Journalists Are Banned from Stephen Harper’s Events and It’s Stupid Nonsense | VICE | Canada

Posted: July 7, 2015 in Canadian Politics

“I get by with a little help from my friends (oil buddies), a little help from my frieeeeeeends” This is what we get instead of scrums.


ByJustin Ling

The phrase “photo opportunity only (cameras and photographers only)” appears 90 times in my inbox.

All 90 emails are from the Prime Minister’s Office regarding upcoming events with Stephen Harper.

That line means that if ever an enterprising print, online, television, or radio journalist were to dare enter the event, security would prevent them and, if need be, remove them from the premises.

I know, because I’ve tried.

I’ve driven a half hour to go to an event with Harper in the hopes that I might be bestowed the grand honour of asking the Exalted One a question (I wanted to know why we weren’t providing weapons to our Kurdish allies). But after hearing a 20-minute speech, I had a friendly PMO staffer instruct me that I was to leave. I tried to resist—I slipped off my bright-red “MEDIA” badge—only to be confronted by security a hot second later. I was escorted from the school gymnasium.

We’ve all just given up, at this point. We’ve, metaphorically, put on a housecoat and pulled a half-eaten carton of Chunky Monkey from the freezer.

Which is why it was so adorable to watch American journalists recoil in horror when staffers for president-to-be Hillary Clinton guided them around on ropes. Such simple disdain for the media feels almost quaint by Canadian standards.

A day later, journalists in Alberta were bullied by PMO staffers at a joint event between the Prime Minister and Premier Rachel Notley. The advance team instructed the journalists that cellphone pictures were verboten. They later relented. Questions were still banned, though.

Update: A reporter from the event has contacted to inform me that reporters were, in the end, banned from the event altogether. The PMO was kind enough to send a recap of the meeting to reporters in the Press Gallery, however, because they’re so fucking helpful.

Why? Because why not.

When you hold all the power, why not abuse it? If you run an event, why not ban the pesky media? If you control the flow of information, why not decide how it goes out?

It’s been a problem since time immemorial. Whether it’s editing Joseph Stalin’s executed allies out of his photos or Barack Obama cherry-picking friendly media to roll out carefully packaged news stories, leaders always want to control the message.

But most leaders recognize that there’s a balance between message-strangling and the public’s right to know.

Not Stephen Harper, apparently. Not anymore..

Continue via Journalists Are Banned from Stephen Harper’s Events and It’s Stupid Nonsense | VICE | Canada.


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