Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shaping the News, The Alexander Panetta Way

From the beginning I suspected that something very strange was afoot regarding the
Michaëlle Jean seal eating story. Oh sure, you can always expect protests from PETA type activists on the Radical Left, but beyond that I just sensed that this story was being overblown.

This was absolutely confirmed today during Rex Murphy's Cross Checkup show on CBC Radio 1, which you can listen to here. Considering that their core audience is Left and "Further Left" (I'm being polite) I didn't know what reaction to expect from such Canadians across the country. Other than missing a few minutes at two junctures to answer phone calls, I caught the entire two-hour show. Of what I listened to, everyone but one was an adamant supporter of Mme. Jean's actions. Read this sampling of e-mails and you'll see more of the same. I was shocked, in a good way, by this tremendous support for her.

On the show, more than a few people suggested that this was a media contrived story. What precisely they meant by this, I do not know for certain, but at the very least one could construe that the story was slanted unfairly.

I did a little digging and the name "Alexander Panetta" of the Canadian Press kept on popping up. He was clearly the CP reporter assigned to cover her tour up there. Here's one snippet from the many stories he wrote:

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean was awarded a certificate yesterday for her respect of Inuit culture, after images of her eating a bloody chunk of raw seal heart raised eyebrows around the world.

The emphasis is mine. One has to wonder if this was a news story or the caption of an upcoming horror film?

Panetta's latest story is another interesting case. The headline reads, "Clarkson unimpressed with Jean's seal-eating", which was extracted from the first paragraph: "At least one person's unimpressed by all the fuss over the seal-skinning adventures of Michaelle Jean: her predecessor as Governor General."

The word "unimpressed" has several meanings but when presented without any further explanation, most reasonable people would conclude that Adrienne Clarkson was "not impressed" or "not approving" of Michaëlle Jean's actions. Yet read the story all the way through, and that's NOT AT ALL what she said or meant.

I did some more digging and found this from July 2006. The writer there challenges Panetta's truthfulness and professionalism, indicating a similar pattern of deception.

Turns out there's more. Back in October 2006 both Kathy Shaidle and Kate McMillan had a run-in with Panetta here and here respectively.

Alexander Panetta: Poster-Boy for the Downfall of the Canadian MSM

In the past few years he had ample opportunity to clean up his act but instead his tradition of highly biased, inaccurate reporting continues unabated.

Sad. And pathetic. Any wonder why polls continue to show journalists near the bottom of the list of trust and respect?

Update: This posting was kindly linked to by Kate at SDA here. Some of the comments therein are absolutely priceless. Pay particular attention to the running debate by SDA regular 'EBD' and someone claiming to be an actual MSM reporter. The latter got caught in logic trap and EBD lit him up big time.

Through the comments, we learned of yet another example of Panetta's reputation as a spinmeister.

Alexander Panetta is, in essence, a columnist. If his writing was clearly published as editorial content then I'd have NO PROBLEM with it whatsoever. But it's published as "news" and, as such, violates the most important tenets of journalistic integrity. Yet none of his bosses, nor the newspapers that print his work, seem to care.

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