Journalists jumped on the bandwagon in the Raitt affair

What bothered me most about media coverage of the Lisa Raitt affair in the first 24 hours [after the Chronicle-Herald published its story about the minister’s taped comments] is lack of precision on the part of both journalists and members of Parliament regarding Raitt’s characterization of the nuclear isotope issue as “sexy.”

To my ears, Raitt described the isotope shortage as “sexy” to the extent that it is an issue of critical importance to the Canadian medical system (let alone other clients worldwide) and, thus, one that would provide a relatively obscure minister with an opportunity to tackle a crisis in a way that would substantially raise her visibility and, if successful, her credibility.

She described the issue as “sexy” the way many newsroom managers would similarly describe a news story that had strong public appeal and held the promise of building readership or ratings.

The following day, however, we saw members of Parliament and leaders of opposition parties chastise the minister for stupidly or unfeelingly declaring that “cancer” was “sexy.” Journalists jumped on that bandwagon too. It was, at best, a misrepresentation.

Raitt’s critiques of her colleagues and the sloppiness of her staff with documents and tape recordings are other issues for which she deserves tough scrutiny. But the aforementioned distortion caught my attention.