Will Colonel Sanders get the chickens to vote for him again? That, Michael Harris writes, is the question which the next federal election will turn on. And, given what has happened to the Canadian media, it's a lot easier to get the chickens to vote:
The mainstream media could once be relied upon to distinguish the hot air from the facts. That is still partially true, and there are many fine journalists on the scene. But the media landscape is profoundly changed. You could be forgiven, for example, if you mistook CBC board meetings these days for Conservative party fundraisers. According to the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, it is donor country, full stop, with eight of the eleven current members of the board having contributed to the CPC. It is transformation-by-patronage of a national institution, handing over the controls of a 767 to someone without a pilot’s license.Conflict of interest is everywhere these days:
The truth is, the mainstream media outlets have ceded obscene tracts of their authority to people they should be covering, not covering up for. Why should Stephen Harper be writing editorials for the National Post? Why did the calamitous Fords get a radio show from CFRB, a news/talk station with a CRTC license? What was John Tory doing on his radio show, informing his listeners or setting the stage for a successful campaign for mayor of Toronto?
Far too many of the facts that fill our newspapers and television broadcasts come from people with skin in the political game – either as representatives doing PR for the political parties, or former politicians embarking on post-political image-revision. If you had to choose, who would you rather listen to on one of those back-slapping panels that plague contemporary television – Andrew Mitrovica or Stockwell Day? What on earth is Stockwell Day doing on the CBC as a political commentator? Are we supposed to believe Day has suddenly rediscovered his honesty and cojones now that he only has to make his living as a “political consultant” (a.k.a. lobbyist)? He is still a partisan and he now stands to lose hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, if he is no longer part of the “in crowd” in Ottawa.
There is one more question behind the next election. How many of those who didn't vote last time around will vote this time?
There are a lot of theories floating around about why 9 million Canadians didn’t vote in the last election. I lean towards the view that the hellish cascade of agenda-driven, special interest, utterly poisoned communications has persuaded them that dropping out is better than engaging. They don’t know who to believe, they don’t trust anybody, and they don’t think they matter. And the less wealthy and more disenfranchised they are, the more likely they are to ‘fuggit.’
They know the well of information has been poisoned. And they have elected to get nowhere near it.