Following in the steps of the Orange Jesus, the Conservatives have gone to war with the media. Bruce Arthur writes:
First, let’s all hope Garnett Genuis is OK. You would hate to see the Conservative MP taking different routes to work, holed up in a motel, mattresses against the windows, worried for his life. You’d hate for him to feel unsafe.
That said, we should live in the real world, too. Every week the federal Conservatives seem to find a new way to make media the enemy, and this week one member of the media helped them along. Freelance journalist Dale Smith, who is often accused of being sympathetic to the government, watched Genuis pepper an inflation question with lyrics from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which was based on the largely imaginary crisis before this one, if you’re keeping track.
So Smith tweeted, “Genuis tries to includes lyrics from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in his question, and I cannot adequately tell you how lame it is. When horses are this lame, you shoot them. #QP.”
Smith is said to have a tendency to irritate much of the Ottawa press corps, and this was a careless, irritating turn of phrase. But let’s be honest: any real-world interpretation of that phrase would not find any more violence in the tweet if Smith had said, say, break a leg.
But the Conservatives have decided media is the enemy, and that this serious moment in human history is a great college debate club game. Genuis, House leader Andrew Scheer and party leader Pierre Poilievre took public umbrage, and the usual right-wing press cranked up the outrage engines. There was some confusion, but it was clear the Conservatives asked that Smith be banned from the West Block on a security basis, and removed from the Parliamentary Press Gallery either temporarily or permanently.
Genuis asked the Speaker to rule whether Smith’s tweet impacted his ability to do his job, which could open a big parliamentary can of worms, or give the Conservatives a chance to complain the system is rigged against poor ol’ them.
Smith's tweet was stupid. There's a lot of that going around these days. But the Conservative response was pure theatre:
This is such patently empty and performative grievance that it’s a wonder CPC members didn’t stock up on fake blood. You might note the obvious asymmetry between the parameters of political rage — the convoy, for instance, was deemed a national security threat by law enforcement, and the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre confirmed that, involving specific threats to at least four ministers. You could point out the Conservative Party itself has embraced the convoy, and all the anti-public health, media-hating rage that came with it.
And even if you could put all that aside, you have to have a child’s sense of cleverness to consider this a real-world gotcha. It’s like saying that because someone said speak of the devil, they were summoning Satanism. Scheer tried this before, pretending that referring to political defenestration meant encouraging murder via open windows. Maybe, somehow, he even believes it.
That's what politics have become these days -- pure theatre.