Following the most spectacular journalistic comeuppances since Dewey Defeats Truman,” I promised myself I’d lay off Maclean’s for a while. I lied.
After spending four months producing “coverage” of the Conrad Black trial that would have embarrassed Stalin, “The Editors” of Maclean’s, in a fit of Bonobian onanism, last Thursday patted themselves on the penis for having produced, in their words, coverage of the Conrad Black trial in Chicago that was “recognized by media critics around the globe as the most balanced and detailed available anywhere.” Around the globe? Most balanced? Even if by globe they meant The Globe and Mail, I couldn’t let it go. Even a naysaying nanny like me recognizes that Maclean’s is better these days—maybe the best iteration of the mag since the days of Newman, Gzowski, Lefolii et al. And I wager, given what I know of Ken Whyte, that tossing the word balanced in there was an act of knowing middle-finger mischief. Still there are limits to the provocateurs stance. Like, say, the truth.
Michael Cooke of the Chicago Sun-Times, and a former colleague of Whyte’s at the National Post, disagreed violently when I suggested that Whyte’s journalistic integrity was compromised by his accepting the hundred large from his Lordship. In fact, he called me a name I dare not repeat on this site. But on the subject of Maclean’s… er, quality control on its coverage of The Trial, Cooke was equally to the point. Maclean’s, he said, was “disastrously wrong” in all aspects of its analysis and prognostications regarding his Lordship’s prospects, a fault that might have been mitigated had anyone at Maclean’s spoken to “just about anybody in Chicago.” Aye, and there’s the rub, because in Ken Whyte’s mind the issue wasn’t what would happen but what should happen. For Whyte, like his spiritual forbear Ronald Reagan, facts are stupid things, and reporting them is at best an inconvenience. And never ever let them get in the way of a good story. In Whyte’s world there’s always a pony hidden under that pile of horseshit.
More power to him, I suppose, but the grim facts remain. Dewey didn’t win, and neither did Conrad.