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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If global warming doesn't get you, the swine flu will

A few months ago, CBC reporter Duncan McCue gave a talk at the University of British Columbia, where he showed a news story about an environmentally friendly hair salon. He explained that it was part of the CBC's One Million Acts of Green campaign, where they challenge Canadians to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I said that I had a problem with a news organization, especially a government funded news organization, picking up a social cause, trying to get people to change the way they live, and then reporting on themselves as if it were actual news. I was apparently the only one there who thought this was objectionable.

More recently, there has been a lot of talk about how the media has handled the swine flu story. For weeks we were told that this was the beginning of the next great pandemic. Now, however, it seems as though cooler heads have prevailed. The story has been pushed off the front pages and people have begun to realize that the outbreak is actually quite mild so far. We have seen similar bouts of media hysteria in the past in regards to everything from bird flu to global warming. Not to be outdone, the CBC has managed to combine these two issues in a piece that is sure to cause fear and uncertainty in at least a few people. Watch out for the next major threat to human survival: killer microorganisms that are thriving thanks to global warming.

I'm sure glad my tax dollars pay for quality pieces of journalism like that. So why does the CBC have such an overt bias? The Fraser Institute's Fred McMahon has an interesting piece that uses public choice theory to explain how public broadcasters operate. From the article:

Public choice theory predicts a disturbing interaction between public broadcasters and government. Public broadcasters have many incentives to favour powerful government, government market intervention, and much government spending. After all, a public broadcaster’s existence is predicated on all these things.

The theory predicts that state owned media will have a bias toward big government because its very existence relies on government funding. Likewise, publicly funded media organizations will tend to have a prejudice against the United States because it does not provide much financial support for public broadcasting. These accusations of a left-wing bias and anti-American sentiments are frequently levelled against the CBC and, much of the time, the CBC's bias is quite apparent. While I don't have a problem with biased media in general, I do have a problem with my tax dollars funding such a biased organization.

Posted by Jesse Kline on May 13, 2009 in Media | Permalink


i think you overuse the word bias. i also think you're a bit biased. but that may be my own bias.

Posted by: bias | 2009-05-13 9:58:24 PM

Please ignore commenter 'bias,' his ardent anti-bias bias has clearly compromised his ability to consider the issues involved in this post with any degree of impartiality.

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2009-05-13 11:19:22 PM

Stories on CBC leftoid bias are pretty tiresome. We have known this for years.

By the way, please stop calling this influenza by its old name. The proper name is the H1N1 virus.

Posted by: epsilon | 2009-05-13 11:48:30 PM


I refuse to cave to the demands of the pork industry. I will continue to call the virus swine flu. Also, if you have some better story ideas, feel free to pitch them to me. You can send me an e-mail at http://jesse.kline.ca/contact

Posted by: Jesse Kline | 2009-05-14 12:24:34 AM


If you will not heed the pork lobby, won't you at least take the example of Dear Leader Harper?

On what basis do you justify the use the most common vernacular term to refer to a disease when writing about that disease for a popular audience? Won't somebody think of the pigs?

Perhaps next you'll be telling me us that pigs in this country don't share with all other Canadians in having a right not to be offended...

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2009-05-14 1:04:02 AM

What's the difference between global warming and the swine flu? Global warming is a HOAX while the swine flu is a serious health concern.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-05-14 9:27:09 AM

Jesse, you are obviously swine through and through.

Posted by: epsilon | 2009-05-14 10:28:29 AM

The N American H1N1 contains genes of human, avian and pig strains of Influenza A viruses. That's why it's a concern. (Viruses with multiple hosts have a higher potential for virulence.)

The centrality of the swine angle is an artifact of bad reporting. It is only one aspect of a fairly involved system of nomenclature.
A good resource can be found in the center for disease control. (I believe www.cdc.gov)

Excuse me, I'm going to eat a pork sandwich.

Posted by: Timothy | 2009-05-14 2:24:56 PM

Time to pull the plug on CBC:
Why does the CBC to use OUR tax money to compete with real broadcasters for the same American TV shows?
How is the CBC’s intentionally showing only one side of Canada's political spectrum called unifying the country? (Four left leaning CBC talking heads interviewing each other and making fun of conservatism)
The CBC fails deliberately. Why? Because if they succeeded, it wouldn’t need funding anymore now would it?

Posted by: Paul Merrifield | 2009-05-14 3:51:07 PM

A Swine Flu, Killer Bee and Acid Rain Production

Posted by: Paul Merrifield | 2009-05-14 3:52:56 PM

A few years ago, when the "bird flu" decimated so many chicken and turkey farms, landfills were overwhelmed with frozen meat. It made no sense at all, virus cannot survive lower temperatures, let alone freezing. I knew someone who worked in "waste management" and he said millions of dollars worth of poultry was tossed out.

The effect on pork producers, from calling it "swine flu" is not easy to estimate. Paranoia and panic are hard to predict. I sympathize with anyone who's sitting on a new crop of pigs. They might end up culling an entire years profit.

As for the other part of this story, I'd hate to be sitting on a big reseve of $50 oil, that cost $47 to produce. No industry is immune to the idiocy of fear-mongering.

Posted by: dp | 2009-05-14 5:25:54 PM

Paul: Amen bro! Get rid of the CBC immediately. It's nothing more than a theft ring, stealing $1b a year that could be - ought to be - used for social programs. There is no logical reason for it to exist except for the privilege of a few. I say abolish it entirely, sell what's left, and use the money for more hospital beds.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-05-14 5:40:38 PM

It's the media's job to inform people. Everyone's been saying that you cannot get swine flu from eating pork. If no one is listening, then changing the name isn't going to matter.

Posted by: Jesse Kline | 2009-05-14 6:01:23 PM

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