Monday, January 31, 2011

Compounding bad journalism: an example from this weekend.

It is bad enough when examples of poor journalism, not so much simple errors but the blatantly obvious stuff, gets published but when that same bad journalism gets cited or used in the works of others it not only exposes the laziness of our MSM, it also shows us the inside baseball, don't criticize/question those in the bubble mentality, that is prevalent among our so called professional journalists.

On Saturday Susan Delacourt filed a piece in the Toronto Star under the headline: "Tories planning a spring election?"  in which she wrote that a source had told her that a Conservative Party fundraiser had called them up on the phone and let it slip that there would be an election on March 29, 2011; 'letting the cat out of the bag'.  Delacourt went on to write that the CPC had denied the Mar 29 date but basically ignored the denial and continued on with the premise of a March 29th election going so far as to formulate just how a March 29 election date was possible by counting back the days on a calender and checking the House of Commons schedule before 'assuming' that PM Harper would be paying a call on the Governor-General asking for Parliament to be dissolved forcing an election. 

When I initially read that story on Saturday morning I started a blog post where I Fisked the article line by line but soon gave up as it became clear that the entire story was too much of a joke for anyone to take seriously.  It looks like I was wrong and that I have seriously underestimated the ability of some in Canada's main stream media to show even the most basic common sense in their reporting. (more on this later)

First off the entire article was based on hear-say, which should always raise red flags as to the reliability of the information. Hear-say evidence is so unreliable that rarely, if ever, is it allowed to be used a court of law.


Next the story is based on the totally implausible premise that a person working the fund-raising phone bank, who may not even be a party supporter, would themselves have such deep knowledge of the most secret party policy & time-lines and then would divulge that secret information to some random person who they have never met and who told them that they were not even a party supporter.  (Seriously, that does not make sense in any way, shape, or form)

And lastly, the entire theory of a March 29 election is flat out IMPOSSIBLE because Canadian federal elections always take place on a Monday, unless it is a statutory holiday which is not the case.  One might think that those reporting on Parliament might know that, but obviously they don't or this story would never had seen the light of day or had any type of afterlife.



But this blog entry is not about the Delacourt story, it is about how others in the media have decided to compound this bad journalism by using/citing her story with the (impossible) March 29 date in their own work ignoring the obvious problems and the many criticisms from out of the bubble.Delacourt's article was blasted in blogs and comments across the land within hours of its publication and one didn't even have to venture past the comments at the bottom of the page at the Star to realize that the story was bunk and its value questionable. Yet it lived on.


First the Toronto Star: "Reports over the weekend said Prime Minister Stephen Harper is considering a federal election for this spring with a possible date of March 29."  ( Not to be critical but shouldn't that read report, you know without the S?) Not that I am surprised that the Star would use the nonsense from Delacourt as they were the ones that published it in the first place, but considering all of the criticism her original piece garnered wouldn't you think that an editor somewhere might pick up that there might be a problem and that perhaps it would not be the best source to use in another story? Of course that would assume that they bother listening to any criticisms or even care about truth or accuracy.


The next example comes from Jennifer Ditchburn of the Canadian Press, but her use of the 'March 29th' date was not to come in print form as one might expect from the Canadian Press reporter with the Parliament Hill beat. Instead Jennifer would go on national television to tell the entire country about the March 29, 2011 election day theory based solely on Delacourt's article . Listen to what she said below.

video


She starts out by praising her "fine colleague Susan Delacourt" and then proceeds into the March 29 election date theory laughing with Jane and Craig. While Ditchburn seems to just be reporting what her colleague wrote and may not have known how badly that article had been trashed, although I find it hard to believe that a reporter could read that article and not have concerns or questions, she gets something fundamentally wrong about Delacourt's story. Listen to it again and note that it appears that she is saying that an election will be called March 29th and not held on March 29th. Interesting because if you read the article it is quite clear that it says an election would take place ON March 29th as the very first line reads: "The Conservatives are planning for a March 29 election..."  and later on reads: "“She replied that the election would be on March 29th..."  and still farther into the article reads:   "A March 29 election would have to be called sometime before Feb. 22 for a minimum, 36-day campaign. But since the Commons is not sitting that week in February, it’s assumed the election would be kicked off simply by Harper paying a call on the Governor-General and asking for Parliament to be dissolved."

So what was Ditchburn really trying to say on during her Question Period segment?  I was not so sure at first and thought that maybe I would not be able to use her comments for this blog post as she seemed to be just reporting on what Delacourt had written, as I and others have done, but I subsequently found out later Sunday evening what she did intend to say about the March 29th date and also answered my question about the suitability of using her comments at the same time.

It all came to be when she responded to a Tweet I had made earlier in the evening.

albertaardvark: To @SusanDelacourt @jenditchburn & others pushing the Mar 29 election theory... Elections are always held on a Monday! That is all.


So there you have it.  Ditchburn was indeed trying to say that the election would be called March 29th and not be held on March 29th; making me wonder, considering how wrong she was about its contents, if she had actually read the Delacourt article that she cited on national television, but leaving no doubt at all that her comments fit into a blog post on bad journalism.









Related: another fine example of journalism from Jeniffer Ditchburn. Guergis had a history in the clubs with the hometown playboy.


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As stated earlier, many bloggers had written about the Delacourt article. In time I will try to link to them all below. (let me know in the comments if there are others)

 

http://unambig.com/conservatives-to-call-election-says-unknown-person/


http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com/2011/01/who-*#*#-is-don-burroughs.html (NSFW)

and of course Blue Like You where you will find plenty of comments on this subject in the comments!

Friday, January 28, 2011

CTVGate: CTV cuts 2 seconds out of Ignatieff's answer

And what a difference 2 seconds can make.

Watch the video.  (Now available on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egy2POCd8tM )



video  

What Ignatieff actually said: "”We think that Bill Gates, the secretary of defence, knows full well the problems with the F-35s,..."

What CTV chose to put on the air:  ”..., the secretary of defence, knows full well the problems with the F-35s,..."

A big difference don't you think?


Imagine that, CTV left out a major gaffe by a politician. Perhaps it is their policy not to show slip ups of politicians, or than again maybe not as the very next segment aired dealt with another gaffe from a politician, this time our Minister of National Defence.



One was given its own story, while the other seemed to be edited out and never mentioned.

Why the difference in coverage?


Update: Even in their print stories on this subject, CTV manages to leave out Ignatieff's "Bill Gates" quote :
 Gates "knows full well the problems with the F-35. This thing is late, it's over-budget," Ignatieff told reporters at an event in Montreal. While Peter MacKay's comment gets fully reported on in print by CTV.     (HT to Joanne @  BLY)



Update3: How important are gaffes to CTV? Do they think they are worth covering?:  If you look at the pic from Lisa LaFlamme's twitter account below, you can see that in the week previous she made 6 tweets.

2 of those were about MacKay's gaffe and the CTV coverage of them

So yes, it does look like CTV not only believes that gaffes are important and worth covering, they also appear to believe that their coverage of those gaffes was worthy of promotion over the other news of the day.

So again I have to ask; why the difference in coverage between what Peter MacKay said and what Michael Ignatieff said?


Update 2: During the same presser and after the Bill Gates gaffe, Ignatieff had the gall to attack Peter MacKay on his gaffe: "Well, I just think our minister of defence should get a map," 

Too funny.  Michael Ignatieff, he does not attack people (40 second mark), he attacks irony.




Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear CPC:

Dear CPC, it might be wise in the future to perhaps bounce some of the stuff coming out of the war room off some friendly supporters before going public. We work for free, are familiar with politics, spin and it's effects, and I can guarantee you that it will save you some grief.

Thanks
Albertaardvark
part of a vast right wing untapped resource.

Call it like it is: The Liberal plan is a tax increase .

For days now we all have been hearing from the media about the Liberal plan to 'rescind', 'defeat', or 'cancel' the conservative corporate tax cuts that are supposedly in the next budget, but there are a couple of problems with that.

#1. The budget contains NO corporate tax cuts. None, zero, nada. There is nothing to oppose or defeat as these cuts have been in place since 2007 and have just been implemented as scheduled starting January 1st 2011. Why the misleading headlines? Your guess is as good as mine.

#2. Since the cuts are ALREADY in place any change to the tax code would not be merely be a cancellation of a proposed cut but rather a tax increase over the current rates.   Companies would pay more than they are paying today, and that is a tax increase!

Think of it this way; if (more likely when) Ignatieff increases the GST would anyone refer to that move as simply canceling a tax cut?  OK, some in the MSM probably would but they don't seem to understand the situation most of the time before they actually report on it, as the coverage of Ignatieff's corporate tax increase clearly shows.

Call it like it is, the Liberal plan is a tax increase.

And if they do manage to somehow get elected I will wager that it won't be the only one we will see either.

GST hike anyone

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Liberal corporate tax policy folly.

I was thinking that the use of the word folly might be a bit over the top, but looking at the Ignatieff Liberals new found position on corp tax cuts, I can't think of another word that better describes the Liberal Party of Canada and their corporate tax policy than "folly".  See if you don't agree as we look at some history and how the Liberals are trying to spin what could be a major policy plank for them in any upcoming election.

First up it is a complete flip flop and a radical change from what has been a long standing Liberal policy. This graph courtesy of LPC shows that since 2000, when Jean Chretien was PM with Paul Martin as his finance minister, through Martin's term, and right up until Ignatieff decided otherwise, Liberal policy has been to reduce Canada's corporate tax rate.

 Link to graph.
Ignatieff himself ran 2 times with corporate tax cuts included as part of the Liberal platform, the first under Paul Martin in 2006, and again in 2008 under the leadership of Dion, which makes that the position Ignatieff was elected on and promised to implement for the people of Etobicoke-Lakeshore as their MP.  Some have tried to spin this abandonment of part of the platform that Ignatieff  was elected on by claiming that the LPC tax cut plan was just a minor part of part of Dion's platform, but history says otherwise as it was those promised corporate tax cuts that Dion cited as the reason why he would not form a coalition government with Jack Layton and the NDP.  In fact Dion called the NDP position "damaging".

Mr. Dion, speaking after an address to a Vancouver-area business crowd today, said he could not work with Mr. Layton in this way because the NDP leader wants to hike taxes on business.

“We cannot have a coalition with a party that has a platform that would be damaging for the economy. Period,” the Liberal leader said.  (If Dion cited them as the reason for not joining Jack and Gilles (at that point in time still a silent partner) they WERE indeed a major part of the platform.)



The Liberals themselves can see how this reversal of a sound LPC policy doesn't look good so they have decided to spin the flip flop by claiming to support corporate tax cuts but not while in a deficit position. Not a bad angle to use if you are trying to play both ends and cover the obvious hypocrisy of ones position, but a couple of little details are going to make that spin job difficult if not impossible. First is the fact that when Dion was touting his tax cut plan in the 2008 election we were ALREADY in recession and headed for a deficit, making it tough to say now that they support tax cuts but not in a deficit when the Liberal Party ran on cuts and were fully prepared to implement those cuts while the country was in a deficit; but expect them to try and do just that in the hope that nobody is paying attention. Another thing that makes this a tough sell happened just last night when some guy named  Barrack Obama (who causes both reporters (see bio) and politicians to swoon) openly called for corporate tax cuts in the USA at a time of record US deficits in the neighborhood of 1.3 Trillion dollars a year!
 “But all the rest [of our companies] are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change. So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years – without adding to our deficit.”  (Is Obama wrong?  I await to see how the Liberals twist themselves in knots trying to spin this as I am sure hilarity will ensue.) And in case anyone has forgotten , the Liberals had ample opportunity in the past to vote against these tax increases and for their own reasons chose not to do so; to claim now that you are against tax cuts that you allowed to pass into law is approaching silly.


Next up is a 'little detail' that so far seems to have eluded most of our MSM  in their coverage of the subject.
The Liberal plan on corporate tax cuts is not just rescinding a proposed cut, it is actually a tax increase as  these rates are now in place and are already the law.

 "The Liberals are calling for rates to be restored to the 2010 level of 18.5 per cent, up from the 16.5 per cent rate that came into effect this month." (So much for any Liberal promise not to raise taxes as they have already broken that promise before the writ is even dropped.) I am sure our MSM will soon realize the error of their ways and be more accurate in their reporting of the Liberal corporate tax increase in the future.


Is there really a better word than' folly' to describe this?

Update: Ignatieff is claiming that education creates more jobs than corporate tax breaks will.   True to form Ignatieff ignores the realities of just who provides the jobs and wealth in our country. Hint: It is not government.  Education on its own is not going to create jobs; sure there may be some entrepreneurs in there who may start their own  businesses (which will be hindered by paying Ignatieff's tax increase) but the majority will seek and hopefully find work in the private sector who have been suffering through tough economic times.  The truth is that education on its own will not create more jobs than a tax cut for those that provide the jobs would and it certainly will not protect already existing jobs that may be in danger today due to the poor economy (sorry Jack but all companies that pay taxes are not banks or big oil)    Look at it this way: If every company in Canada closed their doors tomorrow because they could not afford to remain open and put everyone out of work, all that education would have done would be to make our EI recipients smarter.  More from Freedom is my Nationality and Angry in the great white north.

Ignatieff must know this but yet he continues on with the follies.

-----------------
Related:

The NDP, bless their little socialist hearts, put together an overview of the Liberal corporate tax position that can be seen here, and kudos to the NDP for for doing so because not only have they outed Ignatieff on the tax cuts they inadvertently also skewered  themselves in the process by revealing just how willing the NDP is to toss their so called principles in the quest for power.

Remember earlier when I wrote about how Dion ruled out a coalition with the NDP during the last election? Well think back to how that ended up turning out as Dion did end up forming a coalition with Layton and the NDP. What could have possibly changed Dion's mind you ask, well the answer to that is simple.

Jack Layton agreed to keep and fully support Dion's proposed corporate tax cuts (which were larger than the Conservative cuts BTW) just so he could get a cabinet seat. You want to see hypocrisy Mr. Layton, just look into the mirror because that sir is a classic example of hypocrisy of the worst kind.

And where was Micheal Ignatieff during all of this? He of course was fully aware of the deal between Dion and Layton on the corporate tax cuts and must have been in agreement because after all, he did sign on to it.


Links: Ignatieff doesn't get it. Financial Post.

A look at the numbers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The sheer political genius of Stephen Harper.

With one comment, about personally supporting capital punishment in certain circumstances but who as our PM has no intention of bringing forward as gov't policy*, Stephen Harper has changed the game.

Just watch and see.

 * If anyone out there honestly believes that the PM made his televised comments without knowing the 'fallout', IMHO they are being willfully blind or are sadly under estimating Stephen Harper the politician.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Brilliant line: "He didn't come back for you."

Truth in advertising:








As the great Homer Simpson said:  'It is funny 'cause its true!'

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mr. Ignatieff. Please answer your own question.

On Wednesday Michael Ignatieff again went out on the road in an effort to (re) introduce himself to the Canadian public as if somehow the forth time will be the charm. At a Liberal Party function, which was held in the back of a restaurant located in a small suburban Ottawa mall, Ignatieff lead off his stump speech with what the LPC hope will become the 'ballot question' in the next federal election.



"Are you and your family better off now than five years ago?" .



Aside from the fact that the line was blatantly stolen from Ronald Reagan, which I mentioned yesterday, something else has been bothering me about Ignatieff's campaign query. What would Michael Ignatieff's answer be if he was asked his own question?


Seriously, assuming that he would be honest and give a straight answer, what would Michael Ignatieff's answer be?
(Perhaps someone in our fine Canadian media establishment would be so kind to ask him so we all could find out. Hint Hint)

 

I say the answer has to be a resounding yes. Micheal Ignatieff  is indeed much better off now than he was 5 years ago. (Speaking only on the financial aspect, which considering that we have just been through a nasty recession, I assume was what Ignatieff was referring to with his question) Here is why:

On January 14, 2006, after recently returning to Canada after 27 years away, Michael Ignatieff was busy running in his first election to be the LPC MP for Etobicoke Lakeshore. He won his riding but the Paul Martin lead Liberal Party lost power and Ignatieff made his way onto the Liberal back benches where he would be compensated with a wage of  $147,700. Assuming that he sat on a couple of committees etc, I think we can safely round it up to $160K. (plus travel, office etc)


5 years later in January 2011 Micheal Ignatieff is now the leader of the official opposition with a salary $233,247, a residence (Stornoway), an office budget of $3.2 million, a car allowance of $2,122, and perhaps even some kind of top up or other perks from the Liberal Party itself. Not to mention that the job of leader of the opposition carries with it much more prestige as well as other intangibles that no ordinary MP enjoys.


Sounds to me like Micheal Ignatieff better hope that nobody in the media can take a hint and asks him to honestly answer his own question, because financially speaking he certainly is better off today than he was 5 years ago.

 -----------


Sort of related and good news for all Canadians including Ignatieff, not that he would ever acknowledge it though, as Canada's economy outperforms the G7.



Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Liberals are in full campaign mode

Leader out on tour (again!) Check.  (btw how many do-overs does this guy get on 'introducing himself' to Canadians?)

Slogan/ballot question. Check.  ( Although it was blatantly stolen from Ronald Reagan, and shows that the Liberals still have no original ideas, at least give 'em credit for the attempt.)

Scare monger. ("You're going to get four more years of Stephen Harper if you vote for (NDP Leader) Jack Layton or (Bloc Quebecois Leader) Gilles Duceppe, it's that simple,") Check.

Take the low road with a couple of smears. Check.


This sure looks like a campaign to me; about the only thing missing was Ignatieff conceding defeat and pleading to the Canadian public not to give PM Harper a majority, but it is still early and the real campaign has yet to begin.

Keep your powder dry. The real show will begin soon enough.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Election in 2011. Yes or no?

Do you believe that there will be a federal election in 2011?  

Personally I don't believe we will, unless the Liberals "push" Ignatieff into it (possible) and the NDP and Bloc both decide to play along (less likely), but there seem to be many who do think that we will be heading to the polls in 2011.

What do you think and why?