The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, Mayor Rob Ford and City Councillor Adam Vaughan are the players in this game of media chess that will end with no winner.
The media is expected to be non-biased but that's a lofty goal that's rarely achieved. While both the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun get both sides of the story it is clear which side they are on when it comes to city politics. To be fair it is difficult to remain centered in the middle when it comes to city government. Journalists are people and people tend to side one way or the other. In Toronto the Sun goes right and the Star goes left. It's been that way for a while now. Ask someone in town which paper they prefer and you have a good idea which side of the political spectrum they are on.
Add to this mix two very vocal city politicians, City Councillor Adam Vaughan and Mayor Rob Ford. Vaughan is on the left and Ford is on the right. There is no thin line where the two almost cross, their differences are oceans apart. Politically both men are very vocal about the other and the papers eat it up.
Currently The Sun is covering Adam Vaughan's alleged use of the police to close down a nightclub in his ward. The Toronto Star is not covering the story. The Sun's Joe Warmington
mentions that in his article without naming names with the statement:
"Yet, it seems, there was no interest in the press gallery at City Hall, some of whom would scout out the mayor’s backyard when checking out a minor land issue."
That comment refers to Toronto Star's Daniel Dale
who was on public land covering a story earlier this year about Mayor Ford wanting to buy conserve land to build a fence around his backyard. As the story goes a neighbour told Ford that someone was in Ford's backyard looking over his fence. Ford rushed to the scene and threatened/asked Dale what he was doing. In the process of the exchange Dale's cell phone was left and the police were called. Dale told police that he felt threatened by Ford who ordered him to drop his phone.
Dale was covering a very real story but some in the media decided he was out to get Ford. How the story ended depended on which side you leaned towards.
For those on the right Dale was in the wrong and spying on the Mayor. Dale was also a wimp who ran away to make a story and he really didn't feel threatened.
Those on the left say that Dale was right and just fact finding before Mayor Ford attacked him. They sided with Dale, a smaller man than the Mayor, saying that it was within reason that Dale would fear for his safety if he hadn't run.
Guess which paper covered the story which way.
Last week the big story was about Toronto's Ombudsman Fiona Crean's report on public appointments. It was the same story on both papers
but with that little side spin that everyone in Toronto knows will happen.
The newspapers are only half the story. Pick any article on either paper that focuses on either Vaughan or Ford and go to the comment section. Toronto is a land divided, you are either pro-Vaughan or pro-Ford. There is no middle ground. The two men have both been called different characters from TV shows like The Simpsons and The Family Guy. Neither show focuses on intelligence. The main characters are larger than life and either flat out stupid or immoral or both. This is how City Council in Toronto is being painted. It's a sad state of affairs.
To be honest here I have used direct quotes with one of the players at City Hall more than once. There is a simple reason, one man talks to all of the press and one man has his favorites and refuses to talk to the others. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who is who if you live in Toronto and keep up with the goings on at City Hall.
The sad thing is when a paper sides one way or the other the public only gets half the picture. While the main concept of the story may be non-biased it's those little bits and pieces that go left or right that stick with a person. Those he said, she said statements colour how the issue is perceived and what parts of an issue will be remembered. For most of the public knowledge of city government happenings comes from the media. Most people don't have the time to hop over to City Hall and observe what is really going on. They expect that the media they read will give them the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The reality is there are a whole bunch of truths out there but the whole truth, that's something that no one has.
We're human and we tend to side one way or another. We read the papers that tend to side the way we lean and slam the ones that lean the other way. There will be a few media out there that live on that thin line to show both sides clearly but let's be honest, we think of those papers as the elite. They tell the story but when it's day to day reading we want to have our own beliefs coming at us.
So what is the real truth when it comes to Vaughan and Ford? When it comes to politics neither man likes the other's viewpoint. Which pretty much sums up how Toronto as a whole feels about the issues. Facts, stats, opinions, truths all roll into which side of the spectrum you lean towards. And that my friends is the truth.