The news that CBC-TV reporter Krista Erickson was leaving the CBC, possibly to join what's being called "Fox News North," caught my attention. Dragged me away from the World Cup.
It struck me as proof positive of the truth in a line delivered by Olivia Newton-John in the season finale of Glee: "Brunettes have no place in showbiz."
Just speculating here, but if it's anything like the Fox News channel in the United States, it certainly won't be a news outlet. It will be entertainment. Fluff. Frivolous opinion delivered as fact. That is, showbiz. You've heard of the "fake lake"? Well this could end up being the fake-news channel. Brought to you by the people who probably think the fake lake is an okay thing.
The "blond, attractive and dating a politician" Erickson (as my Ottawa colleague Jane Taber put it recently) would be a perfect fit. Right-wingers are as predictable in their news-babe preferences as they are in their conspiracy theories about the CBC. The only brunette you're likely to find on the proposed channel, a right-wing act of broadcast onanism, is Ezra Levant. That would be Ezra "Bill O'Reilly of the North" Levant.
Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Oh come on, it'll be hilarious. Bring it on, I say. We're all in need of a good laugh. The barking-mad Fox News Channel is something that most Canadians have only heard about. They could watch it, because it is widely available here, but hardly anybody can be bothered. Except, obviously, for those behind this new outfit - Quebecor Media President Pierre Karl Péladeau and its VP of development Kory Teneycke.
Teneycke used to be "Our Glorious Leader" Harper's snippity spokesthingamajig. Recently, he's been a pundit on CBC News Network, doing his best to imitate a Fox News pundit, all drive-by sneer and shaky foundation. And Teneycke, who is actually a personable fella and a good sport when he's not making barking-mad remarks on TV, is a keener. He is also a regular correspondent with this column. Not long ago he wrote encouraging me to view Power & Politics on CBC NN because, he said, Levant had demolished author Marci McDonald on it. McDonald has, of course, written a book about the right-wing Christian movement in Canada and its influence on the government of Our Glorious Leader. In Teneycke's note to me, he described McDonald as an "anti-Christian bigot."
I laughed out loud when I read that. I imagine if McDonald appeared on this Fox News North, the caption on the screen would be "anti-Christian bigot." And if I ever appeared, the caption would be, "Left-wing, soccer-loving loony." I'm sure I won't be on it, though. Instead, I suspect, it will be Erickson swapping bons mots with a giggly Levant, while Rex Murphy, the Red Green of political pundits, waits off-screen to deliver a thundering denunciation of people who oppose catastrophic oil spills.
Oh my dears it's going to be tremendous fun, if it happens. An entire channel run by, and aimed at, people who believe that political or social dialogue is advanced by name-calling. The people who support Fox News - here and in the U.S. - must be the most uncivil and foul-mouthed creatures on the planet. They'd give soccer hooligans a run for their money. This is an informed opinion.
When I wrote about the looming arrival of Fox News in Canada in 2004, I got thousands (yes, thousands) of e-mails from Fox News devotees in the U.S. One of the first to arrive was this: "You are a [expletive] Please don't sleep on your side, because your tiny little brain will roll out your ear, you communist [expletive]"
It was bizarre, bracing and very, very funny. I so look forward to the Canadian version. And this may have escaped the brains behind the outfit, but there is one sure way to justify the existence of the CBC. That is, spend 24 hours a day doing what Fox News does - pundits playing journalists in an ongoing soap opera of left-versus-right. It would make CBC, CTV and Global look very, very good. Go for it. Bring it on. Brunettes need not apply, though, unless they're male, because this is showbiz, after all.
Hiccups (CTV, 8 p.m.) is new. Oh yes it is. And some people like it. And some people think it's a bit disappointing. I'm just mentioning both views because in Canada it's quite possible that somebody - anybody from a provincial government minister to a stand-up comedian - will blow a gasket if a firm opinion is expressed about Canadian TV. Dan for Mayor (CTV, 8:30 p.m.) is also new and part of an attractive Monday comedy package on CTV. Me, I prefer Dan, but that's just me, being whimsical and all.
Michael Jackson: What Happened (CBC NN, 10 p.m. on The Passionate Eye) is a repeat, but one of the more interesting takes on Jackson's decline and fall from his position as King of Pop. Filmmaker Jacques Peretti, who says he was once a fan, tries to figure out what drove Jackson to spectacular self-destruction. Peretti's documentary starts in Las Vegas, where a Jackson memorabilia auction is under way, but is being greeted with some disdain. Peretti then tracks down some people who knew Jackson well, and probes rumours about his childhood. He looks closely at the investigation into the allegations of child molestation against the pop star. Also interviewed is the reporter who first uncovered those child-abuse allegations.