Thursday, November 13, 2008

After lying to the public, Canadian journalists attempt to take the moral high ground.

About a month ago, a Canadian journalist named Melissa Fung was kidnapped in Afghanistan. While her story was reported in Afghanistan, the Canadian media decided not to report the story to increase her chances of being released. I'll repeat that just for emphasis. Canadian journalists decided to lie to the public by omitting a newsworthy event for a "higher purpose", that is the released of Fung. Now I won't go into the morality of that except to say that it's a slippery slope and that the decision could be easily criticized from a "right to information" perspective.

But now the funny part. Michèle Ouimet from La Presse (via Macleans blog) heavily criticize the Harper government for not being honest about whether her release was paid by prisoner exchange or a ransom, going so far as saying that the situation (Harper not telling the truth) is "an absolute mania".

So let's sum up the situation here. Journalists from across the country decided it was their responsibility to shield Canadians from newsworthy information, and then those same journalists call the government's reluctance to talk about how the release of Fung was arranged an "absolute mania".

I'll play Captain Obvious here. OF COURSE her release was arranged using either money or a prisoner exchange. She was willingly released by her captor and the odds that they somehow felt guilty after 28 days or that they suddenly became mortally afraid of Stephen Harper are very low. But just as the journalists' decision to lie to the public can be defended on the ground of saving a life, the government's decision not to talk about how they paid for the release can be easily be understood by the fact that the government doesn't want to publicize how much they reward people who kidnap Canadians since this would only encourage more kidnapping.

Edit: Added the links

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