Ted Baxter at Toronto Sun – just a game

Most broadcast and some print newsrooms have a genuine airhead like the fictional imbecile news anchor Ted Baxter, of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, whose good suits and great pipes hid absolutely nothing underneath. Many real Ted Baxters do weather broadcasts in Canada. Some read sports. A few do newscasts. Even fewer manage to get a job, eventually, in a print newsroom like the Toronto Sun, a light-weight daily tabloid owned by a Montreal francophone corporation.

A major feature is the “Sunshine Girl” photograph which should be renamed “Ditz of the Day.” The demographic must be truck driver and below.

Dumbbell news anchors have the kind of mind that triggers a puzzled expression the first time they read a news item about a cabinet meeting in Ottawa.

“That can’t be a meeting,” they might say, with a straight face, “cabinets are just furniture!”

But they have a great set of deep, resonating and authoritative vocal chords. Remember Ted when he dropped his voice down an octave, or two, and proclaimed: “Mar-e-e-e!!!”

Many people I’ve known in and around journalism, over the years, referred to them as “radio guys.” Radio guys learn, after a while, to address complex issues with simplistic, but authoritative, responses.

“What about the Middle East situation, Ted?” you’d ask.

Ted’s deep and automatic response: “Middle East Crisis! It’s just a game! Played by the Jews and the Palestinians. I know all about it.” He’d then offer the dumbest of descriptions of people being killed by bombs.

“What about ‘poker,’ Ted?”

“Poker! It’s just a game! I know all about it. Blah, blah, blah . . ..”

It turns out that a radio-guy mind has managed to infiltrate The Toronto Sun newsroom.

Somebody, somewhere, must have asked the Sun’s Hartley Steward: “What about Prime Minister Harper chilling freedom of the Parliamentary Press Gallery?” Poor Hartley’s response, on the Sun’s web site, on April 26, 2006, said:

“Don’t be fooled. In no sense are the ongoing clashes part of a significant news story. They are part of a game between reporters and sometimes editors on one side and whichever party happens to be in power on the other.”

The Toronto Sun is owned by the Montreal-based outfit called Quebecor that was founded in the 1950s by Pierre Péladeau who was a separatist and racist. Hatred of the jews of the city was one alleged example. Mordecai Richler, who criticized separatism in The New Yorker, was disliked with a passion.

Quebecois separatists hate everything English; the language, the customs, the culture and anything else linked to “les maudit anglais a marde.”

Anyone living west of Rivière-Beaudette, Que., and east of the Pacific Ocean is deemed an un-cultured, rifle-toting “red neck” who drives a pickup truck and drinks beer right out of the can. That includes Toronto. Maritimers are just fishermen of no consequence.

Ottawa handouts of red-neck oil-money from the west, on the other hand, is tolerated (however distasteful) on Rue St. Jacques as everywhere else east of Rivière-Beaudette and all the way to the Gaspésie.

The last – very last – thing old man Péladeau would have been concerned about was whether those bloody English in Toronto had a daily tabloid that practised anything intelligent. The opposite, probably, would have pleased him and confirmed his plentiful prejudices about the maudit anglais.

His heirs are apparently carrying on the grand Péladeau vision by publishing poor Hartley’s nonsense.

One might expect some other Sun columnist to write: So what’s wrong with a few envelopes stuffed with a tiny bit of cash (wink, wink) changing hands at a couple of Montreal restaurants here and there? A-a-h! It’s all a game between politicians and the cops. Absolutely nothing to worry about.

After reading poor Hartley’s rubbish and after they stop laughing, the francophone VIPs on St. Jacques must say to themselves the red-necks in Scarborough and Markham are truly “des chiens sale et stupid.”

Les maudit anglais, criss! Ca comprend rien, sacrament! Ca pas de culture, câlisse de ciboâre d'ostie! Passe moe mon mae west et mon pepsi, tabarnak!

Tres tres bon, -artley, mon vieux.

M. Péladeau is –appy.