Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fighting for truth through Xtra's biased political coverage

In January 2013, Xtra Toronto had hoped to get more videographers accredited to attend the Ontario Liberal leadership convention, but unfortunately the party wasn't able to accommodate them and many other media in their demands.

In response, Xtra Toronto published an article entitled "Access Denied" that insinuated that Xtra had been shut out completely of the convention, when in fact its reporter Andrea Houston had been given accreditation to attend.

The article even quoted Gerald Hannon, never a friend of the Liberal Party, as saying, “You would think they would want Xtra to be there,” he says. “Do you detect a whiff of homophobia in there?”

The insinuation of homophobia was immediately made ridiculous as the convention went on to elect Kathleen Wynne as Ontario's new premier.

Fast forward to Xtra's coverage of the ongoing Toronto Centre by-election and again we're seeing some anti-Liberal bias rear its ugly head.

The recent fawning coverage afforded to NDP candidate Linda McQuaig was matched with less-than-flattering coverage given to Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland.

The Xtra web page featuring Freeland's interview contains a direct link to McQuaig's interview, but no such link back to Freeland's interview exists on McQuaig's page. (Watch out to see if Xtra rectifies this after I post this.)

Xtra writes: "The Liberal candidate in the Toronto Centre federal by-election says she is a strong LGBT ally who, if elected, will continue to fight for the rights of queer people in Canada and abroad. However, in an interview with Xtra about where she stands on key LGBT issues, Chrystia Freeland left many questions unanswered...Xtra was only able to chat with Freeland for 27 minutes."

The problem here is the questions were never posed due to time running out, so how can unasked questions be unanswered? It's also odd because until today, Xtra had published, "Xtra was only able to chat with Freeland for 20 minutes." We've seen numerous NDP twitterers refer to those "20 minutes" often since the article was published. Now it's 27 minutes.

Perhaps the slight alteration in the interview time was due to this clarification posted on Freeland's website today:

"The Daily Xtra, an online news source for the LGBTTQ community, published an interview with Chrystia earlier this week. Even though Chrystia ended up speaking to the interviewer for longer than the agreed-to 20 minutes that were scheduled, the interviewer was unable to ask all the questions that she had hoped could be answered during the (plus an additional 9 minutes of run-over time). Here is Chrystia’s stance on those issues that were not covered in the interview..."

I'm glad that Freeland has put on the record her stands on those important issues.

Today, Xtra also published an online video interview with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, which he handled very well with reporter Andrea Houston earlier this week.

But again, in the write-up accompanying the video, Houston focuses almost exclusively on alleged Liberal shortcomings on certain issues.

All politicians should be made to account for their actions and performance. The media should be able to toss whatever questions they deem fit at those politicians.

I do have a great deal of respect for Houston and for the work that Xtra does in the community. Their coverage of issues important to LGBT people is usually pretty stellar.

But as we've seen, their political coverage tends to have a pro-NDP bias. Liberals who dare not to give Xtra everything it demands (such as a video crew at the Ontario Liberal leadership convention) or unlimited extra time to ask questions during interviews already running over the agreed-to time, seem to get poorer coverage from them as a result.

Most people in the LGBT community are smart. We know that Xtra, like most media outlets, is not without its biases. Attacking certain media for such biases can seem often pointless. It's a fact of life. But calling it out is also fair and necessary.


Anonymous said...

Where was Trudeau for the vote on C-271? Your boy was AWOL. I hope the LGBT community noticed who showed up and who didn't. Your boy obviously was interested enough to show up and vote. And as to that interview, Freeland had her chance. No one told her how to answer. Stop whining. You are embarrassing yourself. Go McQuaig! Vote NDP!

Matt Guerin said...

Do you mean Bill C-279? I guess you do. Bill C271 deals with the Income Tax Act by a Tory MP. Trudeau said he supported C-279. He missed the vote as he was campaigning the leadership of his party, he says. That's valid. He voted more often than Mulcair voted during his leadership race. And as I said and you clearly weren't reading, the question was never asked of her in the interview - so she didn't have her chance. She has clarified her support for Bill C-279. As usual, you Dippers are pulling at straws and embarrassing yourselves. I'm not embarrassed at all.

Kyle H. said...

Great post, Matt! As you said, its almost pointless to note when a media outlet's bias gets in the way sometimes - think Sun News as the best example, as everyone knows their leanings - but it is important nonetheless to show people.