One wondered what would break the journalistic overkill on the Covid virus story. What could possibly interfere with that endless diatribe of stories? The litany of accounts, after a few months were admittedly beginning to weaken slightly, as the practitioners of journalism began to pen items on how to wear a mask, the lack of yeast in the grocery stores, or the various coping skills of young and old when constrained in your individual hovels. The illogical and outright stupid began to blend with fragments of intelligent commentary but in the end it all became a stew of righteous and contradictory dialogues. The science on the virus was not clear then and it is not clear now.
But fear sells and as such was the underlying theme running throughout the 24 hour news cycle—fear of dying— fear of others—fear of travel—fear of hugging—fear of having to wear masks which turned into fear of not wearing masks.
The press finally tasting greater ratings after being in decline for the last number of years, fully gave over to the theory that the greater the pronouncement, the greater the fear generated, the more that people would be paying attention to those newscasts. They have always known that a multi-car crash always draws better than a two car fender bender, but this had the greatest potential—the ability to turn the daily infection numbers into a catastrophe of “never been seen before” dimensions.
Television news clearly told the banner producer on “Breaking news”, to just leave it running. Death was everywhere as if posing for the 5th Estate that pursued the glimmers of devestation . The media became addicted. Pictures of bodies, pictures of people laying in the street, or pictures of gowned and masked fatigued hospital workers, sweat stains outlining their newly lined worried faces.
In the early simpler days, the press always waited around for the picture or video of the body bagged victim, being rolled from the residence on a gurney. This virus was a new heaven to the throng of journalists who dutifully culled and edited videos from around the world, while sitting safely behind their laptops. Tents full of body bags or mass burial grounds were portrayed every night, over and over again, helping to keep the grim and ominous dark clouds hanging over the future.
The media generated fear with single minded attention on a scale never seen before. The level of their deceit knew no bounds. Shallow unsubstantiated subjective reporting has now put the mainstream media in Canada in the category of grocery store tabloids.
So as we entered the fourth month we braced for more covid stories while the death lottery numbers droned on.
Then out of the blue, with head-snapping alacrity, that same intense media attention all swung south of the border.
A new crisis was born and this new “crisis “contained all the elements of headline seeking editors and broadcasters; violence, crowds, tear gas, endless videos of police pushing the “innocent”, journalists being “targeted” with pepper bullets. A veritable smorgasbord of tweets, photos and videos were uploaded. Unverified raw video, no background reporting, just a torrent of information from which to feed this new appetite for fear and consternation.
Predictably, social media exploded, as did any pretence on the part of the Canadian media establishment of being “journalists”. Subjective, point of view, opinionated journalists have now replaced the old guard that had once prided themselves on being objective, who felt that they had a duty to report the news, not create the news.
Damn the ethics and standards espoused for the last 100 years. Objective, fact checked and dual sourced reporting was now officially extinct.
It has been replaced by the simple emphatic declaration stated and then presented as fact. Black and white prognosis only, no longer room for the grey areas where most problems actually live. They have become accumulators of cellphone clips. Thirty seconds or stories of two hundred characters are now being encouraged, followed, repeated, and disseminated with alarming speed. The new short attention span generation, the selfie generation apparently needs to be satiated.
Fear for your safety and those out of control police it has been decided now going to replace fear for your health. The death of a middle-aged black man has now been declared more dramatic than an eighty-four year old with “underlying” health’s issues. The fact that in Minneapolis that a man died at the hands of the police was the bonus, the fact that he was black was the ignitor to the combustible fuel of racism. The police were the obvious and easy targets.
Thus, 21st century social outrage has once again been released.
The Canadian media was not deterred in their presentations, even though it was hundreds of miles and a country away. They played the outrage at full volume and were then rewarded with Canadians now taking to the streets to protest racial inequality in the United States. Canada was pulled in by its proximity, and the internet pulled in the rest of the world.
Videos began surfacing in Canada of various incidents throughout the country which the media now deemed as racist or intolerant. No details, no examination, just outright speculation and proclamations.
The usual liberal fringe interest groups then began to emerge, excited by the prospect of a new fire to flame. The more vocal, outlandish, and hopefully photogenic, the more media attention they would receive.
The Indigenous in Canada always willing to claim racism no matter the context, climb aboard the racist allegation train, a fresh spotlight pointed at them in which to air their complaints. There was no room or time for a counter narrative. Cameras immediately flashed to an Indigenous chief claiming assault at the hands of the police, which even in its subjective telling seemed dubious. A female is killed by police in Edmonston New Brunswick, which the media immediately imply is suspicious, hints of racism because she is “indigenous”.
Canadian media and much of the American media lives on the left of the political spectrum, so they spin victimization, and excoriate anyone with a counter view. They are thoroughly smitten by the liberal democratic and “progressive” viewpoint. Everyone must comply with their viewpoint, to do otherwise is to pronounce you an “ist”…racist, chauvinist, misogynist— take your pick.
Equally disturbing is that the new age politicians aren’t very far behind the media and what is “trending”. They now always follow the herd. Where and when social media declares a story or video snippet to be of grave significance and it enjoys any kind of momentum, that is where you will now find the politicians. Politicos must be seen as on the leading edge, at the forefront of what is all good and righteous. As the Facebook or Instagram twirl begins to spin out of control a politician can not countenance disagreeing with the mob. Lead the mob, don’t be left behind or you court political insignificance or ostracization.
So fully armed with a 30 second video clip as full and damning evidence they mount their pulpits; our Prime Minister and Opposition Leaders in full throat bemoaning the new “crisis”. There is no time for debate or opposition. Trudeau is “deeply alarmed” over the incident involving the Indigenous Chief; Bill Blair comes out form behind the coat tails of Trudeau to chime in that “people across the country deserve answers” (on Twitter of course). The Indigenous Service Minister Marc Miller, on seeing only the initial report, despite any evidence “strongly condemned recent acts of violence by police against Indigenous people.” “I’m pissed, I’m outraged” said this Minister of the Crown using clearly his best Parliamentary language and putting his ignorance on full display.
Is there anything wrong with this new age of media? Is there anything wrong with this semi-spontaneous “outrage”? The President of the United States is a great player of this game. Is there anything wrong with him standing in front of the White house with his bible, posing for his alt-right followers? Of course. Is there anything wrong with our Prime Minister, on the other side of the political spectrum, dressed in his current costume of long hair and a mask, kneeling amongst those protesting police brutality and systemic racism? Of course. These two individuals are very similar in their hypocrisy and deceit, just opposite ends of the political stick.
It is this disturbing dumbing down of the facts that is the most concerning. It is sapping intelligence and the need to think. It is crowd think. It is follow the herd and it is also fleeting. The need to react and deal with an issue and explore possible options to resolution is lost as quickly as it developed. The herd always moves on.
Social media is spontaneous and therefore often leaderless. Its only mantra is that “everyone’s voice matters”, no matter how misinformed or irresolute that voice may be. Slogans and jingos are passing as possible policy. Apparently they want the disassembling of the Minneapolis police department, they just don’t know why or how to do it.
Make no mistake about it there is racism in all parts of the world, including our world. There is no denying of that fact. There are also bad cops, sometimes really bad cops. Why? Because they are human beings. There should be no tolerance for those that breach, but there must be a fair and just investigation as well. Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on the neck of George Floyd will face a trial. The other three officers, standing idly by were also charged. All the evidence will surface at the trial.
But, George Floyd as a symbol of systemic racism? A former convict with several convictions; high on fentanyl, and methamphetamine, and found with a baggie of powder at the time of the arrest. His most serious conviction involved him and others doing a home invasion, where he put a gun to the belly of a pregnant woman to force compliance. Is this who should be held up as the next Reverend King?
A black conservative commentator Candace Owens recently brought up some interesting statistics. A police officer has an 18 1/2 times more chance of being killed by a black man in the United States, than a black man has of being killed by the police. She calls these protests and the black lives matter movement as “smoke and mirrors” in that the statistics simply don’t back up claims of systemic racism by the police. You may not agree with her, but you at least need to be allowed to hear her. The burning books mentality once confined to the right are now coming from the left.
We are truly in very unsettled times. Not because of covid, or riots, but because of the perilous road chosen by the media of this country and the dissolution of debate and learned thought. The media are fomenting fear and dissent in pursuit of remaining part of a social media fabric that now rules this 21st century. The politicians now govern and are being placed in power by implementing the tools of that same social media trade.
Trump and Trudeau despite their political differences are now holding hands as they skip down this road to that dark spot where image has replaced substance. What it looks like much more important than what it is.
And if you happen to be a police officer in these times, do not hope for any support from these same politicians, or your superiors, who are now poised to jump on this media driven bandwagon if given any opportunity. Their continued political and managerial existence depends on burning you at the stake.
In the last 48 hours police officers are being charged with new found efficiency, Chief Saunders, the first black Toronto PD Chief, is running for the exit, and the National Police Federation and RCMP Commissioner Ms Lucki are in hiding.
You are now officially on your own.
6 thoughts on “Fires burning…”
Another great write Peter.
A recent comment was . . . “Where are the Killer Hornets?”
The numbers of real investigative reporters is a figment of their own imagination.
The press cannot or will not stand up and accept responsibility for their over zealous reporting.
Great job Peter, glad we had our time in earlier years.
Great read Pete, thx.
Crazy times, with even crazier leadership (or lack thereof).
Very interesting point regarding the behaviour of Trump and Trudeau on opposite sides of the political stick. They both have experience as actors.
It seems that video of the police has become the new political pornography.
Thank you!! As a dedicated 14 yr member of the red coats I can’t even express my disgust with our senior “leadership”, the Union we fought so hard to get and the two faced politicians that have no knowledge on the complexity of Policing, Law and Use of force. They all need to take a good long look in the mirror. (blackface?) To quote a famous line “Fake news media” how dare you? Everyone of these people who WE stand up to protect every single day regardless of what they say or how they treat us have now painted a giant bulls-eye on the back of every Law Enforcement officer in the Country. We sacrifice EVERYTHING, without asking for anything in return and this is how we are treated. Yes Minnesota was WRONG because they killed a MAN, yes there are racist people in every organization and community in the world and collectively we all need to come together to be better.
Front line law enforcement are being fed to the wolves. We don’t choose who commits crime, we don’t choose the color of their skin, we don’t choose their sexual orientations, we don’t choose who their family is or what profession they have. We don’t make the laws or policies we just have to enforce them. We do so everyday to the best of our abilities while being attacked verbally; yes with racist slurs, threatening our families and threats of violence. We are attacked physically; spit on, punched (threatened to be punched), kicked, head butted, cut, beaten and worse. Then we get right back out there and do it all again because who else is going to do it? Our “leaders” have NO COURAGE to stand up to the mob mentality – It’s everyone for themselves; project the blame on the lowest hanging fruit and tuck their tails and hope they can’t be seen. So much for bringing everyone together to be better.
Thank you Peter for your support.
Pete, Fair and balanced. Excellent!