The Canadian media rant: Trashing the left and loving the right

Rightwing-Dominated, Hypocritical and Riddled With Double Standards
Why is it that a nation such as Canada–with its largely-liberal to left-of-centre population–must endure, year in and year out, such a right-wing national media? In America, conservatives complain about "the liberal media bias". But here in Canada, we have exactly the opposite problem. And, unlike in America, our problem actually exists.

For an excellent, in-depth look at right-wing bias, hypocrisy, and double-standards in the corporate-owned media in Canada, check out this great new article by Donald Gutstein: Controversy over Heather Mallick's Sarah Palin remarks shows media bias.

And, if you haven't already, you should definitely read Heather Mallick's "controversial" Sarah Palin-dissing piece from last month. It's a good one.

The Shock Doctrine
And, while we're on the topic of the completely messed-up national media here in this country, check out this earlier piece by Gutstein detailing the sordid tale of how many Canadian papers chose to assign right-wing reviewers to trash Naomi Klein's new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, while at the same time, hiring other right-wingers to praise Brian Mulroney's autobiography: Libertarian media toe the anti-Klein line.

Obviously, reviews of political books are often predetermined by the ideology of the reviewer and, here in Canada, those choosing the reviewers at most of the large papers have a very clear agenda.

As Gutstein writes about the Globe and Mail's negative review of The Shock Doctrine and positive reviews of certain other books:

Perhaps the Globe 's books editor sought a reviewer who would turn the knife, and not one who was an expert on the subject. Curiously, though, when it came time to review a book written by well-known libertarian conservative Tom Flanagan, the Globe assigned the review to a kindred conservative, one who would, almost predictably, like the book. And for the review of Mulroney's new book, the editor selected a reviewer who had already written a flattering book about Stephen Harper.

The key point, Gutstein says, is that here in Canada in the mainstream mass media: “...it's getting constantly more difficult for progressive and divergent viewpoints to be disseminated. And that's a blow to a democratic society, which requires a diversity of viewpoints to survive.”

Of course, there are many other sources of information, especially today in the age of the internet. And the alternative media is definitely growing on-line, which is cause for optimism. However, the reality remains that the vast majority of people still get their news from the large corporate-owned media outlets, all of which usually only present one–bullshit–view of the world.

Manufacturing Consent
As Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky showed in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the so-called Free Media is certainly free to report a full spectrum of ideas and opinions, but, aside from, perhaps, the Letters To The Editor pages, it simply never does.

And Manufacturing Consent, it must be noted, was written before the consolidation of the media, particularly here in Canada, into the hands of a few individuals, almost all of whom happen to be of the extreme right-wing persuasion (first Conrad Black and the Thomsons; and then Izzy Asper and Ted Rogers).

As it's pretty obvious that the consolidation of the mass media isn't going to be reversed any time soon, what's needed is for it to simply be ignored, shunned, or, at the very least, seen for what it is. The first step to finding our way out of this sewage field of a media landscape is for people to realize that they're being force-fed crap. After that, having decided they're sick of being offered such a limited perspective, they simply need to set their minds to finding other sources of information.

I mean, who wouldn't want a bit more balanced news coverage? Who wouldn't want a lot less crap and whole lot more truth? And who wouldn't want a national news media that was at least somewhat reflective of the progressive majority in this country?


Mike Cowie is a writer currently embarked on a book about his three-year trip across Asia with his wife, Sonoko. Read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.

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1 Comments

George T. Baker

Nov 6, 2008 at 2:39pm

Perhaps that's because it works as a counter balance to popular opinion.

We are always told that the media should be an objective voice, and if it isn't (which it normally is not) maybe then the best possible option is it counterbalances the tyranny of the majority (John Stuart Mill).

It's just a thought, and certainly not something i am married to, but worth consideration.