Beat the Press: Harper's Tough Guy Approach Is Working

September 9th, 2006 2:40 PM

As badly as the American press leans leftward, the Canadian press is actually worse in its bias against things conservative. That's ironic since Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, is actually a conservative which has caused a good amount of friction with intolerant liberals up north.

Facing an entire press corps as impartial as Keith Olbermann, Harper has had no choice but to play tough with reporters who despise him, snubbing their little award ceremonies, and denouncing their desire to pontificate at news conferences. "They don't ask questions at my press conferences," he said in May.

The Grits' (Liberal) press arm retaliated, launching a boycott of his news conferences. Being reporters, though, their staying power was rather limited (h/t Small Dead Animals):

With a whimper it was over.

As of today, The Parliamentary Press Gallery has called off its five-month-old boycott of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's news conferences.

Officially, its only a temporary suspension of the boycott to let Harper think about the error of his ways and to reach a new protocol for holding press conferences. But the PPG members know the jig's up.

The Press Gallery decided in April to show Harper who was boss on Parliament Hill. When the PM insisted that reporters put their names on a list to ask questions at news conferences, they rebelled. No frickin' way were they going to submit to a process that let the PM pick and choose, they proclaimed.

What kind of dictatorship was Harper running anyway. The Press Gallery represented the people, not the duly elected government. Didn't the Conservatives know that?

The only problem was that the people didn't give a hoot about the PPG boycott.

And two weeks ago, the boycott split like a ripe tomato. Four reporters decided that bringing more details about the softwood lumber deal was more important to the public than a useless fight about a list. Peter O'Neil of the Vancouver Sun, Mark Kennedy of the Ottawa Citizen, Joel Denis Bellavance of La Presse and Randall Palmer of Reuters told the PMO: Put us on the list.

Stephen Harper phoned each of the reporters and they got exclusive interviews. [see post for links to their stories]

Are you watching this, Tony Snow?