14 May 2008

The Globe and the Post: Canada's Pravda and Izvestia

Some wit once compared Canada's two national newspapers, The Globe and Mail and the National Post, to those infamous Soviet twins Pravda and Izvestia. The idea was that just as the Russian twins were both voices of the Communist Party, the Canadian twins are both voices of the corporate sector. The comparison is unfair, of course ... but, not without a kernel of truth.

The Globe is only moderately conservative while the Post is rabidly so; nonetheless they are both conservative and corporate with similar agendas:
  • Both insist that taxes must come down in order to maximize our economic success. This is a lie, totally disproven by countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway. These countries have both the world's highest taxes and the world's most prosperous economies. And, as an aside, the world's highest standards of social justice.
  • Needless to say, both papers are content with a small special interest group controlling the mass media. Plutocratic control of the public forums is naturally quite amenable to the plutocrats. The only independent mass medium, and the only democratic mass medium, we have, at least at the national level, is the CBC, and the National Post would like to privatize that.
  • Both papers have dragged their heels on global warming. While the Globe offers a disproportionate amount of column inches on global warming to know-nothing skeptics like Margaret Wente, the Post seems reluctant to recognize the crisis exists at all. The greatest fear of the corporate sector is that people may decide it's necessary to consume less, and when your major source of revenue comes from trying to convince people to consume more, i.e. from advertising, the idea is particularly frightening. That consuming less may be the only answer to global warming is an idea that must be buried at all costs.
  • Both support NAFTA, the WTO and globalization on corporate terms generally. China is welcomed into the WTO even though it enjoys an unfair trade advantage through its use of coerced labour. But cheap labour is advantageous to corporations and is therefore quite acceptable to our two national dailies. If the corporate ox was being gored, that would be a different matter.
  • On the Middle east, both papers, but particularly the Post, incline toward Israel, dismissing Hamas and Hezbollah -- both critical to the peace process -- as terrorists.
And so it goes. The Globe is generally more moderate, but this is a matter of degree rather than difference. Here in Calgary, I can buy one of four daily papers, two national, two local -- all conservative. The choice is rather like Henry Ford's famous offer on Model Ts: ""You can have it any colour you like, as long as it's black." The free market in Calgary offers any newspaper philosophy you like ... as long as it's conservative.

In this democracy/plutocracy of ours we should be holding thorough debates on the proper level of taxation, media control, the environment, and other issues of substance, but with the agenda set by the corporate sector the debates are either truncated or hardly occur at all. That, I suppose, is the inevitable result of allowing plutocratic control to trump democratic control of the "public" forums.

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