Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

In watching the continuing press coverage (slowed though it may be), it’s interesting to note how Conrad Black, ever the polarizing figure, drives editorial sensibilities away from subtlety or ambiguity, toward the base ideological inclination of the publication covering him. For instance, this week’s contributions from the Toronto Star and Maclean’s are both, in their way, quintessential examples of each outlet’s underlying editorial ethos.

The Star inhabits an ostensibly left-wing or progressive niche among mass circulation Canadian newspapers—a slot that puts them, again ostensibly, at odds with the National Post and The Globe And Mail, both of whom, from the Star’s perspective at least, play to a more conservative, moneyed, business-oriented readership. As regards Black, the Star, while maintaining a disinterested pose, put themselves across his bow by pursuing a reporting strategy aimed at currying favour with government prosecutors and seeking, whenever possible, to portray Black as a Hearstian figure of almost cartoonish arrogance and pomposity (it was the Star that reported Black’s comments about the prosecutor’s behaving like Nazis). A story in the paper earlier this week reports that Black “is trying to settle a $425 million (all figures U.S.) law suit filed by Hollinger, possibly in the hopes it will prompt Judge Amy St. Eve to reduce his prison sentence, say two sources familiar with the matter… ‘They’re going to have to pay back the money anyway because of their convictions, but if they wait to do that until after their sentencing they’ll get no credit for it, at least as far as their sentences are concerned,’ said one of the sources.”

The “sources” are more than likely prosecutors seeking to portray Black as a Machiavellian manipulator whose intent is more an exercise in self-preservation than genuine contrition. The lead on the piece gives the game away: “Conrad Black may be looking to buy his way out of some jail time.” This story, reported exclusively by the Star (and picked up nowhere else), is simply a place holder reassuring the paper’s readership that Black, standing in as a proxy for “the rich,” will receive equal justice under the law, despite his efforts at spending his way out of his fate.

As to Maclean’s, this week’s column by Barbara Amiel reinforces her place as the magazine’s version of Britney Spears dancing, er, I mean writing her way unknowingly, even innocently, on a hell bent downward spiral. Continuing to record her inner life in the face of the obvious injustices befalling her and him (a couple of weeks ago, she took a stab at comparing her situation to that of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, concluding sadly that tapping her heels three times together would not deliver her from her travails), this week it’s a slightly darker theme, in keeping with Rosh Hashanah:

“An essential prerequisite for Jews at this time is to forgive all those who have wronged them. I want to be honest here: every year my list becomes longer and forgiveness more difficult and now I’m close to the point where it’s simply not on. I’m inclined to bargain and ask if it’s all right to stop wanting to disembowel with my own hands those who have wronged my husband and offer to let them be disemboweled by others.”

Star scribes need not apply.


Black wants to settle lawsuit to cut jail time: Sources [Toronto Star]