Harper Government VS CBC – View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – May 14, 2010

Cornwall ON – Today, we have another round of Conservative CBC bashing. Really, what does it accomplish?

While it is an interesting “channel changer”, a tactical move to distract from the Jaffer-Guergis Affair and detainee documents, how many votes will it switch to the Conservative cause?  On a positive note the Conservatives have managed to get the chattering class in a tizzy and perhaps even have some media types writing about pollster Frank Graves and charges of CBC bias, which means less coverage of other issues.

And of course, its red meat for the base, who hate everything about the CBC and who will dig deep to provide the party with funds to fight this menace to the party.

But outside of being a bandaid solution to other negative stories in today’s press, a sustained attack of this nature has to have a long term purpose. I assume this assault on the CBC was not a knee-jerk reaction to the story about Graves advising the Liberals, but that the decision to do this was done after a cost analysis IE will we win or lose votes by doing this. Will this type of sustained negative attack hurt or help the party?

Personally, I doubt attacking the CBC on an almost daily basis will influence a single voter to change their vote and vote Conservative. If anything it will turn off some voters who will see this as further proof of a Conservative mean streak. There is a point where reinforcing your base is countered by losing support elsewhere. Going negative can hurt too. Just look at how the Liberals are polling after weeks of sustained negative attacks on the government.

This government has so many positive messages to get out, the Prime Minister has performed well, we have the G20 coming and yet staff are consumed with bashing a media outlet. To what end?

It won’t make any difference in how EKOS polls are reported at election time either. The CBC will report them, the media will write about them and the public will read them. I doubt many voters several months from now will see an EKOS poll and remind themselves that this was the firm the Conservatives were complaining about. Nor will viewers watching the CBC news care that the Conservatives don’t like the CBC.

As for timing CBC news stories that Conservative staff consider anti-Conservative, why bother? They need to break out of that bunker mentality and get a life.

Having watched duelling newscasts for years, I would say the Conservatives have a point with the CBC. But how helpful to their cause are these almost daily blasts at the CBC? How much time and staff energy is going into this issue verses other ones that need managing? Newspapers and broadcasters cover stories differently, they often reflect their audience. They won’t consistently write positive stories about any given party, nor will they write consistently negative ones.

Now if all of this is a prelude to the Conservatives cutting funding for the CBC, just do it and get it over with. I would much rather see the CBC fend for itself and compete toe to toe with other private broadcasters.

Political types and others inside the Queensway will be waiting for the next Conservative volley against the CBC. It will be interesting to see their long term game plan unfold. All in all an interesting move from the party that claims to defend free speech.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

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  1. I would not mind an unbiased review of the service. In this day of internet and satelite for news etc, could parts of this 1.2 (?) billion be better spent elswhere, perhaps!

    Is it biased, I think so, but so are some other media.

    To recap, because of technolgy, there may not be the same need for a national taxpayer funded tv and radio service as when it started.

  2. “All in all an interesting move from the party that claims to defend free speech.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! They haven’t defended free speech for years now. We are not living in a free society as we would like to believe in any case. It’s all about control between the 2 main parties. We need all fresh faces in government, fresh faces that actually listen to the people rather than work their own secret agendas!!!

  3. For quite a while now, all federal governments have been trying to gut, if not kill the CBC. More so for the Harper government because the rabid right really hates to hear any views that are different from their own. The biggest fear of any elected government is an informed electorate. They’d much rather that we just listen to classic rock and commercials for Crazy Harry’s mattress blow-out sales.

  4. “The Prime Minister has performed well”…Please enlighten me, Mr. Beardsley. I must have been out of the country or my mind.

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