McQuaig was the National Post's token leftist but she was hardly just a token. The Post gave her a national platform. Black kept her in spite of claiming she should be horsewhipped! McQuaig's analysis of the Post seems right on. Even with Black long gone the Post right wing tradition carries on. The Post is no longer very flashy but it is just as right wing as under Black if not moreso.
Post was wolf in sheep's clothing
>by Linda McQuaig
July 16, 2007
Listening to Conrad Black being interviewed by Peter Gzowski on the radio a number of years ago, I was surprised to hear Black suggest that I be “horsewhipped.”
I knew he was angry about two lengthy articles I'd written about some of his business dealings, and I wouldn't have been surprised to hear him attack me, even urge that I be fired. But horsewhipped?
Of course, it was all part of Black's larger-than-life persona that included a high sense of self-drama that was always colourful in its excessiveness. Black also once described me in an article as a “not very bright, leftist reporter” — for which a number of people urged me to sue him for libel. This was an intriguing idea, especially given Black's own penchant for slapping intimidating lawsuits on journalists who took an interest in investigating some of his questionable business practices.
But there was the problem of proving his attack had damaged me. In truth, it's hard to imagine where my career as an anti-establishment author would be today without such colourful swats from Canada's most flagrant and widely detested business tycoon.
But if Conrad Black has been good for my career, his impact elsewhere has been less benign. He used his ample resources to create the National Post, a vehicle that helped him push the mainstream debate in Canada considerably to the right. Black relentlessly used the Post as a platform for himself and a host of like-minded commentators to ridicule the Canadian taste for equality and strong public programs, to denigrate what amounted to the Canadian way of doing things.
Black liked to present the Post as an irreverent, scrappy upstart of a newspaper that shook up the staid Canadian media scene and challenged the establishment with its “take-no-prisoners” approach. The only problem with that image was that, far from challenging the establishment, the Post was — and is — the establishment.
It may well have been a scrappy upstart, but from the beginning it was an attack-dog fighting on behalf of Canada's financial elite, who have never been shy about defending their own interests. Could anyone seriously argue that, before the Post came along, we had heard insufficiently from business on the subject of the need for tax cuts, free trade or deficit reduction?
Of course, before Black started the Post, the message of the financial elite had been championed relentlessly for decades by The Globe and Mail. What the Post added was a sassy new look to the staid corporate message. It offered up the same old thunderous voice of Big Business, but now cranked up to deafening levels, with even less attempt at “balance,” and with more zing, including shots of celebrities in low-cut dresses. Its pages sparkled with a new brand of ultra-right journalism: neoconservatism with cleavage.
If the Post had a target, it was never the establishment, but rather the powerless. I recall how the Post, under Black, came out guns blazing against a court decision favouring a group of secretaries, file clerks and librarians who had waged a lengthy battle against the federal government for failing to follow its own pay equity laws.
The Post fearlessly called for a total repeal of pay equity laws, to prevent this sort of fairness from ever intruding into the Canadian workplace again. That'll show those uppity girls.
So much was Black part of the Canadian establishment that he managed to escape legal problems here for years, and would have likely escaped them entirely, had the U.S. authorities not eventually caught up with him.
In Canada, Black got a soft ride at the hands of authorities. He was investigated here in connection with a 1982 takeover bid of U.S. mining firm for possible violations of our securities laws. Two staff investigators of the Ontario Securities Commission recommended the commission lay a total of 26 securities charges against Black, his firm Norcen Energy and president Edward Battle.
But the decision whether to lay the charges was in the hands of the commission's eight-member board, who were all well-connected members of the Canadian financial elite. In the end, they decided not to prosecute one of their own.
Having been cleared by the establishment, Black went on bankroll a newspaper that loudly trumpeted the rights of the affluent, while posing as a scrappy upstart taking on the establishment.
Linda McQuaig's column is originally published by The Toronto Star.