Toronto Star hires a right winger, Michael Cooke, as editor

The Toronto Star has always had a reputation as a liberal newspaper, which dates back to when legendary journalist Joe Atkinson became editor in 1899.

This came after what was known as the Evening Star was bought by supporters of Liberal prime minister Wilfred Laurier.

The liberal tradition continued in later years under publisher Beland Honderich and, for a while, under editor Peter C. Newman, then an ardent Canadian nationalist.

Today, the paper publishes left-wing columnists such as Thomas Walkom and Linda McQuaig, setting the Toronto Star apart from the Canwest chain and its parade of right-wing commentators.

I wonder if that could change under the direction of the incoming editor, Michael Cooke, who used to work for Conrad Black while he owned the Southam chain.

Chicago Tribune media writer Phil Rosenthal reported on his blog yesterday that Cooke has resigned from the Chicago Sun-Times to rejoin his former colleague John Cruickshank, who is publisher of the Toronto Star.

Former Hollinger Inc. chief operating officer David Radler, who was recently released from jail, lured Cruickshank from the Globe and Mail to become the Vancouver Sun’s editor in the mid-1990s.

Radler, a former business partner of Conrad Black, also appointed Cooke as editor of the Province in the 1990s.

In the 1990s, the Province, a Vancouver tabloid, took an abrupt turn to the right under Cooke’s leadership.

The paper dumped its left-wing voices and populated the editorial page with a bunch of right wingers. Cooke also gave prominent coverage to the Fraser Institute's  right-wing "research" reports.  

I remember writing a story during those years about how editors had allegedly launched a protest after Cooke deleted references to SFU communications professor Bob Hackett from a news story.

At the time, Cooke denied this occurred. He  couldn't deny, however, that he  had several clashes with the union that represented newsroom employees during his tenure.

Later when Cooke put his Deep Cove house on the market, Vancouver Sun real estate reporter Wyng Chow wrote an amusing little item about an executive house for sale on a dead-end street.

Chow didn’t identify Cooke as the owner, but that didn’t stop the Vancouver Sun from suspending him for two days over the incident. As he walked out of the newsroom, he received a standing ovation from his colleagues in what one described as a scene reminiscent of the movie Norma Rae.

In 2000, Radler took Cruickshank and Cooke to the Chicago Sun-Times, which became immersed in a major circulation scandal that tarnished Radler’s reputation.  

Radler later pleaded guilty to defrauding shareholders and was sentenced to 29 months in prison. Cruickshank became the publisher and continued working alongside Cooke.

Now, they will be  back together again at the Toronto Star.  If history provides any lessons, then the  staff had better start brushing up on the research of right-wing think tanks like the Fraser Institute. Because these two guys have a history of wanting it to appear in their newspapers.

Comments (3) Add New Comment
sleepswithangels
I want to say a whole lot of bad words regarding this unrelenting assault on what is left of our democracy but if I do, cathartic though it may be, my vituperativeness will not see the light of day. The last great bastion of center left voting is Toronto and it was just a matter of time before the war mongering, Republican party loving, business elites in Canada were able to undermine the balanced political views of Canada's largest circulation newspaper. They've already succeeded in neutering the CBC so now, except for alternative media, there is nothing left(pun intended) to inform the credulous mind of your average Canadian voter. Given the propensity of the right wing brain trust in Canada for selling out to American interests, this bit of news must be making the three mofos (Harper, Flannigan and d'Aquino) cackle with satanic delight.
7
4
Rating: +3
Charlie Smith
Your vituperativeness will see the light of day as long as you don't defame anyone.
4
3
Rating: +1
Wendigo
According to your article in CJA 'Media' magazine, Cooke didn't deny removing Hackett's comments, he justified the removal by stating that Hackett's "shtick is left-wing media commentator" and therefore "he's not neutral."

I guess this is the end of the Star's 110 year tradition of left-wing shtick.
4
3
Rating: +1
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.