Editorial 

Yes, we should have, and no, we aren’t

A slight modification on the traditional end-of-the-year lists was found in some of last weekend's newspapers. The Globe and Mail and the New York Times both carried commentaries about the litany of failures that result from insufficient scrutiny.

In the Globe, the venerable and verbose Rex Murphy opined how the U.N. conference on climate change in Copenhagen "that essentially aimed at reordering the world energy economy gave such scant attention to the reasonable doubts about the scientific process opened by Climategate."

In light of the purloined e-mails from East Anglia Murphy wondered if the science supporting the theory that mankind is causing climate change was to some degree manipulated.

"That question is not being asked with the rigour we should expect. There is something about the great cause of global warming that tends to disarm scrutiny, to tamp down the normal reflexes of tough questioning and investigation that the press brings to every other arena," Murphy wrote.

Meanwhile New York Times columnist Frank Rich was making the case for Tiger Woods as Man of the Year. Woods's duplicitous image as a family man of integrity and impeccable standards was the perfect metaphor for the year and the first decade of the 21 st century, Rich argued.

"If there's been a consistent narrative to this year and every other in this decade, it's that most of us, (U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben) Bernanke included, have been so easily bamboozled.

"Enron is the template for the decade of successful ruses that followed, Tiger's included."

Rich went on to list the financial meltdown and "the two illusions marketed to us on the way to Iraq - that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and some link to Al Qaeda" as other examples of deceit made possible by insufficient scrutiny.

Closer to home, Pique Newsmagazine has had letters to the editor, last week and again this week, questioning our lack of coverage of Olympic critic Andrew Jennings during his recent visit to Whistler. The implied message is that by ignoring Jennings we are not scrutinizing the International Olympic Committee or the 2010 Olympics carefully enough. And perhaps we are being encouraged in this direction.

The answer is no.

The other answer is yes - we should have reported on Jennings's talk. Why we didn't comes down to a combination of things, timing being perhaps the key one.

Tuesdays are the most frantic night of the week for our editorial staff, made all the more so by Whistler council moving their meetings from Mondays to Tuesdays this year. Some weeks it has meant sending two reporters to cover one meeting.

There was no Whistler council meeting the night of Jennings's talk, although there were other evening meetings and speakers that week that took up reporters' time.

Jennings is an intriguing character and his opinions of the IOC and the Olympics are of interest. We tried to make that clear in the 800-word story Pique did on him - including a telephone interview with him in Britain - prior to his arrival in Whistler.

From my understanding, Jennings traced the history of the IOC and some members' connections to fascism during his talk in Whistler. He also discussed some of the corrupt, despotic men who are members of the IOC's old boys network, how the IOC isn't about sport as much as it is about power and privilege, and how the organization has polished its image but really hasn't changed substantially over the years. All interesting stuff, and good to hear the anecdotes and details from one of the few people to have really dug into the organization.

But is it news to most of us? In the six and a half years that Whistler has had a relationship with the IOC we've seen the way the organization has treated women ski jumpers, for example. Pique was in Prague in 2003 for the IOC vote on who would host the 2010 Games. We reported on the spy vs. spy meetings between IOC members and the delegates from Salzburg, Vancouver and Pyeongchang. We noted the Samsung banners flying in the streets of Prague prior to the vote. We tried, with limited time and budget, to show readers what kind of a relationship we were getting into by hosting the Olympics.

And for all practical purposes Whistler's relationship with the IOC ends in three months.

Pique's relationship with the 2010 Olympics is in two separate, independent streams: selling advertising to VANOC and reporting/commenting on the Games. Unlike the Vancouver Sun, The Province, the Globe and Mail, Mountain FM, and the parent company of the Whistler Question and Squamish Chief, which produced the official souvenir program, Pique is not an official supplier, supporter or contributor to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But the issue, in some minds, after not scrutinizing Jennings's talk is whether Pique has been muzzled or intimidated by the IOC or VANOC. The answer is no.

 

 

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