Free Market Fundamentalist Opinion

If Only American Media Were More Like Canada’s

The Huffington Post rejoices. “Fox News will not be moving into Canada” because the country won’t allow lying on television.

Canadian legislators recently ruled against repealing a decade-old law that prevents broadcasters from supplying “false or misleading” information. According to The Huffington Post, it’s a victory for “fans of enlightenment, democracy and justice” who can take comfort knowing that “Fox News will not be moving into Canada after all!”

According to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — who, in the past, has alleged that the United States government covered up connections between inoculation and childhood autism and blamed the Republican Party for “stealing” the 2004 presidential election — Canada is the nirvana of high quality journalism. “Political dialogue in Canada is marked by civility, modesty, honesty, collegiality and idealism that have pretty much disappeared on the American airwaves.”

The reason is that in 1987 President Ronald Reagan repealed the “Fairness Doctrine” which forced American broadcasters to cover opposing points of view on any given issue. With the rise of Fox News, television reporting has become “toxic, overtly partisan, biased and dishonest,” writes Kennedy.

As recent as 2007, Kennedy referred to conservative commentators Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and John Stossel as “traitors.” It’s probably Fox News’ fault that liberals have become so “toxic” and “overtly partisan” as well.

In his latest Huffington Post entry, he specifically targets Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper who favored repeal of his country’s most stringent media law.

Harper, often referred to as “George W. Bush’s Mini Me,” is known for having mounted a Bush like war on government scientists, data collectors, transparency and enlightenment in general. He is a wizard of all the familiar tools of demagoguery; false patriotism, bigotry, fear, selfishness and belligerent religiosity.

Harper’s effort wasn’t merely to free news media from regulations that force them to abide by the government’s definition of “honesty”; according to Kennedy, his attempt was “to make lying legal on Canadian television.”

Since corporate profit-taking is not an attractive vessel for populism, a political party or broadcast network that makes itself the tool of corporate and financial elites must lie to make its agenda popular with the public.

In the United States, Fox News and conservative talk radio, “the sock puppets of billionaires and corporate robber barons,” have mastered the art of propaganda, writes Kennedy, and blissfully distorted truth.

Peculiarly, Kennedy never bothers to make the case against lying on television. He simply assumes that an “enlightened” government should protect its citizenry from corporate evil and media abuse.

Such appeals to “civilization” are characteristic of statists who believe that government has a duty to protect people from whatever evil lurks on the free market. It never occurs to Kennedy that people other than wealthy businessmen might not be appalled by selfish profit making.

Kennedy’s admiration of Canada’s supposedly “civil” discourse is absolutely laughable considering his own spiteful and unsubstantiated characterizations of Fox News. He is apparently prone to seeing conspiracies where there are none. Fox is a business like any other network. Structurally, it’s no different from MSNBC. Indeed, the latter is owned by soulless multinational General Electric yet it espouses positively leftist views.

MSNBC, of course, is far less successful than Fox and this is most likely what bothers Kennedy. Millions tune in to watch Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck every weeknight while Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s prime time host, had less than a third of their viewers as of last month.

In America — as in most countries — a majority of the people are conservative and this is reflected in the ratings of major news channels.

Kennedy won’t accept that in a free country, people can watch whatever television show they like and will have to make up for themselves whether they’re being told what’s right. He would much rather that government ban certain broadcasters and told others what’s “fair”. That, somehow, is “democracy and justice” — as least it is in Canada.