Thursday, 20 June 2013

Spotting Lickspittles

Call me naive, but I can't get over this.

The Prime Minister's Office has been giving reporters 'marching orders' since May.

Kudos to the weekly Barrie Advancefor exposing the way some journalists are taking their marching orders from Erica Meekes, a flack in the Prime Minister's Office.

These edicts from Meekes instructing reporters to attack Harper's political opponents have been the subject of much chatter amongst the hacks in my small circle since they began arriving in the email box of a pal in May.

We've been using them to play Spot the Lickspittle -- we Google the key phrases to see who among the ink-stained wretches is merely a mouthpiece for Harper.
Isn't that cute? Playing Spot the Lickspittle.

Not Out the Fuckheads Playing Uber-Partisan Politics on the Government Payroll?

Kudos indeed to Lori Martin, editor of the Barrie Advance, who explains how the story unfolded and her reactions here.
If this was real, it wasn’t right. Why would the PMO, not the Conservative Party, be sending us unsolicited background information on Trudeau?
And here is Susan Delacourt's bizarre explanation for why the Star didn't reveal where the documents came from.
The Star was among those recipients. And why didn't we say where the documents came from? Well, because the PMO official asked first. This seems to be the big difference between how the PMO approached national and local media yesterday. Before I was sent the documents, there was a conversation about the conditions surrounding their release. 
Let's return to Lori Martin's account, shall we?
The caller, who identified herself as Erica Meekes, told me she wanted to send information regarding Justin Trudeau’s speaking engagement at Georgian College. She would send the information along if I agreed to identify the PMO as a “source.”

I thought it was a joke, someone pretending to be from the PMO.

I didn’t agree to the terms of the request because I didn’t know what the content was and I had no relationship with the person on the other end phone.

We had not contacted the PMO in search of this information. The situation was very odd.

I told the communications officer to send the information to me, saying I would have a look at it. That was the only promise I made.
Back to Delacourt:
For the record, it was a real conversation. I asked repeatedly why the PMO, and not the Conservative party, was making this offer.  Though the distinction may seem technical to many, it's an important one. The Prime Minister's Office is supposed to represent all Canadians, including ones the Conservatives don't like. This is why the staffers  get paid their public salaries -- ie, by you and me.  This is why they get extra-special security clearance; so they can be trusted with sensitive information -- not available to other opposition parties, or, we presume, the Conservative party. The official told me that the PMO was simply "contrasting" leaders, as is its job. I wondered to myself if this would include going through, say, tax records of other leaders, but I decided that was a question for another day.
A 'real' conversation. Well, okey-dokey then.

Ms Martin must have had an imaginary conversation with the PMO and yet those documents *did* arrive at the office of the Barrie Advance.

This is what I can't get over: Only Lori Martin saw the newsworthiness of the source?

From a Q&A between J-Source and Ms Martin:
JS: What was the discussion in the newsroom after receiving this information?

LM: We talked about the fact really the story was the source of the email, not the content. And we all agreed that that's the way we would roll with it.

So I and the editor of a weekly small-town newspaper must both be naive to be shocked by this.

Or maybe just not as self-important as Ms Delacourt and her insider colleagues.

ADDED: Alison has a graphic to go with this.

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