Ah, how I long for the days of objectivity. How I crave for the days where I could turn on the television and see normal news, objective, non-racist, perhaps even informative. But those days are gone in Canada, they fully evaporated with the touchdown of Airforce 1 in Ottawa yesterday.
I had the misfortune of turning on my television and catching the all day Obama marathon that both Canadian national networks were running. I had the misfortune of witnessing seasoned journalists, both on the CBC and CTV transformed into giddy school children while trying to create a historic moment that nobody was feeling. I had the misfortune of seeing and hearing the following exchange:
CBC Journalist (To white woman with 1 year old child in stroller and Black woman with 1 year old child in stroller): Why are you here?
White Woman: I want my son to be able to tell his grandkids that he was here. Imagine, he was witness to the first black president.
Black Woman: Excuse me, but that’s African American…
CBC Journalist: In the spirit of Obama being in Canada, can’t we just agree…
Black Woman: Yes! I’m here because I want my child to witness the visit of the first black President.
White Woman: (Looking confused) I thought you said…
CBC Journalist: Back to you Peter.
At this point I decided to flip over to CTV and see what’s going on there… It wasn’t much better. ‘Journalist’ Rosemary Thompson was standing on the side of a highway waiting for the motorcade to pass. She waves over a man for an interview and just as he steps up to her camera, the motorcade starts passing. The cameras scroll over and follow the motorcade as it passes. When the motorcade is gone, Rosemary, who in good times is an excellent journalist, looks absolutely giddy. She turns to the man standing next to her and the following exchange is broadcast:
Rosemary: (giggling) President Obama has just passed in the motorcade and it was interesting, there were two limos, one a decoy the other with the President (giggle), did you see the decoy vehicle?
Rosemary: (giggling even more) In the decoy it looked like the guy inside was sleeping, he was leaned all the way back (she leans her body back) and it was obvious it was a dummy in there.
Man: Ya, it was a dummy, leaning back like that, it was amazing to see that.
Lloyd Robertson (The in studio anchor): Did you manage to see Obama?
Rosemary: (giggly and bubbly) Yes and he waved at us! HE WAVED AT US!
I was half expecting her to grab the guy next to her and start singing Kumbaya..It was a pathetic display, but not as pathetic as what happened next.
I flipped back to the CBC and Peter Mansbridge, normally a respectable man, now reduced to sitting in studio in front of a blue screen (probably in Toronto) which was displaying a loop of a video image of the Parlimant buildings, (notice the man in the red coat who keeps chasing his kid, over and over and over again). He throws to his bumbling reporter standing in the mob of Obama watching Canadians at Parliament Hill.
The reporter naturally pulls over the first black guy she could find wearing an Obama t-shirt.
Reporter: Why are you here?
Man: Well me an my wife we decided to come here to witness the first black president visiting Canada.
Reporter: Nice shirt.
Man: Thanks we sell these shirts at my store (shameful store plug).
Reporter: Really, so you closed your store to be here?
Man: No we have staff at (Shameful store plug).
Reporter: Oh that’s good, but don’t you think your staff should have been here to witness this too?
Man: Well at (shameful store plug) we have a television, they are watching it on television at (shameful store plug).
Reporter: Well this is turning into a shameful store plug segment and so I’m going to have to end it here.
Man: Ya don’t forget you could buy your Obama shirts at (shameful store plug).
Peter: Thank you.
Flip back to CTV.
Obama is now getting out of his limo in front the Parliament building. He walks inside and is greeted by Prime Minister Harper. They shake hands, exchange a few words and then duck outside to wave at the crowd assembled. The crowd goes nuts.
Lloyd: Well look at that they bypassed security to wave at the crowd. Even those who didn’t see him, even those in the back of the crowd can now tell their grandchildren that they were there!
The Prime Minister and President proceed to the rotanda where Obama signs the welcome book.
Back to the CBC.
The CBC, a few seconds behind CTV show Obama signing the welcome book and then cut to a 10 minute segment on left handed people and how they sign their names.
Back to CTV.
CTV’s stellar coverage continues with a hand held camera following the President and Prime Minister up the stairs towards the Prime Minister’s office. We watch as the two men walk down the hall and head towards the office. Suddenly we hear:
Voice: WELCOME TO CANADA MR. PRESIDENT, WELCOME TO CANADA!!
Lloyd: (chuckling) Well that’s the voice of former CTV Ottawa Chief Craig Oliver welcoming Obama to Canada. He did the same thing on the last Bush visit to Canada.
Click, I turned the television off.
I’ve lost faith in Canadian television news..It was extremely pathetic to see journalists gushing like rock fans over Obama. I have a feeling that whatever news we do get from these people will be tainted to make Obama look good. The fifth estate has fallen.
By the way, the US news networks gave the Obama visit 5 minutes.