Friday December 10, 2010

Letters

The Media Is The Message

Federal NDP unfairly labeled "Beverly Hillbillies"

Submitted by Dick Harrington, Hope BC 

Campaign Manager for Federal Candidate Gwen O'Mahony

 

here is a famous quote from Marshal McLuhan- entitled " the Medium is the Message". There are many interpretations of this statement. However, I would like to borrow from McLuhan's quote and state - " The Media is the Message".

By this, I mean that what is given out as news to the public in Canada is often a distorted version on the truth.

In my forty odd years in active political life in Canada, beginning in Ontario and presently in British Columbia, I have seen many examples of where the media message has often been distorted, especially when it comes to the coverage of the New Democratic Party. I don't make this statement in a frivolous manner; I have the facts to back me up.

A few cases in point may illustrate my convictions.

In my days in Ontario, I had the opportunity to run for the NDP three times, as did my wife at the time. When my wife became the MLA for Niagara Falls, the very first New Democrat ever elected in that city, I recall remembering my earlier conversation with Tommy Douglas. I had asked Tommy in 1981 if he felt that the NDP would ever form the government in Ontario. I vividly recall his prophetic statement, " yes, the NDP will get elected in Ontario, but only during a recession, after the public has become sick of the two old-line corporate parties". "However", Tommy said, " when you do get elected, the corporate Toronto media will soon do everything they can to discredit you and to get rid of your government".

This is exactly what occurred. Innuendos, half-truths and outright lies were used to make the NDP government look like a bungling hoard of "Beverly hillbillies" who were running up a huge debt. This term "Beverly Hillbillies" was actually thought-up by some Toronto media person. The fact that the NDP had inherited a considerable debt from the Liberals was ignored. The fact that the NDP had created thousands of jobs for the unemployed was ignored. The fact that thousands of homeless people were housed in new social housing was ignored. The list could go on and on.

What is the legacy of the NDP government in Ontario? Just ask almost any British Columbian and they will refer to the so-called "fact" that they left Ontario with a huge debt. Nothing else is remembered. This is the legacy of the Toronto Media that was left for the NDP.

Across Canada, the Conservatives and the Liberals have done an excellent hatchet job on the NDP, with cooperation from their media friends. You often hear that the NDP are poor fiscal managers, or that the NDP are "controlled by Unions". The real facts are that both statements are simply incorrect- that the people have been brain-washed by the "message".

Why don't they write about the fact that the only provincial governments that have balanced their budgets over the years have been NDP governments, specifically in Saskatchewan and Manitoba? So much for the "poor fiscal record of the NDP". As for "Union control"- again the fact don't bear this out. I know for a fact that in my involvement in nine election campaigns for the NDP, the average " Union" donations have amounted to no more than 10% of our finances- where Corporate donations to the Liberals and Conservatives average over 80%.

It seems that with many media people, a "10%" contribution yields more control that an " 80%" contribution. We are also talking about much more money from the corporate sector than from the union sector.

Getting back to B.C.- a few high-profile occurrences illustrated to me the fact that the media in B.C. is very biased against the NDP.

I recall when Glen Clark had his residence raided by the RCMP, I was living in Ontario at the time and I remember being simply "blown away" by the obvious setup that was occurring. Since when is the press waiting at the site when the RCMP comes to lay charges against anyone? On top of that, the Vancouver media of course included front-page articles of the premier's charges, with constant follow-up articles. Yet, years later, when Clark was 100% exonerated, where were the front page articles? In one major article on Jimmy Pattison, there was one small reference to Clark's exoneration.

Again, the Fast Ferries events saw many devastating articles on the NDP that contained loads of inaccuracies. The ferries were simply too fast and all it took were a few wealthy islanders to cry to the media to have the media blast the NDP government for a project that put many British Columbians to work and provided a huge economic stimulus to the provincial economy. Yet, what is the legacy remembered?

Again, the list could go on and on. The simple fact is that many people make lasting impressions based solely on highly inaccurate media reporting. This needs to change.

 

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