BCF digs up a 2001 article by Paul Wells debunking Warren Kinsella’s self-created myth of his own influence:
In a torrent of news releases, press conferences and newspaper and magazine columns, the slumbering Canadian nation is being enjoined this week to ponder the magnificence of Warren Kinsella. As trivial pursuits go, Warren-worship at least has the virtue of being entertaining.
Fun facts: Mr. Kinsella was not “the architect for the Grit victory.” He was not “the master” of the war room. In private moments, he has even been known to admit as much. (Full disclosure: We had lunch in a swishy Hogtown bistro last week, our second lunch date in three years.)
Mr. Kinsella? He was designated a “floater,” which means he had no specific job at all. He was there because of Jean Chretien’s personal affection for him. He chipped in, as everyone did, at idea- generating bull sessions. He went on TV because the other Liberals, terrified of Mr. Rae’s gag order, wouldn’t.
And what do you remember about his TV appearances? Precisely: the Barney the Dinosaur toy he hauled out of a gym bag to mock Mr. Day’s beliefs about creationism. Except the Barney analogy wasn’t his. It came from Sophie Galarneau, yet another near-anonymous Grit. Mr. Kinsella only acted it out.
The Cult of Warren is only partly Mr. Kinsella’s fault. It also demonstrates a perennial flaw in journalists’ psychology. How many times have you seen “senior sources” or “high-ranking sources” quoted in a news story? Thousands. Now how many times have you seen a reporter hang a quote off an unnamed “mid-ranking source of uncertain influence,” or a “hack addicted to his Rolodex?” Less often. Reporters are addicted to grade inflation: Anyone reckless enough to talk to us becomes the most important guy in sight, because the fact he talks to us makes us feel important.
Which is how a floater becomes king and a nation becomes even a little more ill-informed than it already was. As for Mr. Rock, he should be at least as grateful to have nailed Raj Chahal and Randy Pettipas as he was to get Mr. Kinsella. Never heard of them? Precisely.
Were he to revisit this article, Wells could add that self-appointed “blogging expert” and SLAPP suit-er Kinsella fell for a Nigerian email phishing scam as late as last year, consistently exaggerates his site stats, and didn’t have permalinks until recently.