Sun News launched a series of attacks Wednesday night aimed at the coverage of the anniversary of Jack Layton's death.
Hosts Ezra Levant and Michael Coren both devoted segments to the issue as Canadians gathered in Ottawa, Toronto and across the country to celebrate the late NDP leader's life.
Levant's volleys were the most vicious, first savaging the "Media Party's" coverage of Layton's funeral last year as a taxpayer-subsidized advertisement for the NDP. "CBC went into full funeral porn mode," Levant quipped.
Levant must have really fancied the 'porn' phrase because he would repeat it again before airing fairly innocuous clips of the anniversary coverage from CBC and CTV.
But his pornographic analysis didn't stop there. Levant went on to attack Olivia Chow's participation in the upcoming CBC TV movie on her dead husband's life and the woman who will be playing her, former MuchMusic host and current CBC personality Sook-Yin Lee.
"I'm guessing Sook-Yin Lee would have been better cast as one of the prostitutes that Layton met in that massage parlour," Levant said, referencing Lee's participation in non-simulated sex scenes for the movie "Short Bus."
The massage parlour Levant was talking about? That's an allusion to an infamous Sun story published during the 2011 federal election campaign about a visit Layton paid in 1996 to a Toronto establishment busted by police for being a bawdy house.
According to Sun's story, Officers found Layton lying naked on a bed.
Layton was never charged with any offences and maintained he had simply been receiving a massage, arguing the story was part of a "smear campaign," according to The Globe And Mail.
Sun's story originated with a Toronto officer who allowed the news outlet to photocopy his notebook from the period. It's against the law for serving officers to leak information to the press, but the officer in question was retired.
Regardless, the Ontario Provincial Police, at the request of the Toronto Police Service, launched an investigation into the leak which did not result in any charges but did lead to the retrieval of a number of notebooks from former officers, according to CBC.
Sun's Coren took a less aggressive approach in his criticism, even discouraging guest Ray Heard from spouting "conspiracy theories" on the subject of what killed Layton (his family has not released the exact cause of death).
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He did, however, join Levant in drawing attention to Lee's sex scenes. "It'll be a hagiography involving a woman who's only known for introducing videos and masturbating live in a movie. For goodness sake it's pathetic," Coren said, referencing CBC's Layton film.
Coren also expressed frustration that Sun's massage parlour piece wasn't embraced by Canada's media, arguing a Conservative would have been eviscerated in the press following similar allegations.
While Sun may have a valid argument when it comes to criticizing the taxpayer-funded CBC's involvement in a film that does seem likely to paint the NDP in a positive light, the network does itself few favours by focusing on the salacious elements of Lee's resume or Layton's massage habits.
The NDP is now Canada's Official Opposition and taxpayers certainly shouldn't be funding something that could be construed as left-wing political propaganda, especially after the network's involvement in the much-maligned "Mulroney: The Opera," a film which presented a satirical take on the former prime minister (the CBC later distanced itself from that project and never aired it).
But Levant and Coren discredit their own legitimate arguments about the role of our public broadcaster when they try to turn everything into a debate about sex and pornography.
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