In a move that doubtlessly will be hailed as a strong stand against the “Liberal” media by paranoid conservatives around the country, and in what looks to me most like a fit of pique, Stephen Harper has decided to avoid the national media.
This reminds me very much of a move George Bush tried a couple of years ago when his poll numbers were sagging and he sent the troops, Condoleeza Rice, the ever-photogenic Dick Cheney, and others, out to do interviews for a week or two with local news channels. For the most part, the local reporters, grateful for getting such a “scoop” as an interview with the National Security Advisor or veep, were unable to mount competent or challenging questions and the campaign became a mobile platform for the administration to basically say whatever it wanted.
This is naturally what the Conservatives want, but the critical difference between Harper and Bush is that Bush has advisors that he listens to and instead of announcing to the world in a crybaby voice “I’m not going to talk to you Washington jerks for a while (sniff), because you make baby sad!”, he simply changed the method of “message delivery” for a couple of weeks and didn’t make a big stink of it. Now Harper has had a public snit and the method of delivery will be the news and not the message he wants to carry. And the news will be – “Stephen Harper is a control freak that cannot tolerate being exposed to the big, scary real world for the length of time it takes to answer a few unscripted questions.”
I’m not sure how many rookie mistakes he’s going to be allowed, but this one is pretty big.
Whether or not the media is biased toward one party or the other is being discussed elsewhere in the blogosphere as I write and I don’t really want to get into that argument. The point that I would like to make is that the Conservatives have very little to gain by pissing off the entire national media. The article linked above is from CTV which, aside from a few reporters, is as close to being a conservative mouthpiece as we are likely to have in this country. Their coverage of Paul Martin and Stephen Harper during the election campaign was instrumental for the Conservatives and necessary for the negative turn of the tide for the Liberals.
If Harper wants to ever become a majority PM, he has to learn the lesson that Liberals learned decades ago; to use the media for what it can do, not treat it like a urinal.