Robert Stephens | November 25, 2016
This week, three different stories with a similar theme. “It’s all about me” is now the new normal. We see it in the self-righteousness of the media, the expectations of big business, and the callousness of the press barons. It’s the entitlement of the elites. And there’s serious pushback happening. Read on …
The ‘dishonest’ media
The mainstream (i.e. liberal) media still haven’t figured it out. They continue to squander any claim they might have to the hearts and minds of the public because of their biased reporting. Audiences are simply switching them off.
Accustomed to power and influence, outlets like the New York Times and CNN now find themselves being kicked around by U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. And not only is there little sympathy for the major networks and newspapers, many ‘ordinary’ people feel the ‘dishonest’ media are reaping what they have sowed.
What a tragic situation. The next leader of the free world and the ‘free’ press now locked in a bitter war of words. Will the rancor grow worse? Already we have witnessed an astonishing development. This week the Donald summoned some 30 top TV news executives and anchors – including NBC’s Lester Holt, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos – to an off-the-record meeting at Trump Tower.
The network big-wigs showed up thinking they were there to discuss media access to the Trump administration. What they got instead was a severe dressing down from the president-elect. According to various reports, Trump berated them for their ‘deceitful, dishonest’ election coverage, singling out CNN in particular and calling it a ‘network of liars’.
A source who attended the meeting told the New York Post that it was “like a f—ing firing squad.”
During the election, Trump was often critical of the media. He felt there were certain news organizations as well as individual journalists who were determined to sabotage his campaign by skewing coverage against him and in favour of Hilary Clinton.
The Donald’s media skepticism is nothing new. What is new is the depths to which relations between the next President and the fourth estate have sunk.
Any fair-minded person watching the election would have concluded that the media, by and large, were Clinton supporters and Trump bashers. This bias was so obvious at times that we cringed, knowing what was coming even before Donna Brazile opened her mouth on CNN, for example, or the political reporters at the Times stirred up another day’s poisonous brew.
What the liberal media still haven’t grasped is that the citizenry is tired of being told what is politically correct. People are fed up with the holier-than-thou attitude of the media elites, and they are not listening any longer.
Yes, Trump should stop dumping on the media and get on with preparing to govern. He should accept that the media have a right – more precisely, a duty – to scrutinize his every action and question his every word.
But the media have a few things to learn as well. They better stop presenting opinion as fact, slanting their stories, and playing fast and loose with the truth. They need to shed their preachiness, climb down from the pulpit, and actually report what’s going on in the real world.
This is a lesson for Canadian media as well. Our news outlets here are just as guilty of trying to lead people, rather than inform them. If the publishers and broadcasters don’t get back to old-fashioned journalism – fair, balanced and accurate coverage – their content will have little value beyond all the other fake news that’s out there.
A recent poll by Pew Research Center confirms that most people don’t want the media expressing opinion, pushing viewpoints, or telling them how to vote. A majority of U.S. adults reject media spin, saying that news organizations should present the facts without any interpretation or filtering.
Will we see common sense prevail? We’re not hopeful. Things seem to be going from bad to worse. In a speech to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) this week, Christiane Amanpour demonstrated just how twisted with fear and loathing the mainstream media have become.
Calling on journalists to unite against Trump, she likened the president-elect to Sisi, Erdoğan, Putin, the Ayatollahs and Duterte, and warned that under the new administration, reporters in the U.S. might find themselves “in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prison — and then who knows?”
BTW, Amanpour was playing to a like-minded crowd. The CPJ declared in October that Trump was a “threat to press freedom in the United States”.
Check out what the CNN’s Chief International Correspondent had to say. A little fear mongering, perhaps? You be the judge.
Life Brand Marijuana?
So Shoppers Drug Mart wants to be a distributor of medical marijuana. The company is Canada’s largest retail pharmacy chain with more than 1,250 locally owned and operated stores. It employs some 50,000 people and has 5,000 pharmacists and over 7,000 pharmacy assistants.
“To many Canadians, we are their neighborhood store – offering a wide array of products that customers count on everyday,” notes the company’s website. Shoppers hopes to add medical cannabis to this everyday product offering.
Owned by Loblaw Companies Limited, Shoppers is making the case that drug stores should play a key role in this market because pharmacists can counsel patients on potentially harmful drug interactions and side effects, proper dosages, how and when to take the medication, and safe product handling and disposal.
Currently, patients are only permitted to buy medical marijuana directly from licensed producers. Ottawa would have to update these rules for Shoppers to get into dispensing prescription weed.
“We believe that allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed through pharmacy would increase access, safety, quality and security for the thousands of Canadians who use the drug as part of their medication therapy,” says a Shoppers spokesperson.
But what’s really at stake here is an even bigger opportunity. If Shoppers can become a dominant retailer of medical marijuana, it will be well positioned to extend this franchise into the recreational market. The Trudeau government was elected in part because of a promise to legalize pot, and according to one study, full legalization would create a $2.5 billion industry.
No wonder Galen Weston Jr., chairman of Loblaws, wants a piece of the action.
For an interesting take on what it might be like buying weed at Shoppers, check this out from CBC’s 22 Minutes.
Let them eat cake
As Postmedia cuts jobs, merges newsrooms and slashes budgets, its top executives are being rewarded with fat bonuses totaling more than $2 million.
Postmedia’s board of directors recently approved the payment of retention bonuses to five senior executives – including $900,000 to president and chief executive officer Paul Godfrey.
“This is an absolute disgrace,” fumed Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, the union representing some of the Postmedia employees. In a prepared statement, O’Hanlon said it is unconscionable that any boss would accept a bonus while dumping staff. The union is calling on the executives to return the money. “That money should be spent to retain workers,” O’Hanlon said.
News of the executive bonuses comes as the company undertakes another round of cutbacks aimed at reducing salary costs by a further 20%. It has already merged competing newsrooms in four cities, cut the equivalent of at least 800 full-time jobs, offered staff buyouts and closed a printing plant in London, Ontario.
Postmedia, which owns the National Post, Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal and Montreal Gazette among other papers, is Canada’s largest newspaper chain. The union has called on the federal government to pass legislation limiting concentration of media ownership.
“Why should people care? Thousands of jobs lost. A newspaper chain collapsing. Communities hurt. Journalism in decline,” O’Hanlon lamented.