (A frequent flyer program that any public figure or private citizen who flies around the country as often as Mr. Rae does is entitled to no less). If any of those facts were written in the article, there would be no story. All that mattered to Mr. Harvey, and The Globe and Mail, was that Bob Rae uttered that he was 'Super Elite', the name of the frequent flier status guaranteeing him a seat. Good luck finding that detail anywhere in the article however, as if it was included, the article wouldn't be a smear job on one of the last of Canada's opposition to the right, and The Globe and Mail wanted a smear job. I pressed Kenneth Harvey on what I thought was journalism at it's very worst:
I have to laugh at the brash arrogance of Mr. Harvey, but one thought can't escape my mind: If this is the quality of "journalists" writing editorials for Canada's mainstream newspapers, perhaps the conclusion that news-media is right-leaning, or at the very least, not left-leaning is off target. Perhaps the real problem is that the notion of news-media with any kind of integrity at all is what is really on the line.