Steve Paikin's Vindication Reminds How Far Other Journalists Has Tumbled Of Late
First, let me acknowledge my confiict: I’ve known Steve Paikin since the 1980s. He and I hosted a show on The FAN 590. I know his kids and wife, and he knowns mine. We’ve attended sports events together, and he was at my son’s wedding. IOW We are lifelong friends.
That said, I think he should sue the ass off Sarah Thomson. Thomson is a failed politician and wannabe activist who accused Paikin of sexual assault. The “assault” she reported was an alleged proposition in a restaurant. She says she was told by the TVO host she’d need to get a leg over with Paikin if she wanted to get on his TVO show The Agenda.
She then sent him an extortion email saying if he didn’t quit his job she’d ruin him. Paikin sent the email to TVO which launched an investigation. Last week, TVO exonerated Paikin. (you can read more in this fine Christie Blatchford column: http://nationalpost.com/opinion/christie-blatchford-tvo-host-steve-paikin-exonerated-after-sexual-misconduct-investigation)
Not that he’s asking me, but he needs to push back to send a message that drive-by #metoo virtue is unacceptable. I’ll let him decide what’s right for him, but we should do a GoFundMe to help him make her accountable. What began as a campaign against bullies has, in many cases, become a bullies’ campaign.
What Blatchford writes— and what I’ll tell you— is that Paikin represents what we want journalism to be. Prepared. Poised. Skeptical. As long as I’ve known him, I’ve rarely, if ever, seen a smidgin of bias in his reporting. Okay, he’s been nicer to Kathleen Wynne than I would be, but his rectitude is admirable. In an earlier time it was typical, too.
No longer. In many places journalism is in a death spiral of partisanship, bias and outright political corruption. Worse, so-called leaders in the field now accept Pulitzer Prizes and awards for investigative journalism on a story that has been debunked by Congressional committees and still lacks a singe proof of how Russia and Trump conspired to defeat Hillary Clinton
In response to the undisciplined, bare-knuckled populism of president Donald Trump, a large swath of American (and Canadian) journalism has adopted the old Chicago maxim, “If he brings a knife to a fight, you bring a gun”. In short, there are no vices if the outcome of our work is to charge or impeach Trump.
As writer Lee Smith points out (http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/261158/trump-russia-collusion) we have reached a point where supposedly reputable journalists are conspiring with political figures to overturn or severely damage the election of someone who offends their precious sensibilities—the warm and fuzzies indulged in the Obama era. They then hire the same former politicians (James Clapper, John Brennan) who helped them to their cable channels to further disseminate their fevered conspiracy theories.
Followed by CNN accepting awards for rigour on a story that saw the left-leaning network act as willing conduits in a White House plan to set up Trump on the infamous dossier of Russian dirt. (“Thanks to this CNN investigation, ‘the dossier’ is now part of the lexicon” says the citation). What this impeccable newsroom didn’t report is that the dossier was funded by Hillary Clinton, her fan boys and the DNC and the intelligence community.
In fact, as Smith notes and former FBI director James Comey has confirmed, a meeting in early 2017 to tell Trump about the dossier was simply held to give CNN a news hook to release the scabrous report. Which it did. And was feted for last Saturday. (Without mentioning CNN firing three top staffers for false Trump reporting and any number of other hot takes that melted when they encountered facts.)
What the Merriman Smith and Pulitzer voters also won’t tell you is that DC PR firms— working for the Russians and DNC simultaneously— orchestrated those stories using former press colleagues and eager Democrat hacks to massage the coverage. “The reporting on the Steele dossier for which CNN won its award was an operation coordinated between spies and the press “is Smith’s summation.
“Since then,” writes Smith, “thousands of articles on the Trump-Russia collusion story have taken CNN’s original story as the model for a new kind of American journalism, spoon-fed to a pliant digital press by cabals of political operatives and ex-spooks. Lies, innuendo, wild conspiracy theorizing, and the insistent assumption of guilt have replaced old-fashioned rules of sourcing, objectivity, and basic plausibility.”
The Merriman Smith award, announced during last weekend’s tumultuous White House Correspondents Dinner, was hardly the first such charade. Consider the Pulitzer Prize award to the New York Times and Washington Post for its ”deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration.”
All this “deeply researched, relentlessly reported” coverage lacks is any substantiation. After hyperventilating for 18 months in the service of a political subterfuge, the Times and Post were congratulated for, in Smith’s words " a dog’s breakfast of rumors and innuendo that turned out not to be worth the candle.” But hey, it was the news that fit that day. And it made Trump’s presidency into a tire fire.
Yes, some Trump officials have been charged wth crimes from before the Trump candidacy and Russian hackers have been cited too. But the seminal charge that Trump and Putin conspired?
“Dramatically furthering the nation’s understanding of Russian interference”? Bupkes.
The Times and Post neglected to mention that the DC firm giving them Russian dirt was also employed by Russians close to the Kremlin to overturn American laws. And that a firm owned by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta was also linked to Russian sources.
These awards make Obama’s risible Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 like like a paragon of integrity. As does this lengthy list of bogus stories released and then withdrawn in haste to bolster the Trump-As_Hitler motif.
Most of those carrying the Resistance’s water know they’re giving the public a laundered story. They don’t care. They’re enthralled with winning awards for nailing Trump that they don’t care any longer. And they have to justify the bottomless well of speculation, rumour and paranoia they’ve disgorged since November 2016.
“It’s hard to imagine anything worse for a democracy than journalists coordinating with political operatives and spies who are paid by the press to leak information about American citizens,” writes Smith. “But that’s where we are. We have hit rock-bottom.”
So if you see Steve Paikin, shake his hand and tell him we need more like him.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on his website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand will be available this fall.