My wife-to-be has gone off on tour to the collection of fractured feudal states into which the United Kingdom is destined to decline. My days, therefore, are taken up in large chunks by playing Dwarf Fortress on my computer, cultivating a sense of self-contempt, and sobbing drunkenly into my cat’s furry, warm belly. Being a creature of habit, obstacles to my indulging in any one of these three are extremely irritating, and none more so than the Toronto Sun, about which I have to dedicate twenty minutes a day to feeling angry, in order that I might avoid such medical inconveniences as ulcers, headaches, and constipation, which might in turn further encroach on my time.
I don’t, however, like to spend any more than twenty minutes feeling angry about the Sun, and Christina Blizzard ruined my weekend. As I woke on Saturday morning, brushing salt-and-vinegar chip-crumbs from my beard and stumbling hungover to my computer to once again repel an invasion of filthy kobold child-snatchers, a deuce of Blizzard’s awful columns announced themselves in my inbox, both regarding the Black Lives Matter protest at the Pride Parade last weekend.
Blizzard’s arguments are characteristically confused, often internally contradictory, and supported by evidence which is mostly demonstrably false. This is an unconventional way to approach political writing, but is I guess what we can expect from a columnist more willing to criticize our Prime Minister for daring to take photographs with certain Hanoverian usurpers than for his selling of $15 billion worth of weapons to a regime which publicly beheads gay people. But never we mind.
Apropos of my post yesterday & my frustrations with Toronto Star editor Michael Cooke’s staunch (not to say callous) refusal to answer any questions that weren’t totally unctuous & self-serving (no fewer than six – six - questions on whether Robyn Doolittle & Kevin Donovan were eligible for Pulitzers), I’ve decided to post something of a parable today. I’ve been avoiding writing/talking about Rob Ford’s meteoric decline for various reasons; mostly because it’s been all anyone else has been able to talk about, & I didn’t think there was much for me to add.
But yesterday, after I sifted through the twelve (!) pages of Star coverage on our mayor & endured the secretions of Michael Cooke’s Q & A, I’m relenting. You get one post – one & that’s it. So here it goes.
This morning, Star editor Michael Cooke had a live Q & A internet chat on the papers website. Over the course of an hour, I asked ten questions. Mr. Cooke chose to ignore all of them. Here are my questions:
- By what criteria do you, as an editor, determine how to assign coverage to certain stories over others? Isn’t the Rob Ford story (while obviously important) ultimately less politically/democratically important than the CSEC scandal?
- Have you made any attempt to reach out to Glenn Greenwald or his affiliates to review the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden that pertain to Canada? Why do we have to find out about Canadian surveillance abuses in Brazilian papers?
- What distinctions do you make between Justin Trudeau’s recent admissions to smoking pot while an MP? W/r/t drug policy, aren’t these simply matters of degree?
- Kathy English apologized publicly for the racist slant of the “Star’s” articles early in the Ford story. Nevertheless, the emblematic photograph of Ford with the two unidentified black men is, in the words of Robyn Doolittle, unconnected to the video. Isn’t publishing it, then, still tacitly racist?
- Why as the Star opted to remain silent on the fact that Barrick Gold is not only refusing to give restitution to the hundreds of women gang-raped at its Papua New Guinea mine, but also that has defied the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by so doing?
- Why has the Star not investigated into the mysterious dismissal of Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor Marketa Evans?
- How does directing questioner Carlos Alfaro to the Atkinson Principles address his fair comment w/r/t the Star’s coverage of Ford story versus other worthwhile political news stories?
- Which, in your view, is a more important story from a political, cultural, economic, perspective: that the Canadian government was spying on foreign governments to give intelligence to the private sector (how’s that for Atkinson Principles), or Rob Ford’s drug problem?
- What quantifiable damage does “international embarrassment” cause to Toronto? Specific examples would be great.
- Have there been any specific instances where the Ford story has damaged Toronto’s economic/political standing?