Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Canadian media : It can't happen here.

We're getting a lot of stories from our media who are at pains to assure us a Canadian equivalent to the Rupert Murdoch scandal of cozy incestuous relationships with British politicians and illegal phone hacking/dirty tricks couldn't possibly happen here in Canada.

Really? No cozy incestuous relationships? No dirty tricks?

On March 30, 2009, Stephen Harper, PMO staffer Kory Teneycke, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, and Roger Ailes, president of Fox News and former communications adviser to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., all sat down to lunch.

We know this because it showed up in the mandatory disclosures media consultant and former White House flack Ari Fleischer made to the U.S. Justice Department. Ari, you will recall, had a personal contract with Steve to grease US media wheels for him. Teneycke had a dream of a Canadian Fox news channel.
Four months later, Teneycke had left the PMO - barely a year into his job as Harper's chief spokesman - only to pick up a contract with Quebecor to explore a project that Ottawa insiders almost immediately described as a fledgling "Fox News North."
Three more PMO staffers followed Teneyke to SunMedia : an issues management adviser, an advertising manager, and an issues management researcher, described as "a guy who could dig up any dirt on the opposition in a jiffy".

Teneycke himself had to take a brief three and half month leave from heading his new project after conflict-of-interest embarrassments ramped up following his Sun op-ed and public admission to prior knowledge of the hacking of an Avaaz petition hostile to his setting up of a Fox News North in Canada.

Teneycke was back in the Sun saddle during Steve's re-election campaign in April this year when a fifth former PMO staffer, Harper's former deputy chief of staff Patrick Muttart, sent him a photo of an Ignatieff look-alike posing in full combat gear in Kuwait in 2002.
"Ignatieff linked to Iraq war planning" ran the SunMedia headline and story, sans photo, before Teneycke apparently tumbled to the ruse.

Patrick Muttart was working for the Con election war room at the time, while simultaneously heading the "Canada/US practice" at the US PR firm Mercury Public Affairs, where he works under Terry Nelson. Nelson, former political director of the 2004 Bush Cheney campaign and McCain-Palin campaign manager, now a Senior Advisor to teabagger and 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, is famous for the race-baiting campaign ads and phonejamming dirty tricks done under his GOP watch, and for employing the media advisor on the original Swiftboat Veterans For Truth ads which used lies and doctored photos to smear John Kerry's war record during his run for US president.

Amusingly, the CTV piece, Harper immune from Murdoch-style scandal, makes extensive use of analysis from Muttart to assure us a similar scandal could not happen here. We just don't have the same "intense, quasi-incestuous" clique of political and media elites, Muttart says without irony.
Besides, another Harper former chief of staff, Ian Brodie, explains about Canadian papers: "so few people actually read most of them."

Yet somehow the rightwing National Post muddles on for 13 years losing $9-million a year, no one seems to know who owns CanWest/PostMedia now besides it being some US hedge fund and so much for the rule limiting foreign media ownership to a third, and 99% of the papers which endorsed a candidate in the last election all endorsed Steve.

We could have a Murdoch-style scandal here and it would be out of the news cycle again the same week, no damage done.

Update : More from David Climenhaga at Rabble


Antonia Z said...

Hey Alison,

Great post but just to clarify any possible confusion ...

Shaw Media now owns what used to be CanWest/Global TV.

PostMedia is the US investment firm-owned entity

Alison said...

Ooops! Thanks, A - don't know how CanWest got in there. Also miscounted the number of PMO staffers in my own post, duh. Fixed.

BC Mary said...


I love this post ... and it fits right in with my theme that Rupert Murdoch is our key to understanding how things get all bent out of shape when the media isn't doing its job.

It sure as heck could happen in Canada, has happened here, is happening here as we speak, and News of the World etc is our wake-up call.

Alison, may I have permission to re-post this on my blog? Please?

BC Mary
The Legislature Raids

Alison said...

Hi there, BC Mary - I'd be honoured! Thank you.
You can probably delete the crossed out CanWest now if you like - I left it in to show a corrected mistake.

RossK said...

Not that you really need more evidence Alison given this excellent, well-sourced/researched post - but here is just a wee bit more.


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