Globe and Mail TV columnist John Doyle’s recent column is about the CBC, Canada’a culture war and why only the conservatives are willing to take chances on television.
The topic of his column: an episode of Power & Politics on CBC NN. Doyle writes:
“From the vantage point of a CBC studio somewhere out West, Ezra Levant is shouting. “I didn’t want to talk about Frank Graves, but he is a damned liar,” he barks. “His polling is junk. He is a junk hack.” In the studio in Ottawa, panelists Paul Wells of Maclean’s and Ian Capstick of MediaStyle respond – tamely, with exasperation. As the conversation (such as it is) continues, it becomes clear they find Levant beneath contempt, not worth the effort. Wells looks particularly bored.
“Typical. You want feisty, biting political punditry and insight on Canadian TV? Look to the right. Ignore the left, ignore the rest. Everyone’s too polite, except those with a pro-Conservative Party bias.
“The subject of the mini-debate on Power & Politics was, obviously, EKOS pollster Frank Graves’s advice to the Liberal party, as revealed by Lawrence Martin of this parish, last week: “I told them that they should invoke a culture war. Cosmopolitanism versus parochialism, secularism versus moralism, Obama versus Palin, tolerance versus racism and homophobia, democracy versus autocracy. If the cranky old men in Alberta don’t like it, too bad. Go south and vote for Palin.”
He goes on to lament Canada’s missing culture war, a la America. He points to Fox News’ “vicious blitzkreig against the Obama administration”, Jon Stewart “ceaselessly mocking Fox for getting its facts wrong” and commentators on countless TV shows “pummelling each other in sound bites, sarcasm and bullying pronouncements.” Sure, it can be off-putting, he says. “But, by heavens, it has vigour and vim.”
Cut to the much tamer Power & Politics. Doyle writes:
“While Levant barked, the others could barely be bothered to respond. They looked like the essence of a liberal media elite bored by the tedious hillbilly rants of a right-winger.”
“What I saw was cowardice, a failure to engage with the outrageous rants of Levant. . . .
“On TV panel after TV panel, from CBC NN to CTV’s Question Period, debate is dreary, if it exists at all. What’s happened on TV is that the Conservative party and its representatives grasp this, and take advantage. On CBC, the recent addition of former Conservative spokesman Kory Teneycke is a fascinating development. Teneycke is sharp and very, very good at pushing the Conservative agenda. Whip-smart about TV, he never hides his allegiance and is adept at gazing-directly-at-the-camera sincerity. His opposite numbers are amateurs in comparison and seem utterly unwilling to stand for any principle.”
Doyle goes on to discuss some “tedious” Canadian political coverage, and concludes:
“I’ll let others brood on whether Frank Graves’s advice to the Liberals is sage or foolish. Fact is, as this column sees it, a culture war has been unfolding in Canada for years. On TV and on the Internet. The Conservatives, small-c or not, are winning it, because the other side has wimps for commentators. On TV, the war’s been won already. And TV would be better if the war was more closely fought.”
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