If politics was covered like sports…
This post was written by MJ on 4th June 2002
… there’d be revolution in the streets, one of my first editors (only half-jokingly) told me. She meant that sports journalism — with its devotion to minutiae, stats, backroom deals and unabashed opinion — delivered much more insight into the way of the world than buttoned-down political journalism. But, at the Gazoo, it’s also true the only decent commentator — not the former Mulroney speechwriter, the management sycophant or the creepy hack — toils for the sports pages.
In 22 short grafs, Jack Todd sets out the topic — “the Canadiens pulled the plug on 50 years of tradition at Radio-Canada, shifting the French-language broadcasts to private cable network Réseau des Sports” — states the obvious but avoided — “the Canadiens deny that there is a connection between the RDS deal and the BCE [arena naming] deal, but since BCE owns RDS, that’s like saying the hip bone is not connected to the thigh bone” — nails the context — “Since the mid-1980s when Brian Mulroney began the wholesale sellout of Canadian interests to American multinationals through the free-trade deal, Canada’s public institutions have come under attack on every front” — and distributes slaps to our increasingly cooky Prime Minister — “Chrétien is the tough little guy from Shawinigan only when his death-grip on power is challenged by members of his own party; when the Americans bark, he caves” — and his bosses — “When the private sector finishes carving up the CBC, you will have a choice – you can watch World’s Funniest Home Videos of Cops Kicking People’s Heads In, Survivor’s Weakest Elimidate or Larry King interviews Barbara Wa-Wa. Whatever your choice, wear a drool bib. You’ll need it.”
Ironically, city columnist Mike Boone also takes on Rad-Can’s decision, and stumbles through about half his column — the Canadiens are our team, etc etc — before finally tip-toeing up to the idea that this decision isn’t in the public interest. Boone’s sudden realization that corporate decisions have real, often unfair, impacts on regular folks is funny, given how he wrote off anyone who cared about the Radio-Canada lock-out as out-of-touch ascot and tweed wearing snobs. Had he actually put in the work, he might have known that one of the primary motivations of our union was preserving a strong public broadcaster. Today, though, Boone managed to beg, borrow or steal a clue and come to the conclusion that: “Watching a hockey game on Saturday night was one of life’s more affordable pleasures. If you owned a TV set and had paid your Hydro bill, you could tune CBFT-2 and spend a couple hours watching ‘nos Canadiens.’ They were everyone’s hockey team. Not any more.”
Welcome to the party, Mike. Sorry you couldn’t make it on time.