While Kory and Co. cleaned-out many of the real journalists in QMI’s Parliament Hill bureau (Spencer, Thompson, Weston, Zimonjic, Harris and others) there are still some dedicated, under-appreciated journos toiling away in the bureau. And we sympathize with their plight, and how hard it is for them to try to maintain their integrity, and the respect of their peers and their readers, working in that environment.
Take the recent story by QMI’s Mathieu Turbide on spending on training seminars within the Auditor General’s office:
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada, mandated to investigate misuse of public funds, has used those funds for its own dubious employee training sessions, QMI has learned.
Documents obtained under Access to Information reveal that the auditor’s office spent $445,816 last year on seminars, some of which appear to have little to do with financial oversight.
The expense reports provided to QMI Agency list off courses such as Roman civilization, anthropology and a study of Karl Marx, the father of Russian-style communism.
Not Watergate by any means but certainly worth reporting, and worth explanation from the AG as manager of the department. However, when you consider that a) QMI is ran by Kory Teneycke, an avowed C/conservative and recently former communications director for Stephen Harper, and b) the Conservatives are about to face an avalanche of hurt from the AG as she looks into their stimulus program; it’s not too hard to jump to some conclusions.
Conclusions such as the Conservatives are launching a preemptive campaign to discredit the AG before she goes after them on stimulus and they tapped their friend Kory, who recently launched such campaigns for them, to have his friendly media outlet get the ball rolling. “Have your reporter ask for the AG’s training expenses under Access to Information, good stuff there,” they might have said.
Also raising suspicions was the fact they actually got something back from a government department under the access legislation, given this government’s atrocious record in that area.
It seems such a conclusion was jumped to by Liberal communications director Mario Lague (he’s like the Conservative Kory but without a media organization to command — ed.) who, in a private memo that was leaked to the media, advised Liberals to not comment on the QMI story about the AG because he didn’t want a Conservative campaign to discredit the AG gaining traction:
“… it appears they [the Harper government] are using favoured media sources to try to damage the office’s [the Auditor-General’s office] credibility in advance of what are expected to be highly critical reports,” says Mario Lague in the memo, which was written Monday, and e-mailed to The Globe and Mail from an anonymous source.
The suggestion that QMI was doing the propaganda bidding of their boss’ old boss caused much protest and furious tweeting from their journos, who insisted the story was obtained through good, old-fashioned sleuthing of the training records of all government departments. And Lague later apologized, kinda sorta.
So while we feel for the journalists who are still in the QMI stable trying to do good work, the fact is when you work for a media organization that is run by a partisan Conservative that seems bound and determined to use the power of the press to advance certain political beliefs and agendas, people are going to jump to conclusions.
It’s just inevitable. If you think you can still work there under there under those conditions, go for it. But have your eyes open, because this won’t be an uncommon occurrence.