Where is the Canadian content?

One can accept “The National” broadcasting from Ottawa to cover a federal election. One can accept it coming to us from the dark streets of Montreal during the height of the ice-storm aftermath.
But Peter Mansbridge in Washington, D.C. to anchor the coverage of U.S. President Bill Clinton’s alleged misdeeds with a former White House intern?
Sure, the story is potentially important–if the allegations are true and President Clinton is forced to resign or face an impeachment vote. But the impact that would have on Canadians is limited at best unless, say, the president declares war on Canada in a fit of rage, or Vice-President Al Gore plans a whole new trade policy direction with Canada if he takes over the Oval Office.
But is “The National” reporting on this angle? Nope. It’s there for the exact same reason every other media from around the world has descended on Washington like seagulls after the remnants of a shore lunch–their readers and viewers want all the juicy details.
And frankly, which story would you read first: “Clinton denies having sex with intern” or “Martin plans parliamentary review of proposed bank merger.” “Sexy intern has tape of Clinton tryst” or “Economists divided over whether Asian flu is behind plunging loonie.”
It’s human nature, plain and simple.
Still, much like in the wake of Princess Diana’s death last summer, the media has started to take a pounding over its coverage of this story. And some of it is justified. Newspapers and TV stations are throwing things like accuracy and ethics to the wind in a crazed race to get the “latest” on the brewing scandal, while paparazzi are camped out at the Watergate complex in hopes of getting a glimpse of Monica Lewinsky.
But has the media overstepped its bounds, or is it merely operating on the “supply and demand” principle? In other words, they’ll keep supplying it as long as people keep demanding it. It’s called making a profit. And with more media vying for people’s attention, it’s only inevitable that this frenzied competition will drive coverage down to the lowest common denominator.
And that’s why “The National” is in Washington, D.C. this week.
To be fair, it’s also why a columnist with the Fort Frances Times is commenting on this issue. And if you’ve read all the way down to here, I rest my case.

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