Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Guergis Affair Speaks Volumes for Canadian Media - And It Ain't Good

A second staffer discovered planting shill letters for Helena Guergis.

The Terrible-Tempered Miss Bang is in it again. A second aide has now "admitted" (i.e. been caught) writing the praises of Guergis in a letter to a publication without disclosing the connection to her boss. Yesterday it was Jessica Craven who wrote several letters under her maiden name, Jessica Morgan, to local papers in Guergis' riding. Today it's Valerie Knight, a staffer in Guergis' Alliston constituency office, who slipped one past the Tory house organ, Maclean's magazine.

Guergis, of course, is playing dumb about it all - perhaps the one thing she's remarkably good at. She claims she only learned of Knight's letter when her communications director spotted the story online. Yeah, sure.

While Guergis' own integrity is a legitimate question for debate, the most troubling issue is how do these letters get published without the media at least checking out the writers? I've never had a letter printed in the Globe, the Star, McClatchey, the LA Times or the NY Times without being directly contacted first.

It's pretty obvious that most of Canada's media today have an unspoken "reacharound" deal with the Tories but this is a bit much even for them.


Scoop said...

Uh, because we have no resources? Outside of asking for a resume in order to completely vete our letter writers, we would not be able to glean much from a simple phone call. This is pretty much how it would go:
"Hi, is this Jessica Morgan?"
"You wrote us a letter regarding Ms. Guergis?"
"OK, thanks, good-bye..."
This is one of those very rare instances where I had a suspicion (actually, several of us did) there was more than a connection between Craven and Morgan. I needed more than just a phone call in order to put the pieces together...

Anonymous said...

Are people really this stupid or are they just plain educated beyond their intelligence?

The Mound of Sound said...

Scoop, you're to be commended for uncovering this scam but the fact remains that our media must do more to vet these missives before printing them. When a paper or magazine publishes this stuff it represents the material as a legitimate letter from a concerned reader. There is a responsibility that goes with it, particularly when it's found that a political party's operatives are abusing the venue, turning it into a partisan political tool.

Vetting need not be arduous. An e-mail requiring the writer to disclose or deny any direct affiliation with the party favoured should suffice. Yes, they may lie but that's not the point. The effort is made and, when they're discovered, there's no getting around the subterfuge.