Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Transcripts are wonderful things: the Winnipeg North chronicles!

There's a brouhaha on the internets today! A little one, that is, arising out of one of the upcoming federal by-elections, the one in Winnipeg North.

Seems the Winnipeg Free Press decided to get all, what shall we say, creative in its interpretation of an answer Michael Ignatieff gave to one of their reporters on the weekend. Egg on Ignatieff, they classily cried! Come on, editorial writers of the nation, is this our best? Then predictably, and not surprisingly, the Conservatives jumped! All so predictable.

The question posed to Ignatieff and his answer can be found in a transcript provided by the Free Press reporter who was there in a scrum on Sunday: "Iggy on the Filipino vote." The transcript is prefaced by this note from the reporter:
Winnipeg North Tory candidate Julie Javier issued a press release yesterday evening saying it’s "regrettable" that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff suggested her candidacy is a game designed to sway Liberal Filipino voters.

That’s not exactly what Iggy said, nor did he accuse the Tories of vote splitting, which is what we said in a front page headline Monday.

All that, plus an editorial in today’s Free Press, prompted Ignatieff’s people to issue a transcript of the scrum held Sunday. Here it is, for the record. I was the "media" asking the questions, and the ellipses in the first question was me stumbling over Julie Javier’s name.
People can feel free to go on and read the transcript, brief as it is. Much ado seems to have been made over a statement that was expressing faith in the voters there and a refusal to get into any speculation that was put to him by the reporter. Reinforcing that ever important lesson in politics, always record your interviews!

Pundits Guide seems to have been alert to the prospect of shenanigans emanating out of that interview from its first airing and has a full post on the rundown of what's happened.

Exciting by-election out there! The Conservatives jumping all over the Liberals should tell anyone what is really going on with Winnipeg North.

Update (4:45 p.m.): Taylor has updated his blog post to incorporate the transcript of Ignatieff's response and adds:
Ignatieff talks a good talk about getting away from identity politics, asks for a fight on quality of the candidates and suggests that the press is trying to frame the fight inappropriately. This is a good sign. As for the Winnipeg Free Press? Terrible. Opinion of an exchange is healthy, but do make sure that it has foundation in fact.
Props to him for doing so.

Update (6:30 p.m.): To be clear about my reference to Pundits Guide above, this was the basis of her scrutiny of the original Free Press story, the quotes in the report versus the headline that ran with it:
Last night I expressed some scepticism in comments on an earlier post here about whether the quotes used in the original story backed up the sensational headline, and said that I thought the Free Press should release their transcript of the interview, a call I reiterated in this morning's blogpost as well.
These are questions that any impartial observer might ask on any political story, irrespective of the stripe of candidate involved.