Why do our elected officials continue to insult the intelligence of the public?
The question is rhetorical, but valid nevertheless. Why has the Fourth Estate abdicated its role as an objective “opposition” party?
A week doesn’t go by where an elected official, at some level of government, makes a statement that is patently wrong, simplistic or defensibly misleading … and precious few object out loud. Sorry, but muttering under your breath doesn’t count. I am not limiting my thoughts to U.S. President Donald Trump. He is in a category all by himself. His starting point is BS, and he just adjusts the level of BS to fit the occasion.
The federal government found itself in a quandary largely of its own making in the spring, when Kinder Morgan advised the government that it would bring meaningful construction on the TransMountain pipeline to a halt by the end of May. The feds stepped in with an offer to purchase the assets, including the management team.
They told one and all that they were intent on not losing the 2018 construction season, even though they had set a closing date for the transaction in late August. Now they tell us that they cannot actually do any construction on the pipeline because the deal hasn’t closed yet. For anyone who has been involved in purchase and sale of business transactions, that was a foregone conclusion from the minute the federal government announced it. The seller won’t spend their capital, for fear that the deal won’t close. The purchaser won’t spend their money, also for fear that the deal won’t close. That is covered in the first month of Business 200. So, what did the bright folks who populate the cubicles and stand in front of cameras at the Globe and Mail, the Financial Post, Bloomberg say about this clear line of misinformation? Nothing, de nada, rien, kiene. They were too busy applauding the initiative, while also complaining about the self-induced cause of the problem that the federal government was so graciously solving.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been very quiet during the last two to three weeks. His running commentary that passed for an election campaign was vacuous at best, nonsense at other times. Still the mainstream media did roast him for it.
Mayor Jim Watson “finds” and extra few million dollars in the current budget, the one that was passed but six months ago, to spend on fixing potholes and hiring 10 more police officers to address the already out-of-hand guns-and-gangs problem. The mainstream media prints his press release or comments verbatim. The ones that congratulate Himself for his financial acumen and priority setting. No one in the mainstream media asks the more pertinent question of why the city allowed the streets and roadways to deteriorate so much during his almost eight years as mayor. No one, aside from Ken Gray in Thursday’s Bulldog, asks the mayor whether 10 more police officers will do anything to actually address the issues that cause the guns-and-gang problem.
Earlier this week, Mayor Watson made public is decision to revoke his prior acceptance of an invitation to join the US Ambassador at the annual 4th of July party at the ambassador’s residence, stating that this was his way of registering his objection to the tariffs being imposed on steel and aluminum exported to the U.S. Was anyone in the mainstream media so bold as to point out that perhaps, just maybe, Mayor Watson looked at the optics of attending the picnic and concluded that more votes could be garnered by not attending? To be clear, I do not question his decision, merely the reasons he gave for it. There is a municipal election on the horizon, and motivations are an important element of the story.
Gray has provided his insider view of some of the problems for the mainstream media. Cost controls dominate the decision-making, as readership and revenues plummet. It is cheaper to copy and paste a press release than it is to send a reporter to the event. Reporters cost money, and the more experienced ones cost more than the new recruits. However, that is only part of the problem with the Fourth Estate.
Far too few members of the Fourth Estate are politically objective. The Toronto Star is avowedly Liberal, as is the Globe and Mail, although their degree of rabid support is slightly less pronounced. The National Post is a Conservative Party shill. The CBC – well I stopped tuning into that ideologically driven noise a couple of decades ago.
What passes for political commentary on television could best be described as a lunatic sitting metaphorically and physically on the left side of the screen, a reactionary sitting to the right, and a moderator who thinks his or her role is to pour fuel on the fire, encouraging both to yell at the same time, all the while pretending to be objective. Newsworthy? Enlightening? I’ll pick a trip to the dentist over watching five minutes of that type of nonsense.
All of which brings me back to my opening question. Why do our elected officials continue to insult the intelligence of the public with their lies, misrepresentations, simplistic answers or non-answers? Because they know they can get away with it.
Ron Benn, a finance executive, has been a member of the Centrepointe Community Association executive for the better part of three decades.
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