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Media Bites: Everyone's Favourite Robo-Scandal Is Back for a Cameo

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Man, remember Robocalls?

Nine months ago, you could scarcely open a newspaper without reading all sorts of scary allegations about the Prime Minister's secret army of robo-men and their efforts to systematically rig the 2011 election through ambiguously deceptive phone calls.

"Yes, (clankity clank) that's right soft, fleshy human," the robots supposedly said, "this year balloting will take place in the mouth of that sassy crocodile from Peter Pan."

"Gee whiz, that sounds fishy," responded Mr. and Mrs. Canadian voter, "but it's hardly my place to question the integrity of our voting process. At least not until I selectively remember this incident several months after the election concludes. Also, I'm a left-wing partisan."

But as the weeks progressed, robo-outrage steadily faded, and newer, shinier and more jet-related Tory scandals gradually stole the headlines. For a time it almost seemed -- and stay with me here -- that robogate was possibly just an isolated act of chicanery self-contained within a single suburban Ontario riding, with allegations of a larger, nation-wide conspiracy merely the byproduct of, in the words of the Ottawa Citizen's Dan Gardner, an "avalanche of faulty recollections, self-serving illusions, and plain old lies" from folks with an ideological axe to grind.

But if you're still jonsing for a Robocall fix, fear not! This week our pals at The Council of Canadians (frequently described as "left-leaning," though that's kinda like saying Terry McAfee is "crazy-leaning") finally convinced a judge to hear the pleas of eight voters claiming that suspicious calls in their various swing ridings may have "kept some people from voting" and "affected the results."

So do they have a case, pundits?

Meh, "don't hold your breath," concludes Lawrence Martin at the Globe. Larry notes that the Supreme Court of Canada set a "very high bar" for overturning elections in an unrelated case earlier this year, and frankly, the Council's merry band of whiners won't exactly be standing atop the world's tallest pile of evidence.

"Vote suppression is a huge mountain to climb," no doubt, metaphorically agrees Tim Harper in the Toronto Star, but to him that just proves the importance of groups like CoC who provide the mad skillz "both financially and in legal expertise, for a citizen who wants to challenge a government." Sure, they're horribly-biased lefties, who did you expect to organize a lawsuit alleging a vast right-wing conspiracy? Don Cherry? (Though he does have a lot of free time these days...)

In noted non-insane politics blog iPolitics, meanwhile, conservative pundit Tasha Kheiriddin is willing to go way further in both directions, deeming the Coun-Can gang's suit "frivolous," but the Tories' defence equally "hypocritical."

Hmmmm, says Tasha, an ideological group launching a self-serving lawsuit for no reason other than crass partisan gain? Where have I seen this before? Oh right, from Stephen friggin' Harper.

In any case, I hope you've enjoyed this week's little Robocall cameo, because chances are the portmanteau won't be making another appearance in the papers for a while. Trials can take months, after all, and federal bureaucratic investigations even longer.

If you're truly craving Tory scandal, in other words, you might as well just wait for a fresh one.

It's not like it'll take long.

***

Course, I'd hardly be doing my duty as this site's self-proclaimed "media critic" if I didn't spend at least some time talking about the biggest story to hit the Canadian news this week -- nay, year -- nay, history of time itself.

With an intro like that, it's probably obvious I'm talking about Ikea Monkey, a creature so undeniably newsworthy he certainly makes last week's media darling look like a big useless clump of embryonic tissue.

While I think we can all agree the monkey deserves, to quote Globe and Mail TV columnist John Doyle "his own channel, like the Fireplace Channel or the Aquarium Channel," the question is to what degree this mysterious prophet has entered our lives to serve as a living metaphor for some larger cause. Thankfully, our nation's editorial pages have refused to let this pressing matter go unaddressed.

He clearly exists to offer a disturbing glimpse into the deranged subculture of today's lunatic pet owners -- excuse me, "pet parents" surmises the Globe editorial board. Can you believe there are nuts out there who send their gross little "fur kids" to fancy spas to dine on organic food? Everyone knows a pet's true idea of heaven is just eating "its own feces and the rotting corpse of a dead animal."

But let's not ignore the lil' guy's political symbolism, cautions the Sun's Warren Kinsella. I mean, c'mon Harper: when a stupid monkey "becomes better known, and better admired, than you (and in record time, too) it is perhaps time for a change in approach." Maybe a new jacket?

Then, of course, you've got the editorial cartoonists who see the chimp as a cuddly analogy for everything from the perils of holiday shopping to Toronto's mayoral woes.

Now I know some folks get real uppity whenever a dopey story like this dominates the news cycle; y'know, "waste of time" this, "appalling dereliction of public responsibility" that, but c'mon -- even journalists deserve a break.

In fact, think of monkey stories as the journalistic equivalent of a delicious meal of organic puppy chow.

Which should give you some idea about what they're forced to consume the rest of the time.