Tanya Granic Allen's bad attempt at misdirection

Her appearance on Newstalk 1010 in an attempt to save face this week is quite instructive. The blow she faced being removed as a PC candidate was humiliating and she went on friendly and sympathetic territory to try to salvage her career.

It was not a good move.

She seemed to try to deflect attention away from her past bigoted comments that doomed her political career. She denies being a hater, but then has a verified and on-the-record history of claiming if a certain segment of society is given the right to get married, it will result in the "demise of society."

But then she made a peculiar claim that people were phoning her to tell her their children were getting scary attention from Children's Aid for their parents's religious beliefs. The host, who has been on the record as liking her, then asked if she had any proof that this claim was true.

She immediately backtracked from the claim, stating there were privacy issues and the like.

It is not as if people have not gone public to the media and social media making complaints about CAS's meddling. If this is going to be your defence in public, you better have facts to pony up.

It's irrelevant. You cannot take a position, and then, when you are called on the carpet for it, pretend you didn't make that position.

There is a difference between being cunning and conniving -- and many people new to strategy-based careers think they are cunning, when they are, in fact, conniving. They make it so so far, only to crumble when an obstacle requires a genuinely cunning mindset -- they are shocked that their methods blow up in their faces because they honestly believe they are the smartest person around.

It is easy to pander to a group who feels besieged. It is easy to chest-thump and try to exploit morality to shame opposing voices. 

It is not so easy to defend yourself when those gambits are exposed.

Granic Allen entered an arena with far superior intellects who are veterans with experience in dealing with opposition in expedient, cutthroat ways. The base she hitches her ride on will not punish Doug Ford for dumping her -- they will vote Tory no matter what.

And contrary to journalistic narrative, I do not believe Granic Allen was a kingmaker -- had she not put her hat in the ring -- those votes would have gone to Ford regardless. Her clout is an illusionary one -- and it explains why she crashed and burned before the election campaign even began...

Pseudo-transparency and reflection in journalism cannot save it.

It is not hard to imagine why journalism collapsed, but it is not as if every in the profession is oblivious to what needs to be done. The problem is the vast majority are bringing the profession down.

I always said WikiLeaks is the ideal journalism should have been: true outsiders. Julian Assange has lost much of his focus lately, though I cannot say I blame him. He gave traditional media too much credit trying to plead his case that WikiLeaks and legacy media have the same goals. They do not.

WikiLeaks tried to awaken the population so that they would know what is really happening. Journalists at the Post and the New York Times want to mug for America as some action heroes of democracy as they attend red carpet affairs. Seriously, I respect Assange and root for him, but he is proof of what happens to you when you don't get out enough.

But of the few people in legacy media, most have no idea of what they should have been doing, though Newstalk 1010's Jerry Agar had some inkling recently doing a multi-day story on the impact of miscarriages -- starting with the personal and then branching out to the medical and psychological over the course of days. It wasn't a narrative. It wasn't sensationalism or social engineering. It wasn't bombast or fear-mongering. And it never tried to weave in Donald Trump into it in any way. But Agar is not a journalist by trade -- and that's disconcerting that the personality sees something the news producers do not.

In a world with a glut of opinion, people are getting opinion fatigue because opinion doesn't solve problems.

Facts do.

But journalism ran away from facts a long time ago. WikiLeaks understood facts and they gave the world facts.

But the world was too in love with spewing opinions that they ignored them, and worse, villainized them because those facts clashed with their opinions.

Journalism long ago realized spewing opinion was cheaper than gathering facts, and now that they lost their monopoly on broadcasting it, they are trying to move back a more credible model, but they no longer have a pulse on what that even means.

We can take the Toronto Star as an example. They have a public editor acting more as an apologist and justifier, explaining to the little people why journalists interview grieving families for stories because you have the perpetually offended trying to one-up each other to be the Queen and King of Morality on Twitter and whining that exposing the world to the ugly reality is a bad thing, and that privacy is necessary. Besides, what if they are made accountable and forced to change their routine, proving them wrong? What will the jealous siblings say about them on the Facebook?

No, there are people who never want to be inconvenienced by other people's troubles and they do not want to see bad news because then someone may realize their lives are dysfunctional and they do not live in paradise.

Why do you need a public editor for that? People videotape all sorts of tragic and embarrassing things that go viral -- and millions of people watch it. Those same snowflakes hold up traffic to gawk at car accidents on the highway. It's a sham.

Besides, if families do not want to talk to reporters, they don't. Journalists can't issue subpoenas. 

But the Star thinks it is being transparent when it isn't.

It tries to put that façade of seriousness. Even when it tells the Great Unwashed how their reporters get government documents to copy verbatim, assuming that people don't do the same thing in their own jobs or personal lives. 

I don't see the Star actually questioning the veracity of those papers or whether or not what is on them is accurate and valid.

Journalism should have been more than just appealing to authority.

But it wasn't because facts are not important when you are spewing opinion, propaganda, and narrative.

True journalistic transparency takes a lot more than that -- when I ran Chaser News, I was transparent -- not just with how I gathered facts -- but how I analyzed and verified them.

As well as my reactions to things I came across -- such as my anger during a Take Back the Night rally that had trained professionals in mental health and social services completely ignore a woman having a panic attack as she was visibly distressed. It was not part of my original story about trying to find a missing woman, but the episode did hint that people fall through the cracks because we often become numb to our surroundings even as our jobs dictate we must be vigilant.

But vigilance has become something people look down on these days: It's All Good! Perfect! and No worries and three very worrisome attitudes we have accepted as being cool and acceptable.

No, it's not all good. No, it's not perfect. Yes, there are worries.

That's why we have to always work hard to improve things, even if it means being distressed and questioning ourselves, our choices, and our methods.

Had journalists been transparent, they would have seen where they were going wrong. Instead, they chose that nonchalant attitude to pretend they were doing everything perfectly.

And then came their destruction.

An alternative to journalism must take care that the attitude is never a flippant one that deadens the senses and encourages lethargy and complacency. Life is a struggle and a never-ending riddle -- and the alternative must be a realistic and true reflection of our own essences to connect and thrive in the world...

Why it has always been a struggle for journalists to tear down privacy walls.

Just listening to Newstalk 1010 this morning, and the host's panel was typical Canadian sheep, not concerned about government nannying using absurd logic in "privacy consideration." The host had made a good observation in regards to a girl who was reported missing in Toronto: when she was reported missing, the police exploited the press by telling them to plaster her picture and name everywhere, publicizing her presence to the world, but when it no longer suited them, they refused to divulge any details of the two women arrested over the false report, citing privacy concerns. He then went on to say how the issuing of publication bans was promiscuous in Canada, but the panel were complacent sheep -- you know, rules are rules.

So many problems in the world happen precisely because people in power want to hold secrets from the public, but Establishment institutions always saw journalists as they extension and tool to blare out what they want, but expect them to comply with silence when the truth would prove inconvenient.

Yes, the laws regarding bans and privacy are out of sync in a world where we can easily preserve and access information. It is a form of controlling the information stream and denying fact-gatherers access to seeing patterns and information that may alter public perceptions, allowing bad laws from being passed because the actual situation is being grossly mischaracterized.

But journalism was never properly organized. They needed to educate and cultivate professions beyond journalist, editor, and publisher: they needed those who could go up against governments and courts to ensure their profession could function. But the blinders always got in their way...

Do Canadian journalists get why they lost their clout? Not at all.

I was listening to Newstalk 1010 this morning where the host was talking to a newspaper columnist about the case of Marie-Maude Denis, a Radio-Canada journalist who is being forced by the courts to reveal her sources. Her story led to arrests, and now one of the parties on trial are claiming a variety of things, and that her source had a vested interest.

Canada never had the same protections for journalists as they have in the US, and mostly never needed to as journalists tend to be highly deferential to authority. This case is interesting in its own right, given the defence has used an effective strategy for its own fishing expedition, but considering the trial would have evidence that is not the actual story Denis filed, I am not certain how relevant putting her on the stand to make her reveal her sources would actually be.

Should she be compelled to reveal her sources? I would say no, but journalists often make promises they cannot keep in the hopes of getting information.

But the conservation about this case was more interesting to me, with the typical snooty assertion that everything was great until the waters were muddied with bloggers and citizen journalists.

Except Denis is not a citizen journalist.

And the argument falls apart on other factors: journalists, particularly in Canada, were never disciplined the way they should have been if they wished to be the ones entrusted with disseminating information. You need no special training or licence to be a reporter, for instance. There are no standards; ergo, there is no discernible difference between a "real" journalist and a citizen journalist -- one is in the army, and the other is a mercenary.

They both do essentially the same thing, but journalists have a little more money to show for it.

So it is not as if journalists were ever prepared. They could have been more effective at their jobs, and then the differences between their work and the citizen journalist would be obvious. You cannot use a Clubhouse Excuse why journalists have become weak and unable to fight back when people they have slagged in their stories retaliate. You put out a mediocre product; you cannot whine when the knock-offs look the same or better than your work.

The segment also brought up the case of Antoine Trépanier, another Radio-Canada reporter who was arrested for "criminally harassing" a source he was trying to interview, even though she had not exactly turned down his request when that would have been enough to make him not ask her again.

I am not unfamiliar with those kinds of sources, though the first time it happened was when I was just starting out and I was asked to write an advertorial about a store and the "source" who kept putting it off, but always said to "call him back" called my editor to complain I was "harassing" him. Never mind that it was advertising and it was paid for by the store's owner and then told the man (who was the manager) to give me a quick interview.

You get people like that all of the time -- those who do not know how to decline a request. The police should not have arrested him -- they should have spoken to him, he could have easily provided proof that the potential source had made no indication that she felt harassed.

The problem is that the profession never got its act together. It never had standards the way way a surgeon has standards. We never progressed was a discipline, and that's why everything got destroyed. People who are doing bad things can easily take advantage of that weakness, and that shouldn't be happening in 2018.

Because it doesn't matter if there are citizen journalists or bloggers -- if you have a system, the results elevate your work over the amateur versions of it. It is no excuse, and yet journalists whine about their glory days, never realizing it was that glory that brought them to their ruin in the first place...