One of the pillars of a functioning democracy is a free and open press.  In theory at least their role in part is to question those in positions of authority to justify their use of power and when necessary challenge that use.  You know, radical notions like reporting facts and context to help us make sense of the world around us.

We’ve all witnessed the rise of media infotainment dressed up as serious news and the dominate role played by corporations and corporate funding within news organizations.  Indeed, these organizations themselves are corporate in nature resulting in the narrow framing of issues which inevitably denies the viewer the content and scope necessary to fully understand the issues.  Aside from exceptions like Democracy Now this has been the story of modern media for quite some time and as if this weren’t bad enough, here comes the CRTC with their latest creation as if on cue to make matters worse.

According to the Canadian Press the CRTC is quote “proposing a regulatory change that would give Canadian TV and radio stations more leeway to broadcast false or misleading news”.  Yes, you read that correctly and let us take but a moment to allow that to sink in.

Now, what in the world is that about?  Should not the CRTC be proposing policies that promote the precise opposite?  They want broadcasters to have more leeway to broadcast false or misleading news?

This Orwellian bizarro world policy had to have been cooked up with some purpose in mind.  This loosening of the regulatory reigns must be tethered to some foreseeable logic.  After some reflection it occurred to me that Sun TV, the so-called Fox News North, is scheduled to commence their cant sometime this March and then it all made sense.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the CRTC is anticipating what is to come with the introduction of Sun TV to the Canadian broadcast scene since they understand very well that ‘false and misleading news’ is exactly what they will provide to Canadians.

To be fair, it’s not right to impugn Sun TV before they’ve had a chance to broadcast, however those involved in it’s development have made no secrets about their intent to emulate Fox news, the same Fox news that promotes ‘fair and balanced’ characters like Glenn Beck whose connection to journalism is about as solid as his connection to reality.  Again to be fair, Beck knows he is a right-wing entertainer whose job it is to confuse a justifiably fearful citizenry for profit.  But in this time of heightened rhetoric do we really want Canada to continue down this road of the ‘Americanization’ of our media?  In my opinion we’ve already had enormous success in that regard but to push the envelope even further is going to push us off the charts.

This is especially prescient given the events in Arizona last week.  Without knowing the mind of the Arizona shooter it’s reasonable to assume that a society high on the sugar rush of constant vitriol is more susceptible to producing such tragic events.  Here in Canada we lack some of the violent cultural traditions of our southern friends but nonetheless I see no need to advocate unreason for the sake of profits, which is the ultimate aim of Sun TV after all, when what we all desperately need these days is the resurrection of reason accompanied by a healthy side dish of facts and a chaser of context.

This has been a test of the emergency broadcast system.