A Questionable Question

I haven’t been riveted to election coverage over the last few days — I just can’t take it, especially in the current climate of economic “shock and awe” in addition to everything on a personal level being in total disarray… It just all strikes me as infinitely stupid, profoundly insulting, anxiety producing, deeply annoying, intellectually bankrupt, and generally crazy-making. It was thoroughly saddening therefore to take a brief peek at what’s going on and encountered this:

I’m sure it’s well-worn ground already for most bloggers and doubtless many of the legion of faithful Connie-bots, drones, trolls and other miscreants that inhabit Stephen Taylor’s Little Shop of Horrors are all dutifully bugling it up with relish (I can’t even bring myself to confirm that, but it’s a fairly safe assumption). Even so, I felt compelled to throw my two cents in.

I gather this is supposed to make Mr. Dion look bad. Is that the idea? Really? I sort of get that impression from this article in the Globe & Mail and having seen the way it aired on The National on Thursday night as being some terrible, problematic gaffe.

Look, never mind all that silly rubbish about Dion’s supposed “hearing problem” and the moaning grievances arising out of that, i.e., that Tories are “shamelessly trying to embarrass” Dion, etc. Complete nonsense. I’m sure Dion heard the question quite perfectly well. The simple fact of the matter is that it was a poorly constructed question. I guess we can sort of guess what this anchorman from CTV in Halifax was feebly attempting to get at, but it was worded poorly and when asked for clarification and more precision on the predicates of his question, this silly dope just kept repeating it over and over again. That never illuminates things. And then he has the temerity to admit that he lied to Dion and his staff and airs his clowning as a “public service.” Please. How insulting.

I have to say that, if anything, watching this video measurably increased my appreciation of Stéphane Dion — which has never been all that high in some respects. If it was meant to knock him down and cast him in a poor light, it failed completely. Quite to the contrary, it demonstrated that he’s a man of good humour, patience and even more than that… while his English may be strained and rather difficult to listen to at times (he often puts the emphasis on the wrong syllables and all that), but he understands that words have meaning and desperately strains to comprehend what people are trying to communicate to him. In the few town hall meetings in which I’ve seen him interacting with supporters and others in attendance (even if they’re hostile Conservative plants) this sensibility has come across repeatedly.

Perhaps as Andrew Coyne rather insightfully, but contemptuously, said on The National’s “At Issue” panel tonight, this election is all about “EMPATHY”… But you know, maybe that’s not such an altogether bad thing. Mr “Steady As She Goes” Harper recklessly and selfishly called a “vapid” election (to quote the aforementioned hack) for nothing more than to gain a majority on the leading edge of an economic crisis in a desperate attempt to avoid being branded with the old adage that “Tory Times are Tough Times” and really doesn’t have much of a plan going forward.

“Business as usual”? How’s that all working out these days?



Filed under 2008 Canadian Election, Media Bias

29 responses to “A Questionable Question

  1. Friggin spiteful of CTV, I must say. And then Harper doing a special interview on it. Insanity abounds. We all know who CTV backs anyway – biggest Con supporter around so this was right up their alley.

    I’ll be glad when this election is over. And truly hope the Harper & his govt. are turfed. The vileness of their attacks, non-stop, for more than 2 yrs. is just too much & they will continue to try & divide & cause dissent among different parts of this country. Sick.

    Have you seen the latest Con t.v. ad RT?
    Total fear-mongering on if Dion were elected. It’s truly offensive & will scare some people.

  2. Peter

    Yes, yes the question was clumsy and repeated differently, but a seasoned pol should have handled that, no? Obviously he was tired, but it brought out the academic in him the way the mumbo-jumbo about buying stocks brought out the policy wonk in Harper. He came across a bit like he was chewing out an undergrad: “Why should I waste my time arguing with someone who can’t tell the past pluperfect from the conditional!”

  3. knb

    Well said RT.

    It struck me that while most politicians are loathe to answer hypotheticals, Dion sincerely was trying to apply context to the convoluted question in order to give it a shot.

    The man actually thinks and apparently that is to be condemned.

    Who knew that we would live in a time where intelligence is to be avoided at all costs and juvenile distortions would become the currency of the day?

  4. I’ve seen this interviewer before – he “play acts” at being Tom Brokaw or someone well known. He interviewed Harper a while back and it was absolutley mushy and sickening. He’s given all the others a hard time.

    Know how to get CTV back? Vote for Dion.

  5. me

    wow u actually blogged about the canadian election instead of your hardon for palin….

  6. hugger

    Speaking of CTV, did anyone torture themselves with a bit of Duffy last evening? I’m not a liberal and I don’t make a habit of bashing media, (or watching Duffy for that matter) but that character has no place in the industry during an election campaign. Among his many biased intimations, he indicated claims that CTV promised not to air the miss-starts were very questionable indeed. Maybe he should consult with his own department of propaganda before he runs his mouth. But, that wouldn’t achieve the deception now would it?

  7. ..me…. – you are a pathetic joke.

    You must be the one with the hots for Palin….you seem to want to bring her up a lot.

    …sigh…so many idiots out there.

    I wonder if this will be Harper’s Chretien moment -will have the same effect as the joke about Chretien’s face years ago when the Tories lost so miserably?

  8. Clayton

    Jeez, who cares if he has an accent? (unless you’re one of those APEC loons).

  9. This reeks of desperation. By all accounts Harper’s French is much worse than Dion’s English.

  10. The question was stupid, “If you were Prime Minister”. Dion can quite clearly be heard, “Am I Prime Minister 2 and half years ago”?

    Dion is very much aware that yesterday impacts today. So to answer the question “What would you have done differently” you have to know from what point on.

    Going back 2.5 years, if we had elected a Liberal Prime Minister, it would have been Paul Martin, not Stephane Dion.

  11. Kaplan

    It was a poorly phrased question, and this clown from CTV only made himself look the fool, imo.

    It’s easy to see, of course, that this does, on the surface, make Dion look like a bit of a dunce. But I rather liked the efforts he made to understand the question (such as it was).

  12. Look, I do not dispute that Stephane Dion is likely a more decent and humane man than Stephen Harper, but let’s face facts:

    From a “coat-tails” perspective, Dion was not a great choice as Leader of a National Political Party. In a better world, where ideas matter and people will debate in a reasonable and measured manner, he well might have been a good choice.

    But we do not live in that world.

    In the world we live in, a National Political Leader must be smart enough, but not intellectual. They must be hard-hearted without being brutal. They must have the ability to drag along other candidates on their “coat-tails.” They must be marketable.

    Dion is not marketable. Luckily for Canada, neither is Harper.

    (Don’t bring Chretien into this. He was lucky. The PCs were decimated, and the right badly cleaved in every election he contested as Leader. Sure, the right is still split, but not to the extent as it was between 1990 and 2000. Chretien could actually break promises in an outrageous & obvious fashion and still be elected.)

    It’s gonna be another Minority anyway.

  13. Olaf

    I largely agree RT. The question was poorly worded and even more poorly explained thereafter. Dion heard it, but didn’t get it, and decided to seek clarity on the issue, which Murphy was apparently unable to provide.

    That said, if this interview increased your appreciation of Dion, I can’t help but conclude your appreciation was at a very, very low ebb before.

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  15. Cobra

    I’ve spent more than 20 years as a reporter and producer in television news in this country.
    I have never witnessed a more egregious breach of journalistic ethics than what that CTV moron just did.
    It’s a rock-solid undertstanding in the business that during a pre-tape (and this was one), that if the subject asks for a re-start AND THE INTERVIEWER AGREES, then whatever preceded it simply didn’t happen. It never, ever, gets aired.
    This fool, by his own admission, misled Dion not once, but several times. Then “on reflection” decided we needed to see it.
    Poor form. But then again, it’s what we’ve come to expect from the Conservative TeleVision network.

  16. Ti-Guy

    What can do you? Conservatives are assholes.

    Hi Peter!

  17. Bowler

    I wonder if Dion is just too honest. He really wanted to try to understand the point of the question, as opposed to simply regurgitating talking points whether they are responsive or not. Look at Palin, by contrast. “I may not give the answers that Mr. Biden and the moderator want to hear….”

  18. Ti-Guy

    I wonder if Dion is just too honest.

    Possibly. But that’s not something that should worry the reality-based among us.

    I frankly don’t think anyone should respond to speculative questions, especially about the past. They can’t elicit information that is all that meaningful.

  19. Bowler — Precisely. Harper or Layton would simply have regurgitated their standard talking points because they’re never really listening to the question in the first place. That’s part of the reason why these things just end up being people pointlessly talking past one another.

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  21. Ti-Guy

    I see Wiener Prattles is on the case. I’m sensing he’ll be entering the manic phase of his cyclic mood disorder soon.

  22. EM


    us ! 100%
    them 0%

  23. Kaplan

    Cobra – there ARE no journalistic ethics. There’s only ever been the odd discussion of them.

  24. Cobra


    So you’re saying, since there are no journalistic ethics, that what he did was okay?

  25. Gayle

    RT – good post, and one with which I totally agree.

    I highly doubt anything will come of this incident in terms of support for either party. My feeling is that the possibility of a liberal government has sent some people back to the CPC out of fear of the Green Shift anyway.

    Cobra – I agree with you. I have been interviewed by television and radio media before, and have asked for do-overs for both. (Not that anyone cares if I screw up so it is no big deal for the reporter to give me one).

    I do not need to understand “media” ethics to know that once the interviewer agrees to a “do-over”, it is shoddy ethics to change your mind after the fact.

  26. Cobra


    Shoddy ethics, yes.
    Plus, there’s also the matter of enlightened self-interest. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential interview guest on that program with that host. Would you do it, knowing that they feel they can change the rules after the fact?
    CTV, in allowing this to happen, has damaged its own credibility big-time. And yes Kaplan, there are such things as journalistic ethics. I believe I practiced them for over two decades.
    If something like that happened in a newsroom I ran, a head or two would have rolled…after the anchor made an on-air apology.

  27. KPK

    Harper is going to win on Tuesday anyways so you might as well get ready and buy cheap stocks. Hmmm RIM is looking attractive ..

  28. Alberta Report

    Everyone should try to get a copy of the Georgia Straight this week. The illustration of a demented harper holding a demented kitty is priceless.

  29. LOL. I just saw that. I’ll see what I can do a bit later on tonight.

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