From the Cheap Seats welcomes the views of others and will occasionally even publish them.
By Alexander Campbell
As a moderate conservative, one from that near extinct breed called the “Red Tory”, I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Sun News network.
I was grateful that it paid attention to some of the scandals at Queen’s Park that the major papers and networks devoted less time to. But its coverage was so often over the top, and so often so petulant that it made it hard to cheer for it to succeed.
Tories like me were one of the problems that Sun News had. We were, on occasion, happy to know the network was there. But we never loved it and we never needed it enough to subscribe to it.
The other problem Sun News had is that at its core it was less a news organization than it was a vendetta operation for members of the Canadian conservative movement.
Compare it to its American cousin, Fox News. Fox News has the same editorial slant, plays almost as fast and loose with reality and just as frequently became more of a television version of talk radio than a news network.
It had, however, one major difference: when it was launched, it stole two known quantities with actual journalism credentials from its competitors when it grabbed Chris Wallace from ABC and Bill O’Reilly from CBS.
Wallace’s credentials gave Fox the journalism cred it desperately needed. O’Reilly provided a recognizable name for the commentary side.
Sun News never established journalistic credibility. This actually differentiated the television version from its newsprint forefather which at least stood on the shoulders of the immortal Peter Worthington.
Canadians remain, at their core, rank sentimentalists or traditionalists if one deems sentimentality too pejorative.
During the big events, they prefer to get their news from familiar and trusted sources. They’d rather hear from Peter Mansbridge or formerly, Lloyd Robertson, on days when the news invades their lives.
Canadian newspapers have often had their major columnists for eons whether we’re talking about the Star’s Rick Salutin, the Globe’s Jeffrey Simpson or John Ibbitson or even the National Post’s Andrew Coyne.
Even the opinion pages in this country are laden with familiarity and their biases more restrained and less petty.
Even hockey commentators and columnists in this country – like Bob McKenzie and Stephen Brunt – take years to develop credibility and respect.
Sun News failed because it was too angry for a country that values restraint. Too extreme for a country that values nuance. Too amateur for a country that favours professionalism.
And it perhaps committed that gravest of all sins in Canadian culture – it was too American in tone and dialect. It was too much Dunkin Donuts for a nation with Earl Grey ancestors.
Senator Alexander Campbell was campaign manager for Sir John A. Macdonald, the sixth lieutenant governor of Ontario and not the actual author of this blog. The actual author has asked that his name not be made public at this time and has chosen Alexander Campbell as a pseudonym in part to recognize Sir John’s 200th birthday