19 August 2010

The truth of fiction

nottawa does a fine job of laying out the completely ridiculous media coverage this week of a few words the Old Man had with Randy Simms on Open Line about online gambling.

There’s also a Telegram story that apparently took two people to pull together. it appears to be nothing more than the same rehash of Danny Williams’ call to Open Line just like all the others.

There are a couple of aspects to this that nottawa missed. 

First of all, Williams’ call came simply because we are in polling season.  Williams wanted to generate exactly this sort of coverage and the local media are all too happy to oblige him.

When cabinet finally gets around to dealing with this issue, it really won’t matter what Williams said publicly on this occasion. This won’t be the first time he or someone from his cabinet said one thing and did another.
That sort of thing is old hat.

Nor will the people of the province know until – potentially - two years from now that he said one thing and did another.  Ontario, for example, is getting a piece of the action.  The Ontario lottery commission will take 18 months to launch their project.  Even if the provincial cabinet here met as they used to on Thursday morning and blessed this proposal, there’d be no sign of it, necessarily, until well after the next election.

By then, any personal opposition Williams really has to the idea will be completely irrelevant.  Heck, even he won’t care what he said just this past week.  Williams will take a whole new position and never have to worry someone will point out that he used to say something else.  It’s like being a have province:  Good thing in November 2008;  bad thing, two months later.  Same reporters wrote both stories like the one didn’t contradict the other.

And that’s the second aspect to the online gambling unstory.

Online gambling is a serious enough issue but Williams’ statement that he opposes it is not news, especially when he says it is a cabinet decision.

His comments are certainly not news in comparison to the story last week when  he revealed a billion dollar secret energy deal.  To date not a single local media outlet has covered that aspect of the Nova Scotia transmission line story. Odds are that not a single reporter has asked Williams about it and if they have, we are unlikely to see a story saying that the administration is hiding information or is stonewalling.

The local newsrooms will oblige the Premier in what everyone now knows is a quarterly farce and yet they are ignoring a gigantic hard news story.  They are turning away from it – apparently – just like they ignored the Dunderdale story from around the same time last year. Oddly enough, she made her remarks to Randy Simms as well.

On the same show this morning, one regular caller repeated the same [old] myths, half-truths, distortions and fabrications on the same old subjects – all aligning with the frame the Premier set last week - as if any of his claims were real.

And the host agreed with it all.   In fact, Simms led off his show on Thursday with the Premier’s frame on the transmission line. He [even] added a few gems of his own.

As it seems, Newfoundland and Labrador is a place where not a single public figure is concerned with facts. 

None of them is concerned with reality.  Politics and the the news media is about fiction.

Sixty years ago, Walter Lippmann wrote that even in their lifetime the people he called great men are known to the ordinary citizen only through “a fictitious personality.”

Well, these days, the entire scope of public life in Newfoundland and Labrador is fiction.

- srbp -

Updated 1920 hrs to fix capitalisation, add words to correct flow in two sentences and delete the word “province” where it occurred in the wrong spot.