News stories hot one day, gone the next

CanWest News Service
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Fruit and news items resemble each other in that they're both hard to pick until they ripen. However, ripe fruit is relatively easy to recognize. A ripe news item isn't.
In the fall of 2007, information that former prime minister Brian Mulroney, after leaving office, accepted sums of cash from lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber resulted in a media frenzy. Almost overnight there were televised hearings by a parliamentary ethics committee, a special adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the likelihood of a public inquiry, the possibility of an election issue.
Well, sure. Hardly surprising, is it? It's a big story.
Maybe so, but four years earlier, in the fall of 2003, exactly the same item appeared in a national newspaper in an article written by William Kaplan. There were no echoes. No headlines, no ethics committees, no talk of a public inquiry. The story fizzled.
What was different? Search me. Kaplan, a lawyer, is the respected author of best-selling books. His story was prominently featured. The information, the antecedents, and the cast of characters were substantially the same. To discover a difference, one has to turn to intangibles. The climate? The constellations?
A story fizzles one day, and sets the world on fire the next. When various provincial Human Rights Commissions started investigating Canadian publishers Ezra Levant (2006) and Kenneth Whyte (2007), along with superstar columnist Mark Steyn, a furor erupted in the media. The human rights commissars were accurately described as Canada's thought police.
The media's reaction was fully merited, but why didn't it come years ago? Human rights commissions were despotic from the word go. Their enabling legislations were reminiscent of the 1793 Law of Suspects during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror. If they couldn't match Robespierre's Committee of Public Safety in enforcement it was only because they lacked a guillotine. Still, they did what they could. Certainly the censors and agents-provocateur of Napoleon's police minister Joseph Fouche would have felt quite at home in HRC offices.
What took the media so long to recognize Canada's sans-culottes of faux-liberalism for what they were (and still are)? And if they didn't earlier, why did they recognize it now? True, reeling in a fish as big as Steyn was rocking the boat - but it wasn't as if Canada's human rights commissars had never gone after journalists or journals of prominence before. The Manitoba and Ontario Human Rights Commissions attempted to re-educate Barbara Amiel and Maclean's under the editorship of Peter C. Newman as far back as the late 1970s (at that time over Amiel's use of the word "Hun" to describe the German belligerent in the First and Second World Wars).
Several journalists, including myself, have written about the threat to free societies represented by the "human rights" industry. Our stories were duly published in the mainstream press time and again, but they went nowhere. They had no legs. They fizzled. They didn't fly. The climate or the constellations didn't favour them. They were unripe fruit.
Fruits are ripened by sunshine. What ripens news items? Your guess is as good as mine.
In the final stretch of a hotly contested nomination, a story about U.S. Democratic front-runner Barack Obama's penchant for radical left associations other than the Reverend Jeremiah Wright should be ripe for the plucking. Well, it isn't. The media headline the fiery reverend's calls for God's damnation on the country his erstwhile parishioner is hoping to preside over. However, virtually no one has picked up on the story of the Woods Fund, a small philanthropic foundation, where Obama reportedly served as a director with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn on the board.
Is this a joke? With Ayers and Dohrn?
Ayers and Dohrn weren't your run-of-the-mill lefties. They were in the terrorist Weather Underground, in hiding after bombing the Capitol in 1971 and the Pentagon in 1972. Dohrn made the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. J. Edgar Hoover described her once as "the most dangerous woman in America." Ayers, her husband, while being interviewed by the New York Times about his memoirs, Fugitive Days, commented: "I don't regret setting bombs."
Does Obama sitting on a board with such people suggest that his association with Rev. Wright isn't a one-off? Does it indicate that he may feel at home among Left extremists? If so, is it news ripe for the plucking? "So far, the mainstream media have shown no curiosity," reports the Internet's National Ledger this week.
Go figure.

George Jonas writes for CanWest?News Service

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  • true
    January 18, 2010 - 10:50

    The basic anthropological point I would echo is that the truth always arrives before most everyone is ready for it. It gets many chances to have its day and often has to go through hell to get it. But fortunately for us, it usually gets out when the established order has sufficiently eroded and come into crisis.

    It takes a while for sufficient people to get it into their head that human rights defenders and progressives often aren't anything of the sort, just tyrants in fancy dress.