Puffery & Politics

Maybe you already caught this extract from yesterday’s Power & Politics program; the CBC’s hip, fast-paced replacement for Don Newman’s old gig.

In this instance, Evan Solomon’s guests for the show’s segment where various bloggers square off about the week’s “hot topics” in the Blathersphere were Kady O’Malley, Adrian McNair and Jeff Jedras. Unfortunately, I missed most of it because the phone rang not long after it started so thanks to Jeff for posting it.

Due to time constraints, I’ll leave it to others to dispute the relative merits of the points made (or more accurately, not made) as it hardly seems worth the effort involved — it could easily take ten times longer than the length of the segment itself to critically analyze and deconstruct them. And to what end?

Save to say, I think this clearly illustrates the futility of attempting to discuss multiple issues intelligently with several people in the space of ten minutes. I mean really, what insight can possibly be derived from such an exercise? As a viewer, all one comes away with is a grab-bag of unresolved loose ends, specious arguments, half-baked assertions, and a maddening sense of frustration — but then, its focus was about blogging, so maybe that was the intended reaction…



Filed under Blogging, CBC, Media

33 responses to “Puffery & Politics

  1. Omar

    Z Z Z Z Z Z

    I dunno, I think the largest thing I take away from that segment is everyone’s role seems to be reversed. Jedras looks like a conservative. McNair looks like a progressive and Kady looks like a, well, Kady looks like she is a Half-elven descendant from Rivendell.

    I miss Don terribly.

  2. Ti-Guy

    Figures the idiot Adrian would launch a personal attack on a journalist he *claims* (but is of course too stupid to know) is biased. He doesn’t seem to understand what her beat is.

    I didn’t find out anything there I already didn’t know. I do miss Don Newman’s show. I see this kind of thing as politicising issues that are not necessarily political.

  3. I did find the choice of websites fit each person’s blogging personality quite well. Jedras picked the political statistics site which makes sense since he’s clearly into that sort of minutiae. Kady’s choice of wikileaks was a good fit considering she’s a journalist. And Adrian picked the ego stroking Canblog awards which is what conservative bloggers are most interested in.

  4. Diz

    I suppose the exposure if great for all involved, but wouldn’t it be neat if a major broadcaster tracked down some actual climate scientists to go over this stuff as oppose to amateur journalists?

    Blogs are greater and have a role, but can’t the MSM use its resources to provide something other than pure opinion and speculaton. Yeesh.

  5. Kaplan

    Gawd this is pathetic. I haven’t had cable since 2006, and I rarely catch this stuff even when it’s uploaded to YouTube or whatever.

    What a joke. Evan Solomon forced to ask a bunch of no-name yahoos the significance of important policy issues. I thought the old man-on-the-street questions were lame, but this kicks it up to a whole new level.

    Why the hell are we taking stock in anything these people have to say? (And yeah, that’s a question I’d put to any of the talking heads like Kinsella and Powers on CTV).

  6. I too miss the way Don Newman kept his guests on track and ensured there was at least one adult in the room…

  7. Ti-Guy

    Blogs are greater and have a role…

    …the only one of value being to the mainstream media on its toes (and not in the way little attack voles like Ruffles did). You can’t do that when you’re embedded with it.

  8. Ti-Guy

    I too miss the way Don Newman kept his guests on track and ensured there was at least one adult in the room…

    I never found Evan Solomon all that irritating until Power and Politics. He doesn’t seem to be listening quite often when his guests are talking. And as I moaned about before, this much more visual show does not lend itself to podcasting.

  9. CWTF

    I felt bad for Katy having to defend herself against that idiot Adrian…

  10. CWTF

    *sigh* Kady…

  11. Ti-Guy

    I felt bad for Katy having to defend herself against that idiot Adrian…

    You just know that if it hadn’t been her, but some right winger, Adrian would have be lying on his back with his legs over his shoulders.

    Kady’s one the few journalists out there who takes on these personal attacks and does a good job of defending herself, though. Most of the time, the journos get overly peevish and petulant or pretend it’s beneath their dignity to respond.

  12. Ti-Guy — Definitely not good for podcasting I wouldn’t think. Like all of the new CBC News shows since their “exciting” makeover, it seems heavy on the eye-candy and rapidly-moving visual froth while being quite light on substantive content. For interesting or thought-provoking fare, I’d rather just go to NPR, KCTS, or rummage through the BBC radio archives for something curious or amusing to funnel into my noggin.

  13. CWTF — I think the main problem here was one of crossed wires and miscommunication within the confines of an ill-conceived and badly contrived framework.

    It’s unfortunate that Adrian felt compelled for whatever reason to launch an assault on Kady’s journalistic integrity based on a hypothetical supposition about what she might have done if she was told to pursue an entirely different beat to that which she actually covers — i.e., being an equal-opportunity muckraker and snide wit on Parliament Hill. Why would one imagine that she wouldn’t be just as dogged about “Climategate” if that was in the ambit of her reporting assignment? It’s no wonder she got so testy.

    But then you had Jeff kind of mischievously prompting this inane, haywire discussion by suggesting that it wasn’t reasonable to report on a story unless one had waded through all of the material hacked from the University of East Anglia — a standard to which nobody could reasonably be expected to adhere (and if they did, the “news” would be months old by the time us peons received it from those with time to sift through it and distill their conclusions for us).

  14. Ti-Guy

    a standard to which nobody could reasonably be expected to adhere

    I disagree when it comes to professional journalists. There are only two stories here: The criminal investigation into the hack and what the e-mails themselves reveal, which *does* require a complete and careful analysis and that does take time.

    The mainstream media reported on the hack and did so right away, but the subsequent analysis has been pathetic, as Dawg noted with respect to Doug Sanders at The Globe.

    Anyway, if you want to read sick-making gush over Adrian and bilious vilification of the CBC/Kady O’Malley from the vicious bottom-feeders we all know and love, toodle on over to his blog. I somehow doubt you’d be interested though. But I’m always amazed at how much energy these cretins and loons have for that.

  15. Ti-Guy — I just got back from there… 😉

    I’d certainly agree that reporting the story and drawing conclusions or definitive implications from it are two entirely different things.

    Unfortunately, right-wing bloggers and committed global-warming “deniers” are more than eager to conflate these two things, immediately jumping to a “Gotcha!” moment whereby some dodgy exchanges (possibly taken out of context) are thrown up, not only as a complete refutation of AGW, but absolute proof of a lefty media conspiracy.

  16. The preamble to an e-mail I received this afternoon from an anti global-warming group:

    The whistleblower deep in the basement of one of the ugly, modern tower-blocks of the dismal, windswept University of East Anglia could scarcely have timed it better.

    In less than three weeks, the world’s governing class – its classe politique – would meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, to discuss a treaty to inflict an unelected and tyrannical global government on us, with vast and unprecedented powers to control all once-free world markets and to tax and regulate the world’s wealthier nations for its own enrichment: in short, to bring freedom, democracy, and prosperity to an instant end worldwide, at the stroke of a pen, on the pretext of addressing what is now known to be the non-problem of manmade “global warming”.?

    Sounds a bit kooky and conspiratorial to me.

  17. But then you had Jeff kind of mischievously prompting this inane, haywire discussion by suggesting that it wasn’t reasonable to report on a story unless one had waded through all of the material hacked from the University of East Anglia

    That’s not what I said. What I said (the segment was, in theory, supposed to be about how the blogs are covering the issues) that I don’t think most of the bloggers on both sides ranting on the topic have read all 3000 pages, and are just using selected, likely out of context, excerpts to support their pre-existing positions on the issue. I didn’t talk at all about how the media were or weren’t, covering it.

  18. Ti-Guy

    A bit?

    I love the dramatic flourishes, though. The Right really are the new romantics.

    Which anti-global-warming group is that, by the way? Oh hang on, that’s Lord Monckton, Viscount of Dorking-on-Clyde.

  19. By the by though Red, is it really unreasonable to expect journalists to actually read through the documents at the heart of a story, analyze them, speak to experts about what they mean, put it all in context, and report on the results?

    I’m fairly certain that’s what they call journalism.

    What’s not journalism is reporting accusations that may or may not have any basis in reality, and then, for balance, getting someone with the exactly opposing viewpoint to provide their talking-points. But that’s what passes as balance for most media these days, particularly in the 24/7 news cycle.

    What I want from the media is analysis and context. What are the claims? Are they plausible? If so, why? If not, why not?

  20. Evan Soloman is an immortal bestowed upon us from Mount Olympus. He is magnificent beyond reproach.


  21. Ti-Guy

    “Solomon,” parody-troll.

  22. Jeff — Not that I need to remind you, but for the record, what you said was: “I think the question to ask is how many of us have actually read all 3,000 pages of the documents? I can’t say I have and I can’t say that most of the other bloggers are spending lots of time are [sic]…”

    While I totally get where you’re coming from there, the inference I drew from it was that unless one had actually delved into all 3,000 pages of e-mails, it would be imprudent to comment on the matter, or at least that speculation associated with the incident was kind of pointless and self-serving. Maybe so, but to be entirely fair, I doubt too many bloggers ever allow such impediments to prevent them from formulating an opinion… I’ll give you a dollar for every blogger you know that’s read through all 3,000 pages of the House/Senate versions of healthcare reform in the U.S. Congress before opining about the matter.

    Is it really unreasonable to expect journalists to actually read through the documents at the heart of a story, analyze them, speak to experts about what they mean, put it all in context, and report on the results?

    Short answer: Yes. Unless, as I suggested, you’re pleased to wait for “news” to materialize after several months of such reading, interviewing, compiling of findings, analysis and distillation into a “report” of some kind by qualified journalists. Even in past times this was never the case, so the whole notion is ridiculous. Additionally, there is, as has been suggested here a distinct difference between “news” and “analysis.”

    Regarding the “news” aspect, well, that’s simple enough to report what happened and proffer up some trite observation on what its significance may be (framed within the context of received wisdom). This is what makes up most of our broadcast news on TV and in print.

    The “analysis” end of things is a lot trickier however. Speaking personally, I can tell you right now that there are probably few pieces of legislation that I will ever read word for word, end to end before commenting on them. Who on planet Earth has time for such things? The trick is to tease out of all the arcane legalese and baroque persiflage what might be the key elements involved. To ascertain that, ignorant plebs like me rely on the perspicacity of others… most usually dedicated journalists of some kind or other, whether they be “professional” or “amateur” detectives.

    And here again we get into another subdivision of the craft — the division in the roles between mere reporters of current events as they happen and investigative journalists who seek to not only contextualize events more fully, but dig deeper… connecting dots, looking for causal relationships and generally trying to make sense of things.

    But I digress…

  23. “Frustrating”? Meh. Those ten minutes were no more blitheringly blatherful than many others expended on panel segments of its type.

    It did leave some “unresolved loose ends”, though. Three questions weigh on me with particular urgency:

    1) What sick, japesing fuck passed over Sir Francis in favour of Adrian McNair? What was the key selection criterion? Did the successful candidate need to possess the proven ability to bore the moustache off a Bulgarian cocktail waitress?

    2) What’s Kady’s number?

    3) Is McNair really the asshole he comes across as in this appearance?

  24. Ti-Guy

    What sick, japesing fuck passed over Sir Francis in favour of Adrian McNair?

    You’re not d0ing enough whorish self-promotion.

    It’s truly depressing how necessary that seems to be these days and how that seems to matter more than any other consideration, like intelligence, erudition, wit or even basic communication skills.

  25. CWTF

    2) What’s Kady’s number?
    Don’t have her number, but I can give you her email ; >

    3) Is McNair really the asshole he comes across as in this appearance?
    Yes. Couple that with the whiny petulance of an idiot Conservative lying buffoon…

  26. Pingback: 12/6-PCW Extreme Political TV on P-SPAN- part 1: The Great Debate About America…Christopher America, that is. Raving Rednecks vs. Goatbusters « Political Championship Wrestling

  27. Kady’s main thing is committee meetings. If the so-called climategate came up in a committee meeting, I’m sure she’d deal with it.

    I can’t watch 2 hours of Solomon. He’s trying to look like a journalistic attack dog, but he only attacks Liberals or NDP. He just nods his head when Con people are on. He never challenges them or asks tough questions.

    And, of course, there’s the Barton lady, who constantly giggles and acts silly.

    Please bring back Don Newman.

  28. Drake

    Kady does have a pronounced left/lib bias, that’s why she left Macleans for the CBC.

    There’s nothing whatever controversial about her left/lib views. They’re plain as day.

  29. Drake

    OT – There are rumblings that the Liberal caucus is plotting a coup on Michael Ignatieff.

    At least that’s what the Toronto Star is reporting today.

  30. Navvy

    The funny thing about climate change is that it’s really a completely scientific debate, yet everone feels that they’re qualified to offer their insight.

    Did anyone watch the Munk debates? They were interesting in that, despite the complexity of the issue, none of the debaters were actually scientists. Lord Lawson (God knows why so many Thatcher era politicians believe themselves qualified to speak about meteorology) bumbled on about things, Lomborg constructed the ultimate straw man argument, Monbiot talked about how horrible life in Kenya was, and Elizabeth May just shrieked at the top of her lungs. Each of the speakers made reference to various studies but, invariably, each side claimed that the studies supported their own position. Yet nobody was there to clarify anything. No fact checking, no scientific insight. We give a good deal of creedence in the climate change discussion to people who probably flunked grade 10 chemistry.

  31. Navvy

    Just read Dawg’s post. What he said.

  32. Ti-Guy

    Kady does have a pronounced left/lib bias, that’s why she left Macleans for the CBC.

    To the cretins and imbeciles on the Right, everything that deals with verifiable facts, evidence, proper logic and reason looks like bias.

    Christ, we’ve been over this a billion times before, year after year. Just shut up, already. At long last, just shut the fuck up.

  33. jkg

    I may be a bit tedious here, but I am fairly certain that the sufficient condition for accusation of bias, especially in Kady’s position, is not that she reports on the government who just happens to be Conservative and prone to embarrassing moments. It is the same back of the envelope thinking that is used when those harridans are wildly indicting those “liberal” scientists or academics.

    Anyway, the problem is that journalism is actually as a special case for what has been generally happening. Critical analysis and the ability to contextualize are now dirty taboos because with the cries of accusation that used to permeate the Right wing fringe have now entered into populist thought. You an accuse the Left of that as well, but on balance, the frequency of accusations of bias has been from the Right as their knee jerk reactions to anything unpleasant about their government is immediately followed by “Bias! Bias!.”

    This phenomenon occurred fairly easy because growing up, people became disaffected with authority , and quite simply, the Right latched onto the mantra “question everything,” including in some cases, logical thinking (after explaining the errors in a commenter’s logic over at Macleans I was ridiculed for telling him “how to think” oblivious to the fact that is what learning to be logical entails). I know one vivid example is insufficient, but consider the overall observation of the selective thinking and confirmation bias that now pervades public discourse as it makes for strange combinations. Neo-luddites pile into fair trade coffee shops deriding any technology that would threaten their organic world view while conservatives pile into comment forums, both claiming to give critical insight into scientific matters when most of their scientific training probably stopped at high school.

    In other words the individualistic and relativistic approach to accumulating information only reinforces whatever pre-conceived conclusions these people have about a certain issue. It is almost as if though the encouragement to “think for yourself” has become a victim of its own success because it now hinges upon a false sense of equality: That one’s personal analysis of the ‘raw information’ would automatically be equal or superior to a professional journalist or an expert on a given field. Doubt on appeals to authority is healthy but what is missing here is self-doubt, and without actually consulting multiple sources, their insight is no more sophisticated than a fortune cookie; however, it is usually presented as such. The ironic part is that this very notion of questioning has now been used to resist shifts in paradigms rather than accelerate it. This is probably the greatest of irony of the citizenry today. The “truthers” are merely seeking evidence to confirm their own prejudices, decrying bold statements like “Science is not a democracy!” while appealing to that concept as they curry public opinion against whatever they see as threat from the scientific community.

    The media has simply acquiesced to this new type of social dynamic, presenting false dichotomies in the interest of “balance” when they should do what they professionally been trained to do. That will rarely happen today because this new social dynamic threatens the existence of traditional media and rather than assert the once respected values of the fifth estate, media journalists will simply try to “adapt” in the most horrible possible way, like what we saw here.

    /end rant

    Sorry again, Red; I suppose I am about to get the moniker “JKG The Long-Winded One” fairly soon.

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