Skip to comments.He's, gasp, Canadian [that smear-job reporter]
Posted on 07/22/2003 8:11:15 AM PDT by NativeNewYorker
In Washington, D.C., it's politics -- nastier than usual.
It seems some of the political spinmeisters in the White House were outraged when ABC News reporter, Jeffrey Kofman, aired a story last Tuesday quoting U.S. soldiers complaining about their assignment in Iraq.
The report on World News Tonight was hardly devastating to the U.S. Army. But it did include enlisted men who openly questioned their mission along with the army's credibility. One GI was so evidently fed up that he called for the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Now, it must be said, complaints from enlisted men and women are hardly news in this or any army. But speaking to the press about it is considered bad form.
As a result of his enterprising work, Mr. Kofman appears to have found himself on this White House's "enemies list." According to cyber-gossip Matt Drudge, a White House operative called him about the Kofman story. A fax from the White House communications staff was then forwarded to Mr. Drudge containing a profile of Mr. Kofman in the gay-oriented magazine, The Advocate. Nudge, nudge.
The coup de grace came when the White House went on to reveal to Mr. Drudge that Jeffrey Kofman is . . . well, Canadian, too. They meant it to sting.
For those of us who are Canadians and who work in the U.S. media, the implications are unsettling, to say the least. Being Canadian now seems to be the worst kind of smear you can administer to someone.
As a colleague said to me, this White House must think that South Park is a documentary, not a cartoon. So Blame Canada, a popular theme of that show, can be used kind of literally.
In case the White House doesn't know, there are quite a few of us who are Canadian-born and who labour among our ink-stained American colleagues, especially in broadcasting.
Besides Mr. Kofman, a colleague from my days at the CBC, there is Peter Jennings at ABC News who recently felt it necessary to take out U.S. citizenship (but is keeping his Canadian passport). Then there is Thalia Assuras at CBS News, who is a CITY-TV and CTV alumna, Dick Gordon, formerly of CBC Radio, who is the host of the National Public Radio daily current affairs show, The Connection; Mark Phillips who is CBS News' long-time London correspondent and who got his start at CBC TV in Montreal, and Dana Lewis, formerly of CTV who is the NBC News Moscow correspondent and was recently one of their "embedded" reporters in Baghdad. Just for starters.
But even though some genius in the White House pressroom thought that Mr. Kofman could be smeared as a gay Canadian, the response from the rest of the media has been an overwhelming "ho hum." If any columnists noticed (and a few did), it was to condemn the White House press office for letting this happen.
Contrary to what you may think, Canadian-born journalists are alive and well and living in the U.S. In our usual self-effacing manner, we don't draw much attention to the fact of our birth. We certainly step forward when needed to provide the correct name of the capital of Saskatchewan or the proper pronunciation of Newfoundland. And we tend to laugh along with an increasing number of Canadian jokes that make light of our reputation for modesty: (Q: What do you call a group of Canadians? A: An apology of Canadians.)
But Canada's refusal to go to war in Iraq and its efforts at finding a diplomatic solution through peacekeeping were barely noticed in the American media. Canada simply isn't a player with this White House or this State Department.
But where Canada does seem to count, it seems, is in journalism. The "outing" of Jeffrey Kofman as a Canadian may have some long-term advantages, if only by showing that there is a serious and mainstream Canadian contribution to American life and letters.
As ombudsman at National Public Radio, I travel around the United States a lot. When I meet with NPR listeners, it reminds me of how Canadians regard the CBC. I've been a guest on more than 150 American public radio stations, talking to listeners and hearing what they think. Their passion for a civic and civil society is inspiring and completely at variance with the spirit that motivated that "communications" maven at the White House who thought he was "outing" Mr. Kofman.
In my six years in the U.S. I think I have been told only once (by an NPR listener in Florida) to "go back where you came from. We don't need your kind here . . ."
But I realized later he was referring to Washington, D.C. Not to Canada.
Jeffrey Dvorkin, ombudsman at National Public Radio has been in Washington with the public broadcaster since 1997. He was managing editor of CBC Radio News and Information from 1991-97.
I guess that was supposed to impress the reader but it just helps to warn us about who else not to believe. Thanks Jeffrey. Now, go back to Canada.
Really? how about French Canadian or just plain French?
Only so he can do more damage from the inside. I hope on one of the rare occassions I see him on TV, the last will be when he has to report some great US victory, and chokes to death on camera.
From MATTHEW VAN DUSEN, staff reporter, Casper Star-Tribune: Before anyone else does it, I'd like to out myself as a Canadian journalist working in the United States. I feel great shame for who I am. My crime is particularly egregious because I work in Wyoming, for the Casper Star- Tribune, with another Canadian scribe (actually he's half-American). And while I'm doing some outing, one of Wyoming Public Radio's tiny (and excellent) staff is also a Canuck. The three of us -- and there may be more -- make up a disproportionate amount of the Wyoming's media since WPR and the CST are really the only two statewide outlets.
Hooray for Jeffrey Kofman for being who he is (Canadian, gay, whatever else) and for doing exactly what journalists should be doing: pissing off Rummie. I should like to marry Kofman in Toronto.
The reporter/producer chooses what questions to ask, their context, and which film snippets to put on air.
You or I could go to Iraq tomorrow and have no trouble finding 180 degree opposite views to put into the info stream.
And doing so with pride and dignity!
Canadian public opinion has taken an anti-American turn...certainly their govt has.
And journalists vote Democratic by a wide margin.
The odds of getting a, er, straight report out of someone who falls into *three* heavily anti-Bush demographics is quite quite low.
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