Journalist and podcaster Jesse Brown, a.k.a the guy who broke the Ghomeshi story (and made it easier for us conservatives to trash the CBC in the process), made the claim that The Rebel had “ties to the oil industry” in a recent rant. So as you can imagine, I have to get involved.
If you didn’t know, Jesse has a well-established reputation as the self-appointed conscience of Canada’s journalistic community, and one thing he loves to do is go after journalists like Peter Mansbridge and Rex Murphy who take money when they apparently shouldn’t.
For Jesse, ethics in Canadian journalism is Serious Business, and as a leftist, Jesse is obligated to find the usual suspects - corporations, the energy industry, Stephen Harper, whatever - at the root of the problem.
For the world to make sense for him, it has to be that conservatives only say what they say because some profit-obsessed CEOs are paying them handsomely to do so.
He certainly gave that impression when he had Rebel Commander Ezra Levant on his show some months back and began the dialogue by asking him, “Are you an a**hole, or do you just play one on TV?”
(By the way: I, and the other Megaphone bloggers, do not get paid for our scribblings, and yes, Jesse, we do believe every word of what we write, thank you very much. You think a CEO could make this stuff up?)
When Ezra did not admit to playing an a**hole on TV, Jesse opined that - you guessed it - oil and tobacco industry dollars funded Ezra’s wacky escapades instead, since the meagre Sun News audience couldn’t have.
“Are you a shill?” Jesse Brown demanded of Ezra Levant, that day.
While Jesse and friends might be outraged when journalists violate some toothless Journalist Boy and Girl Scout Pledge that they claim to swear fealty to, the reality is that Canadians and news consumers in general by and large accept corruption in their media the same way they accept the constant scandals in their politics.
Why should the average newspaper reader bother getting mad about Rex Murphy or Peter Mansbridge-class violations when it’s already been demonstrated that Ghomeshi-class egregiousness is the only way to get tossed from your job?
But there’s an equally problematic flip side to Jesse’s “corporations are messing up our media” line of argument, and that’s that there are no Canadaland podcasts or fastbreaking news stories about what unions might be doing to influence the stories we read.
We are expected to believe that the Working Families Coalition and UNIFOR would never, ever, use the means made available by its dues-paying members to slant coverage.
That must be the case, because if they did, Mr. Ethics In Journalism here would be all over them.
Now, I know what you’re all thinking, but I gave Jesse the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe he was cooking up one of his trademark exposes on the subject, or maybe he really had done his homework and hadn’t been able to find anything.
So, convinced it had to be something other than Jesse just giving unions a free pass because he and they are both left wing (because that wouldn’t be principled at all) I decided to email him, showing him the blog post you’re reading now (with a slightly nicer ending, though), and asking for input.
I got no reply. And that was very disappointing.
Maybe the problem isn’t that money slants coverage. Maybe it’s the fact that people put trust in journalists - and that trust turns out to be misplaced.
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