Friday, February 13, 2015
Sun News Network is no more
There will be plenty of gloating in far left circles in Canada as the chatter from the Sun News Network went silent this morning. The four-year old cable news network abruptly went off the air following years of financial loses and a breakdown of negotiations for its acquisition by Moses Znaimer's Zoomer media.
Most journalists, even those who despised Sun TV's brash, unabashedly conservative slant, aren't welcoming the development too joyously, however. The 200 jobs that will be lost with Sun TV's shutdown is indicative of not only the defunct network's difficulty to expand its audience, but of the shrinking market facing individual news channels and newspapers in general. Challenges from multiple Internet news sources, the abundance of cable news competition, and the advent of blogs as a news alternative have all combined to erode the once monolithic control the mainstream media had over the flow of news.
The end of Sun News is a sad, but not unexpected development after the CRTC refused to put the network on an equal footing with its cable news competitors. Sun TV provided a unique voice among mainstream news in Canada which has become almost uniform in its outlook and biases. It's detractors derided Sun News hosts for using terms like "The Media Party" and "the consensus media" to describe their competition. But there was a tremendous amount of accuracy in those descriptions.
It wasn't through active collusion, but the fact that the small pool of professional Canadian news reporters and journalists are, even in the case of competitors, often former colleagues. The rest of them generally know each other, frequently socialize, and they have an increasingly uniform worldview from which little politically incorrect variation is tolerated.
Making matters more unfortunate is the dumbing-down of the profession in general. Long gone are the days of William L. Shirer and Edward Murrow when reporters were intimately familiar with their subjects and courageously sought out corruption. New reporters are frequently barely literate, very few have anything approaching above average intelligence, and as often as not, they act as little more than stenographers for their preferred sources.
That's where Sun News was different. Their on-air hosts, like Michael Coren, Brian Lilley, and Ezra Levant are all exceptionally intelligent people who actively courted controversy. They were unafraid to take on the issues that made the rest of the media establishment squirm because someone might get offended.
That's a brave position to take these days, when every disgruntled Tom, Dick and Jane with a computer and a chip on their shoulder is examining each word uttered in public, looking for an opportunity to be outraged and to launch a campaign demanding punishment and ostracism.
The reality is that even though Sun TV didn't make money, it made a difference. There were many instances where it shamed the rest of the media into covering stories they didn't want to, recently, particularly for the many blunders by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. It also was unafraid to identify the extent of, and confront Islamist radicalism in Canada which the rest of the media actually goes out of its way to cover up because of its multicultural sensitivities. We've seen how those sensitivities translate to cowardice and can enable some of the worst forms of extremism and abuse.
And the fact is that even it's detractors incessantly talked about Sun News. When was the last time people discussed something a host said on CBC Newsworld or the CTV News Channel? For that matter, who can even name a host on one of those networks. By contrast, Sun News was that bright candle that burned out quickly.
As someone who had been on Sun TV as a commentator on about fifty occasions, I'll miss it because it was fun. But as Jay Currie pointed out, its politics weren't the only cause of Sun TV's demise. The format and content of its shows were repetitive and the network lacked variety.
For bloggers who don't swallow the party-line and who provide alternative outlooks, the departure of Sun TV may come with a silver lining. Because with their voice silenced, the rest of us, who are prepared to speak out against the tyranny and deceit of political correctness, have become that much more necessary.