23 February 2010

The Saga thus far

1.  NTV’s Fred Hutton reports that Danny Williams had his mitral valve replaced  - note the word - at a Miami hospital. Bear in mind this is the guy who got it straight from the horse’s mouth.  He used the word “replaced”, not the more vague term “repaired”.

In an exclusive interview with NTV NEWS from his condo in Sarasota Florida, Premier Danny Williams said, "it's my health, my heart, and my decision." The Premier was responding to criticism that he snubbed the Canadiabn [sic] health care system for treatment in The United States. The Premier told NTV NEWS, "my doctors told me to leave the province for the surgery." Danny Williams had minimally invasive mitral valve surgery to replace a leaky valve. He discovered the problem a year ago, but just before Christmas was told it had gone from moderate damage to severe. Doctors have now told him that since the operation he "has the heart of a 40 year old." The Premier is expected to be back on the job in early March.

For the record, anyone who thinks NTV and Fred are easy doesn’t have the slightest clue what he or she is talking about. They may not be as flashy as some nor do they push their own angles on a story.

But they can go right for the heart of a story as solidly as anyone out there, get it and bring it back.

The fact remains is that NTV was the medium of choice both for DW and for the person or persons who broke his cone of silence.

2.  Globe political gossip columnist Jane Taber adds huge levels of new detail, based on an interview with Hutton:

The procedure was not offered in Newfoundland but it is available in other parts of the country. The doctor who was recommended to him in Canada would only do the procedure involving have his chest cracked open.

Hoping to avoid that, the Premier called on a fellow Newfoundlander and leading cardiologist in New York, Dr. Lynn McGrath. And he recommended the Premier go to Miami.

Taber’s headline picked up on a now familiar talking point:

“I was warned by my staff that this could be an issue,” he told Mr. Hutton. “But from my own perspective I said look, here’s our communications plan. It’s quite simple. This is my heart. It’s my health and it’s my choice,” he said.

It’s vintage but it isn’t a plan.  It’s really a talking point and – as it seems – one they hit on only after someone dropped a dime on his surgery.  That idea – that it is his business only – may have been the rationale or the driver for the cone of silence but make no mistake about it;  that ain’t a plan by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.

And any concerns about huge, spontaneous outpourings of grief at the airport?  Well that’s an ex poste facto rationalisation.  Since he likely took a chartered private jet, people would have to know when he was leaving in order to hold one  of those Joey-esque outpourings of spontaneous love and affection.

And that could only happen if someone in DW’s posse dropped a dime on the departure.

Think about it for a second.

Other people already did long before any posts around these parts.

Too bad, because if DW had taken the same care with managing the story around his health care as he justifiably did with his health care he and everyone else would have been a lot better off today. he wouldn’t be facing any of the troublesome coverage and he wouldn’t have had to interrupt his recovery from valve replacement to entertain Fred Hutton.

Sounds like he is much like one of his predecessors, as described by someone who worked closely with him:  doesn’t get good advice. doesn’t take good advice.

Note as well, the language consistently used to describe heading south for the surgery and picked up in a CBC story on the NTV story:

“…what was ultimately done to me, the surgery that I eventually got ... was not offered to me in Canada."

That does not mean the surgery is not available in Canada.

3.  And that brings us neatly and lastly to macleans.ca and John Geddes.

This saga is far from over for the oldest Premier to be sworn into office in Newfoundland and Labrador since Confederation.