Newspaper editors receiving offers they can’t refuse

An extraordinary spectacle is being played out across the land, as newspaper editorial boards are forced by their owners to endorse the Conservative Party. (As Paula Simmons put it, with regard to the Edmonton Journal’s endorsement of Harper: “And yes. Before you ask, this was a decision made by the owners of the paper. As is their traditional prerogative.”) The result has been the most tepid series of endorsements and backhanded compliments I can recall. Here is the Globe and Mail’s, which so far has attracted the most derision. Here is the Ottawa Citizen. The National Post has not released its own yet, but it looks as though they’re having to directly censor Andrew Coyne. So hard to get good help these days! You can make them say what you want, but it’s so hard to get them to sound enthusiastic when saying it.

Update: Andrew Coyne has resigned from his position as National Post opinion page editor


Newspaper editors receiving offers they can’t refuse — 9 Comments

  1. I did not know that it was up to the *owners* of a paper to decide who to endorse, as opposed to the editorial staff. That’s really interesting!

    It looks like the David Walmsley at the Globe denies that the owners tell him who to endorse. Here is is on facebook:

    ” At The Globe and Mail, unlike at other newspapers, the editorial board answers to the editor in chief, not the publisher and not the proprietor. We publish editorials every day. We have views every day. It is routine business. The editorials are the position of the newspaper, and as the editor in chief, ex-officio the chair the editorial board, I make the call”

    • As the fella said, “Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one.”

    • I don’t think anyone believes him when he says that, after he was caught lying about the Globe’s Hudak endorsement in the last election:

      On that previous endorsement, Brown writes that despite the official policy, within the newsroom “it is widely felt that Walmsley was carrying water for publisher Philip Crawley, who in turn was carrying out the orders of the Globe-controlling Thomson family, whose interests would be best served by a Conservative government.”

      I had a chance to chat with Jesse Brown about this story once, plus all the other scoops he’s been getting. He said something interesting — that it’s a byproduct of newspapers in general being a dying industry. Young people no longer see an upward career path. With no opportunity for promotion, they’re much less motivated to keep secrets, so you’re seeing a lot more people willing to rat out the older, more powerful people.

  2. An extraordinary spectacle indeed. The Globe ‘endorsement’ was so pitiful I almost felt sorry for them.

  3. Well, so much for “freedom of the press.” John Stuart Mill and Thomas Paine are probably rolling in their respective places of permanent repose. I fully intend on asking the CPC candidate in my riding (should he ever summon the courage to visit a few homes) if he is familiar with the writings of either of these esteemed gentlemen. Most likely not. This candidate, after all, blithely stated during a public “debate” that Bill C-51 was compatible with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I expect he has read neither of those texts nor the excellent book False Security: The Radicalization of Canadian Anti- Terrorism by Kent Roach and Craig Forcese. It is my understanding that Postmedia is owned by a U.S. hedge fund with ties to the petroleum industry and CAPP. If this is the case, we should hardly be surprised that it endorses Harper. So much for democracy. Michael Harris is correct in saying that under Harper we are now living in a demockery.

  4. “Extra-ordinary” means beyond or out of the ordinary.

    Now, does “newspaper editorial boards are forced by their owners to endorse the Conservative Party” count as extraordinary?

    Well, I suppose it does in this way: when the Liberal Party was last in power, journalists were being dismissed from newspapers for writing editorials that were critical of the Liberal Party. This would sometimes happen immediately after the owners of CanWest had been enjoying personal conferences with Jean Chrétien.

    So I suppose that if journalists are being “forced by their owners to endorse the Conservative Party” that would be extra-ordinary insofar only as it is Conservatives that they are being forced to endorse. By contrast, being forced to endorse the Liberal Party would be ordinary – and, one gathers, quite acceptable!

  5. “Now, does “newspaper editorial boards are forced by their owners to endorse the Conservative Party” count as extraordinary?”

    No, they’ve been doing this for a long time, Wikipedia tracks the extraordinary disconnect between newspaper endorsements and the popular vote back to 2006.

    What is extraordinary this time around is just how feeble and absurd the endorsements have been as editorial boards try (and resoundingly fail) to come up with some sort of rational argument as to why the Conservatives should stay in power even though they seemingly don’t share this sentiment themselves.

  6. I see no problem with the owners of a private media outlet demanding a certain editorial policy. There is nothing wrong with ideology, even though the word is used as a pejorative these days. I do have a problem with the CBC. The CBC reporting is clearly left biased and the taxpayer cannot opt out. The problem I have with Canadians is that we too willingly accept certain ‘self evident truths’ about Canada which are really just sacred cows.

    Can anyone honestly tell me that Trudeau promising money to the CBC budget and the CBC union being active in campaigning against Harper does not pose a problem? The fact that it is public money is the problem.