The Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing and How a Calgary City Councillor Sank PostMedia’s Credibility

The Kavanaugh confirmation hearing is like a mirror shattering on the floor, shards of glass are flying every where and women are demanding accountability.

Everyone knows about the two women who confronted Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator and demanded he think carefully about the message he’s sending women by voting in favour of confirmation.

Fewer people know about Calgary city councillor Jyoti Gondek who took the Calgary Herald to task for running a column headlined:  “Kavanaugh doesn’t deserve this. What happened in high school stays in high school.”

105476846-1538134325809rts236md-530x298

Brett Kavanaugh

On Sept 26, columnist Naomi Lakritz said the Kavanaugh hearing should “strike fear into the hearts of all men because it means no matter how sterling a reputation you have in your adult life and career, something dumb you may or may not have been involved in high school can forever come back to haunt you.”

The Herald says the column received “social media backlash”, local and national media called for comments, and two city councillors, Druh Farrell and Jyoti Gondek announced they would not respond to interview requests from Herald reporters.  (A third councillor, Gian-Carlo Carra, later made a similar announcement).

Gondek* is crystal clear about why she’s suspending interaction with the Herald.  She says it’s irresponsible to normalize sexual assault and disagrees with the Herald’s decision to print the column under the headline: “What happened in high school stays in high school”.

A day or so after Gondek announced her decision, she and the Herald leadership talked on the phone.  Gondek says they came to understand each other’s perspectives and are sorting through next steps.  She hopes Calgarians “can have a broader conversation about the state of journalism in a time of social media and polarizing global politics” and suggested journalists engage with citizens “to re-establish mutual expectations.”

This is a laudable goal on Gondek’s part, however it is doubtful the Herald will rise to the challenge.

On Sept 26 it published an editorial entitled “Free speech for all, including victims of sexual misconduct” where it said it did not agree with the Lakritz column but justified publishing it because editorial pages are intended to reflect a variety of opinions and stir debate so that “published ideas become part of the larger discussion.”

On Sept 29 it took a more aggressive stance with an editorial entitled “Importance of Free Speech” and declared, “We will not apologize.  We are a platform for free speech”.  The editorial included a reference to the Charter which protects “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication” and a quote from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (“It is only through exposure to different ideas and opinion that each person can make their own informed choices about their core beliefs.”)  The Herald said publishing the Lakritz column and two other columns that strongly disagreed with it was a privilege and a sacred trust and it would stand by its columnists’ right to express their opinions “and no amount of pressure from social media will change that.”

The Sept 29 editorial is bizarre for a number of reasons:

(1) No one is demanding an apology.  The Herald’s righteous refusal to offer one is a red herring that simply confuses the issue.

(2) Invoking the Charter in this context is meaningless.  The Charter protects freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other media, from infringement by the government (incidentally, such protection is not absolute, the government can infringe our Charter rights with laws that are demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society).  Gondek and others, including the advertiser who objected to its ad running beside the Lakritz column, do not have the power to infringe the Herald’s freedom of speech.  However, they can galvanize public support for their opinion that the Herald acted irresponsibly and this could negatively impact advertiser and subscription revenues.

(3) Cherry picking a quote from Canadian Civil Liberties Association is disingenuous for a newspaper that often finds itself on the wrong side of CCLA causes like protecting LBGTQ rights and opposing what the CCLA calls “religious indoctrination” in public schools.

(4) The issue isn’t whether Lakritz should be free to express her opinion, but whether the Herald acted irresponsibly when it published Lakritz’s opinion in a format Gondek and others say normalizes sexual assault.

Where does this leave us?

Gondek says “we need to understand the significance of the words we choose, and the responsibility we carry when we express our sentiments publicly, regardless of the medium.”

This is particularly true for journalists who, in the words of veteran newspaper editor Neil Reynolds, are in a position to right wrongs and tell stories that bear witness to all that is universally human.

We live in difficult times.  We need newspaper editors like Neil Reynolds and citizens like Jyoti Gondek now more than ever.

*Gondek’s comments can be found @JyotiGondek or on her Facebook page

This entry was posted in Law, Social Media, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to The Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing and How a Calgary City Councillor Sank PostMedia’s Credibility

  1. Dennis Theobald says:

    The hypocrisy of the Herald’s editorial in defence of free speech is further illustrated by its columnists’ collective freak-out at the thought that Alberta’s Social Studies teachers might invite Tzeporah Berman to present an alternative to Postmedia’s preferred narrative around oil sands development.

    • Dennis, you’re right. One of the worst offenders at the Herald is Licia Corbella. She went after Berman in a column headlined “Tzeporah Berman better get her facts straight before she talks to the ATA”. But when you read the column it becomes clear Berman isn’t mistaken about the facts, she’s simply relying on different sources. For example Berman says the non-profit group Carbon Tracker said solar energy could account for 23% of global power production by 2040, Corbella says that’s false because ExxonMobil puts all renewables at 11% by 2040. So who do you believe, a non-profit or ExxonMobil who, according to two Harvard scientists, has been misleading the public about the effects of climate change since 1979. Corbella’s article is riddled with such statements. Here’s the link: https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/corbella-tzeporah-berman-better-get-her-facts-straight-before-she-talks-to-ata

  2. Elaine Fleming says:

    A lifelong Edmonton resident, I used to delve through the Edmonton Journal, cover to cover- all sections pretty well. Maybe not Sports so much.

    Envisioning my father at the time I was a kid growing up, I see him sitting in his favourite armchair with the paper (which was significantly bigger) in front of his face, absorbing all the local news, events from the big wide world and forming his very distinct opinions on it all.

    I knew whether he approved of a date who arrived at the door by whether he bothered to put his paper down to get up to meet him.

    So, long history with this paper, and it has been a “process” to let it go, but thinking in my father’s terms, it’s only good enough now to wipe your you-know-what-with. (You might guess, Susan, my Dad was a farm boy).

    This paper now however, (like the Calgary Herald, the ‘Suns’ and so on) is just a lowly spawn of its parent, the National Enquirer, and its publishers will do whatever it takes to sell a few more papers, including putting out this kind of offensive trash to stir people up. They are probably laughing up their sleeves right now that it has made them another nickel, and it has caused this kind of reaction- just like they knew it would. They have no respect for the public, or any sense of responsibility to their profession or society at large- and that is such a big problem, especially in our present world. There are still some people for whom this newspaper chain might have some “cred” I suppose, but not in our household. If we, by some bizarre chance came across one of these newspapers it would end up in its rightful resting place. You guessed it.

    • Elaine, I loved this comment and know exactly what you mean. What amazes me is that certain journalists like Paula Simons are still there. Remember when she was the only reporter to confirm that PostMedia ordered everyone of its newspapers to endorse Stephen Harper.
      I smiled at your comment about it being a “process” to let the paper go. Not a week goes by without my husband and I debating whether it’s time to cancel our Herald subscription. These debates have gotten more intense since the Herald started experiencing technical difficulties with their printing press and lose our paper at least once a week. (The only thing more galling that reading a rag newspaper is paying for it and having it not show up!). I suspect that we’ll cut the cord soon. Thank god for the Globe and Mail. It may be a more conservative newspaper but at least it gets the facts right most of the time.

      • jerrymacgp says:

        “… What amazes me is that certain journalists like Paula Simons are still there… “ This past week’s developments are particularly interesting in this regard: Ms Simons is now heading off to what some Canadian political wag once dubbed the “taskless thanks”. Meanwhile, the recent departed Graham Thomson has now joined the CBC as an opinion columnist. These have been just about the only marginally readable opinion columnists at the Journal in recent years, so I’m going to have to rethink my digital-only subscription.

      • I agree jerry. Kudos to Paula Simons and double kudos to whoever it was who managed to talk Graham Thomson into coming back.
        PS I had to read “taskless thanks” twice before I got it…very clever!

  3. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another in depth blog. I know that our print media (and other forms of media for that matter) in Canada has gone downhill, for quite a while now. It is not what it used to be. Postmedia is a prime example of this. The government is definately in control of it. There are articles and columnists that are way off base, with the things they print. The truth gets twisted like a pretzel. It is also pretty clear with what political stripe they are associated with. We used to have columnists with integrity, like Mark Lisac, who wrote for the Edmonton Journal. He got punished by the Alberta government (PCs) for what he wrote. Ralph Klein and his sidekick, Rod Love were well known to take columnists to task for articles that did not put the Alberta PCs in a positive light. It even was happening long before that in the Social Credit era. The media in Canada is now a puppet of the government. Sad and very scary. There are people who blindly go along with it. Those that do know better, have to speak out. As for the newspapers, the only really good part about them for me is the comics section, or a recipe in the food section. I wish I could see what the reaction to this on Twitter was. I was on Twitter (even a follower of you) until mid June of this year. Then, some glitches and problems happened with it, and I was not able to get back onto it.

    • Dwayne, thank you for reminding us that the lack of an independent press has been a problem in Alberta for a long time.
      We forget about the stranglehold the PCs had on the media and local businesses. When I ran for the Liberals in the 2014 by-election I was surprised to discover how hard it was to rent a campaign office. Landlords were concerned they would be “punished” if they rented to a Liberal. God knows what they think of NDP candidates!
      Those who study authoritarian states call this behavior “obeying in advance” — people think about what a repressive government will want and offer it themselves without being asked. I’m not saying Alberta was an authoritarian state under the PCs but after 40 plus years of PC rule the PCs thought they could do whatever they wanted and the people let them.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I agree. Look at the Sun newspaper at any given day and you will see columnists who bash the Alberta NDP, and say nothing good about them. One alleged slip up, and it makes the loudest noise. Most of the letters to the editor, for that newspaper, are the same way. The NDP (and the Liberals) are always in the wrong. The Sun did have a columnist who did support the NDP, Tom Parkin. He got continually trashed by readers of the Sun. Supposedly, he retired, or is not putting forth articles anymore. Is this a coincidence?

  4. omegaphallic says:

    I believe the Kavanaugh is innocent, she can’t remember where the party was, can’t remember who drove her there, who drove her back etc…, her witnesses including her best friend can’t confirm that party happened, never mind the rape, it was 36 years ago so almost all physical evidence is gone, and the Democrats sat on this for months, there is clear political motive given the timing.

    I’m an NDPer, but I feel like the rest of the left has shut off their critical thinking abilities, a woman said it, so believe women. Unless a leftwing President, Prime Minister, etc… Is accused. The hypocracy and disrepect for due process will bite the left in the are yet.

    • Maggie says:

      Actually, I don’t think that “due process” applies here. Brett Kavanaugh is undergoing a job interview, he is not a defendant in a court of law. His demeanour is defensive, evasive and belligerent. Not the best qualities for being a member of the Supreme Court, wouldn’t you agree.
      As for remembering details, I can remember where I was and what I was doing when I learned of the assassination of JFK but little else of that day. I can also remember the day my boss at my after school job grabbed my tits and ground his cock against my ass when I was going into the stockroom. But precisely what day of the week? Nope, can’t remember that.
      Oh yeah, remember Bill Clinton? He was accused. He was impeached.

  5. Ann Gallagher says:

    Omegaphalic – it wasn’t rape. It was sexual assault or an attempted rape. The reason perpetrators have gotten away with these assaults for so long is that there is no forensic or physical evidence. So by your reasoning; have at it. Assault whoever you want because there’s nothing that can be done. Does that mean victims of childhood sexual assault, children abused by priests are to be ignored? If you wish to spout this kind of ignorance publicly, at least make an attempt to educate yourself with respect the behaviours of sexual assault survivors and why they seldom report attacks at the time.

    • Omegaphalic, I agree with Maggie and Ann on this one. The Kavanaugh hearing is not a criminal trial, the criminal standard of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) does not apply. Congressional hearings arise from the “advise and consent” provision in the US Constitution which allows one branch of government to moderate the power of another branch of government–in this case the President’s power to appoint a Supreme Court judge is subject to the Senate’s right to be consulted and to approve the appointment.
      The two processes are completely different. For example, a court would never limit how long a witness can be questioned and would not tolerate the disrespectful back-talk Kavanaugh displayed in his responses to Sen. Amy Klobuchar when he asked whether she got blackout drunk.
      As Maggie and Ann point out, the fact that the assault took place years ago and some of the details are fuzzy does not mean it didn’t happen.
      If Lakritz’s argument was along the lines of the discussion you, me, Maggie and Ann are having that would have been one thing, however she crossed a line when she said whatever a boy “may or may not” have done in high school should not come back to haunt him when he became an adult, in other words, he gets a free pass. That was the point I was trying to make in the blog.

  6. J.E. Molnar says:

    Much of what Postmedia publishes from all of its online Alberta properties these days is what modern-day digital marketers refer to as “clickbait” — designed to get an impulsive reaction from readers.

    Inaccurate headlines, boastful claims and tendentious editorial/op-ed offerings further erode public trust in print media operations like Postmedia. Their failure to devise a new business model — to cope with eroding readership share and massive advertising revenue losses — places Postmedia in the precarious position these days of fostering journalistic bloodletting. Hundreds of talented journalists, in the past few years, have exercised company buyout options designed to thin the herd. No matter how Postmedia spins it…this is not publishing progress. What Albertans are left with is shabby journalism/editorial content, which has now become so blindingly self-evident.

    • J.E. you’re absolutely right in your characterization of PostMedia’s business model (or lack thereof). I was reading PM’s corporate documentation filed on SEDAR. Given that they’re deeply in debt and appear to have no plan other than to continue cutting expenses (they’ve cut $220 million since 2015, most of it is the result of firing people), I’d say it’s simply a matter of time before the company implodes. Interestingly, of the 8 directors on the board 7 have been involved with companies that were the subject of cease trade orders, bankruptcies and plans of arrangement, Godfrey was involved in 3 and Pecker, the chairman of the board, was terminated in August after people became aware of his involvement with hiding stories that had the potential to hurt Trump.
      Not exactly what you’d call a high caliber board of directors.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: J.E Molnar: I think the media in Canada is turning out to be akin to tabloid style reporting. There is a well known “media” outlet in Canada that is just like that, and other media outlets are following suit. It’s a shame, really.

      • Bob Raynard says:

        Susan, the Post Media’s board of directors must be high quality; look at how much they pay themselves!

      • Well said Bob. The same goes for all those Ivy League MBAs who run perfectly good companies into the ground. You know what they say about BS baffling brains…

  7. Too many people believe what they read – if it’s published in a newspaper it must be true! Many believe social media memes designed to get a reaction, and to influence elections. The newspaper industry is a business like any other, but the integrity that used to mark journalism as a career was once respected – even if you didn’t agree with the position said paper espoused. It seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors going on these days. No longer is it a case of journalism being a public service – informing the public was once seen as the public right to know. Newspapers served a very important function: speaking truth to power. It has become a sad and confusing world where you wonder who or what can be believed. It takes a lot of research, and often education, to know the difference. And so, I thank you, for doing the research and asking the questions that need to be asked.

    • Carol, thank you. You’re so right about the changing nature of journalism as a profession. The other thing the newspaper editor Neil Reynolds said to his staff was this: “You came into this profession wanting to do something good with your lives, and what happened is that, yes, you got better and better at your job, but finally you found yourself coasting on technique, familiarity with the terrain, and craven willingness to accept the good enough.” It seems that even the “craven willingness to accept the good enough” has eroded in the last few years and now it’s a matter of pumping out “clickbait” to increase advertising revenue. How will we ever come back from this situation?

    • Political Ranger says:

      More PC. Only on a personal character trait level.
      The whole of the PC ethic has been a dismal failure and I can’t see this as anything but much worse.

      • ronmac and Political Ranger: I read the article at the link and the original Jezebel article.
        The facts set out in the Jezebel article are:
        – Smith worked at Mic for 3 years. Some Mic staff members came to management with allegations about Smith’s private life. Jezebel says the first allegations against Smith were not the result of the “whisper network” or #MeToo. Mic said it was concerned because one of its core principles is the fair treatment of all people. Mic put Smith on paid leave while they investigated. They found no evidence of improper behavior at work.
        – Smith returned to work on contract, subject to review at any time.
        – Mic terminated Smith after the Jezebel article came out as per its contract “because of the multiple, disturbing allegations made in this story.”
        – The Jezebel article focused on women commiserating about Smith on social media. It asked Smith for comment. Smith refused and his lawyers sent a cease and desist letter.

        So what’s the issue and how is it relevant to the Kavanaugh hearings or the Lakritz article?
        – Mic conducted an investigation and found nothing. Later it decided to fire Smith. Corporations can fire staff anytime they want for any reason including “poor fit”. The only issue is does the employee get severance and if so how much.
        – Women have commiserated over poor treatment by men since the dawn of time. #MeToo has made them more effective.
        – If Smith thinks the Jezebel story or the women talking about him have damaged his reputation he can take legal action.

        The Jezebel article made two points about #MeToo: “whisper networks” are more effective due to #MeToo and #MeToo is creating an environment where all sexual maltreatment is considered socially unacceptable, even if it’s not illegal. I don’t dispute either point.

        What’s not clear to me is why people are focusing on #MeToo in connection with the Kavanaugh hearings. Anita Hill appeared before the Judiciary Committee in 1991 to give testimony about her allegation that Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. This was two decades before anyone had heard about #MeToo. The issue in Kavanaugh is the same as the issue in Thomas: who is telling the truth and does it matter.

  8. jvandervlugt says:

    Susan thank you for blogging about this. It’s taken me some time to come up with a response without getting angry.

    Dr. Blasey-Ford was criticized for not speaking out sooner. As we saw at the hearings, when she gave her testimony, one senator went off on a tyraid about how disgusting this sham was, dragging Brett Kavanaugh through this. Then, Brett Kavanaugh speaks and he is on the offensive even though it seems he can’t remember a darn thing from so many years ago. Then you have a Canadian newspaper basically excuse the allegations with a “what happened in high school stays in high school” statement. Are you kidding me? Can someone take some responsibility or show some integrity? The only person who exhibited integrity was Dr. Blasey-Ford who calmy detailed chronologically what Brett Kavanaugh did to her. So why dont women come forward sooner? With this attitude, with papers excusing this man’s behaviour, NO ONE will believe a woman’s allegations.

    What also disgusted me with Brett Kavanaugh was his absolute disrespect. This man is a judge! He is SUPPOSED to be impartial and unemotional. He should understand like in court there are procedures and a process. Dr. Blasey-Ford had a 100-times more professionalism detailing the events of that evening.

    • I agree Joanna. When people say why did she wait so long, they’re missing the point. Blasey-Ford came forward as soon as she heard Kavanaugh was up for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. Speaking up as a 15 year old in 1982 would have been pointless given how little progress we’ve made on the issue of sexual assault (she was drinking, she was asking for it, why didn’t she keep her legs together, why was she at the party in the first place, etc).
      Anita Hill spoke up 27 years ago, well before the era of Fox News, social media and Trumpism, and was crucified. Blasey-Ford knew what she was letting herself in for and she did it anyway. She agreed to an FBI investigation and the polygraph. She allowed the Senators to insult and ridicule her. She didn’t have to put herself or her family through this but she did it anyway.
      Regardless of what happens, the Kavanaugh hearing will have the same effect as the Clarence Thomas hearing, it will inspire women to run for public office and get out and vote.

      • jvandervlugt says:

        God, Susan, I sure hope women vote and run for office, because Im not impressed with what Ive seen.

  9. DHT says:

    Hello Susan,
    It has been a while since I threw up a comment given the nature of where some of your blog topics have gone. My initial attraction to your site was a concern with what I felt was a cozy relationship between what was left of an “Independent media” (scare quotes intended) and a corrupt provincial party whose time in power (44 years) had long passed its shelf life expiry date.
    My confidence that what’s left of for-profit media, has cleaned up its act since, has not gone up in the past two years. Of great concern to me still is what appears to be “replacing” what we’ve assumed was the responsibility of a free press.
    With that caveat in place, I’d like to also address another “replacement” phenomenon that equally concerns me. Based on yours and others commenting here – of the Kavanaugh hearings, we should no longer assume “innocent before proven guilty” as a cornerstone of democracy (not your words – mine).
    This is not to say that Mr. Kavanaugh hasn’t lied, or that Mr. Kavanaugh didn’t behave very badly as a drunk 17-year-old boy. What it is to say, is, the fitness of a person to hold a particular seat of official standing, should be based on all the provable evidence that can be brought forward of both a positive and negative light. In the case of this Supreme Court appointment, that means Mr. Kavanaugh should be prepared to defend his record – all of his record (with “all” and “record” underlined). What he should NOT have to be subjected to is a “guilty and unredeemable character forever, before guilt has been proven” process which Ms. Lakritz did a clumsy job of articulating, but which can/seems to be a part of every politically charged decision debated now. Ms. Lakritz wrote things that would be inflammatory to some, and didn’t even realize the “backlash” would get away from her. And to “defend” her (and her publisher’s) decision she/the company, got indignant. So what else is new these days.
    I place this new sense that “my self-righteous indignation Trumps your self-righteous indignation” (again scare quote intended) at the centre of a disturbing trend. Your examining the Herald’s editorial response is an excellent example of this. I can completely agree with your first 3 concerns, and then you (and Gondek) make an assumption of what the FBI will determine…Before the FBI have completed their investigation. Even if you are right, why go there?
    Yes, The Herald published an opinion piece that did not speak to the very real concerns of people who have been victims of sexual assault. However, until Mr. Kavanaugh is found guilty of just such an offence, the topic of “who should be given consideration for what role based on their professional record” is still an open, and not destructive, topic – but only if “innocent until proven guilty” holds.
    I happen to think that Mr. Kavanaugh is unfit for the role (he appears to possess none of the contemplative and deliberate qualities of a Supreme Court Judge). I also happen to think that the process he has undergone, might be a reflection of one of your earlier posts where you felt it appropriate that “when they go low…we go lower.” Yes, when “innocent until proven guilty” gets flipped, we may have arrived at a nadir we may never recover from. I for one, will not be celebrating.

    • Hi DHT, good to hear from you again. I agree with much of what you said, but have a different take on the discussion about democracy and the standard of proof.
      Democracy is defined as a system of government made up of the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch. The judiciary run the courts and hear criminal and civil cases. The standard of proof in criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. The standard of proof in civil cases is “on a balance of probabilities”. I don’t think the criminal standard of proof is a cornerstone of democracy, it is simply one of the many things (like the laws of evidence) that a criminal judge must consider in order to render an impartial verdict.
      Part of the problem with the Kavanaugh hearing is it’s not a criminal trial and no one knows what the correct standard of proof is. I googled it and found an article on the standard of proof in Senate impeachment hearings (judges can be impeached). The article said there is no definitive answer on the correct standard of proof and individual Senators will decide what standard to apply “guided by their own consciences”.
      With respect to your other point, neither Gondek nor I were making assumptions about what the FBI investigation will discover about Kavanaugh’s actions. We were focusing on Lakritz’s statement that the Kavanaugh hearing should “strike fear into the hearts of all men because it means no matter how sterling a reputation you have in your adult life and career, something dumb you may or may not have been involved in high school can forever come back to haunt you. We interpreted that phrase plus the headline “what happens in high school stays in high school” as saying if you sexually assault someone in high school, it shouldn’t come back to haunt you as an adult. Gondek said Lakritz’s comment normalizes sexual assault in high school “by stating that it was a point in time where a young person made a bad choice.”
      We don’t think sexual assault should be normalized in high school or anytime.
      DHT: thank you for commenting, this is a difficult conversation.

      Here’s the link I referred to: http://congressionalresearch.com/98-990/document.php?study=STANDARD+OF+PROOF+IN+SENATE+IMPEACHMENT+PROCEEDINGS

      • DHT says:

        Hi Susan,
        Thanks for the reply. I went back and carefully read my post and your reply and appreciate that there are two parallel themes here, which I tried to clearly lay out:
        1) A system that should hold out as valuable “a presumption of innocence”
        2) A cudgeled attempt at an opinion column

        As the second last sentence in my post indicated, I have a problem with an approach that puts assumption of guilt ahead of presumption of innocence. This could be interpreted as a “standard of proof” argument, but I think if you re-read my post, there is plenty of evidence that that isn’t where I was going.

        From your original post: “but whether the Herald acted irresponsibly when it published Lakritz’s opinion in a format Gondek and others say normalizes sexual assault.”

        I too read the Lakritz column, and as stated in number 2 above, recognized immediately that much of what she wrote is indefensible, or at least inexcusable if you are trying to parse what should, and should not, be included as material information on the fitness of a candidate for the Supreme Court. But we disagree about the use of the term “normalizes” and whether it should even be applied here.

        I cannot defend the argument that “because it happened so long ago, we must move on” any more than you would. At the same time I’m not convinced that that is an ask for “normalizing”. It is a weakly constructed argument that the predilections of a 17-year-old, no longer apply to a 53 year old more than 35 years later, with again, no proof that this is the case. If more is read into it than that, that’s fine I guess.

        However, using this logic, the following statements found in the comments section leave me wondering if we are “normalizing” “assumption of guilt”:

        “Postmedia is a prime example of this. The government is definately (sic) in control of it.”

        “I’m not saying Alberta was an authoritarian state under the PCs but after 40 plus years of PC rule the PCs thought they could do whatever they wanted and the people let them.”

        “It was sexual assault or an attempted rape. The reason perpetrators have gotten away with these assaults for so long is that there is no forensic or physical evidence.”

        “The only person who exhibited integrity was Dr. Blasey-Ford who calmy (sic) detailed chronologically what Brett Kavanaugh did to her. So why dont (sic) women come forward sooner? With this attitude, with papers excusing this man’s behaviour, NO ONE will believe a woman’s allegations.”

        “I agree Joanna. When people say why did she wait so long, they’re missing the point. Blasey-Ford came forward as soon as she heard Kavanaugh was up for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.”

        I’m sure the writers of those statements would deny that they have ever had any intention of normalizing “assumption of guilt” over the presumption of innocence, and I for one, would like to give them the benefit of the doubt. At the same time, we need to ask ourselves if seeking out bias confirmation has been normalized and then substituted for thorough and thoughtful investigation, prior to drawing conclusions. I appreciate the link you posted, and will reciprocate with the following (in case you missed the broadcasts this week). I think the work done here is a fine exemplar of doing the heavy lifting in order to remove corruption from the political system. It also demonstrates that people who bring the proper ethic to a political issue, will get amazing support from their peers.

        https://www.amdoc.org/watch/darkmoney/

        And here are the times you can set your PVR on KSPS
        • Friday, October 5, 02:00 am – Dark Money – KSPS7.1
        • Saturday, October 6, 03:00 am – Dark Money – KSPS7.1
        • Saturday, October 6, 09:00 am – Dark Money – KSPS7.2

        Enjoy.

      • DHT: Interesting points re: whether the commentators were normalizing the assumption of guilt over the presumption of innocence. My difficulty with this discussion is from everything I’ve read, testimony given under oath in a congressional hearing is not held to the same standard of proof as that given under oath in a court room. I read the following comment in the Sept 29 edition of The Economist: “the burden of proof much be reasonable. Mr Kavanaugh is not facing a trial that could cost him his liberty, but interviewing for a job. The standard of poof should be correspondingly lower.” I would agree.
        I don’t have a PVR but will try to find the Dark Money broadcast on line. Thanks for the link.

  10. GoinFawr says:

    I have no idea who is telling the truth in this case.

    I personally don’t like Mr.Kavanaugh at all, but whether or not he is guilty of a crime should be left up to a court of law. ‘Getting upset’ is not necessarily an admission of guilt, it could just as easily be a natural reaction to what must be, from his POV, an untimely accusation…..

    Remember Patrick Brown? I didn’t ever really like him either. But what has “#railroad”, which utterly destroyed his career, done to make it up to him? Or does he remain ‘convicted’ regardless of the loss of credibility of his accuser(s)?

    “Sentence first, verdict afterwards!” – The Red Queen

    In my opinion if you are responsible for ruining a person’s life, and it turns out the premise you hung that destruction on is proven incorrect or even questionable, you ought to be obliged to make amends… something “#railroad” has yet to do in the case of Patrick Brown.

    That certainly doesn’t mean I believe that ‘what happened in high school ought to stay in high school’, or any assault should go unpunished, but we (and the US) have at our disposal judges and juries quite capable of weighing evidence, let’s let them. Otherwise what’s the point in having them at all?

    • GoinFawr I agree that someone who ruins another person’s life with malicious or careless disregard for the truth should suffer the consequences. That’s what defamation laws are for. Patrick Brown said he was going to sue his accusers. I don’t know whether he did.

      • GoinFawr says:

        “Patrick Brown said he was going to sue his accusers. I don’t know whether he did.”
        And why not? “Job done”, so who cares?

        To my knowledge Mr.Brown is only suing CTV, but it was #railroad that did all the dirty work, finishing the job on that pol, and how does anyone hold that anonymous collective accountable?

        Which is precisely where my problem with its extrajudicial power sits. But please don’t take my word for it, or even M. Atwood’s, as Rosie Dimanno sums it up,

        https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2018/01/25/patrick-browns-downfall-an-affront-to-fairness.html

        Note: that was written before one of Mr.Brown’s accusers changed her story about how far into adulthood she was when the alleged ‘misconduct’ occurred. And it has been established that she was already an adult at the time, regardless of all those who would bend over backwards to incite outrage by only, and disingenuously, labeling her as a “teen”.

        As a lawyer yourself I am bit surprised at how you seem willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater, legally speaking. Surely you’ve spent enough time in court to know that, despite all its short comings, on the whole the Canadian judicial system strives for justice?

      • GoinFawr: I’m not sure what you mean by the “extrajudicial power” but as a lawyer I know that the rule of law does not require the criminal or civil standard of proof to be applied in a non-court setting. The World Justice Project has a nice description of what the rule of law entails. It can be found here. https://worldjusticeproject.org/about-us/overview/what-rule-law

  11. David says:

    Politicians don’t have to be fair and balanced as much as newspapers that want to be taken seriously do. Maybe it doesn’t matter as much for TV news coverage, but newspapers are already in a difficult battle to remain relevant and appeal to readers. I’m not sure how much their opinions really matter, probably much less than in the past, but if they seem to become cheerleaders for an ideology or a political party, it only increases the risk more and more people in the community will ignore and dismiss them.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      I would say they both chose money and privilege over fair and balanced and they both are being ignored and dismissed. There is one possible positive about this situation – Democracy is attainable.

    • David, very well said. And especially relevant. The Calgary Herald ran a large photo of Stephen Harper on the front page of yesterday’s paper. What was Harper’s big newsworthy accomplishment? He wrote a book on populism. Really?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s