Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Broadcast News: From the loins of presidents and prime ministers

It seems NBC news is borrowing from a long Canadian tradition by hiring Chelsea Clinton as a roving television journo. This follows its hiring of Bush and McCain spawns.

This is causing a fuss among the newsies in the U.S. who feel that hiring the daughters and sons of former presidents smacks of desperation on the part of the network.

We, in Canada, say: why worry?

Our airwaves are brimming with the expulsions of prime ministers. We have the ever-ready Ben Mulroney, Catherine Clark, Sasha Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau all littering up the national broadcasters.

I'm presuming Ben Harper has a pretty good career lined up for himself with Sun TV when he's out of high school.

I don't remember any of them doing time at journalism school, unless you count charm and prep schools as breeding grounds for investigative journalism.

I don't think I'm wrong here, but I believe there is not one Canadian who likes Ben Mulroney except members of his immediate family.

And I suspect even some of them leave Benny off their Christmas lists.

Mostly, we just switch the channel when he's on.

The media has always been about who you grow and "who you know".

David Halton begat Matthew Halton. Doug Fisher begat Matthew Fisher. Craig Oliver begat Murray Oliver.

Mordecai begat Daniel (CBC). Barbara Frum begat Linda Frum (books, Senate). Ben Ward began John Ward (Canadian Press). Stevie Cameron began Tassie Cameron (Flashpoint)

It's the way of the world.

But the kids of prime ministers and presidents aren't exactly to the manner born.

Journalism isn't in their blood. Privilege is in their blood.

That's how, and why, they get hired.

It's too bad because it makes a mockery of television news.

Journalism isn't the family business of politicians. Politics is their family business.

At least Justin Trudeau understands that.

What's most curious in the case of Chelsea Clinton is that her mom is still in office. She's becoming a national reporter at a time when Mommie Dearest might just start running up the hill to wrestle the presidency from Barry O.

Just doesn't seem right to me.

Americans have always prided themselves of the separation and independence of their institutions. American journalists have also prided themselves on working in a transparent, objective environment.

Guess NBC news didn't get the memo.

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