Before Hitler’s tanks rolled across Europe, many people weren’t so sure he was the bad guy. But the news media should have known from Hitler’s own words in his ridiculous 700-page manifesto that proclaimed that the Aryans were the superior race and Jews should be sent packing. Until it was too late, too many in the news media were pro-Hitler and I am not talking about German newspapers.
In England, the Daily Mail, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, campaigned for Hitler to be given a free hand in eastern Europe before taking it by force. A Daily Mail editorial argued that “If Hitler did not exist, all Western Europe might now be clamouring for such a champion.” An editor at The Times of London admitted that he took out anything from the paper that might offend the Germans.
This is not to poke fun at the news media of the last century but to point out that big media didn’t start struggling to get it right last week.
Anyone who consumes news can see that for years, reporting and analysis have often been superficial and sensational to the point of daring to be scandalous for the simple reason that people love scandal. But today’s 24-hour news cycle, Facebook and the explosion of online opinion, have ramped up the news spin, media bias and fake news.
Sometimes even reputable organizations will report fantasy if it fuels ratings. For two years, CNN headlined a collusion story hoping to link U.S. President Donald Trump with a Russian scheme to win the U.S. election. From the beginning, everyone who took an interest knew that the accusation was without evidence and got its energy from a document that the Hillary Clinton election campaign paid a Russian to prepare. But that didn’t stop CNN from encouraging the Democrat-packed FBI until it became so obvious there was nothing there that the 40 embarrassed lawyers on the file and the entire CNN network began to look like a clown show.
Big media journalists are also increasingly partisan and often don’t care if we know. They are taught at journalism schools to be advocates for left-wing causes and the spin is about to get worse with the offer of free money from you, the taxpayer. More than half-a-billion dollars will be doled out by the federal government for Canadian news media and journalists running “trusted” community newspapers, according to our prime minister.
There are about 1,000 community newspapers in Canada. If evenly divided, this muzzle fund would offer $500,000 to each community newspaper. But since only “trusted” media will get money, the $595-million fund could easily play out as $1 million to newspapers playing nice with the hand feeding them.
Of course, this isn’t the only access to free money. The CBC gets $1 billion each year (the Conservative government cut some funding until the Liberals brought it back). Do you think the CBC might have a bias on coverage?
Pampering publications won’t make them sharper or more insightful or ensure fair coverage. They are more likely to acquire all the promoted benefits of cannabis without taking a puff: Becoming happy, sleepy and lazy. They are also quite likely to suffer some real side effects of marijuana, such as hallucinations. Suddenly, our ethics-breaking prime minister does not look so bad and might even appear ministerial. Surely, he is just growing into the job. He just needed time to mature and, by the way, thank you for the cash injection.
Earlier this year we heard from the attorney general who was fired for refusing to bend the law to favour SNC-Lavalin, a construction company in Trudeau’s Montreal riding. Former AG Jody Wilson-Raybould told a House of Commons justice committee that Trudeau’s aide Katie Telford assured her that if the AG did Trudeau a favour then “we would, of course, line up all kinds of people to write op-eds saying what she is doing is proper.”
Even before the $595-million muzzle fund, the Liberal government had a list of influential writers ready to pen the “right” words. The deck is already stacked with reporters and opinion writers in their favour. With an election less than two months out, news reporting is not going to be any kinder to a party not promising a cheque. If the Liberal government is re-elected, the “trusted” press will be rewarded.
Patrick Meagher is editor of Farmers Forum and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org