No Apology Needed
Originally posted on Half an Hour, July 29, 2009.
The big news today (though it is conspicuously completely absent from the pages of the Times & Transcript) is the Saint John Telegraph-Journal's apology to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Telegraph-Journal reported that Harper palmed a communion wafer when he received it at Romeo LeBlanc's funeral, instead of eating it right away, the way he is supposed to. Yesterday, they are pleading mea culpa and have suspended or fired the publisher and editor.
What really gets me is that every news outlet - every news outlet - is reporting this as a case in which the newspaper was in error and is finally fessing up. I even heard someone from Columbia Journalism Review on CBC this afternoon talking about the case as though it were simply a case of the newspaper (or its editors, who apparently inserted the fact into the story (and then made it the lede, and then wrote the end-of-the-world headline)) being in error.
Look at this fawning coverage on CTV News, for example:
The video of the incident, which played quite a bit when it happened three weeks ago, is nowhere to be seen on the television today. There's a good reason for that. The video shows the Prime Minister palming the wafer.
Judge for yourself.
With all due respect to the Orwellian inclinations of the Canadian media: you can't yet make me disbelieve the evidence of my own senses. Not even if all of you march in lockstep with a Prime Minister's Office (PMO) who's first instinct about the incident was to lie about it.
I have no doubt mysterious 'copyright claims' will be made and that the video will soon disappear from YouTube - that's the new censorship these days. The indiscretions of the rich and famous are simply 'disappeared' in a wave of copyright claims. So I've saved a copy of the video, probably illedgally, so the evidence will remain extant.
I agree completely with Mark Federman: "Given that the Irving family owns lumber, ship building, oil and liquid natural gas refining, TV stations, and newspapers - most of which can be given quite a hard time by the federal government of the day - the fact that this apology and resignation came in response to a clearly embarrassing faux pas by the Prime Minister is perhaps a bigger scandal than the original scandal.
The apparently unrelated stories in the news - the cancelled oil refinery, the sudden need for approval for Irving's headquarters - now take on a new light. Obviously there's a tug of war between the Irving-owned newspaper - which not so long ago fired a cub reporter for criticizing the provincial Liberal government - and the Harper conservatives, one the Prime Minister appears to have won.
Again - use your own judgement - as the Prime Minister turns away, where is the wafer - in his stomach? Or in his pocket.
(For the record - I don't care whether or not he ate the wafer - even if it was a protocol breach, it was very minor and comnpletely forgivable - what I do care about is, first of all, the immediate reaction of his office, which was to deny the story, and now today, the apparent pressure exerted on the media to collectively deny the evidence of our senses.)
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