A new face for The National
There’s a piece in the Globe and Mail this morning on the sports pages extolling the talents of a competitor, TSN’s Bob McKenzie, saying how solid his information always is. Setting aside the unusual pastime of a newspaper journalist complimenting a broadcaster, let’s focus on the praise. Solid. Shouldn’t every sportswriter have solid information? I assume from this paean that some do not.
It’s all so reminiscent of broadcaster Brian Linehan who used to interview all the movie stars swanning through town. People were always agog that Linehan actually conducted research in advance. He didn’t just ask simpleton questions such as, “What’s Julia Roberts really like?” Maybe the reason why newspapers and other media outlets are losing their audiences is that too many stories and interviews are weak and unrevealing.
Sometimes writers seem to just want to beat their chests like a lowland gorilla defending territory. Such an instance may have come about recently when one Jordan Michael Smith reviewed a new book called Cold Fire by historian John Boyko about the relationship between John Diefenbaker and John F. Kennedy. Smith’s machine-gun review made the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre look like a carnival game. Using such expletives as “flimsy positions” “unpersuasive” “wrong headed” and “flat-out wrong” Smith pretty much pulverized Boyko’s work. I thought, “Well, I guess I won’t bother with that book.”
Fortunately, Boyko was interviewed a few days later on TVO’s The Agenda by Steve Paikin. Paikin asked good questions; Boyko gave good answers. I went out and bought the book. It is excellent. Maybe Michael Jordan Smith was thinking about a book he would have written if he’d written a book because some of his criticism centred on things Boyko did not include.
All of which brings me back to excellence and its own rewards. As a long-time fan of Steve Paikin, I hereby nominate Paikin to replace Peter Mansbridge as CBC’s television news anchor immediately. I’m tired of Mansbridge. His one-on-one interviews are sycophantic. His chairing of the At Issue panel is disjointed because all he really wants is to ensure that his own views dominate. Paikin is a class act with clarity and aplomb who deserves a seat at the national table.