Media News Digest: Pottergate, more awards, Bernie St-Laurent is back, RIP Denis McGrath

(Late this week because I survived the Great Steve Faguy Man Cold of 2017)

News about news

There was a Class A shitstorm in Quebec media this week about a piece by Andrew Potter (former Ottawa Citizen editor and current McGill professor) tying the clustertruck on Highway 13 during last week’s snowstorm to some greater social malaise in Quebec. It includes statistics suggesting Quebecers are more socially distant than the rest of Canada, but also had some head-scratching generalizations about restaurants offering two bills and bank machines dispensing $50 bills.

Reaction was swift, with columnists (almost all from francophone Quebec-based media) piling on to condemn it: Jérémie Bédard-Wien, Denise Bombardier, Dan DelmarBernard DrainvilleSophie Durocher, Sophie Durocher againJoseph Facal, Patrick Lagacé, Patrick Lagacé in EnglishJosée Legault, Mylène MoisanMichèle OuimetNathalie Petrowski and Lise Ravary.

Le Soleil even did a fact-check, as did La Presse’s science blog, and even Maclean’s, all finding that Potter’s statistics about Quebec society were accurate, though his conclusion of a “pathological” problem was exaggerated (they say nothing about the anecdotal stuff like restaurant bills).

Potter finally apologized and distanced himself from his own story (earning at least some praise for that rare move). That wasn’t enough, though. McGill, after publicly throwing him under the bus, “accepted his resignation” from his job as head of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (a Maclean’s story says the resignation was not voluntary, citing anonymous sources who also say “numerous high-profile figures have contacted McGill since Monday to express their personal displeasure with the column”, which prompted figures as high as the prime minister’s office to deny involvement). McGill says academic freedom is not at stake, which convinced precisely no one.

The response prompted another wave of hot takes, this time mainly from anglo media (Paul AdamsFrédéric BérardAnn BrocklehurstMichael Byers, Lucinda ChodanColby CoshAndrew CoyneRaymond J. de SouzaMichael Friscolanti, Lysiane GagnonMatt GurneyAllison Hanes, Trevor Hanna, Michael HarrisJoseph HeathChantal Hébert, Barbara KayJonathan Kay, Philippe LabrecqueJosée Legault againPeter LoewenEmmett Macfarlane, Don Macpherson, Candice Malcolm, Éric Montpetit, Brian MylesJoseph QuesnelAaron RandChris Selley, Michel Seymour, Evan SolomonMichael Taube, William WatsonDaniel WeinstockIra WellsMargaret Wente, Suzanne WexlerPeter WheelandBarry Wilson, three professors in Maclean’sa discussion on CBC’s The Current, podcasts at Canadaland and Ricochet, and editorials from the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Maclean’s and Winnipeg Free Press, plus an untold number of letters to the editor and discussions on social media). The hot takes get even hotter, comparing this scandal to everything from a corrupt third-world government to the Rwandan genocide. And that awful episode of Canadaland was rightfully blasted by its own supporters on Facebook.


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3 thoughts on “Media News Digest: Pottergate, more awards, Bernie St-Laurent is back, RIP Denis McGrath

  1. Brent

    One thing I’ve always wondered about is NHL broadcast rights. Remember when He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named threatened to sue the Habs because they were broadcasting a playoff game at the Bell Centre for charity? Could the Habs have blocked his establisments from showing the games in a countermove?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Could the Habs have blocked his establisments from showing the games in a countermove?

      No. At least not realistically. There would have to be some provision in the contract between the Canadiens and RDS, and in turn between RDS and the distributor, and then between the distributor and the bar, to allow such a block.


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