Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Get Diverted by the Spin Doctors - Delve into the Real Issues

You have seen a day's worth of spin and parsing of words and examples of journalistic ethical lapses on the Dion Halifax CTV interview.

Here is an excerpt of the interview that will find it place in journalism schools as a mistake and an example of poor questioning:

Steve Murphy: M. Dion, you’ve said today that Mr. Harper has offered nothing to put Canadians minds at ease during this financial crisis, and you go on to say that he has no vision for the country. You say we have to act now; doing nothing is not an option. So I’d like to begin by asking you: If you were Prime Minister now, what would you have already done in this crisis that Mr. Harper hasn’t done?

Stephane Dion: I can’t, I don’t understand the question. Because are you asking me to explain sir, at which moment, today, or since a week, or 60 weeks or s…

Steve Murphy: No, if you were the Prime Minister during this time already.

Stephane Dion: We need to start again. I’m sorry, I, if I was the Prime Minister starting when? Today? If I was the Prime Minister today?

Dion Aid: If you were the Prime Minister when, since Harper’s been Prime Minister.

Stephane Dion: Ya, two years and a half, ago.

Dion Aid: At any give time.

Soooo this looks to me like a legitimate request for clarification as to the time frame referenced in the question. Dion is asking Murphy if the time frame in is question is what would he do differently from Harper IF Dion had been in power since the last election, or since the election was called in early September, or if Dion should win on Tuesday.

What Dion would do differently would differ in each case. Here is some more transcript that will show you how this is the only reasonable interpretation of Dion's request to have the question clarified.

Dion Aid: What would you have done differently between, between the time that Harper’s been there, to change the country.

Stephane Dion: Ya, but if I had been Prime Minister two years and a half ago, we’d have had an agenda. Let’s start again.

Steve Murphy: OK.

Stephane Dion: We’ll go there.

Technician: I’m rolling. Still recording.

Steve Murphy: M. Dion, thank you for coming.

Stephane Dion: Thank you Steve. Let’s start again, I’m …

Steve Murphy: It’s a good job that tape is cheap.

Stephane Dion: But give me, give me a first date where I am Prime Minister that I can figure out, but, what your question is about.

Soooo...ignore the demeaning spin and take this exchange for wht it is...a failure to communicate by a professional communicator...nothing more nothing less.

We are seeing some Canadian MSM and the Conservative War Room who trying to turn this into Harper's version of the American media silliness that swirled around "Lipstick on a Pig."

There are serious issues like the economic turmoil, Afghanistan and Climate Change and health care that are not being discussed seriously enough in this election. Harper did not even respect the electorate enough to put our his campaign platform until the very last week of a 6 week campaign.

Lets move on and into the comparison of the characters of the tow front runners. Here is Dion's speech to he Canadian Club and Empire Club luncheon the day after Harper released his "platform brochure" to the exact same audience. Dion drew a much larger crowd and got 6 standing ovations. Harper had a very small audience and got a single and cursory standing "o."