For most of the Senate scandal story, I have to admit that I was laughing at Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin. I shouldn’t have been. I’m savvy enough to know that Harper is a Dick (capital-D Dick), but the spin delivered on the story was juicy and sufficiently well-formed that I too was duped. I am ashamed. As a consumer of media, I failed to shield myself with appropriate levels of skepticism and I failed.
If there’s one thing that modern media is especially good at, it’s tearing people apart. An Evil person picks a target (in this case Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin). Then they pick a hot button issue (in this case their expenses) and then we all whip our outrage into a frenzy. This works spectacularly well with the boomer generation and moderately well with younger people. In the Senator’s cases, the outrage belongs almost entirely to that older generation and it was quite deafening until some new information came to light.
That new information immediately intrigued me; not least in part because it reformed the whole story for me. What had been a story about a retired news man submitting inappropriate expenses became a story about a Prime Minister attempting to white wash an inconvenient truth without regard to who was thrown under the bus. I strongly suspect that we will continue to have new information delivered to us — Harper may well have picked adversaries that have equal or greater access to the public ear.
The more important take-away from this story, however, is that the convenient news feeds from entirely partisan organizations (including the government) are not worth the electrons used to form them. In an era where news organizations spend ever less on primary reporting, the consumer of news must be ever more wary of the sources used.