28 October 2014

Things that raise alarm bells #nlpoli

As it becomes more clear that the two recent murders of Canadian soldiers had less to do with terrorism and more to do with people who are otherwise screwed up, the RCMP commissioner issues a media statement claiming the police have a video that links one murder to “ideological and political motives.”

But they can’t release the video and may never release it.


We have proof you are wrong, but we can’t show it to you.

That’s always credible.  Let’s everybody keep a close eye on that story.

And in other news, the Canadian media love to congratulate each other for a job supposedly well done.  The latest entry in the public masturbation contest is the Telegram.  The Monday editorial included this gem:

Canadian reporters were generally solid and professional in their on-the-spot coverage of the events in Ottawa last week.

That would be true if you ignored the endless hours of speculation unsupported by anything but whatever popped into an anchor’s head,  underpinned by the implicit assumption throughout the televised coverage that – yup – this was terrorism.

One national broadcast seemed to repeat anything said to any reporter by any passer-by.  The result was that there was shooter on the roof of a building on Metcalfe and a dead body at the Rideau Centre. All reported but none of it true. The only rumour not circulated was the one about a strange flying machine on spindly legs rising up from a lightning strike in the Byward and shooting death rays into the fleeing crowds. 

Meanwhile, the actual story – a lone shooter intercepted and killed quickly – seemed to be the one thing no one wanted to discuss, even though there was lots of solid information including eye witness reports that pointed in that direction.  There’s that implicit assumption thing.

Instead, one reporter asked how someone could wander around Ottawa with something concealed and yet no police detected it.  Hint, genius:  it was concealed.  Another main anchor kept talking about JTF-2 special forces roaming over the hill, even though the people in green uniforms he was talking about clearly had the RCMP crest on their shoulders.  A tiny point to some, but all too indicate of the kind of wild commentary from uninformed people stuck on air to fill dead air.

Media coverage of last Wednesday’s events fuelled public anxiety by relying heavily on speculation and, in some instances, outright flatulence, in place of hard information.  To be fair, not every outlet or every reporter engaged in the sort of crap speculation that marred some of the coverage from the big outlets.  

The bad reporting got a big boost from the complete failure by police authorities to provide timely and accurate information in the interest of public safety and security.  That was a huge part of the story last week.  But wait,  there was another story that seemed to slip the notice of the “solid and professional” reporting even as the crisis that actually ended before noon turned into an endless “lock-down” that seemed to have no direction or purpose.