Polygonic

That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Insincere Encounters of the Dopey Kind: the Ed Miliband Loop

In case Ottawa’s summer recess is leaving you with a shortage of inane, lobotomised robots parroting meaningless spin through your television, here’s a treat I think you’ll like. Britain’s Labour Leader Ed Miliband demonstrating exactly how to do media manipulation in the worst possible way.

ITV’s Damon Green asks Miliband a series of questions regarding last week’s public sector strikes. The questions are different, but the answers are positively identical. Recited, insincere non-responses, memorised in advance, and bleated out regardless of the nature of the question.

It’s part hilarious, and part extraordinarily depressing. Much like life, I guess.

It’s caused a very welcome fuss over here in Angleterre, about the nature of plastic politics and how much dopey insincerity the public should be expected to swallow.

Read Charlie Brooker’s fantastic take on the Miliband Loop, which pretty much says everything I would have said here, so I’ll save myself the typing time, and just direct you to Mr. Brooker. Also, read interviewer Damon Green reflecting on his experience of confronting an unimaginative robot with zero media engagement skills, save for the unashamed willingness to try on a speak-and-spell soundbite mantra in place of a conversation.

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Filed under: Politics, UK, , , , , , ,

Media malaise? It’s a Canuck thing

I’m going verbatim copy-and-paste here (pretending I’m Jane Taber with a CPC memo to members, of course) and reproducing the comment I placed on the murky swamp of the Globe and Mail’s comment boards beneath Lawrence Martin’s article: Has the fourth estate lost its tenacity?

I refrained from replying to the argument with the a single word – "duh!" – and thought instead I'd beat a drum I often beat. Sorry if it comes off as too familiar…

THANK YOU for this critique. As you must know, Lawrence, the Globe is among the worst offenders in the Canadian media universe. The Globe seems to run more copy on Ruth-Ellen Brosseau than it does on Kevin Page. It’s pathetic with a capital P.

You say: “The stories (or contempt, corruption etc) don’t stick, it is said. The reason may well be, to cite Mr. Thomson’s cautionary words, because we in the media don’t stick to them. It’s episodic journalism. We report one story, then move on. We don’t probe deeply. If a Watergate was happening, the public would never know it.”

It is worth remembering, I think, that this is not a global problem. We can’t only blame the “24-hour news cycle” and the pressures of online publishing. It’s a particularly Canadian problem – the Canadian media, bar a couple of exceptions, is uncritical, unimaginative, and doesn’t investigate. It’s a lukewarm media culture where, bizarrely, no one’s speaking truth to power.

Compare Britain. The British media are relentlessly investigative; more diverse, with at least nine national dailies; each of them are openly subjective, and they engage in debate from clear positions; and, crucially, British journos do *not* suffer fools. I’ve said many times, as a Canadian in the UK: if Stephen Harper were a politician in Britain, he would have long ago been eaten *alive*

I’m imagining David Cameron redacting the budget for a crime bill. Or stacking the House of Lords with defeated MP candidates, and delivering the news through a memo, and not through a live press conference. I’m imagining him limiting reporters’ questions to five-a-day during an election campaign. I guarantee you he’d be toast – absolute dead meat. The British media demand accountability, whereas too much Canadian media simply parrot government talking points.

It’s awful news for Canada that the media culture is so tepid, shallow, and almost disinterested in fostering public debate. Too many journos appear happy to just eat what they’re fed by the PMO.

Filed under: Canada, Politics, , ,

Twist my rubber arm

Norman Spector today points out that Hu Jintao and Stephen Harper met amicably in Toronto today, though had no press conference, no questions from reporters, no official presentation of themselves to the public to make anything resembling a joint statement of friendship etc. etc.

Rationale being that the Chinese delegation were not going to countenance any press gallery that included the Epoch Times. Harper’s PMO, looking to make up for some serious lost ground in kowtowing to the Middle Kingdom, thus agreed that no presser would be forthcoming.

Believable enough, but PMO spokesman Dmitri Soudas appeared suspiciously eager to note his regret that there was no press conference.

“On our side, we would have been more than happy to answer a few questions from reporters,” he said.

Sorry, but pull the other one. Since when has the PMO ever been anything but loathesome when it comes to answering questions from reporters?

I’m certain that, if there’s anything Harper and Hu can agree on, it’s a mutual disdain for facing a free press. Not that the new Sun News will much resemble Xinhua in ideology, of course…

Filed under: Canada, International, Politics, , , , ,

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