How the NDP Tamed BC’s Media, by Harvey Oberfeld


by Harvey Oberfeld

Keeping It Real…

January 18, 2021

Premier John Horgan was clearly in control. Like a circus ringmaster in a potentially risky situation, surrounded by some fairly big cats, Horgan deftly dodged and maneuvered, avoided any serious mistakes and 35 minutes later, emerged totally unscathed from his first press conference of the year.

BC’s media … once roaring lions and tigers sometimes feared and always respected by municipal, provincial and federal politicians as well as top bureaucrats … were pussycats at Horgan’s hands.

Not a growl, not a jab with a claw … and certainly not a roar that would have drawn anyone watching straight up in their seats, let alone to their feet!

The Premier was clearly in control.

However, that had not been the case just a few days earlier when Health Minister Adrian Dix was a guest on CBC Radio’s Early Edition, interviewed by host Stephen Quinn.

Quinn’s background includes eight-years as CBC’s civic affairs reporter; he has won several Radio Television News Digital Association Awards; captured a Webster Award; and, has 24 years experience as a reporter in BC.

Quinn asked the Health Minister whether the government had done sufficient contact tracing within senior’s care homes “to pinpoint how the spread is happening.”

Perhaps thinking he was dealing with the BC media he usually talks to … Dix delivered a response … but not a real answer. Or at least not one that satisfied Quinn.

An old-time BC media type … Quinn would not allow Dix to slip, slide and attempt to avoid the question. Over and over again, he went after the Health Minister … UNTIL he did get the real answer to his question.

Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun found Quinn’s persistent questioning, refusal to accept a response … but not an answer … so unusual he wrote a full column on it:

Now think about that.

What USED TO BE the norm in BC media questioning of politicians has become such RARE exception that the Dean of BC’s Political Columnists wrote a column about it.

Quinn’s persistent questioning, his push for a REAL answer … not just a clip, any clip … his pursuit of the REAL truth and his refusal to let the Minister get away with puffery and spin was reassuring.

I feel vindicated … again!

Because THAT’S EXACTLY what I have been decrying, ranting and mourning about on this blog for years … the decline in BC of REAL journalism as a craft, as a calling and as a responsibility to go after the REAL truth, the FULL truth … and not just be satisfied with ANY government “response” to questions … or worse yet, just be a cheerleader for government announcements, actions and excuses.

Tough questioning of politicians and bureaucrats used to be the norm in BC, by reporters in all forms of media. Not any more.

And we’re not talking about just Press Conferences or Briefings: the level of questioning of politicians at all levels has deteriorated in most extended interviews, on radio talk shows, at townhall meetings as well.

Maybe going soft is the only way they can convince political leaders and officials to participate: no doubt many used to avoid such appearances (except just before elections) because the questions were too tough.

But the public interest is not being served in BC with such a tame media. Because what we are now getting so often are RESPONSES, PLATITUDES and SPIN, not FULL ANSWERS on REAL ISSUES.

Transparency has been diminished.

And it’s not just the fault of too-easily compliant, complacent journalists/reporters: as I’ve said before, too many weak newsroom managers/bosses have allowed the deterioration to keep getting worse. And those who still understand and believe in real reporting … are overwhelmed or ignored.

Things MUST change … for the better.

And a good START would be for the Legislative Press Gallery to call out the Premier, the Health Minister and any other Ministers for the way they are stage-managing their Press Briefings and Press Conferences.

The FIX is in to make it very difficult for reporters to do what Quinn did … unless they all decide to band together one day to go after a particular issue or question … to get REAL answers, REAL details.

The way it works now, reporters are warned right at the beginning of each session they will each get only one question and one follow-up. So, under the current setup … compared with the way Press Conferences used to be conducted … it has become impossible for any reporter to persist, to really go after or to challenge any Ministers or Officials responses or spin.

In fact, because each media is usually recognized only once, due to very tight time/question restrictions the NDP government has imposed, reporters who do get recognized often have to use their “follow-up” to pose a completely different question for a colleague working on an entirely different story. So the Minister or Official can get away with spin, more spin, more slip sliding …with no chance for the reporter to challenge or persist.

And then there’s the issue of WHO actually gets to ask questions: a faceless, nameless government bureaucrat off camera chooses which reporter can ask the next question.

That is a very dangerous aberration from the system in play during the years when I covered the Legislature … including two years as Press Gallery President … when a Gallery Executive member got to decide/announce who would pose the questions.

And there was no “only one follow-up” rule. Each reporter could actually go after the Minister or Official and have at least a bit of an exchange … holding their feet to the fire! Today, under the NDP controls, there’s barely time to light a match.

The current system clearly gives far too much power to the government to decide who gets to ask questions, doesn’t permit any serious digging and rewards those who are safe, friendly and accept/repeat government rhetoric far too easily.

I wonder if someone like me, who would push and challenge and call out spin and platitudes would even get recognized to ask questions these days? Probably not very often!

And I’m sure many former Mayors, Premiers, Prime Ministers or even Public Officials who used to face REAL questioning, REAL challenges, REAL pressure, REAL heat at Press Conferences and Briefings must envy how the NDP in power have tamed the BC media … and have achieved their current control of the narrative and manipulation/restrictions on the press.

Without so much as a peep of protest!

Except from me … and the persistence of Stephen Quinn.

Harv Oberfeld


  1. Please remember the audience is more interested in Laflamme’s new hair streaks, the weather casters’s pregnancy and the CBC’s on air diversity which is fine if that sells the advertising.

    The media has treated bonny virus like the Queen resulting in her eternal nauseating bragging about all the awards, star power (fluvogs) and book deals which will portray her as the only voice of reason and knowledge during the pandemic. Although the vaccines have dwindled, and the NDP’s claim “All Communities Are Clear” July 2nd 2020

    Dr bonny got the NDP re=elected and the pablum media let it happen:
    1. July 2nd -All our communities are clear All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C. Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

    2. June 2 China had nothing to do with Coronavirus Deaths in BC. – The results show that while early cases of the novel coronavirus that emerged in January and February were linked to China and Iran, those strains were successfully contained and quickly surpassed in March by what officials referred to as “European-like and Eastern Canada” strains and “Washington state-like” strains ”  Insane NDP propaganda to protect BC Asian votes”  

  2. I am not getting a sense that Horgan or Dix or any of the above are actually “controlling” the media. I get a sense that the media is giving the “trend du jour” a free ride.

    All one media person has to ask Henry for example is: “explain to us why Sweden didn’t do the lockdown and their annual death rates for past year are essentaily identical to what they had for the previous five”. It’s a simple observation and a simple question. Presumably simple enough that even Dr. Henry may be able to answer it.

  3. The media got used to being misused and abused under 16 years of BC Liberal rule.

    John tool the reigns and decided to go down the same road. No accountability, next to no Freedom of Information, and the used COVID-19 as his Joker to tame and muzzle the media with great effectiveness.

  4. STILL WAITING….to payout $1000 for proof the FRAUD virus called covid is even real. Still waiting 7 months later.

    Don’t you think if this virus was real there would be hundreds and hundreds of links from labs all over the world with “credible” analysis on the internet? You would think that would be true. But you would be wrong.

    And now the DUM gullible public believes there are “many new strains” of this FAKE virus and are willing to inject themselves with a poisonous Gene Editing Drug posing as a vaccine to protect themselves.

    The world is heading to darkness. Especially now that Joe China and Klamydia Harris are in charge. Good luck everyone.

  5. Richard

    It is obvious to me that YOU are a Top Member of Mensa, I have a suggestion for you and you can put all of the C – 19 speculation to rest .

    To add some great incentive to my suggestion to follow below I will offer you $ 10,000.00 to do the following .

    Why not check yourself into say three Long Term care Facilities for three weeks each, you can start with Little Mountain . By checking into the facilities it will allow you to come back with fact based evidence on just what is going on with C – 19 and the story behind the virus .

    Once you are in refuse ALL PPE, any medication, any treatment of any kind and at the same time refuse any assisted breathing by a Ventilator just in case you momentarily have a problem breathing .

    After those nine weeks or so you can come back to this space and let us know just how well it went, I for one can hardly wait for your report .

    Look Richard, I have many questions about C – 19, I question Neil Ferguson, I question the China controlled W.H.O., I question China who has IMHO contributed to the deaths of perhaps millions of people, I question the “No Mask and Yes Mask” Protocols, I question many other questionable protocols, rules, regulations, lock downs, I question the reports that ALL of the deaths in LTC are attributed to C – 19 when IMHO I feel a very high percentage of those can be attriguted to the Flu which kills thousands each and every year and I question many many other things about c – 19 but I cannot buy into your “Whacked Out” Conspiracy Theories that have no fact based evidence.

    I will not go on here other than to encourage you to follow my suggestion about checking into the Long Term Care Facilities, I can hardly wait to see your science based report and I can hardly wait to award you your $ 10,000.00 payment .

    Good Luck Richard, if anyone can do it YOU can . Do not forget it Richard, YOU are the Best !

    Bad Acid Richard ?

  6. BMCQ

    It is obvious to me that YOU are a Top Member of Mensa, I have a suggestion for you and you can put all of the C – 19 speculation to rest .

    So you have time to write all that crap but no time to find and post a link with PROOF covid is real? Covid is so real there should be public links EVERYWHERE on the interwebs proving it’s real right?

    But yet no one seems to be able to post……one…….from one…..lab….showing it’s real. But I’m a conspiracy theorist right?

    Ok then…

  7. Richard

    I will add one more quick suggestion .

    Sit down in front of your family where you are not anonymous and read your posts on Covid -19 to
    them and then ask them their honest opinions and see what they come back at you with, it might just provide you with a rude awakening .

    Do YOU dare do that Richard or will you do what I expect, just keep laying low in the basement avoiding any sense of reality .

    Come on Richard, some legitimate questions and concerns are warranted but the stuff you come up with is just plain juvenile .

    Hey, you can still prove me wrong, just check into at least three Long Term Care Facilities for three weeks without PPE and report back to us, that is if you can .

    Really odd, YIKES !!


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