Ford fluff

Tri-County Vanguard - - OPINION -

The On­tario elec­tion is June 7. Why should this mat­ter to the At­lantic prov­inces? There are a few pos­si­ble an­swers. On­tario’s size in re­la­tion to the At­lantic re­gion means what hap­pens there tends to rip­ple out­wards and af­fect other pro­vin­cial economies. Some­times things launched in On­tario find their way east as pre­cur­sors to leg­isla­tive di­rec­tion here.

And we should be aware of some­thing else that could take root here as well.

On­tario PC Leader Doug Ford, com­plain­ing about the me­dia, has done an in­ter­net end-run around the sys­tem. Not sat­is­fied with the news cov­er­age he’s re­ceiv­ing, he’s cre­ated his own with scripted video re­ports on his Face­book site. It’s not news, re­ally. Just po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­tis­ing dis­guised to look like news.

So why does it mat­ter if a can­di­date is will­ing to pay for and script his own ques­tions-an­dan­swer cov­er­age?

For years politi­cians have com­plained they’re not get­ting a fair shake from the me­dia. What they ac­tu­ally mean is that they’re not get­ting the kind of cov­er­age they want, cov­er­age that only pro­motes their pos­i­tive ac­tions.

The real me­dia views cov­er­age and anal­y­sis dif­fer­ently. Rather than class­ing news as “pos­i­tive” and “neg­a­tive,” the me­dia is gen­er­ally more con­cerned about what’s true and what’s just blow­ing smoke.

Peo­ple aren’t stupid. Hope­fully, if they take the time to watch closely they’ll re­al­ize that Ford­branded “new­cast” – com­plete with Ford-branded mi­cro­phones and cam­paign staff as “re­porters” – does not rep­re­sent an ob­jec­tive anal­y­sis of a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign.

We should be look­ing ahead at where cam­paign-pro­duced in­ter­net “cov­er­age” should fit in pro­vin­cial and fed­eral cam­paigns and how it would have to be iden­ti­fied as cam­paign ad­ver­tis­ing, es­pe­cially if a can­di­date makes a point of avoid­ing me­dia scru­tiny and ques­tions.

We don’t know­ingly let large cor­po­ra­tions script and en­force their own reg­u­la­tions or con­sumer pro­tec­tion stan­dards. We don’t al­low teach­ers to pick their own in­di­vid­ual cur­ric­ula, nor do we al­low driv­ers to de­cide what the safe top speed is that they can drive at, or the amount of al­co­hol they can han­dle and stay be­hind the wheel.

Hav­ing Doug Ford’s staff ex­plain why Doug Ford is the best choice on the Doug Ford news chan­nel is more than a lit­tle con­flicted. And hav­ing his own staff tell you that’s why some­one should vote for him? Well, it’s self-serv­ing in­deed.

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