Canwest And Lobby Kind Reader Alerted

CanWest and the Lobby

A kind reader alerted me to this item about the present owners of the National Post that tried to float the black psy-ops operation charging Iran with requiring religious minorities to wear “badges”. This item is from before they owned the National Post, but there is no reason to think their policies have changed: The CanWest Chill: “We do not run in our newspaper Op Ed pieces that express criticism of Israel”. It goes on:

‘ The 7 December 2001 broadcast of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s As It Happens [Real Audio link] uncovered a disturbing example of corporate and political interference in freedom of the press. The program reported on a new editorial policy directive from CanWest Global, a leading Canadian media conglomerate, that impairs readers’ ability to make up their own minds about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, among other issues.

As It Happens reported that over two dozen journalists at the Montreal Gazette have pulled their bylines to protest a new policy imposed by the newspaper’s owners, Southam Newspapers Inc, which is owned by CanWest Global.

The new policy requires the company’s main local newspapers to run editorials written at headquarters in Winnipeg by Southam Editor-in-Chief Murdoch Davis.

Bill Marsden, an investigative reporter at the Montreal Gazette, noted that up to 156 times a year — about three times a week — the editorial would be imposed and that the remainder of locally-written editorials would be required to reflect the viewpoints and stances taken by the paper’s corporate headquarters.

Does this influence really matter? Yes, it does. CanWest’s 2000 Annual Report states that:

…[O]n July 31, CanWest announced its acquisition of all of the major Canadian newspaper and Internet assets of Hollinger Inc., including the metropolitan daily newspapers in nearly every large city across Canada and a 50% partnership interest in the National Post. We closed that transaction successfully on November 16, 2000, following completion by the Competition Bureau of its three-month review of the transaction.

The magnitude of these deals is unprecedented. Just a few months ago, the $860 million WIC purchase was the largest acquisition in the history of Canadian media. The $3.2 billion transaction to bring the Hollinger newspaper assets to CanWest remains the biggest media convergence deal ever consummated in Canada. The deal transformed CanWest into a $7.5 billion international media company and the largest Canadian publisher of daily newspapers.

Note that CanWest Global has not just limited itself to the Canadian media. It additionally owns media organisations in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. ‘

Meanwhile, Michael Massing at the NRYB pulls off one of those suprise endings, where he begins by criticizing aspects of the paper, “The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy,” then criticizes its critics, then actually fleshes out some of the mechanics whereby the lobby operates in Washington. Massing is right that the Mearsheimer and Walt paper would have been better if it had included more of these sorts of specifics.

I think around 1,600 academics have by now signed the two petitions I started protesting the smearing of Mearsheimer and Walt by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League. Since constituent organizations of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are lobbying Congress to cut off funding to academic programs that are not “balanced” (i.e. do not privilege the Likud Party line), academics are likely to have further things to say on this issue.

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