It should have been a quiet week for Rachel Notley. We are still in the post holiday doldrums and the next legislative session is still weeks away as Notley keeps deferring it in hopes of building a functional caucus. The last session was an utter disaster and I can understand why Notley wants to hide from the next one even if I don’t agree with or respect the deferral.
A cuddly press conference was scheduled for today where the latest baby born of an MLA was to be showcased. People were expected to ooh and ahh and be distracted from Notley’s dismal and plummeting support numbers.
Instead of riding out a quiet week though, Notley chose to open up a media shitstorm upon herself. Over the last few weeks Notley’s government has been rather thuggishly kicking journalists from Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media out of government media events.
Many media personalities don’t get along. They are heavily competitive and they have views that range on all sides of the ideological spectrum. It is tough to get a media consensus on pretty much any issue. One thing that will always get the media inflamed and cause them to circle the wagons though is when the heavy hand of government drops on one of their own. Media members and other pundits were mortified as an unapologetic Notley Comms person declared that Levant is not a journalist (nor apparently are any of the staff in his organization) and that they would no longer allow journalists from his outlet into their press functions.
While many in the media have little use for Levant and they have chafed under his constant attacks on what he calls “the media party”, they still recognize him even if grudgingly as a journalist. They saw his ouster as being a threat to journalistic freedom. The slippery slope was evident and the members of the “media party” rallied and decried Notley’s move.
Notley’s communications department is hopelessly inept but even they realized that enraging the majority of the media is not a good idea. In a panic, they sought out an expert in the issue and dropped the matter onto her lap. They had taken a small issue and made it big again.
Still ever stubborn and petty, the Notley government refused to let Rebel Media into their events until a review was conducted. In considering how long their royalty review took, that suspension of journalistic freedom could have been pretty long.
By today it looks like expert advice prevailed and Rebel Media is now allowed back into government pressers. I suspect that the advice given to Notley and Oates was along the lines of “Look you idiots, you are losing this dearly. Let them back in before it gets even worse!”
Now things are back to how they were and a review is pending. We have to now ask though, what is the problem? Why is there a review? Should there not be a problem to address before spending tax dollars to seek a solution?
The only problem that can be seen is that Levant’s Rebel Media was pissing off the government. They were not disruptive in conferences and we have seen no evidence that other web based media has been either.
The Legislature rotunda is not running out of room and pressers are not being overwhelmed with small market journalists. Again, what is the problem?
There has only been one problem and that has been the Notley government infringing on journalistic freedom. Notley created that problem and in backing off it is solved. There is nothing that needs fixing.
As funds get wasted on a review for a non-issue, I do hope that some messaging got through into the dense minds of the Notley administration. Leave the damned press alone!
Notley would be a fool to come up with some sort of strict regulatory press policy after having endured this public relations nightmare. Of course, she hasn’t proven terribly bright on these issues so far so little would surprise me.
The problem we have today is an inept government with a thin skin. They need to look within to solve that problem rather than try to stunt open coverage of their actions.
Sometimes things are best left alone. I wonder if and when the Notley government will begin to understand this simple lesson.