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A counter-point to the media narrative of the Conservatives “well oiled election machine”

One opinion I’ve held about political blogs in general in Canada is that one thing they can be useful for is to point out stuff that the traditional media might not be covering – ie. they may all have decided on a narrative for this election campaign, and will stick to it regardless of whether events pop up that contradicts that narrative. The blogosphere can point out that this “narrative” is not necessarily the case.

For example, the Conservatives first week of the campaign has hardly been a stellar one or an example of a well-oiled machine. You had “Puffin-Gate” occurring. You had the controversy over Elizabeth May’s inclusions in the debate, where we find out from David Emerson that the Conservatives were giving the NDP political cover, and were forced to reverse their opposition to May’s inclusion when Mr Layton changed his mind. You have Conservative problems in the Maritimes – specifically in Newfoundland, with Danny Williams continuing his very public campaign against Harper (and with half the candidate slots in that province not filled with Con Candidates), as well as the controversy in Nova Scotia over a Conservative candidate having to drop out due to her having a criminal record.

You have other occurrences of Conservative slip-ups and fabrications of Liberal policy positions, but if all you did was read traditional journalists/commenters like James Travers, and other political commentators, you’d think the campaign was going marvellously for Harper. You’ll likewise not get any of these missteps repeated right now on the CTV network (which many of us in the progressive/Liberal blogosphere are dubbing the Conservative Television Network) from either Bob Fife or Craig Oliver, and certainly not from “Conservative Hour with Mike Duffy”.

So, what blogs can do – even if they are “partisan blogs” – is point out to people that there is another side to the story that the traditional media is trying to paint. Right now, the narrative a lot of the media in Canada are trying to put out there is that Harper and the Conservatives have ‘the Midas Touch”. If the traditional media won’t point out the missteps of the Conservative campaign or point out that certain things they’re spouting off just isn’t true (ie, Cheryl Gallant’s ludicrous claim the Liberals would tax or ban firewood, or the Conservatives ads claiming the Liberals would kill their child tax credit when Dion has said he’d increase the child benefits), then its up to us who oppose Harper to point these out, and remind people that King Midas’s gift eventually turned into a curse for him.

UPDATE @ 12:57 pm: We’ll see if this breaking news shakes up the media narrative of a Conservative “smooth campaign”:

The Conservative campaign suspended a top official on Thursday for comments he made about the father of a soldier killed in the Afghanistan mission.Jim Davis, whose son Cpl. Paul Davis was killed in a vehicle rollover near Kandahar in 2006, complained in a media interview Thursday that Harper’s decision to end the Afghan mission in 2011 was “irresponsible.” In an e-mail to a reporter, Tory communications director Ryan Sparrow noted that Davis was a supporter of deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. The implication was that Davis’s criticism was politically motivated. Sparrow has been suspended for the rest of the election campaign and ordered to apologize to Davis, Tory spokesman Kory Teneycke said.

You’ll note even in this story the CBC still credits the Conservatives with doing this quickly, or quicker then how they handled missteps in 2004, but the actual event itself can hardly be seen as not damaging, when Sparrow is the Communications Director, and not some unsupervised “over-enthusiastic web staffer” in the Conservative War room making puffin poop on websites.

UPDATE 2 @ 1:10 pm: More from Steve over at Far and Wide. It appears that the Globe and Mail is at least getting it that this has been a “series of gaffes” this week for the Conservative campaign. Of course, as we also see at Steve’s link, Bob Fife isn’t about to ruin his narrative, but the Globe and Mail reporters apparently can see that if it smells like a skunk…

UPDATE 3 @ 1:20 pm: And here we see some more evidence of the blogosphere picking up on this story and reminding everyone of the gaffes that have been committed so far (as well as reminders of their past ones). You’ll be seeing plenty more of these in the Progressive and Liberal blogosphere as the day goes on. Also, I’ve been informed by a couple of emails that the Cons are apparently tearing down their infamous “notaleader.ca” website. Would that be in reaction to Sparrow’s suspension?

UPDATE 4 @ 2:22 pm: Still more blog comment on this, and Kady (with her always good snark) and John Geddes at Macleans chime in as well.

2 comments to A counter-point to the media narrative of the Conservatives “well oiled election machine”

  • Isn’t Travers the guy who never got over his man Iggy not winning?

    And, yes, you’re absolutely right about conventional wisdom among opinion-makers being subverted or manipulated by blogs. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen anybody in Canada with the reach of America’s “progressive netroots”; the only bloggers Canadian opinion-makers listen to are the wingnuts.

    (Possibly because of the left split.)

  • Blackstar

    We are talking about this over at Far and Wide. I left comments there and I won’t repeat them here so I will link to that because I think this discussion needs to happen quickly and produce results that are consistent.

    http://farnwide.blogspot.com/2008/09/am-i-missing-something-here.html#links

    My question was – what can we do, quickly and easily, and in a united manner to counteract the media narrative?

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