Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chin music for months

This is a follow-up to the post last night on the witness list that has been drawn up for Commons committee hearings on the issue of the CBC's responsiveness to access to information requests. An item at Climate Progress yesterday on conservative messaging practices seemed to sum up quite nicely what it is that our Conservatives are up to, tactically, with such hearings: "The Denier Industrial Complex’s Molehill-to-Mountain Machine: How Conservatives Beat Progressives at Messaging." Republicans are seizing upon the Solyndra bankruptcy to demonize the entire clean energy industry. 
What the DIC is doing in the case of Solyndra, and what it’s doing in the case of EPA clean air regulations are worth exploring in a little more detail. The Politico reported yesterday:
CHIN MUSIC FOR MONTHS — House Republicans are planning a campaign to keep Solyndra in the news this fall, including for a busy autumn of interviews, hearings and — perhaps — more subpoenas.

They’ll start laying the groundwork this week, according to Joe Barton, who says Energy and Commerce staffers are planning to bring in “a large number of witnesses” to talk about Solyndra, including “people that are involved at various levels of this company and their contacts with various government officials.”

“Based on what the staff says,” Barton says, “we’ll decide whether they need to come before the subcommittee” for hearings.
So the key is to find some piece of a winning progressive issue that has been somewhat tarnished and repeat it to death. There’s no need to actually tell the truth since few in the media are interested in real fact checking (see “Washington Post Okays McConnell’s Lies, While Dissing Bill Clinton’s Truths“).
Technically, we'll have to await the Commons hearings to see how the Conservatives handle the issues and witnesses. But it's not really a wild guess to think that Conservatives are gearing up on access to information issues related to the CBC in order to tarnish the CBC's image in the public eye, to soften up a reservoir of public good will to pave the way for cuts or some other restructuring. We'll see. Chantal Hebert referred this afternoon to the government's early use of parliamentary committees as "star chambers for the government; places where the Conservatives come to settle partisan scores." It's hard not to read this committee agenda in that way. Here they will be keeping this minor national issue of the CBC's access to information issues in the news when - but for Sun Media's interest - it really wouldn't be. Keeping other pressing access to information issues at bay in favour of something that will enhance the Conservative cause in delegitimizing the public broadcaster.

Now that the Conservatives have a majority, there's not much you can do about such agenda setting.  But you can recognize what they're doing and adjust your response with that knowledge.