Geert Wilders was greeted with all of the courtesy Canada’s freedom of the press offers.
His entourage, however, doesn’t necessarily offer the same.
Toronto Sun reporter Jenny Yuen went to airport upon the Dutch parliamentarian’s arrival Sunday for several Canadian anti-Islam speeches and found out that freedom of reporting did not apply to her.
Wilders was in a room spewing out all of his “Islam is bad” mantra when his Party For Freedom “public relations officer chairman Ms. G (Gaelle) de Graaff” not only demanded her notes but also confiscated them.
She then handed them over to another clown named Naresh Raghubeer who later phoned Jenny at 11 p.m. and berated her, followed up with a snotty e-mail saying “in the future, it would be helpful for reporters to understand the security implications of stories they are covering. Last known locations and future locations should not be included unless they are approved or add to the context of the story (with the approval of the subject).
“Second, when items are off the record, it should remain so,” and “third, as I had [sic] correct the reporter re the focus on Christianity/Bible Belt, it appears personal bias were already taking the story down a road which was not factual or relevant. Kory Teneyke and Pierre Karl Peladeau should strive for better.”
Maybe it should be Freedom Party leader Wilders who should strive for better and have people who respect freedom around him.
Getting both sides of this story might have been a good idea too; it’s not clear whether or not Warmington made an attempt to directly contact anyone at the International Free Press Society.
Then again, this is an opinion piece, not a news story, so he’s not obliged to do so.
Nothing said in the presence of any reporter is “off the record.” Ever.
It doesn’t even matter if both reporter and subject make an “off the record” deal going in.
This is like letting a hooker into your hotel room, coming on her boobs, then refusing to pay — or in this case, grabbing the money back and yelling, “How DARE you? This never happened!”
Every mic is always “hot.” Every gun is always loaded. Every reporter is always on duty, and whatever you say to them is “on the record.”
Unless Geert Wilders arrived in Canada by personal Pegasus, I’m forced to assume his “last known location” was Pearson Airport and his “future location” was Sun TV (which had announced his upcoming interview the day before) and/or the place he was giving his talk.
“The approval of the subject” is a journalistic “rule” I’m unfamiliar with.
Canadian journalists are a witless bunch, their heads filled to bursting with received liberal wisdom, and they’re operating on tight deadlines. If the next stop on Geert Wilders’ tour is Nashville, and it is, then his entourage should consider themselves lucky Jenny Yuen didn’t ask if Wilders would be helping George W. Bush set up a theocracy, with an assist from Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. Even if she did, then just laugh it off and say, “Next question.”
So while I admit that the way any story written by a Canadian journalist, even one at the Sun, is going to turn out is pretty predictable, I’m still left awestruck at anyone’s attempts to detect and pre-empt “personal bias.” Personal bias — like Hedwig’s “angry inch” — is ALL the mainstream media has to work with (see “witless,” above.)
Of course reporters are going to ask questions you think are stupid. The correct response to a stupid question is… a smart answer. Not confiscating notes, not sending out frustrated emails about what “direction” the now non-story was supposedly taking.
Because we see now the “direction” the story IS taking, thanks to some ham-fisted “handling” on the part of Wilders’ entourage.
Geert Wilders’ talk last night was very impressive. His media appearances were stellar.
About 75% of what he says are simply facts about Pew surveys, news reports on Muslim crimes and other belligerence anyone can google for themselves.
(However, he expressed feigned or sincere puzzlement over the fact that only Jews have built an economically viable garden in the desert, while Arabs (who have the same geography PLUS oil) have failed or not even tried. I don’t find that development the least bit baffling…)
Anyway, Wilders speaks very carefully, weighing each word, and is one of the only politicians I’ve encountered who seems to believe what he is saying, and doesn’t wobble under questioning.
However, it’s the “politician” part that’s the problem.
He sounds convinced that the solution to Islamization is to be found in electoral politics. When answering questions about “what we should do,” that’s when he falters. “Elect better politicians.”
But politicians aren’t the solution, because in Holland as well as throughout the West, an unelected, unionized bureaucracy riddled with political correctness really runs our day to day lives.
(On the way to and from the event, we heard on “news radio” that there are $90,000/year city employees going door to door collecting outstanding pet license fees of $7.50, like Tony Soprano making the “protection money” rounds. “Nice cockapoo ya got there… shame if something were to… happen to it…”)
Geert Wilders still wants to work within the system that’s trying to grind him down. While being an MP gives him an unmistakable “sheen” of respectability that’s let him get as far as he has, and opens doors for him that might otherwise be closed, this aura of respectability will ultimately prevent him and us from taking truly daring action.
Add to this an overprotective and tone deaf entourage of “minders” and it’s easy to see that the nascent free speech movement will soon be bogged down and destroyed, from within, by micro-management, risk aversion, an obsession with respectability, and the building of personality cults.
You can’t allow reporters into a room with you then prevent them from reporting, especially when you are working with something called the International Free Press Society. Don’t let them in the room in the first place. Duh.
You shouldn’t invite bloggers to an event then tell them they can’t take photographs (while everyone else in the room was doing so!), lest the pictures end up “all over a blog tomorrow.” Don’t let us in in the first place.
You can’t send out emails with the address of an event in them, then get mad when bloggers publish the address. Don’t send out the email in the first place.
As my husband said to an organizer late last night, after lengthy back and forths about what he could and couldn’t post:
“Don’t worry, guys, I won’t post anything. It’ll be just like Geert Wilders never came to Toronto at all…”
Not sure that was the desired outcome.
Or maybe it was… That’s the scary part.
A “free speech” mafia, in which respectable, jet set people in suits throw crumbs to lowly bloggers while trying to micromanage their message through “exclusive” deals about who gets to write and broadcast what — in which reporters are asked to hand over their notes — isn’t something I want to be part of, and I get the distinct impression the feeling is mutual.