I was committed to give a talk this morning (which I much enjoyed) on the history of leisure in Canada. I am committed to three Thursdays, and looking forward to all of them. But they do mean a late blog on those days.
And, since there is not a damn thing in all the news section of today's paper worth talking about, let me return to a yesterday topic, Frank McKenna's speech on how shale gas will make us rich and improve our sex lives.
It was surely notable how light Mr. McKenna was on the health question and shale gas. After all, the Chief Health Officer and most of the medical profession have raised serious concerns about the dangers to health and about our lack of knowledge of how to deal with those dangers. So why didn't McKenna mention it? Indeed, not mentioning it will cause a certain anger among those who respect the health profession - and their own safety. So couldn't McKenna have said something at least polite about it?
No. Absolutely not.
The McKennas of this world don't write all their own speeches. They hire a communications specialist. Communications - that's the business of knowing how to lie without making it obvious. That accounts for a good deal that McKenna left out of his speech.
If he had mentioned the health issue then, as any communications specialist knows, nothing he could have said about it would have reassured anybody. The only message people would hear by listening to even the word 'health' would be that health is a concern. It you say that the health question is covered by strict legislation - it doesn't matter. Simply saying the word 'health' would make people concerned about it. That's why he didn't mention Dr. Leary or her report.
Mckenna was there to lie on behalf of the shale gas industry. That's why he talked about things like the (highly unlikely) seven billion dollars in taxes it would produce. He was 'communicating', not giving a speech.
Similarly, the strategy of the campaign for shale gas is pretty clear now. Don't argue with opponents of shale gas. Don't even admit there are any. And if something awkward comes up - like danger to fresh water, problems of dumping millions of litres of poisoned water - but make a vague reference to "the most strict regulations" which, in fact, don't exist - and which wouldn't be enforced if they did exist.
The Irving Press is in this 'communications' business, too. It has two roles.
In one role, it is to keep people in the dark by not telling them what is happening. Part of that means trivializing our outlook by reporting only trivial news -like the regular page of smiling strangers holding up giant cheques. You find the same tactic in the columns written by masters of saying nothing - people like Rod Allen, Brent Mazerolle, Mark Abley.
It's other role is to spread propaganda that the publisher wants -like what a good thing shale gas is. For the same reason they have have been careful not to mention the opposition to shale gas and to pipelines, an opposition that now amounts to widespread rage in the US. But not a word about any of that in the Irving Press.
Private news media have always a heavy tilt to bias, lying, and keeping people ignorant. The papers of the Irving press don't lead the way in this. They're just the most imcompetent, most boring, most ignorant, most trivial, most lying.....something like the hooker who's such a sleaze, so coarse, so foul, that she embarrasses all the other hookers in the collection.
There is no point in discussing any news story in this edition. All of them are too trivial or too incompetent to bother discussing. So let's look at the editorial and op ed pages.
The editorial opens with a paragraph kissing Mr. McKenna's ass, surely a pleasant reversal of roles for that gentleman.
His speech, says the editorial, struck the right chord with people across New Brunswick and the whole Atlantic region.
Really? The writer had information on feelings throughout the province and Atlantic Canada within hours of the speech? Are you really so stupid, Mr. editorial writer, as to make such a claim? Of course you are. And lucky thing you are. If you weren't so stupid, Jamie Irving would already have fired you.
Premier Alward is also credited with saying something intelligent. If so, I must return to the Catholicism of my ancestors to find out which angel made that miracle possible. In fact, Alward said nothing that he has not said before - and saying it yet again has not made it less boring, or more trustworthy.
Journalism doesn't get much lower in the toilet than it does with today's editorial in the Moncton Times and Transcript. (Though Mr. McKenna's speech is a contender for that title.)
Norbert's column is just trivial - trivial and ignorant writing on a subject which is not trivial at all - with a closing sentence of rant against people who don't agree with him. Then, as if realizing the silliness of what he has written, he adds a few more paragraphs on quite a different topic, saying nothing in particular about it.
Alec Bruce has a column that's more important than it might seem to be. We have just narrowly missed becoming a country in which police and other authorities would have the right to tune in on our computers to collect information on us, and to do it without warrant, without cause, without anything...
Don't breathe easy yet. Something like this will be coming down the pipe - and sooner rather than later. Harper and Obama will soon be in talks to "coordinate" our homeland security policies - that is, to make Canada as much a police state as the US is.
On op ed, Rod Allen remains convinced, like other staff writers in that spot, that the world gives a damn about his personal life. Allen makes it worse by writing in a style of corny humour that went out with spats. Journalists are "ink-stained wretches", members of the fourth estate". Duh. Haw! Haw!
Donne-moi un break.
What a pleasure to shift to Jody Dallaire who gives us credit for having some brains, for wanting serious discussion, for writing well-informed columns!
With the exceptions of Dallaire and Bruce, this edition is garbage, fit only for the morons Mr. Irving obviously thinks we are.
Oh - think back to the days before Christmas. The TandT had a big story headlining p. A1. It was about how shoppers were stampeding Main St. for their Christmas shopping - a brilliant achievement of what had been accomplished with parking meters - and a subtle hint of the wonder an events centre would create.
I thought at the time that whole story was lies. I often pass that area. I had never seen the hordes of shoppers. So I ask the TandT now as I asked it then. Where are the figures for sales in that stretch of Main St. in the days before Christmas? And how do those sales compare with other areas of the city?
I could scarcely believe that such a silly story, even if true, would have been the lead headline for a serious, daily paper. Now, I would dearly love to know whether the whole story was, as I think it was, a lie. Evidence, Mr. editor?