Sun Media – not its squalid commentator Ezra Levant – is the problem

Posted on October 01, 2014, 12:34 am
8 mins

Ezra Levant, on the job with his Sun News microphone. Mr. Levant is not the problem. Sun Media is the problem. Below: Justin Trudeau, Bernie Farber, and Brian Mulroney.

Ezra Levant is a squalid nuisance, barely worth contemplating.

Sun Media is the problem.

On Monday, Sun Media apologized for Mr. Levant’s repellent and sexually obsessive hysterics about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s parents, one dead and the other an elderly grandmother and thus neither in a position to defend themselves.

This only happened, of course, because Mr. Trudeau threatened no longer to talk to legitimate Sun Media journalists, of which we have been repeatedly assured there are a few, after Mr. Levant’s Sept. 23 rant, and because former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney intervened in his current role as a member of the board of Quebecor, which owns Sun Media.

Within seconds of the apology being read by an anonymous narrator, Mr. Levant’s smug visage was back on the air and, not long after that, in the pages of the local edition of Sun Media’s newspaper here in Edmonton. No apologies from him, thank you very much.

In other words, thanks to his enablers at Sun Media, Mr. Levant has gotten away with it again, just as he got away with his sinister racist screed about an entire people, the Roma, his false statements about George Soros, his reference to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council as “idiots” and “censors” for mildly ruling that he really shouldn’t tell people he disagrees with to “f**k your mother” on the air.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’m compelled to inform readers that Mr. Levant has called me personally “a snitch,” “a weasel,” “a bully” (presumably for daring to criticize Sun Media), a person who unprofessionally sneaked union propaganda into Calgary Herald news stories, a “union boss” – if only it were true! – and a big chicken for refusing to appear on his program. Plus the Spanish obscenity translated above, of course.

As an aside, it’s interesting to note in light of this that when the shoe was on the other foot, and the self-described free-speech advocate was being criticized for his Roma commentary, he did not respond to my three requests for his comments about the situation.

As far as I am aware, only in the case of the hate-filled monologue about the Roma – when according to Rabble’s Karl Nerenberg charges were seriously considered under Article 319 of the Criminal Code for public incitement and willful promotion of hatred – did Mr. Levant himself apologize.

So we can count on it that Mr. Levant will make inappropriate comments again – and again, and again – and that each time Sun Media will say, sorry, so sorry, it’ll never happen again … all the while tacitly encouraging Mr. Levant to continue.

In other words, it’s Sun Media that gives Mr. Levant a multi-media platform for hate, obscenity, hectoring abuse and bullying. It’s Sun Media that allows him to play unsupervised on national television. It’s Sun Media that defends his excesses. It’s Sun Media that apologizes for them – usually with enough qualifiers to render the apology meaningless. So it’s Sun Media that ought to be held responsible for what he does.

Sun Media’s defences of Mr. Levant can be quite elaborate. In 2012, Sun News Network Vice-President Kory Teneycke publicly defended Mr. Levant’s noxious rant about the Roma. The former member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s political praetorian guard barricaded himself inside Sun Media’s “message box” while doing his best to sound contrite about Mr. Levant’s savage commentary.

Mr. Teneycke refused to acknowledge the patently racist overtones of Mr. Levant’s sinister remarks and suggested they were merely meant to be satirical. Anyone who heard the original nine-minute episode of Mr. Levant’s program knows this explanation is so preposterous that Mr. Teneycke himself may have been engaging in satire.

Thankfully, other respected public figures, like Bernie M. Farber, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, treated Mr. Levant’s appalling remarks with the gravity they deserved.

Unfortunately, though, readers will be hard pressed to confirm any of this now, since Sun Media seems to have washed all copies of Mr. Levant’s poison down the corporate Memory Hole. A recording placed on Youtube.com by a third party was removed “due to a copyright claim by Sun News Network.”

And even Sun Media didn’t bother apologizing in 2011 when Mr. Levant dressed up in an orange wig and mocked the death from cancer of NDP leader Jack Layton.

Why would Sun Media encourage this kind of behaviour by its commentator?

I can only speculate, of course, not being privy to their strategies. But it seems reasonable to conclude Sun Media fully endorses Mr. Levant’s messages, even when they disavow particular examples like his rant about the Roma and now the attack on Pierre and Margaret Trudeau. Surely, at least until Mr. Mulroney stepped in, Sun Media also supported the attacks on the elder Trudeaus as a way to get at their son.

Finally, presumably Sun Media underwrites Mr. Levant’s efforts to debase public discourse for the same reason as does Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative Party, which is closely allied to Sun Media: because it is an effective voting suppression tactic that helps keep the Conservatives in power.

So don’t expect Mr. Levant to act any differently, or Sun Media to do anything more about it except issue meaningless apologies, as dictated by circumstances, in future.

This may be good enough for Mr. Trudeau – whose spokesperson said yesterday, no doubt with a sense of relief, that the Liberal leader would talk to Sun Media reporters again.

It ought not to be good enough for anyone else. Sun Media is the problem.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

7 Comments to: Sun Media – not its squalid commentator Ezra Levant – is the problem

  1. PatP

    October 1st, 2014

    You may be inclined to not read the Sun. Instead, identify two or three advertisers on the same page as any commentary/ story featuring Levant, and then contact those businesses.
    Tell them if they continue to pay the a Sun ad money, and thus tomsupport racism/intolerance/ignorance, you will boycott their business… And tell all your friends to do the same.

    Oh yeah, we can bankrupt SunTV too if we did the same with commercials.

    Reply
  2. October 1st, 2014

    Enjoyed your article. I agree 100%. I would also add that I do not wish or expect an apology from Levant. Frankly, it would not have value. I do however, reserve the right to judge Sun Media’s actions on this issue.
    Coincidently, I recently published a post on my website about these types of false apologies.

    Reply
  3. Filostrato

    October 1st, 2014

    You’ve got to wonder if Sun Media is running a rest home for otherwise useless “journalists” and political short-pantsed boys who, having gone way past their sell-by date, are collected together to molder into dust. There isn’t even anything there you can recycle.

    EzRant’s gas ejections attract somewhere in the region of 5,000 viewers. Wow. After the shrinkage and death of the Western Standard, although it supposedly lives on in cyberspace, reborn every two weeks from a janitor’s closet somewhere in Alberta (maybe), this latest kerfuffle is probably the biggest audience he’s had since his last attack of verbal incontinence. I suppose that making a mess in public will attract attention but, after a while, people get tired of the smell. Actors often say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. That doesn’t work in this case. Sooner or later, a serious liability has to be “disappeared”. EzRant may go into the studio one day to find that someone has turned off the lights, flipped the breaker and hidden his mic.

    Reply
  4. Lulymay

    October 1st, 2014

    I at one time was responsible for a staff that often dealt with members of the public. Part of my responsibility was to ensure none of my staff made comments that were inappropriate either to each other or members of the public, particularly those that fit in with current statutes which did include personal harrassment. If I did not effectively deal with anyone reporting to me who acted in that manner, then I could be subject to legal charges.

    Which begs the question…. how come Fauxnewsnorth, alias Sun News gets away with publicly making less than legitimate accusations/comments about someone, whether they are a they are a private or public person? Something seems dreadfully out of whack here.

    Reply
  5. why so serious?

    October 2nd, 2014

    Guys need to all step back and see this all for what it it is. Fun-Media and Lez-ra E. Vant are in my opinion, actually a geniusly concocted parody of a news organization. Masquerading as something serious by duping a lot of low information readers and super sensitive left leaning thoughtful types, with deeply warped, biased, incomplete and unbalanced reporting completely abscent of any thoughful analysis, sophistication or depth and it generates traffic through shock and awe driveby politics and on some level hoping to engineer Canada into a more conservative society…esp with the smile of the day and so many scanadalous Hollywood Gossip stories (sarcasm). Now Lez-ra E. Vant is brilliant in an Andy Kaufmanesque or Borat-ish sort of way(well brilliant in many ways), wherep only the truly aware audience watcher has to realize that much of the hands flapping and open eye balls, fake outrage, screaming rants is the sort of acting you see on TV Wrestling! Shock news sells folks and generates viewship and traffic from ad revenue. What is funny is right wingers feel emboldened and left wingers feel offended, when in fact both extreme ends of the spectrum are being simultaneously jeered at. Controversy sells. Commedians always offend, its how they make a living. I really have to say I enjoy read and watching Fun-Media for piles and doses of mind warping humour and watching Lez-ra E. Vant chop and dice issues and the people associated. Have we as a society become so thin skinned and blind to the humour around us? Did some of you stop to think that those that saying such shocking things are actually trying to have fun at the audiences’s expense. Fun-Media and Lez-ra provide exceptional intelligent humour the question is, are they poking fun at the left, center or the right wingers? I believe it is all of them. There in lies the genius of the wit and humour I enjoy reading and watching. Lighten up folks…..smile, learn to laugh and look beyond the politics. I am sure when you truly see the sheer entertainment value of Fun-Media and Lezra, you cant really take them seriously. They are great for laughs, that is for sure and for that alone, they deliver something uniquely different than others, that is making fools of the audience and they keep coming back!….simply genius. Many of you may disagree, but it may not be so far fetched if you think about it. Andy Kauf-man and Jerry Law-ler duped the entire viewership at one time in the 70’s.

    Reply
  6. David

    October 7th, 2014

    Postmedia buys Sun Media newspapers to control huge chunk of Canadian media
    http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/sun-medias-english-language-newspapers-sell-postmedia-while-quebecor-keeps-sun-news-network

    [snip]

    Sun Media’s Sun News Network television channel, featuring popular right-wing pundits such as Ezra Levant, won’t be sold to Postmedia as part of the deal. The troubled news channel, which recently faced a boycott from Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, has been losing $16-18 million annually.

    Reply

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