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Monday, February 20, 2006

Last word on Colleen Klein

We faced a media hurricane over the cartoons flap last week, but I didn't mind -- I knew we were doing the right thing, and it was a pretty clear-cut decision on our part. As Kevin Libin, our editor, said at a staff meeting last week, if we hadn't run those cartoons, we couldn't have looked our readers in the eye. Calling ourselves and "independent" magazine means something, including that we don't take orders from politically correct busybodies.

There was a second, minor flap that actually bothered me more: the matter about Colleen Klein. As I mentioned here, we reported an insulting remark with racial overtones made by one of the Kleins' family friends and political associates. For some reason, we were tagged with the bad words, and the culprit got a free pass in the media. Especially precious was the CBC's coverage of the matter, blaming the messenger. I think it was two things: The CBC slapping back at us for daring to publish the cartoons and call them out on their political correctness, and the fact that the CBC wishes they were the ones to out a foul-mouthed Tory making racist comments about Mrs. Klein.

Here's my take on the whole thing in today's Sun.

Posted by Ezra Levant on February 20, 2006 | Permalink


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Robert - does that excite you because now you have found someone to hold your camera?

Seriously now. Reporting the rot and in-fighting in the ruling provincial party is newsworthy, and what you're failing to include in your somewhat crass attempt and a parallel example is the immediate admission that such a statements is (at the least) unkind. (You did read the original article before commenting, did you not? Come on now, be honest.)

What should be under more scrutiny here, is the lack of accurate reporting on the part of the CBC et al.

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-20 11:25:18 AM

With the sleaze B sleaze involved does anything really surprise anyone?

Posted by: Western Canadian | 2006-02-20 11:30:41 AM

The CBC knows exactly what they are doing. People will read the original story but not the retraction (if there is one). The only question is why would the CBC report so poorly. One thing for sure, they are no champion of free speach.

Posted by: TM | 2006-02-20 11:37:02 AM

Prometheus: Seriously now do they EVER read the article first.

Posted by: WinnipegLibertarian | 2006-02-20 11:37:19 AM

TM: No you are right they are no champion of free speach. In fact i believe their speech costs us about 850M a year

Posted by: WinnipegLibertarian | 2006-02-20 11:39:01 AM

Western - Not at all. The problem with Can't Broadcast Clearly, is that it's government funded - so there's no real reason to run a profit. When you've got that kind of backstop, it becomes more important to keep you patrons happy than provide balanced reporting for your audience. The same can be said of the BBC. Both are state owned propaganda machines churing out the moral and cultural relativist stink we inherited from the '60's moonbats.

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-20 11:39:50 AM

Yeah but the BBC was recently torn to shreds in a government inquiry for it's left wing biases.

I certainly don't support government inquiries there's too much government as it is (see the name) but i bet global and ctv would be willing to cover all of the cost

Posted by: WinnipegLibertarian | 2006-02-20 11:45:02 AM

Winnipeg - Sigh, you're right, they rarely read the source material. That's why I make the effort to point out those sorts of errors.

It's sloppy research habits on the part of the general population that allows illogical, irrational and misguided things to happen in the first place. It takes *gasp* effort to educate one's self, and that is not nearly as quick as grabing the nearest soap box to ape the flavour of the day.

What is realy shocking, is there is becoming less and less reason for this as the volume of quality material on the net increases. Laziness I guess.

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-20 11:45:06 AM

Prometheus, you are right on the money! Every person or organization will tend to act in their own best interest. The CBC's best interest is best served by keeping their masters happy rather than the public. If they had to answer to the public, I wonder how long they would last.

Posted by: TM | 2006-02-20 11:47:41 AM

Winnipeg - the easier solution is to pull their funding. All of it. That could be better directed elsewhere.

Anyone who thinks that there really is a need to provide coast-to-coast broadcasting to keep Canadians in the loop is still living in the pre-digital era. The argument was fair decades ago - huge land mass, low population density etc. Now, it's largely irrelevant. I could be sitting in Tuk right now, writing this post while listening to a streaming feed from Chicago.


Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-20 11:48:42 AM

Yes the CBC definatly should have its funding puuled, no question about it. Speaking of leftist havens that should be shut down, i have to head to class now at the University of Winnipeg, SIGH.

Oh well, "know your enemy well and you shall overcome them."

Posted by: WinnipegLibertarian | 2006-02-20 12:01:20 PM

CBC and Radio-Canada are the worst diffusers I can think of.

Last week when the "new torture pictures" were shown , the anchor man in Montréal seemed to relish in bashing the Americans. He was acting like I told you so!

There should be a smooth way to transfer them to private media. Why not sell the network? We would get some bucks back in the treasury.

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-02-20 12:22:21 PM

Now the basher Klein did not mind abusing the social welfare recipients buy clearly robbing them of the money that was due to them

Alcoholic Klein also now he did not mind abusing the drunks in their shelters now as well,

and he Kelin did not mind abusing all of those eastern bums

but he Klein still cannot take it when the shoe is on the other persons foot?

now he did not like to reap what he sowed upon the others?


Posted by: paul | 2006-02-20 1:04:52 PM

I totally support the Standard for its coverage of two controversial subjects. most of our media is too biased for informed reporting. the remark from the fork shows there are people in the party who are only there for the trough. we need an overhaul in Alberta and a Premier and party who will stand up for our provincial rights to our greatest benefit. the Conservatives our too comfortable and not heeding the wishes of the average Albertan.

Posted by: albertarednek | 2006-02-20 1:16:49 PM

>I totally support the Standard for its coverage of two controversial subjects. most of our media is too biased for informed reporting. the remark from the fork shows there are people in the party who are only there for the trough. we need an overhaul in Alberta and a Premier and party who will stand up for our provincial rights to our greatest benefit. the Conservatives our too comfortable and not heeding the wishes of the average Albertan.

I have met many Albertan MLA's and none made me feel good, they were clearly hypocrites, untrustworthy, rude, abusive, self centered, selfish, immoral, inconsidered of others too.

I only met one I really liked, and he died, the honourable Sheldon Chumir

Posted by: paul | 2006-02-20 1:27:57 PM

Especially after the CBC's cut and paste reporting of the Terri Schiavo case, it should obvious they don't give a hoot about the truth, compassion, fairness, reporting, integrity, etc.

For example, when the campaign to murder Terri Schiavo was in full title, it took 1.5 minutes for me to google up a video, which clearly showed that Terri Shiavo was NOT some vegetable who should die, as the CBC and 99.999999999999% of the other news organizations made out. Any journalist could have done the same as I, and if they did, and still reported that Terry was a braindead vegetable with no signs of life and deserved to die, they should be deemed to have been accessories to murder.

The way I see it, 99.99999999999% of "reporting these days is just cut and paste, and the hell with the people that suffer the fallout. When a teenager in high school in Halifax has more brains and guts than 99.999999999999999% of the journalists in Canada combined, you know things are awfully awry.

By the way, once again, (i.e., in the Terri Schiavo case) the $cientologists are implicated:


Posted by: TurboTruth | 2006-02-20 2:16:01 PM


Where do you stand on the Robert Latimer case?
Just curious.

Posted by: dan | 2006-02-20 2:33:17 PM

Sounds like a left-wing conspiracy, Ezra. ;)

Posted by: Mike | 2006-02-20 4:05:27 PM


You said that the problem with the CBC is that it is government funded with no reason to run a profit, meaning that it must keep its "patrons" happy. Tell me, then, how it would be different if it was private. Wouldn't the CBC just be trying to keep its advertisers happy? In either case (if one accepts your assertion), a news organization must keep someone happy. In both situations the news organization is equally likely to report in a biased manner.

Please tell me how a private news organization is any less biased than a public one, seeing as how a private news organization must keep advertisers happy. I wouldn't call the WS an unbiased news source--it certainly has an editorial slant--and yet it's private. Does being private necessarily connote impartiality?

Posted by: newsjunkie | 2006-02-20 4:34:22 PM

CBC is one of the most depressive places to work in and it shows it too.

I saw many managers steal, live high on the expense accounts too, buy expensive laptops they take home, buy software they take home. A lawyer from Microsoft also told me that CBC is one of the biggest pirated software user too. The RCMP does not do anything about it cause it does the same thing. A lot of retired RCMP personal work for the CBC. As far as their programs it is too often like just the US Public Broadcasting system except the CBC is a lot more costly.

Posted by: Henrietta | 2006-02-20 5:02:50 PM

Newsjunkie - A privately owned news media, firstly, has downside risk - economic loss, bankruptcy etc. which force a better level of content to attract more viewers. There is also economic penalty to privately owned news media for shoddy reporting - poor fact checking etc. can lead to lawsuits that again, reduce the economic return of the venture. Better checks and balances will be in place in a privately owned company than in a state owned one.

Secondly, my concern is not that news media is totally impartial (I'll check my own facts where possible, thanks). I'm a firm believer that not taking a stand on issues is morally degenerate. However, my problem lies in a state owned news outlet that pushes the state's agenda. This is using public money for a private interest and is propaganda, pure and simple. With the financial backstop noted above, there is little incentive for a state owned news outlet to be a critical observer and an effective watchdog on the government. It's like in the inmates guarding the asylum.

Finally, state owned media, if allowed to stick around as long as CBC and BBC have, become instituitionalized and paralytic with no market forces to promote change. Ever get the feeling that the CBC is increasingly out of touch every passing year?

Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-20 5:59:30 PM

State owned media are cabals of socialists because by definition they believe in big centrally planned government, all the better to keep funding them. Conversely conservatives believe in free enterprise so the state owned media is biased to keep them out of power. The CBC is biased against conservatism and capitalists because they are rational and self- preserving.

Every broadcast by the CBC should have a footnote that discloses the above bias.

The situation is even worse in the EU where there has been almost no competition. Even the private media are extreme socialists.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-02-20 6:17:24 PM

The CBC has taken to calling itself public broadcasting, rather than state broadcasting. Lots of people don't see the difference. They do a great job with hockey, but not much else. I have seen some pretty good Fifth Estate shows, but any network is capable of carrying balanced viewpoints.

I pretty well stopped watching the CBC in 1990. A young fellow I was coaching was in the boxing finals at the Canada Games in Summerside. The CBC was broadcasting the event, and I was so happy that I could watch it. I was not one of the team coaches so I couldn't go along. With beer in hand I waited for the bout to start. After the introductions the bell rang, and the camera went straight to some guy who was talking to the audience. They went from one person to the next, asking how this event affected their lives. I could here the bout in the background, but they kept up with the human interest angle. By the third round they had moved into the hallway, and were asking the janitor if the long term affects of this event would be a better understanding of his role in education. He wasn't sure.

I know now what made Brian Spenser's dad lose his cool.

Posted by: dan | 2006-02-20 6:35:09 PM

Dan, I don't think the daughter should have been killed, but I understand a parent wanting to spare their child from "excrutiating pain," if indeed that was his motive, and who am I to say what his motive was. But because we can't handle watching someone in pain, we don't have the right to get more comfortable by killing them. I sympathize, from what I know, and I don't know much, with Robert Latimer.

I am concerned about the slippery slope here; proof of that slippery slope is that there are apparently places where people with anorexia can be mercy killed. Hey, I have a relative who got food poisoning - she said she wanted to die she felt so horrible. What if her wish had been granted? My point is, that a person cannot make an informed decision when they are hobbled by pain. Who is to say how temporary that pain is? Who is to say that a person who can't communicate should die because we think they are in too much pain? Where there is life, there is hope, and who knows how many anorexics, or people who had bad cases of food poisoning, who at one time themselves may have expressed a wish to die, are now living wonderful lives?

Again, I refer people to $cientology, a cult rightfully termed "the mafia of religions" - they supported and apparently facilitated the murder of Terri Schiavo. Who knows, maybe in 10 years there would be a cure for Terri Schiavo, and Robert Latimer's daughter. But there is no cure for death; once someone is killed, with mercy or otherwise, there is no hope.

By the way, I notice that even though Dr. Kevorkain has, according to his own testimony, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, temporal arteritis, peripheral arthritis, adrenal insufficiency, chronic pulmonary obstruction disease and cataracts, he's not mercy killing himself. It's worth noting that many disability rights advocates have long opposed Kevorkian. They have argued that doing so would essentially make it open season for people who are a "burden" on society -- they claim that most of those Kevorkian helped end their lives were in emotional, psychological or social crises, not in the final stages of terminal illnesses as was originally believed.

Posted by: TurboTruth | 2006-02-20 7:23:44 PM


I would hate to have a sick child. I can't, and won't imagine it. But if your convictions are strong enough that you take matters into your own hands, then you have to face the consequences. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

The Latimer case strikes me as something else. The way he killed her was incredibly cruel. I wouldn't kill a dog that way. It seemed to show a level of anger, and I think that's why he's still in jail.

Kervorkian is just a sicko, plain and simple.

I thought an autopsy showed that woman only had 50% of her brain left. That doesn't sound curable. Maybe I missed something on that story.

Posted by: dan | 2006-02-20 7:37:54 PM


Your economic reasoning could be sound if private broadcasters and media organizations actually depended on subscribers to fund their operations. Unfortunately, it's advertisers that provide private news organizations with their base funding. Because of this, you will undoubtedly get reporting that is less likely to criticize major advertisers. There are some rather well-known examples of this (CBS pulling an investigative piece criticizing Monsanto's bovine growth hormone is one). Furthermore, a private broadcaster is more likely to cater to the lowest common denominator. This means dumbed-down, asinine, meaningless coverage of serious and nuanced issues (ie. Fox News).

While I disagree with those who say that the CBC pushes the state's agenda, I can see why some might be concerned. However, I think you must recognize that a news organization that is equally indebted to advertisers will have its impartiality questioned just as much. Frankly, I am far less concered with the accountability of government that I am with the accountability of corporations. Government is far from perfect, but at least we have auditors and various mechanisms (Freedom of Information Act, being one of them) to ensure accountability. We have precious little to hold large companies to account, and thus I worry more about a media outlet that owes its soul to a corporation than one that owes its soul to the public. So if we have a news organization that takes it easier on government than it does on corporations--well, I think that's just fine.

Posted by: newsjunkie | 2006-02-20 8:36:00 PM

Dan, maybe Terri Schiavo did only have 50% brain use left, and maybe that can't be cured, but I still don't think she should have been murdered (and I would view any autopsy report with scepticism, given all the corruption, etc., surrounding this case). Even just by looking at Internet videos of Terri, you could see how her eyes lit up, with an expression of consciousness, joy, and love, when she saw her parents (I found these videos in about 1.5 minutes of google searching, and was immediately sickened and greatly dismayed to think that this woman was being put to death--I wonder, why did so few reporters/journalists feel the same way I did, given this powerful, easily accessible, visual truth - I think it may be because they didn't even bother to find/view the videos and just repeated what everyone else was saying because it they are gutless sheep). If they did see the videos, and still reported that it was "mercy killing" I don't know what to think, except that they are as evil as prosecutors who knowingly send an innocent man to the death chamber, or who refuse to consider DNA evidence that proves innocence.

And talk about cruel ways to kill someone - her death was horrible, in spite of what the media said (and credible medical experts confirmed that her death was indeed a most excrutiating way to go -- and morphine, as anyone who has been with a person in pain knows, will only go so far to alleviate suffering.) And as far as how the judges dealt with the Terri Schiavo case, Stephen Drake, a disabilities right's activist for Not Dead Yet, made some interesting observations:

...It's really not surprising that we'd see this many judges, you know, siding in this way in a case like this. This is historically a pattern we've seen. I mean, it goes way back, if you look back in the mid-1980s, you know, two separate judges signed off on the starvation death of an infant with Down's Syndrome. Something that is recognized now as something that's unconscionable. But you know, back at that time, they had no problem doing it.

Posted by: TurboTruth | 2006-02-20 9:41:57 PM

Newsjunkie - The market will do a fine job of holding companies accountable when they cross an unacceptable line. Did you sleep through the demise of Enron?

I also contest your implication that commercially sponsored media necessarily caters to the lowest common denominator. Have you dead the "Economist"?

Finally, it's plain naive to look for more accountability in the private sector versus the public. The private sector does *not* have tools for ensuring abject coercion at its disposal. Private sector entities have to *compete* for your *money* and your *attention*. Governments do not - they command. No corporation will falsely imprison you, tax you, etc. Corporations also have to publish financial statements outlining their activities through presentation standards all must comply with. Governments do not have *anywhere* close to the level of transparency modern corporations have.


Posted by: Prometheus | 2006-02-20 10:12:38 PM

Prometheus - it's nice to see someone who has such faith in capitalism and the free market. Sadly, my faith has been substantially eroded. Enron is a fantastic example of corruption and rot in a corporation, and I thank you for pointing that out.

You did not respond to my comments about CBS and Monsanto, nor my comment regarding Fox News. I agree that private news outlets can produce fantastic journalism, of which the Economist, New Yorker, and Walrus are good examples. However, all of these publications struggle to make ends meet. Unfortunately, the most successful organizations are those that cater to the LCD. Look at Fox, CNN, the Calgary Sun, etc. Good private journalism sadly does not have the power or ability to penetrate deep into the public consciousness--it will always be marginal. As the WS can attest to, people tend to just buy, read, and support the magazines or newspapers that support their world view. I can't think of many people who buy a magazine because it's good journalism that will challenge them to think differently. (On that note, I must ask you: how often do you read Alberta Views?)

Frankly, I think you underestimate the power of private corporations. I'm not worried about a corporation imprisoning me (to even suggest that is a straw-man argument on your part), but I am worried about corporate influence on government. It doesn't seem right to me that a company can influence the legislative agenda by supporting certain MPs or MLAs--governments are supposed to work in the public interest, after all. Corporations do have a direct impact on people's lives, and media must hold them to account. Just ask anyone who's dealt with Union Carbide (India), Shell (Nigeria), or Westray Mines. I think they'd tell you that corporations can have as much influence on an individual as a government can.

Posted by: newjunkie | 2006-02-21 8:07:18 AM

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