Right off the top, let me say this: I am not a fan of Helena Guergis. Her tantrum at Charlottetown Airport, in which she called that province a hellhole, was inexcusable.
When her own political aides praised her in phony letters to the editor, that was downright tacky.
Furthermore, I am not a fan of the Stephen Harper Conservatives, for too many reasons to recite here. And if his office is shaken by an apparent, unspecified RCMP investigation into Guergis, that looks good on him.
However, there is no excuse that can justify the headline at the top of page one in Saturdays Toronto Sun (above, right).
In upper case letters, it screams TWO DOGS. One of the dogs they are talking about is clearly Helena Guergis. The headline says, This dog run out of office.
Is there any need?
This is crying out for a media blog, wrote one of my reporter friends, who asked to remain anonymous. Okay, it has nothing to do with local media, but it's a prime example of why people think the media is trash. It's tabloidy, misogynistic and in such disgusting taste, I can't BELIEVE someone didn't stop this before it went to press. I hate us right now.
We all know that politics is a blood sport. And its no secret that the Toronto Sun is one of the trashiest tabloids in the country.
But this? This is beyond the pale.
And believe me, I am not defending Helena Guergis. I think she is incompetent and quite possibly corrupt (pending the RCMP investigation). But she is a human being. Does the media have to stoop this low to sell a story? (The positioning of Guergiss face next to a real dog is doubly insulting.)
More to the point, Guergis is a woman. And I ask you: Would the headline have been this nasty if the politician was a man? I really dont think so.
I have been trying to recall another political scandal involving a male politician; one where the headlines were this malicious and cruel. But I cant think of a single instance. Can you? If so, please comment below.
There is also this question: would the Sun have used the DOG description if the circumstances were similar, but Guergis happened to be a man? I dont think so. I have a feeling that dog is an insult reserved exclusively for women. To use it in this context is wrong and, yes, misogynistic.
Its use in this context in a mainstream newspaper, no less is unacceptable in civilized society.
Yes, I suppose we can write this off to freedom of speech. But we are also free to tell the Toronto Sun what we think.
And I think it stinks.