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Watching the Watchdog: Sun TV's Right vs. Left Jabs on Brazeau/Trudeau Fight

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Veteran newsman Tim Knight contributes a regular blog to HuffPost, analyzing and rating broadcast and Internet journalism programs.

As journalism goes, so goes democracy -- Sun TV's coverage of Saturday night's Liberal/Conservative fight was a triumph of reality T.V.

Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley, two of Sun's most opinionated poobahs, play boxing commentators for the fight. They clearly know little about boxing. But that doesn't matter. Because they aren't there, all dressed up in their tuxes, to fulminate about jabs vs. hooks. They certainly aren't there to practice journalism. They're actually there, for lo, those many, many hours, to commit reality TV.

On and on they fulminate, mostly in pre-taped edited segments, long before the bell rings for the first fisticuffs to fly. They find more ways to criticize the recent budget for being too liberal and diss that lefty CBC all over again.

They have a hero -- Senator Patrick Brazeau, who just happens to be a Conservative.

They have a villain -- Justin Trudeau, an MP who just happens to be a Liberal.

Levant, forecasting a walkover for the much-muscled Brazeau: "This is a one-round fight!"

Levant, mocking Trudeau: "Use your ballet training ... we don't want those lips to be bleeding."

All this before the actual fight, which turns out to be the only genuine part of the Sun T.V. coverage because the fight, unlike the coverage, is honest.

2012-04-03-sunlogo.jpg And all the while, sitting on the bottom left of my screen is Sun's big, red-and-white logo.

This is news, it claims.

At first, I ignore it. All stations plaster their logos on the screen. Then I go to the Sun News Network to check some facts and discover that same red-and-white Sun News logo on the lower left of the screen for every one of its programs.

But apart from some perfunctory, conventional stuff in the daytime, Sun T.V. doesn't do news.

Instead, it does reality TV and the scripted plot is -- only far right-wing politics can save Canada and yes, the world.

It's reality T.V., like Survivor and Jersey Shore.

Just in case you're a 12-year-old kid who thinks, for instance, that Survivor and Jersey Shore are real, you should know that reality T.V. isn't real. It does fakery, not reality (noun: "the state of things as they actually exist").

The characters in reality T.V. are carefully chosen to fit pre-determined stereotypes and play pre-determined roles. They have scripts. Heroes vs. villains, that sort of thing. Snooki's given her role, slips into character, and tries to be even more revolting than she was last week.

Traditional news offers at least two sides to any controversy. Sun offers only one. The hard, far right. Conspiracies are everywhere. And only Sun realizes it. Only Sun does honest journalism. Only Sun can save the world.

Sun TV is to honest news reporting as the WWE's Wrestlemania TV show is to Olympic wrestling. Or military justice is to justice.

A quick check on recent Sun's programs comes up with:

Charles Adler starts an interview: " ...this namby-pamby Earth Hour crapola." News? Journalism?

Michael Coren on Thomas Mulcair, new leader of the NDP: "Never trust a man with a beard like that. Those glisteny eyes. Don't trust him." And, inevitably: "Why does the CBC hate the poor?" News? Journalism?

Brian Lilley on a court decision on prostitution: "The Ontario Court of Appeal has agreed with a lower court ruling put out by a judge that doesn't deserve to sit on the bench." News? Journalism?

Verdict -- Sun TV is a conscious conspiracy to destroy traditional ethical journalism in our democracy and replace it with reality TV based entirely on far right-wing fantasy.

There, I've said it.