Toronto Sun columnist: “Selective scandal coverage is a disservice”

Toronto Sun columnist Brian Lilley thinks the media is giving Michael Ignatieff a free pass when it comes to reporting potentially scandalous stories.

At issue: a London Free Press story about a local teen who reportedly got kicked out of a Conservative rally after organizers found a picture of her and Ignatieff on Facebook. (Note: the Free Press is in the Sun family of papers.)

Media went wild for the story. But buried at the bottom was also a graf about RCMP bullying Free Press reporters at a Ignatieff rally.

In case you’re curious, it reads: “When Ignatieff was here last week, the RCMP got physical with two Free Press reporters, even elbowing a pregnant reporter in the stomach. Told she was pregnant, the male Mountie said: ‘That’s what you get for rushing a bodyguard.'”

OK, maybe that’s not as sensational as the Facebook flap, but are your news senses tingling? If you’re in the business of covering scandals, Lilley, for one, thinks they should be.

“I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines and watched the nightly indignant reports on Ignatieff’s goons roughing up reporters,” writes Lilley. “What’s that? You haven’t seen any reports like that? I wonder why?”

The media has been tough on both Harper and Layton, he adds, but “meanwhile it’s all hugs at the Big Red Tent.”

Some stories the public is missing out on? According to Lilley: a Quebec Liberal candidate who  belonged to a white rights group and referred to aboriginals as “featherheads” (he was booted from the party), and a candidate in Vancouver who was convicted of drunk driving in 2003.

Is this a fair assessment? You may not be entirely convinced: The story concerning the Quebec candidate was reported by the Globe and Mail, the CBC, and various other news organizations (though perhaps not with the same zest as the Facebook fiasco), while the drunk driving story was mostly picked up by local organizations.

But does Lilley have a point? Here’s what he concludes:  

“I’d rather see election coverage focus on policy. What would each of the leaders do if elected? How would they change Canada? But if media outlets plan on running story after breathless story about the latest mini-scandal, then it should happen on all the campaigns. That’s not happening right now and Canadians are poorer for it.”