The television media landscape in this country will get a lot more interesting, if proponents are successful in launching Sun TV News, a new, right-wing cable news channel in Canada.
The financing is in place, through Quebec billionaire Karl Pladeau, owner of Quebecor, and the person spearheading the project is Kory Teneycke, former director of communications to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Yeah, that last part is a little bizarre. You dont often see a senior public relations person leap so quickly, from a partisan political role to the top of a major news outlet. Consequently, Sun TV News, when it launches, cannot make any pretensions toward fairness or objectivity. The networks purpose will be to serve as the propaganda arm of the Harper government; its main objective to manipulate public opinion enough to win a majority for Teneyckes former employer.
That may sound a trifle unfair, but it has to be the default position, until the news outlet actually demonstrates an ability to report - not manufacture - news. If the network had wanted to be seen as objective, they shouldnt have hired Teneycke in the first place.
Is there really a need for a right wing channel in Canada? CTV has already demonstrated itself as being a conservative-leaning station; one that manages to report news mostly objectively, with occasional flashes of bias (such as the time they broke an agreement and aired embarrassing video of Liberal leader Stephane Dion, during an election) and conservative commentators (such as Mike Duffy, whose conservative leanings were rewarded with a seat in the Senate).
Sun TV News will have to work hard to differentiate itself from CTV, and I expect will do that by taking on the most loud-mouthed, controversial pundits they can find the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of Canada, you might say.
I dont think they will find commentators quite as ignorant or hateful as Limbaugh and Beck, but whos to say? Thus far, Ezra Levant has been named as a possible host, though he is comparatively calm and sensible nowhere near as outrageous as the crazies on Fox.
Ive heard it said that a far-right channel is needed to offset the left-leaning tendencies of CBC. This is likely what a fly on the wall would hear in the Conservative war room, when CBC is piling on the aggressive questions. But I reject that thinking.
The CBC does have some reporters who lean left. Many have a university background in the arts and humanities, which tend to turn out liberal, progressive thinkers. As well, reporters at the public broadcaster are more insulated from the influences of business than their colleagues in the private sector, creating a culture that might nurture socialist thinking. However, this does not render CBC reporters incapable of objectivity or independent thought. And you can say what you will the network is not obviously left leaning, and there is not a secret agenda to disgrace or attack the Conservatives.
All reporters have their own political opinions and personal biases. But the truly professional ones do not let this show in their coverage. Yes, they should ask tough questions. They should always be aggressive in their questioning. But they should do so with equal vigour for all political parties.
After all, CBC has shown time and again that it is quite capable of going after the Liberals, especially when that party is in power think sponsorship scandal and even during an election, when they gleefully reported that the RCMP were investigating Ralph Goodale.
I know what youre thinking: that this new network will also be objective in its news reporting; that the right-leaning stuff will be reserved for the talk shows and pundits. But its within the format of these talk shows on Fox that the bias and manipulation becomes most obvious; where a bombastic host interviews and attacks someone from the left, stopping at nothing to score a victory for the agenda. They pose as straight current affairs programs but these shows are pure propaganda of the most devious sort.
Fox News spews hate, intolerance, fear and misinformation, frequently distorting the truth or ignoring facts to prop up the conservative cause. Heres one example. Heres another. Heck, heres one more. I suggest you search for Fox manipulates story, then pull up a chair and get comfortable, because there is much to parse.
Oh, and I am aware that Fox has been growing its audience, with more viewers now than CNBC, HLN, CNN and MSNBC combined. Thats disturbing. But it doesnt justify what Fox is doing. The content on Fox is neither news nor journalism. It is propaganda, intended to influence people who are too stupid to think for themselves, and, as such, it is dangerous.
At this time, we dont have an aggressive, left leaning Fox equivalent in Canada. Why do we need one for the right?
Bottom line: A new voice will be welcome. Diverse viewpoints are always a good thing. However, if Sun TV News goes too far, stooping as low as Fox does in the U.S., no good can come of it.