24 February 2010

What Wakeham said

Every tool in the Tory tool shed may be manning the phones in yet another  campaign of partisan intimidation, but more than a few of the rest of us have wondered what Bob Wakeham said to get all the tools in a prudish tizzy.

Those of us who haven’t been practicing the two minute hate required of Party members might wonder what could possibly have caused Danny Williams to tell the Ceeb he won’t be talking to them because of:
"very unfortunate and unnecessary comments made about the premier on the CBC" that [Elizabeth] Matthews [notionally Williams’ director of communication] said were irrelevant and hurtful to his family, and for that reason the premier won't do interviews with the CBC about his health care.
You see, the plain truth is that Bob Wakeham didn’t really say much of anything on February 3 that normal human beings would find the least bit problematic.  In the context of a discussion about what the media ought to cover about politicians and their private lives, Wakeham mentioned a subject which – until now – the local news media had completely ignored.

After acknowledging that the local media hadn’t “done a Tiger Woods” and had covered some other issues like the Premier’s back surgery in 2003, Wakeham said:
I always found it kinda passing strange that we’ve…the media…has never dealt with the fact… never reported on his martial problems. To me that was kind of something that we should have reported on not in a real intimate way in trying to find out why his marriage went belly up but just as a matter of fact.  This was a woman who had been with him on the podium on election night, had been with him on election campaigns and all of a sudden she disappears…
That’s it.

There’s a few more words as the idea trails off but that’s the sum and substance of Wakeham/Goldstein’s evil words.

Those are the remarks that Wakeham’s fellow panellist that day has now described as “contemptible.”  The Telegram commentary editor also said that Wakeham’s remarks were “ill-timed”, a phrase that is rather curiously but surely coincidentally similar to the official view that the words were “completely irrelevant.”

Now Wakeham did bring the whole thing up again a couple of weeks later when his co-panellist on the Morning Show was none other than former Tory candidate, notorious Tory apologist and biographer Janice Wells. He went over the same ground again in much the same way.

But again, that was the sum of it:  report as fact matters of fact involving a prominent public official.
Only in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2003 could anyone find that the least bit radical  - let alone objectionable - as an idea.

Then again only in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2003 would you find reporters who agree that it is unconscionable to report facts as facts.

Not all of them have actually said that out loud or typed it, mind you.  Nonetheless, some one of them have actually censored themselves both on this health story, aspects related to it and on other stories where the potential would be high that the callers and their political associates would be less than pleased.

And that would be exactly what the callers, the e-mailers and their partisan friends wanted all along.

What Bob Wakeham said was nothing at all.

What others said in response to his remarks, though, is yet more evidence of just how dysfunctional the political society of Newfoundland and Labrador is.