Premier Rachel Notley decided this week that she decides who and how her NDP government is criticized.
Notley’s government prohibited one media organization and its reporters access to press conferees, a right-wing website called The Rebel Media. In fact, armed security guards on Feb. 3 removed one of the Rebel’s reporters from the Legislature.
Obviously this incident is not painting the NDP in a very flattering light, but in a very lame defense of the “No Rebel Media” rule, the NDP stated the Rebel Media’s top man, Ezra Levant, isn’t a journalist, so they don’t have to be treated as a news organization. Very weak excuse. It’s not an unusual situation; lots of media organizations are headed by people who have never worked in journalism. For example, the chair of Postmedia, which owns the Edmonton Journal, is a fellow named Rod Phillips and according to Postmedia’s website, “Previously, Rod was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.”
Within 24 hours of the NDP’s “War on Levant” made headlines, the NDP was backpedaling like a Ferrari in reverse; a paid staffer made a half-hearted apology and said the issue was under review. Premier Notley hasn’t commented on the issue at all.
Banning the right-wing group, which is harshly critical of the NDP government, is exactly what former Sun News personality Levant wanted. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. A really amateur mistake by Notley, which shows how naïve she is when dealing with media coverage and criticism.
Actually, those are two traits that seem to define this NDP government: amateurism and thin skin. The Pipestone Flyer had a recent experience with MLA Brice Hinckley, who wanted an “opinion column” to run in the Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer. The opinion column was akin to “The Alberta NDP government is the greatest political success story in history” advertisement, and advertisements have to be paid for if they run in this newspaper. The readers trust a community newspaper to offer fair, balanced coverage, and labeling partisan propaganda “news content” doesn’t serve the public trust.
When Hinckley was notified pablum from the NDP government wasn’t going to labeled “news” in this paper, he decided to insult The Pipestone Flyer and its editor who is known to be regularly critical of Notley and the NDP government in general on the paper’s opinion and editorial pages, where criticism is supposed to be. In a Nov. 22, 2015 email he stated, “Choosing not to print government news is undemocratic. Printing only negative, regressive opinions is unproductive and unprofessional.” In a Nov. 25 email Hinckley stated, “even though I do not appreciate your misguided opinions and suppression of balanced reporting I do value newspapers for their valuable dissemination of researched, fair, objective reporting and do hope print papers can and do survive….ha ha even the Pipestone Flyer.” True professionalism from an elected official, reminiscent of his boss Notley.
According to Hinckley, “good” media outlets are the ones who fawn over the NDP government and print fluffy, misleading propaganda labeled as news, and “bad” media outlets are the ones who criticize or hold the government accountable for their mistakes…such the suppression of balanced reporting at the Legislature last week.
A very sad time in Alberta where Premier Notley and the NDP government are allowed to pick and choose how they’re held to account for what they say and do.
A sad time in Canada when a politician is allowed to decide who is a journalist and who isn’t.