Rosie DiManno’s profoundly wacky campaign against Robert Baltovich

Rosie DiManno’s profoundly wacky campaign against Robert Baltovich

This past Wednesday, the Toronto Star gave Rosie DiManno space to vent her long-standing grievance with Robert Baltovich. Today I’ve asked Derek Finkle, whose book on the subject is a cornerstone of Baltovich’s public defence, to respond. Herewith is his guest blog:

Rosie DiManno’s profoundly wacky campaign against Robert BaltovichBy Derek Finkle

With so many people calling for an inquiry into the legal travesty that is the Robert Baltovich case, perhaps it’s also time to contemplate an inquiry into how it is that Rosie DiManno remains a columnist at the Toronto Star.

In her coverage of the Baltovich acquittal this week, DiManno garnered attention for something other than her notoriously bad prose, which could be favourably described as Ann Coulter on acid. Except for the somewhat wishy-washy (and equally predictable) Christie Blatchford, DiManno was the only commentator of any note to twist—without evidence—the long-anticipated collapse of the Crown’s case into a thinly veiled attack on the notion of Baltovich’s innocence.

But by no means did her attack begin this week. She has long been on a one-woman campaign to belittle not just Baltovich, but anyone who dared question the extremely troubling circumstantial case being mounted against him. It started in 2003: DiManno blew a gasket when she discovered that Baltovich had landed a summer internship at the Star’s library—an uninformed knee-jerk reaction publicly opposed by her own boss, the paper’s then-publisher John Honderich. Earlier this month, she dismissed some of the best reporters in the city as Baltovich’s “acolytes.” (Given DiManno’s relationship with the parents of Elizabeth Bain, who are as convinced of Baltovich’s guilt as DiManno, one could safely file this under “Hypocrisy.” See also: “Paranoia.”) My book about the case, No Claim to Mercy, was, according to DiManno, actually a “hagiographic” biography. Even worse, during Baltovich’s appeal in 2004, she reportedly picked up a copy of the book that belonged to the woman seated beside her and declared, apropos of nothing, that it was a “piece of shit.”

But, hey, I’m not alone. She has also slagged James Lockyer—Baltovich’s lead counsel, a man who helped exonerate David Milgaard and Guy Paul Morin, and almost single-handedly dragged the Canadian criminal justice system into the 21st century—for being righteous and supposedly full of himself. All I can say, Rosie, is that some people earn the right to carry an oversized ego, and, well, some people don’t.

DiManno also took Lockyer to task over his assertion that Paul Bernardo could very well be the person who killed Elizabeth Bain. Clearly, DiManno wasn’t sharing files with some of the Star reporters who were actually present for the pre-trial arguments. (Though it appears she imposed her scattered logic on some of the Bernardo evidence the following day.)

DiManno seems remarkably moved by the denial offered by Bernardo from prison last summer regarding his involvement in Bain’s disappearance, a response DiManno simplified down to a single word: “No.” Again, it might have been a good idea for her to read the full transcript of what Bernardo actually said; it was also published in her paper. And by the way, since when does Bernardo’s word count for anything anyway?

Not surprisingly, the profound wackiness of DiManno’s latest anti-Baltovich columns has been commented on outside Toronto—as far away as Winnipeg, in fact. Free Press reporter Dan Lett pretty much nails it, and so I will give him the closing word:

It’s easy to be outraged about the brutal murder of a young woman. It’s a horrible, horrible crime, and any reasonable person with even a remote grasp on sanity would be outraged. But it’s lazy and wilfully ignorant to dismiss the problems with the investigation and prosecution of any heinous crime and instead continue to harp on and on about how outraged you are about the crime.

(For more evidence of the laziness and wilful ignorance to which Lett refers, please see today’s column—Rosie’s latest exercise in denial.)