13 February 2008

Oh, the spin of it all

Voice of the Cabinet Minister has an interesting take on Danny Williams' decision today to reverse his position on Andy Wells.  Where before Williams was happy to let Wells keep two jobs, he's now decided the political controversy is such that Wells will become chair of the public utilities board after he quits as mayor of Sin Jawns.

Here's what the Premier's news release said:

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, today confirmed that Mayor Andy Wells will step down from his position as mayor of St. John’s before starting in his new position as the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB).

The premier "confirmed" that Wells will be stepping down from the mayor's job  before taking up the PUB post.

There's no wording like "Andy has to chose."

So it's really curious that VOCM states this:

Andy Wells isn't saying what he will do in light of what amounts to an ultimatum from the premier.


Not even close.

The Premier told us exactly what he and Wells decided in light of the political pushback the two have been facing:  Wells will quit as mayor and then take the PUB job.

Job done.

They agreed to this version of it, just like they agreed originally that Wells could keep two jobs and the provincial government didn't care.

Don't believe the two jobs deal was agreed to all along?

Here's David Cochrane's interview with an unusually unabrasive Wells. Take note of Wells' comments after he says the issue is the Premier's "file".  Williams' call modified the original job offer:  "...here's the condition that arose after the fact, after the job was offered...".  It doesn't get any plainer than that when it comes to understanding that the whole two jobs fiasco was agreed from the beginning.

Later in the interview Wells also says that the "one job" version came afterwards as a result of the political controversy surrounding the original "two jobs" arrangement.  The only thing for Andy to do now is decide when he gives up the mayor's chair.

VOCM makes it sound like he might not take the PUB job.

The Telegram got it dead right.

CBC got it right.

VOCM didn't.

Not by a long shot.

Then consider the VOCM version of a release by Liberal leader Yvonne Jones:

Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones says the Premier made the right decision.

Not exactly.

What she actually said was:

Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones says the decision by Premier Danny Williams not to appoint Andy Wells as Chair of the Public Utilities Board (PUB) until he resigns as mayor of St. John’s is the right decision. Jones believes that Andy Wells’ decision to hold two full-time positions at the same time undermined the role and responsibility of the PUB.

Look at the second sentence.

The decision to hold two positions undermined the PUB.  The only thing Jones didn't do in the body of the release was commend the Premier for changing his mind.

Then again, it was kinda hard to miss the headline.  It was there in all it's 14 point glory right at the top of the news release:

Jones pleased Premier rethinks decision on Wells appointment

How exactly could you miss it?