Politics Chatter
Politics Chatter

POLITICS CHATTER: What does it take to get banned by the Sun News Network?

In which contributing editor Mark Bourrie laments his fall from journalistic grace.

Well, that’s it. I’m banned. I am lower than low, mere scrapings from the bottom of the dog walker’s boot. Yes, I’m not fit to be on the Sun News Network.

It’s been a long road to perdition. A year and a half ago, when Quebecor was recruiting for its new TV network, I was approached by Kory Teneycke, who was hunting for talent for what his critics called Fox News North. Teneycke used to be Stephen Harper’s director of communication. He’s a pretty bright guy, but about as cuddly as an icicle.

We had lunch in the Market. Sun News, he said, needed some research strength. I could come aboard, PhD in hand, and work on long investigative projects. But these would not be reports on government wrong-doing. They’d be targeted hatchet jobs on people like David Suzuki and other lefties.

We never got around to talking money or any of the other finer details. I heard him out, let him pay for lunch, and walked back to Parliament Hill convinced that the Sun network was commercially sketchy. If I took the job, it would be my last one. There would be no future in books, journalism, or academia if I went with these guys.

But I wished them well. Readers of this blog know that just under my skin, there’s a juvenile delinquent itching to get out. If the likes of Ezra Levant want to take the piss out of the smug downtown Toronto elites and old frauds like Suzuki, I’d be glad to watch.

And it was a bit fun to see, at first. But Sun TV quickly went from being wonderfully hokey to a network with a mission to take down anyone that got in its way ideologically and commercially. It morphed from something brash and populist to a tedious propaganda machine. As the months have gone by, the network has become a sort of parody of a news station — it’s like watching SCTV, but without the talent.

So a few months back when Sun TV’s Brian Lilley went after a friend of mine, Glen McGregor, in a commentary that mocked his recently-deceased mother, I’d had enough. I trashed the Sun TV gang on social media.

Last summer, my PhD thesis, translated into English, was published by a respected Canadian house. Reviews have been great, and the book made the Maclean’s best-seller list. Because the book has military overtones, there’s been some new media interest as Remembrance Day approaches.

My publicist booked me on Michael Coren’s show a couple of weeks ago. Last Wednesday, I got an e-mail saying the interview had been cancelled by Sun TV. It wasn’t Coren or Coren’s producer who made the decision. Someone higher up had killed the booking and banned me from Sun TV.

There are a few ironies here. I was supposed to go on Coren’s show to talk about the press censorship system in Canada in the Second World War. That’s the subject of my book, The Fog of War.

The Sun’s talking heads talk a good fight about censorship. Ezra Levant, the network’s big star, was investigated and questioned by officials of the Alberta Human Rights Commission for running cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed cribbed from Danish newspapers. Levant has constantly criticised the commission for its outrageous and unwarranted action of following the law passed by the Conservative government of Alberta and investigating a complaint. To Levant and company, their boy was subjected to a horrendous abuse of the law. They neglected to report that the Human Rights Commission, after conducting its investigation, did not pursue the case.

Though the commission dismissed the complaint, Levant still milks this puppy as though he’s freshly-sprung from the Gulag.

I don’t care whether I’m ever on the Sun News Network. If hitting the trash TV circuit is the only way to peddle books, I’d rather flip burgers or greet people at Walmart.

But next time the people in the Sun’s stable bawl on TV about freedom of the press, feel free to laugh. Freedom of the press is not just for journalists, it’s also about the right of people to be heard in the media. But in Sun TV land, it’s not about freedom, fairness, or truth, it’s about loyally following the script that’s handed to you. So they can keep it. And they can stick it where the Sun don’t shine.

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Neither the author nor Ottawa Magazine necessarily agrees with the comments posted below. Editors will not correct spelling or grammar. Ottawa Magazine reserves the right to edit or delete comments entirely.

  • Klaatu

    “I was victimized! But I don’t care.” Mmm, convincing. They didn’t hire you, so you obviously have an axe to grind. Any proof that you’re premanently banned?

  • Klaatu, again

    Permanently, that is. The point remains the same. This is obviously not an objective piece.

  • Heimdallr

    Did you actually read the piece?  The author: (1) walked away from a job offer (i.e. he turned down Sun Media’s offer to hire him); and (2) was booked for a interview (which was later cancelled on the orders of Sun Execs).  Yes there’s some rather direct – and deserved - criticism of the hypocrisy of Sun Media’s constant bleating/drum beating/rabble rousing about censorship, but that doesn’t equate with what you’re accusing the author of at all. 

  • https://harebell.wordpress.com/ harebell

    So the propaganda arm of the Harper Party is full of hypocritical douchebags, what a surprise. Wasn’t it just last week Coren was on bleating about the lack of CBC coverage of his latest word vomit on invisible sky faeries?

  • Platty

    Sun News is a private company, they do not want to interview you, or promote your book, for whatever reason they have, that is their right.  This is not censorship, they are not forceably stopping you from expressing your viewpoints, unless of course you would like to show us any legal documents you may have to show otherwise. Of course, you don’t have any, all you really have is an axe to grind.

    So Sun News doesn’t like you, get over it princess, go have a drink with your buddy over at the Citizen and you can both utilize your freedom of expression to dump all over those big bad boys over at Sun News.


  • Heimdallr

    Indeed it is their right.  It is also the author’s right to point out their hypocrisy vis-a-vis constant bleating/drum beating/rabble rousing about censorship.  Hiding behind the flimsy “we’re a private company” shield doesn’t disguise the fact that the SNN execs. seemed to have banned the author because they don’t like what he has to say, and given the rants of Ezra Levant et al about “free speech” that is rich indeed..

  • Mark Bourrie

    Yea, well next time they boo-hoo about how “consensus media” excludes other voices and the rest of their “poor us” BS, lots of people will have a good laugh. They invited me to go on. I never asked and really didn’t want to. Then the thin-skinned darlings cancelled. They’re chickens and fools, just like anonymous trolls like you, “platty”.

  • Bob
  • Guffman

    What Platty said… This is not censorship. SUN TV is not stopping you from expressing your viewpoints. You’re just mad because they won’t allow you to peddle your book on their airwaves after you trashed them. If you trashed me in the press, do you think I would invite you into my home and tell everybody what a great guy you were? Probably not. That’s not censorship Mark, it’s payback. Too bad.

  • rounder

    Sun TV is simply trash and is run by the PMO to promote Harper Inc. They are as far from journalism and Stalin was from freedom. Just trash TV.

  • Jojo

    Sun News sure liked to cry censorship when Bell (another private company) wasn’t adding them to their satellite service. Even to the extent of having rubes banging a giant bell and saying to the camera “Ring the bell of freedom”.

    Sun news simply takes whatever position suits them at the time and twists it to fit their agenda, which is fine, but that should be taken into consideration when someone evaluating their position.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danbacchus Dan Goulet

    I just can’t take The Sun seriously.

    I don’t know how people do.

    Their comment sections of any news article is simply freaking PAINFUL. So many ignorant and uneducated comments that are allowed to be posted – yet comments correcting such ignorant tripe is moderated.

  • Mel

    In their opinion free speech only applies when the views expressed are the views they support. People whose views they disagree with have no such right. Sun news expresses a veryspecific viewpoint and will not tolerate criticism.

  • geolen

    Sun News Network is just like being a Harper Conservative! The lack of journalistic integrity, and the lack of political integrity!

  • poyani

    Actually, right now Sun News is at the government trough, asking the CRTC for a financial bailout and demanding the the CRTC force Canadians to buy their trash. It seems these piggies are not so “private” after-all.

  • poyani

    This is certainly not news. Ezra Levant, the d-bag who keeps on bitching about censorship, was one of the leading cheerleaders of the Harper government’s decision to bar people from speaking in Canada if the Tories didn’t like what they were saying. It started with the wife of Nelson Mandela, who the Tories had detained at the airport and shipped back to South Africa (the Tories have a history of supporting the Apartheid regime). Then it was British anti-war MP George Galloway. Then it was a Palestinian non-violent activist named Mustafa Barghouti. The list goes on and on.

    The Sun News pigs are the biggest bunch of hypocrites in Canada without equal. Having spent their first few years of existence non-stop bitching about the CBC getting government money, the little piglets are now at the government trough asking for some cash of their own. And unlike the CBC, they will of course never agree to be any kind of public organization and will demand to remain private.

    Sometimes, having a sense of shame is a good thing.

  • geolen

    Hitler too used the same tactics, but when he could not stop the outrage the SS started to practice how to hurt people!