Support journalism that lights the way through the climate crisis by June 3

Goal: $100k

Score one for Pierre Poilievre. After tattling on the CBC to Elon Musk, who apparently spent $44 billion to become the world’s most powerful digital hall monitor, he notched a victory when the public broadcaster’s main Twitter account was tagged with the same label Twitter has recently stuck on the BBC, PBS and other public broadcasters. “CBC officially exposed as “government-funded media,” he crowed. “Now people know that it is Trudeau propaganda, not news.”

To be clear, there is nothing in the new label — one that, so far, has only been applied to CBC’s corporate account — that actually says that. It’s no secret that the CBC is funded by taxpayers, and it remains editorially independent of the government of the day, just as it was when Poilievre and prime minister Stephen Harper were in power for almost a decade. More to the point, government funding is not tantamount to the dissemination of propaganda, and if it is, then someone should tell the good folks at Postmedia, which collects many millions in government handouts every year.

But Poilievre’s provocative use of the term “propaganda” speaks to his real mission: not informing Canadians but confusing them. Former Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer hinted at this in his 2020 resignation speech. “Challenge the mainstream media,” he said. “Don’t take the left-wing media narrative as fact. Please check out smart, independent, objective organizations like the Post Millennial or True North. There are other places to get news. Let’s stop being the silent majority.”

Poilievre has taken that argument to a whole different level. In addition to his now-familiar broadsides against the CBC, he took a run during a recent press conference at the independence and integrity of The Canadian Press, an organization that has always remained steadfastly apolitical and nonpartisan. “The CBC, frankly, is a biased propaganda arm of the Liberal Party, and negatively affects all media. For example, CP is negatively affected by the fact that you have to report favourably on the CBC if you want to keep your number 1, taxpayer-funded client happy.”

By taking the CBC and other mainstream organizations out to the rhetorical woodshed, Poilievre is trying to create space in the media landscape for organizations like True North (one with clear and unambiguous conservative ties and which also receives government funding through its charitable status) and other right-wing media startups. His repeated claim that the CBC and other mainstream organizations are engaged in “propaganda” is deeply ironic, too, given that the actual propagandists are the ones he’s trying to empower.

This is, by the way, the same strategy Musk is using in his own much larger war with the press — and the truth. The Twitter overlord’s decision to put a “state-affiliated media” label (one he later amended to “government-funded”) on organizations like the BBC, PBS and NPR seems deliberately designed to both undermine their standing with the public and dilute the labels that previous Twitter management had applied to genuinely state-affiliated media organizations like Russia Today, Sputnik and Xinhua. And if Musk’s animus towards legitimate news organizations wasn’t already abundantly clear, he stripped the New York Times — and only the New York Times — of its verification status after it refused to pay the ransom for his Twitter Blue service.

Like the right-wing populist politicians he’s so chummy with, Musk is deliberately muddying the water on what is and isn’t legitimate journalism. In effect, he’s channelling Steve Bannon, who identified the media as the enemy and said the best way to deal with them was “flooding the zone with shit.” With Twitter, Musk has the most powerful shit-flooding device on the planet at his disposal, and he seems determined to use it as aggressively as possible.

That torrent of turds, and Poilievre’s willingness to open the sluice gates here in Canada, is already having an impact on our democracy. EKOS Research founder Frank Graves created a “disinformation index,” a 15-point scale that “measures how strongly respondents have bought into four pieces of disinformation and how strongly they reject one piece of correct information: vaccine-related deaths are being concealed from the public, COVID-19 vaccines can cause infertility, COVID-19 vaccines can alter a patient’s DNA, inflation is much higher in Canada than in the United States, and climate change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this is leading, but the results of this research when they’re applied to partisan preferences are still striking. In a poll conducted earlier this year, those who scored zero (that is, they correctly identified the conspiracy theories and the one piece of accurate information) indicated a strong preference for the Liberals (39 per cent) or NDP (35 per cent), with just 12 per cent supporting the Conservative Party of Canada. But as the disinformation index scores rose, so did Conservative support, with 68 per cent of those with a “high” score of five or above preferring the CPC and 12 per cent supporting the PPC.

What do Elon Musk and Pierre Poilievre have in common? Both want to take the fight to the "mainstream media" — and both are damaging our ability to have a fact-based conversation in the process. @maxfawcett writes for @NatObserver

It’s no wonder Poilievre wants to defund the CBC. It’s no wonder he’s taking aim at The Canadian Press. And it’s no wonder he wants to undermine the credibility of any journalist or media organization that refuses to cater to his fact-challenged brand of politics. By deliberately dumbing down the conversation and confusing Canadians about who and what they can trust, he’s trying to tilt the political table in his favour. The operative question now is whether Canadians are going to let him get away with it.

I’m thrilled to announce that my newsletter is joining Canada’s National Observer’s roster. You can expect my signature, no-nonsense analysis delivered to your inbox in a personalized newsletter format each week. Subscribe here and never miss one of my columns.

Keep reading

Actually, the way right wingers privilege things owned by private wealth, by taking that as the invisible baseline that needs no qualifier, is kind of analogous to how the racist right likes to see whiteness, or rather not see it.

If that is true then why did trudeau hire a vile racist Jew hating Laith Marouf for 6 years with taxpayers money? Can you explain this Rufus? Or will you be silent to this liberal hatred?

WTF?! Dude, what are you on? You do realize irrelevant ranting kind of gives away your total lack of arguments, right?

Good analogy. There's a lot of that type of thing with people; it's our Achilles heel. I've seen a lot of that as a woman and agree with Yoko Ono that we are indeed the (n-word, I cringe, but it's in context) of the world. Overt misogyny is uncommon but covert misogyny? Rampant. Same with racism and anything fundamentally DIFFERENT from what is known OR strongly identified with; it's an element of human nature but there are degrees of openness to newness or change. Needless to say, conservatives are characterized by totally sucking at it, with more closed minds while liberals genuinely like new ideas and ideas generally, sometimes even going a bit overboard in their eagerness.
They're kinder and more generous people in other words, and actually care about people, so are more naturally suited to governing any democratic society. Which is why we never talk about a "conservative democracy" only a liberal one. Which is also one reason why they are the ones currently threatening it, almost offhandedly. Trudeau was spot on when he said that they don't have "vision." It's true.

Pierre Poilievre won’t be happy until everyone is unhappy. Classic right wing procedure, claim everything is bad and broken but does not have one positive idea to offer. He is a wrecker, not a builder. The former US president did the same, as well as Boris Johnson ( Brexit, which is a true disaster), Orban in Hungary, Brazils Bolsonaro the list goes on. The f…I Trudeau mob fed with disinformation and fired up with angertainment from right wing press troll the CBC comment sections. Oft repeated falsehoods are cemented into alternative facts, this is why P.P is so dangerous. This is also why truly independent journalism not funded by money grabbing corporations (faux snooze) is so important. Russian and Chinese interests are contributing to the problem right here in Canada. The stupidly called Freedom convoy was influenced from outside Canada as reported in this news source. We may not see it as clearly as is apparent in the States but Canada is sliding into the same situation.

Agreed. Turns out there ARE two kinds of people in the world after all eh?
"Angertainment," another good, new word. So many new words and phrases since the right wing lost its mind: rage farming, post-truth, wokism, mistruth, alternative facts, cons, libtards, Q-Anon, Trumpers, never-Trumpers, antifa, shamdemic, anti-vaxxers, etc......Good times.

“CBC officially exposed as “government-funded media. Now people know that it is Trudeau propaganda, not news.”
Even if CBC is “government-funded media", how does it follow that "it is Trudeau propaganda, not news"?
Quite a leap of logic, even for Poilievre. But his right-wing attack dogs will lap it up.
Pass the donation plate.

Thousands of news stories on CBC have nothing to do with Trudeau, the Liberal Party, or (Canadian) politics.
CBC carries newswire stories from Canadian Press and The Associated Press. Are AP stories news elsewhere and not news on CBC?
The CBC is state- or public-funded, not government-funded. The money it receives is granted through a vote in Parliament.
Postmedia receives federal funding. Does that make The National Post “government-funded media", too?

In recent years, I have taken the CBC to task for broadcasts of climate change denial. CBC Calgary remains far too cozy with the oil & gas industry. You never heard the Conservatives criticize the CBC for its lousy climate coverage and pro-oil & gas industry propaganda.

For years, CBC's climate journalism was extremely weak. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and The Guardian were all light years ahead. Thankfully, CBC has narrowed the gap.
Like everything else, CBC journalism is a work in progress. Some of the CBC dinosaurs and pot-bangers (oilsands boosters like Rex Murphy, Peter Mansbridge; coal cheerleader Max Allen) have retired or moved on — and taken their 19th century notions with them.
Plenty of room for criticism of CBC from both sides of the spectrum. But only one side is calling for CBC to be defunded.
Keep improving, CBC!

That means while their messiah, who can't even name the ruling party in Alberta, was using the CBC as his personal propaganda arm?

See, the thing that conservatives always fail to understand is that non-conservatives do not behave the same way as consevatives. Every accusation from a conservative is an admission of their own guilt.

Conservatives are incapabe of good faith.

Only to conservatives can a fact that is well known be "exposed". And people vote for that.

Ok, I have enough of Fawcet, I will sadly cancel my subscription to National Observer and subscribe to Twitter which is becoming the source of trust and truth since Elon Musk is in charge.
I cannot stand reading this pile of nonsense and lies in N.O. against one of the most intelligent people on the planet.
Fawcet does not know what he is talking about on Elon Musk, just like this stupid journalist that interviewed Elon Musk on BBC (left-wing).

Elon Musk is politically neutral and listens to people (left or right) that have ideas or at least can ask intelligent questions that help humanity move in the right direction.

I never thought I could say that but Tucker at Fox News (right-wing) did ask the right questions and managed to bring out the best of Elon Musk.

Watch these two-part interview and seriously, tell me what you find wrong with it.

If you find something wrong with it,
eh bien le mieux que je puisse dire est que nous ne sommes pas sur la même longueur d'onde.

well if you were actually a subscriber to NO, it is a little surprising given the rest of your letter.
giving credit to Tucker Carlson for asking "the right questions" to Musk is like giving credit to an arsonist for his brilliant usage of a pack of matches.

I grew up watching Hockey Night in Canada on CBC. Watched the Beachcombers too. And my Dad who fought in Italy in World War Two and was a staunch Conservative always watched CBC news. Over the years I loved 22 Minutes, Mercer Report, Due South, Nature of Things, Schitts Creek, Kids In The Hall, DaVinci's Inquest, Murdoch Mysteries, The Hour with George Strombolopolis, Dragon's Den and of course Steward MacClean on Radio Canada. On the radio, I'm still a huge fan of The Current, Q with Tom Power, Quirks and Quarks with Bob McDonald, What On Earth, Odario Williams After Dark, What On Earth, Unreserved with Roseanne Deerchild, Sunday Magazine. The CBC is everything I love about Canada. Mr Poillievre is a career politician that i don't like very much. Canada can do withoutn his brand of nastiness. If I had to choose which one to keep, the CBC would be the easy choice over a populist anger factory like Poillievre.