by Harvey Oberfeld
January 4, 2021
So you think you pay attention to what’s going on in BC? Close attention?
Well, tell me WHO, on Dec 24, suggested BC schools are very, very safe places because testing of 1% of all BC students for Covid revealed a positivity rate of only .07% … and then said “This is the reason we haven’t closed the schools.”
Premier John Horgan? Health Minister Adrian Dix? Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside? Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry?
Whoever you chose … you were wrong.
Those words … including the reason “we” haven’t closed the schools …were spoken by a BC news reporter.
From a REPORTER referring to a GOVERNMENT action, lack of action, policy or decision.
What the hell’s going on, I wondered?
Shouldn’t it be “THEY” when a journalist refers to GOVERNMENT?
Perhaps just a slip? Maybe it was a collective “we” … as in referring to BC, the province, its people, its society?
But then on Dec 30, I also heard a BC reporter, talking about 800 individuals who had tested Covid positive and were asked to quarantine, but couldn’t be traced/found 14 days later to check again their status, say this: “We knew who they were when they were tested, but after 14 days, they had moved on or didn’t want to be contacted”.
“WE” knew who they were???? I sure didn’t know who they were; I doubt you, my readers, knew who they were; and the reporter didn’t know who they were either!
So again, why “WE”?
Again, it looked to me like the reporter referring to the BC government as “we”?
“We” should all be alarmed!
This is happening far too often in BC: “REPORTERS” are sounding/acting more and more like government spokespersons, like bureaucrats, like cheerleaders.
Rather than hard-nosed, cynical challengers of power and privilege … demanding the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth … for the “people”.
And the implications of this in a free society should be of GREAT concern for all of of us.
The “questioning” of government officials (elected and appointed) is now so weak, so tepid, British Columbians are losing one of our most precious freedoms: a vibrant, truly informative, inquisitive and demanding PRESS, that acts not just as a messenger from government TO the people but even more importantly, FROM the people TO government.
And nowhere was the FAILURE of the latter more evident than last week’s total mishandling by the BC government and Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry of the New Year’s Eve alcohol sales fiasco.
Did Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Health Officer Dr. Henry not know that New Year’s Eve comes every Dec 31st?
Were they unaware … or just oblivious … to the realities that hundreds of thousands British Columbians PLAN well ahead, make SPECIAL reservations to wine/dine out, responsibly, late that night; that tens of thousands of BC restaurants and dining rooms across the province ORDER millions of dollars of SPECIAL perishable entrees, meats, seafoods, dairy products, cakes, desserts and confections just for that occasion; and that hundreds of thousands of servers RELY on the higher tips that night (based on higher alcohol-inflated total bills) to boost what has been a terrible year for their incomes?
The BC government really screwed up its handling of this most-important year-end event.
Whenever the spread of Covid and rising numbers/severity has required cutbacks, British Columbians have understood and co-operated. No problem … with most of us.
BUT the TIMING of Dr. Henry’s Order, just the day before New Year’s Eve, to announce the shut down of ALL alcohol sales around the province at 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve was insensitive, inconsiderate and inexcusable.
It arguably could have even helped spread Covid by forcing so many people to rush out/line up last minute at grocery outlets, delis, bakeries, liquor stores to make alternative plans/arrangements after Dr. Henry’s shoot from the lip late Order hit the fan!
MANY people who were affected were outraged! MANY businesses, already struggling, were shafted. MANY servers, already badly hurting, were robbed.
And yet, the “questioning” by BC’s media at the Henry/Dix subsequent press conference was tepid, to put in generously. Just give us a clip … any clip. Thanks.
In response, the “spin” was in … it was only for that one night, yada, yada, yada … and no “reporter” challenged what I believed was Dr. Henry’s inadequate response or pushed hard enough on the issue of the announcement’s TIMING and the terrible impact on so many.
Again, the issue wasn’t so much whether the shutdown was necessary, how could Dr. Henry and Dix not let all those who would be impacted know at least a week or two in advance????
I believe making the announcement so late, impacting so many was inexcusable, a bad gaffe inflicting unnecessary suffering on so many innocent, rule-abiding British Columbians .
Just think of the heat Dr. Henry and Dix … and even Horgan … would have and should have faced on this timing fiasco if notable journalists like Clem Chapple was still asking questions, or John Gibbs, John Daly, Russ Froese or yes, Harv O, or if pundits of the rank of Jack Webster, Marjorie Nichols, Gary Bannerman or Rafe Mair were holding the government’s feet to the fire!
BC’s media today is too complacent … too often sounding like government messengers, or some would even say, propagandists.
And that’s reflected in not only the daily “reporting”, but also in radio interviews, town hall broadcasts and most pundits’ commentaries.
Hasn’t anyone else noticed how little detail the government is releasing on exactly who (teachers, students, staff, administrators?) is affected when Covid has broken out at schools? How brief and restricted their government-controlled “press conferences” are: one question and only one follow-up …with the government, not a press gallery executive member, choosing who even is allowed to pose questions?
British Columbia is SUFFERING from a dearth of tough reporters, asking tough questions, challenging real power and expressing the real concerns and EMOTIONS of their readers, listeners, viewers.
This FAILURE is hurting BC … not just at the provincial political level, but also at regional, municipal government, park board, school board, land development, and corporate dealings levels … all around the province.
And the FAULT goes well beyond the reporters themselves.
I blame newsroom management … too many of whom are either so inexperienced, so incompetent or just so lazy, they let their reporters get away with such lackluster questioning.
Imagine how the powerhouses who built BCTV’s Newshour to 650,000 daily viewers … News Director Cameron Bell and Assignment Editor Keith Bradbury … would react to the level of today’s reporting and questioning!!!
BC needs a RENAISSANCE in reporting in 2021!
Time to kick ass again! For the sake of the people.
And it could be done. There is hope!
Over the past year, I have heard from several BC news colleagues at EVERY level (reporters, producers, technical staff, even managers) who tell me how bad it has become at so many news outlets … and urge me to keep up the fight for improvement.
They WANT to make it better; they WANT to do REAL journalism; they WANT to have tough questions asked and tough issues pushed … but face complacency and even resistance from those in management around above them … as well as those out on the beat.
British Columbians deserve better… and it’s my New Year’s wish that 2021 will see that happen.
If the people demand it!
Excellent post by Harvey!
Trump is right – the MSM is the “Enemy of the People”.
if B.C. and Canada told everyone to stay at home for 3cmonths “we” would all pay a steep price. the people that protested on December 31 are the most angriest and that is more news than “we”
Congrats Harvey. You are noticing now what we have been talking about since last March.
People are dying (literally) for Rafe Mair/Jack Webster-levels of newsmanship and inquiry. Imagine if Sam Cooper dug as deep into the actions of the governments and their chief health officers as he did with the casino cartel. His expose of money laundering was spot on, and it even stepped on the “Protected Class” of new Canadians. Corruption from the top to the bottom of the WHO? Where Bonnie Henry is getting her wrong-every-single-time models and prognostications and why still using them? Why more harder lockdowns get worse results than the previous lockdown? Heck, even a “where is Trudeau while we are huddled in our homes” report? Not an effing peep.
Harvey, thanks for joining the party. Now, how about calling up all your old pals at the various venues you worked at and tell them that we are pissed because they are not serving democracy by being lickspittles and relaxing their sphincters for various governments and their apparatchiks. If the fourth estate keeps acting like the 5th Column, pitchforks and torches are not far off. And the media propagandists wind up being lumped in with the governments they have been acting as collaborators for.
This is not healthy and there are a lot of people with nothing to lose. And the media’s daily ramping up of china virus fear-porn makes them feel even more like they have nothing to lose. Eventually, we get the “Falling Down” movie.
Still, thanks for noticing and writing about it Harvey, now start making some phone calls.
Agree 100%, remember the duties of the 5th estate?
This started a long time ago, when some members of the media started to believe that instead of reporting the news (just the facts ma’am) they decided that they would create the news to their own particular agenda.
Guess when you are funded by the same people you are supposed to investigate, well things get overlooked I guess.
No better at the provincial and municipal levels either, BAH
Could this “we reporter” be Keith Baldry per chance? I used to admire Keith, but he’s become the number 1 pandemic panic porn peddler in the province and it’s embarrassing.
This piece is 100% SPOT ON Harvey. Please keep up the fight.
It’s an uphill battle though, because the big telecommunications giants who own all the mainstream media, have been cutting staff for 15 years now to satisfy shareholders. So that’s why news rooms are stocked with rookies and greenhorns who are just trying to stay employed. Why would they upset the apple cart by asking tough questions?
And if you’ve ever tried to challenge some of the ridiculous nonsense policy that this pandemic has yielded, you’ve no doubt felt the wrath of the hystericals…so why would anyone want to deal with that? I imagine there are at least 10 hystericals to every critical thinker…and a lot of that is down to social and mainstream media peddling the same garbage every day.
Today’s investigative journalism via Linda Steel on CKNW: when is the right time to take down the Christmas decorations (or something to that effect). If you need help with that dilemma, may I suggest you have a larger problem. Turned off the station when I heard that drivel.
Oh, and one other thing; has ANY reporter asked Dr Henry, Adrian Dix or John Horgan what the COVID end game is? What’s the plan? At what stage are we moving on and getting back to normal? Will it depend on case numbers? Hospitalizations? Vaccinations? I wish someone in the mainstream would have the courage to ask that question.
@Brenda Whenever I hear Linda and that goof of a sidekick she has on the show, I immediately visualize the driving in the van scene featuring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.
Well said Harvey, I find it incredible how so many in media seem to be disciples and propagandists for the Federal Liberals and the B.C. Provincial NDP, where are the journalists, hell, where are the investigative journalists, they are indeed a vanishing breed .
I find it absolutely unacceptable that so many in B.C. media are running interference for any government regardless of party, but the current Horgan Government faces no serious questioning about anything they do whether it be Covid related or anything else .
That is not the way it is supposed to wait .
I agree the Lynda Steele Show and that moronic juvenile she has as a side kick is impossible to listen to for more than a few seconds .
Where the Hell are the adults at NW, how can they allow that garbage to continue ? “Yeah, Hmm, Oh Yeah, Oooh Yup”, and the rest, how can they let that go out over the air waves, how can anyone with an IQ over room temperature listen to that stuff ?
Advertisers should ask for their money back .
Keep up the great work Harvey !
So today in the US capital Trump supporters and freedom lovers across the USA converged in order to let the Govt know they are not happy by:
The TREASONOUS Russia Hoax
The OUTRAGEOUS Impeachment
The VIOLENT RIOTS from BLM and ANTIFA
The FAKE covid virus
The RIGGED US Election
All of which have very limited coverage by the FAKE NEWS…..
So what happens….they crawl their way into the capital building. No violence except for the fat slob Govt Workers that shot that unarmed woman in the neck..
And what is the FAKE NEWS accusing the protestors of being? Gee lets see:
RIGGED ELECTION CONSPIRACY THEORIES
That is just rich…and you wonder why the people consider everyone in the MSM FAKE NEWS.
With the events we are witness and no, not of just today but in recent months, even years. I was looking up stuff on the French Revolution. It’s not a picture post card of what our near future and notably in the USA may be, but it’s an interesting quick study in how ‘elites’ most often lose their vision on life, policies, social fabric and compassion for the people and they thus become incapable of seing what troubles lay in store for them and may happen ‘tomorrow’.
The saying is, “History never repeats itself but it rhymes” – Mark Twain.
Excellent points Harvey. The lack of tough questions about COVID numbers, shutdowns, seniors’ care etc. has been going on since March. If anything, there is less useful information than there was at the beginning of this terrible pandemic. The lack of notice about New Year’s Eve rule changes is a classic example of poor communication and an inability to ask hard questions. Jack Webster would be appalled
I just wish we could get a real, honest, factual, non-WHO(CCP) answer about if the vacinnes actually will prevent anyone from catch in covid19 like the real vacinnes that stopped polio, smallpox, diphtheria etc. Also, while we are at it, when did it really start, and its travel paths, as it was already in Calgary in mid January 2019