Your’s truly, the soothsayer

There was a lot of talk about my woeful ability to predict the Saint John Harbour by-election this week but one thing you can be sure of, I can predict the content of the ‘We Say’ section of the Times & Transcript. Check out my blog yesterday where I stated that Al Hogan didn’t write a We Say yesterday on the election because he was fine tuning a powerful endorsement of the Premier. Check out his comments today in the T&T – they are simply stunning:

We Say: Saint John byelection not a vote on Lord’s leadership

This byelection outcome says more about the riding than it does about the governing party.

The fact that Premier Bernard Lord represents a Moncton riding makes him an easy target for those who feel disenchanted and disenfranchised.

By rejecting Lord’s promises of funding for harbour cleanup and a new downtown justice centre – and the guarantee of a cabinet post for Hooton – Saint John voters have decided to continue to complain, to take comfort in their rapidly expanding underdog status.

So be it; people in Moncton and Fredericton have long since moved past such ‘woe is us’ thinking and have embraced Lord’s attempts to build the economic base of their cities. Is it any wonder those two cities have continued to grow and attract investment while Saint John’s population and economic base shrinks?

Those people in the Conservative Party who might think the time is right to draw their knives for a leadership coup against Lord should also think again. The Tories came to power largely on the strength of their leader. Who else within the Tory caucus has the qualifications or stature to lead if Lord goes?Shuffle your cabinet, if you like, Mr. Premier. But do not shed too many tears over Saint John Harbour. It just isn’t worth it.

What acidic, vitriolic, inflammatory, stereotypical rhetoric is this? Al has gone beyond the pale in his desperate attempt to prop up Premier Lord’s reputation. Why he would inflame old prejudices just to meet his political goals is way beyond me.

This is pathetic and if the Irvings had any sense, they would know what to do. We need newspaper editors that can address issues in a relatively unbiased way (mainly because there is no competition for readership) and keep their Political party status on the sideline. But beyond that, Moncton and Saint John should work together to lead New Brunswick’s economic development and guys like Al Hogan will continue to just drag everyone down.

I don’t know why I keep reading that crap.

Ironically, I don’t think Al’s ongoing defence of Premier Lord is working. I think if Al really wanted to help the Premier he would not continually kiss his behind but tell it like it is. In my opinion, Lord must be surrounded by Hogan types who are keeping him in the dark about the real status of his leadership in this province. Lord is a charismatic guy that some have pegged as having national leadership qualities. But imploding in New Brunswick will do nothing to help these ambitions.

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0 Responses to Your’s truly, the soothsayer

  1. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, I do have to say that there is a reason that such crap gets written, partly because it is read, which tends to narrow the field of debate, the other is that people actually believe it-propaganda is a well practised endevour.

    I have spoken to several people who are of the opinion that Lord ‘is no worse than anybody else’, even though when the subject of specific issues came up, they couldn’t even talk about what his policies ARE.

    I think the Irving Press is quite literally propaganda, in pretty much as pure a form as seen in any dictatorship. I recently did research on the soviet union during the seventies and eighties and discovered that there was a very active underground press which the government simply didn’t bother controlling anymore. People inside russia knew more about the world outside than those outside knew about Russia.

    Until blogs came along it was quite the reverse in New Brunswick. When I was at university I was one of the only people who actually read a newspaper from ‘away’. The very narrow debate based solely on ‘Irving good’, and ‘no, irving bad’, with no analysis of the issues. The level of propaganda seems to have increased at the Irving Press, but perhaps only because they feel their chosen boy may be slipping.

    The idea that St.Johners enjoy their disillusionment is nothing short of hysterical, although when the laughter subsides it becomes quite spooky when you discover how many people take it seriously. The fact that Lord had over a decade to do at least ONE of those seems to escape the Irving boys, and unfortunately a good many readers-except the ones in St.John.

    Don’t underestimate the ‘power of smug’, this is the training that begins in school where you are supposed to dislike sporting teams from other places just because they are another place. We see the same thing in cities, where people can look down on other cities for no other reason than that they don’t live there.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m no fan of the Irving press, particularly the Times-Transcript, but it is in remarkably bad taste to compare it to propaganda under a dictatorship. The Soviet comparison is obscene and trivializes the decades of oppression, trauma, and death suffered by tens of millions of people.

    If your research on the Soviet Union didn’t teach you that such comparisons are absurd hyperbole, you need to hit the books again.

  3. David Campbell says:

    I have researched the Soviet Union – in great detail – and I think you can talk in terms of style without implicating scale. Your assertion that a “Soviet comparison is obscene and trivializes the decades of oppression, trauma, and death suffered by tens of millions of people” is just plain silly. Your mind leaps to conclusions that are unwarranted. What’s next? I can’t talk about ‘winning a war’ without trivializing the accomplishments of the Allies in the Second World War? Come on. Give your posts some thought, please.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks dude, I don’t think any more needs be said, but since it really is a pertinent issue and perhaps the above poster may be more open minded that he lets on I thought I’d post a bit more (and because I’m home sick today with time on my hands).

    Look at the St.Petersburg Pravda, the ‘official’ mouthpiece of the Soviet Union up to 1991, there are remarkable similarities in their operation. Now, obviously our government doesn’t sit around dictating to the paper what to print-although they didn’t in the USSR either, they simply found the editors with the right ‘viewpoint’. That government and Irvings are intensely intertwined shouldn’t escape the most casual observer, unless they live under a rock. Similarities:

    1. Choices of topics: this is the most obvious theme in propaganda. Only certain stories can ever be told, and the material at this blog is testament to the lack of coverage of serious economic issues. I would also say that serious social issues are completely ignored as well, in fact, a good proportion of the paper is nothing but ads, opinions, lifestyles, sports, and other items meant to ‘entertain’, not inform.

    2. Emphasize the positive: the soviet union was called ‘the people’s paradise’ by the soviet union itself. If all you read was the Irving press you’d think much the same was true in New Brunswick.

    3. Ignore the negative: Just read past blogs here for more on this. In the Soviet union there was almost no coverage of the invasion of Afghanistan. This fits in with number 1, where extensive reporting was done in Russian on american involvement in asia and latin america. In the US it was the mirror image, very little coverage of latin america, but lots on afghanistan.

    4. Top sources for good news: where possible the highest level sources are used for news that is of great importance. In the USSR all big pronouncements came straight from the central committee, in New Brunswick, if the news is good and important, Lord himself will have a press conference and nice big splashy colour photos will be used. A more perfect example couldn’t be found than a month ago in the campaign when the T&T had a glossy setup of photos of lord, while the liberal coverage had a dingy black and white picture.

    5. Senior bureaucrats for not so good news: when dismal news simply MUST be covered then it is typically bureaucrats who hand it out, often not even ministers themselves. This creates ‘transference’, as people tend to distrust such unaccountable figures so generally give the government the benefit of the doubt.

    6. The last word: In virtually every story of the paper, both Pravda and Irving, there is similar ‘slant’ to the story. The main argument is presented, then a corresponding argument given by someone else in the same field to give it credence. Usually toward the end of the article the ‘opposing’ viewpoint is given, typically, if possible, from somebody known to be in a fringe movement, or a ‘lay person’ who just doesn’t know any better, then the final paragraphs contain the rebuttle to those arguments. When you read the Irving press, always carefully read the lasp paragraph.

    That is just the basic outline of the propaganda method, it is identical whether it is nazi germany or the US-or Pravda or here. Go back to the first or second world war and read the newspapers and you will find all the coverage eerily similar-the two sides mirror one another. If you think media is actually doing what it is supposed to, ask yourself this: name and list as many of the bills that were passed last year-can you get more than five?

    Obviously this is referring only to media and not to governments other sources of coersion. In the soviet union ‘the party’ was created by a massive bloodbath by the people, the party knew as it had done once-so it would again. In New Brunswick this really isn’t an issue, the newspaper just needs to make complacent a small minority of the voting public to maintain the status quo.

  5. dave says:

    It’s my belief Brunswick News values financial return above promoting any particular political party. It’s not so much what the papers have to say; it’s how many readers pay to absorb the message.

    The differences between the contending provincial political parties are slim enough. The separation between the editorial approach of the two main Irving newspaper properties is much wider.

    Check the increasingly sharp divergence between story selection and treatment in the TJ and the Transcript. Surveying (some)other Irving media properties, it appears the Moncton rag is a rogue agent, creature of a man who freely admits he’s in it for “advocacy journalism”(shall we simplify? PROPAGANDA)but who clearly turns a buck. Otherwise he’d have been drop-kicked clear back across the country, to Penticton or wherever he came from, ages ago.

    Yeah, he has a captive audience. And yeah, really, the paper is little more than an ink-leaking envelope for all those Superstore flyers wadded inside.

    But we all read it, right? David? And just kind of bitch about it. I wonder if the McCains are interested in converting some of those pizza profits into a paper or two. Anybody else have a few spare millions?

  6. Anonymous says:

    The next generation doesn’t read newspapers, almost eveybody I know who reads the papers are not younger than 35. The internet is making them obsolete, I’ve even got my dad (that old ‘uneducated’ guy) extremely close to his internet. This is a guy who can barely type, but reads the paper because of the ‘form’ not the ‘function’-meaning that sitting with a cup of coffee looking at a laptop just isn’t a habit he can foresee-that is also changing.

    If you go to Irving’s website it is even worse, you can literally see just how few actually news stories they cover. Yet they provide a valuable service as they actively promote it which means they are weening their readers right off of them.

    What is REALLY needed is simply one website which runs COMMUNITY news. Links to stories in each part of the province and and central repository of provincial and federal issues, covering things new brunswick media ignores. That takes some work, but I’ve noticed that blogs are REALLY starting to take off. Charles Leblanc’s, which is good for grassroots but light on editing is one of the top 1% of all blogs in the world. I’ve seen several offshoots by others who are getting good hits.

    If you look at what is coming down the pike, meaning podcasts, video camera phones, free editing software, the opening is there for a group to literally start an online ‘television’ station. Don’t be looking at the print fossils of the past-look to the future. Heck, they say most New Brunswickers can’t read anyway.