Vaughn Palmer wrote an all-time keeper of a column last Monday. Better than anything I’ve ever read, it demonstrates why BC would be far better off if the entire Press Gallery ceased to exist this very second.
Okay, maybe that’s some hyperbole. But somehow Palmer manages to capture the absolute laziness, ineptitude, complicity and unearned pomposity that characterizes much of what passes for journalism at the Leg in one, almost unbearable, column.
All you budding journalists, itching to get at the truth and expose corruption while defending the weak and questioning the privileged, pin this one over your desk. It’s the column you don’t want to read 40 years on after a bit of a bender, full of regrets and wondering what you might be if you had just stayed true.
The column purports to be about “ethnicgate” and functions as an all-encompassing apologia for the media’s coverage of the story.
Fittingly, Palmer’s first mention of “ethnicgate” is 15 paragraphs in and to prove his bona fides in pursuing the story he has to go back to a column headline from March 15th column that linked the Premier to the story. Ha! Did my job!
Generously, buried in the back half of his column, Palmer does admit that questions remain, including questions raised by the NDP in the Legislature last week.
Why, Palmer suggests he may even raise some of those questions himself… maybe… perhaps… oh, probably not. But like the tree falling in the woods, if Palmer raises them they will become real.
“The file is not closed on the ethnic outreach scandal,” Palmer declares towards the end of the piece. But he leaves little doubt about the direction the story is heading in his mind. “The scandal,” he recounts, “dominated the headlines for a time but did not prove to be the breaker of political careers in an election that was decided on other matters.”
So, maybe take that back about the tree. Palmer’s clearly not ready to make the yea or nay call, which is his role in the Gallery.
But who cares about his role in the gallery? The real question is what’s Palmer’s (and the gallery’s) job as BC’s most powerful political columnist?
I think the answer is simple: Get the questions on the table and answered by the government.
And what questions they are. The Opposition came up with an email the Dyble investigation sat on, that appears to recommend offering a bribe as a way of keeping damaging information from harming the Premier.
Subsequently, the person who was the subject of the offer has confirmed that some kind of offer was made.
In other words there is an allegation of a criminal offence. It appears to be well founded. The head of the civil service sat on the allegation. The allegation doesn’t appear to have been investigated. The offence covers-up some other allegations that appear to go directly to the Premier.
“The file is not closed”? No shit.
Isn’t it the job of the press gallery to get to the bottom of things and start asking and answering the questions? If this isn’t what they are supposed to be doing, what is their job? Aiding and abetting corruption? Because that seems to be what they are doing here.
Turnout in the last election was just over 50%. Young people in particular didn’t bother voting. The connection between government and what happens to them is disappearing. A vote has less and less efficacy and meaning as government and the press increasingly turns to the service of the powerful.
Everything is corrupt and there’s nothing that can be done about that. That’s the takeaway and it seems to be the dominant mood in Canada. There’s good reason for that and the media plays a big part, probably bigger than politicians. (It’s also my belief that the BCNDP contributed mightily to that with a pathetic campaign that refused to raise these issues).
Unfortunately on the basis of Monday’s column I have a very strong feeling that that state of affairs is just fine with Palmer and most of BC’s limp press gallery.