Monday, September 20, 2010

Jeff Lee Responds To My Umbrage



Warning To Non-Lotuslanders....There is a lot of 'inside baseball' re: Vancouver civic politics/blogging/media relationships, et cetera, in this post....

As for the RailGate DogWhistle thing?.
...That will have to wait a bit, see bottom of post

This morning I wrote a post in which I took umbrage at the fact that Jeff Lee, in an earlier post on his VSun blog, noted all the attention that a number of crazy civic screamer (my term) bloggers are getting these days without also going after those in the LotuslandianMainstream/proMedia that choose to wurlitzer the stuff of said screamers.

Further, in my original post I also excerpted a Vancouver Observer piece written by former left-sided pol, and now (as far as I can tell) amateur blogger, Ian Reid, which pointed out some parallels between a recent story by Mr. Lee in the real VSun and a series of pieces by Mike Klassen in, again in my opinion, one of the screamer blogs.


Mr. Lee, in the comments to my original post, was good enough to respond. And amongst his points, Mr. Lee dismisses Mr. Reid's piece out of hand because he views him as being a considerably 'tainted' source who 'in the main' got things wrong:

"Ross, I think you're leaping to some ill-founded conclusions.

Firstly, I haven't bothered to respond to Ian Reid's post because I consider the source considerably tainted. He is, after all, a political operative and former chief of staff for a provincial political leader. That's enough of a reason to question anything he writes.

But in the main, he is wrong anyway. I've no association with ANY of the bloggers, although I am willing to develop a story - using time-honoured journalistic principles - that any of the bloggers break. There is some good work being done out there.

I find it amusing that I am attracting such attention mere weeks and months since I returned to the beat.

By the way, I may have Frances' old civic affairs beat, but if you look back far enough, you will find she actually took it over from me when I left in 1997 or so. Merry-go-round.

My point about the political blogging going on at City Hall right now is that much of it is being done without regard to the principles of journalism. It's a case of find something nasty, throw it at the wall and see if it sticks. And in not an infrequent number of cases, the information is being given a severe twist or torque. Shaping the news like that to fit a political point of view is dangerous and, to my mind, irresponsible.

The fact I'm being shot at from all sides just makes my point.

Lastly, why don't you really identify yourself. Using a pseudonym doesn't really cut it.

I always post under my own name. I have no reason not to. Why don't you do the same? Your comments would find more validity."

Jeff Lee

I have confirmed by Email that this comment did, indeed, come from the 'real' Jeff Lee of the VSun.

Clearly, we both agree that 'shaping' the news is a bad thing. We still, however, don't see eye-to-eye on whether or not some in the Mainstream media are lending a hand to tighten the screamers' corset that is causing the local body politic to hyperventilate.


In our Email correspondence I asked a couple of clarifying questions that may serve to clear up a thing or two. If Mr. Lee chooses to respond (or comment here himself) with further information and/or opinion, I'll keep you all fully informed.


As for the online moniker thing....I responded to that in the original comment thread if you want to have a look.....However, I plan to write more about the matter of nom-de-blogs in general in the near future...In the meantime, just so you know, I always respond to legitimate inquires by giving out my real name...So if you want to know just ask - my Email is on the blog profile page.
Now.....For those looking for the 'Final Blowing 'of the RailGate Dog Whistle (PAB-tuning).....My apologies....It will just have to wait for a bit....This crazy civic stuff kind of mushroomed today/Sunday, and now, with another full day of Week 37 Busking done, I've got to get back to my day job.....Sorry about that....



Ian said...

An excellent couple of posts. I continue to disagree with Mr. Lee on this one story. But as I also said in the piece, he's a good reporter.

My bigger disagreement with Mr. Lee has to do with the divide he sees between politics and journalism and bloggers and reporters.

To suggest journalism can't carry a political or ideological torch is just plain ridiculous. I've seen too many stories spiked to believe that. Every politician in this country knows who they can go to get a decent story, particularly if they are on the right.

The PM's office just has to call up a certain reporter to leak one-sided information and get the spin they want. Here in BC the BC Rail trial is in part the story of a series of planned leaks to the right reporters to achieve a strategic decision.

I'm not sure 'agendalessness' exists. But balance can. And that's where bloggers come in. Are they less up-front than reporters? Often, but not always. Is their information bad? Sometimes, but also often better.

There is one thing I really like about bloggers. They are generally more up-front than reporters about their point-of-view. There's very little of the "agendaless" b.s. It's refreshing and more truthful with the way the world is.

All in all it must be tough for mainstream journalists right now. They are losing market share. People want to comment and be involved in the story. And more and more readers want something where the point of view is up-front.

I don't see how the old ivory tower model is sustainable.

spartikus said...

I would very much prefer Jeff Lee demonstrate how Ian Reid "got things wrong". As it stands, this is simply a reflexive dismissal.

I often disagree with partisan bloggers, but it's always because I take the time to read their stuff and often find their arguments wanting in terms of support. Maybe that's the case here, but I wouldn't know that from Jeff Lee.

As for online anonymity, I don't get this either. Arguments stand or fall on their merits regardless of moniker. If you claim special expertise or knowledge, then yes, your background counts. But I don't see that being necessary on this blog - RossK always cites something in support, as I try to do too - and I don't know of a major Vancouver blogger who claims special knowledge who currently posts under a pseudonym.

Of relevance: The US Founding Fathers sometimes used pseudonyms. "Publius" springs to mind.

Of note - what's to stop someone from choosing a real sounding name as a moniker.

Norm Farrell said...

Jeff Lee damages his own credibility with foolish comments about Ian Reid. I wonder, does Lee believe that anyone who has taken part openly in the political process is forever tainted and never to be taken seriously in discussions of public policy? Or, is this a special isolation due people who have served progressive interests.

I don't recall Mr. Lee claiming that any of the Liberal partisans populating VANOC should be ignored because they had previously taken partisan roles.

When I look at Reid's blog, I note he revealed Gordon Campbell's hypocrisy by quoting the man's own words from 1994 Hansard. How is that commentary "tainted?"

Reid repeated information, again from the public record, about one of the Liberal pigs feeding at the BCR trough. Embarrassing for the Liberal but definitely fair comment because it was indisputable fact, not opinion.

As an employee of the Vancouver Sun, partisan supporter of the BC Liberal Government, perhaps anything written by Jeff Lee is tainted. But, really, I'd rather judge the validity of the actual words he writes. My real judgement about whether Lee's work is tainted by partisanship will be based on the work itself, not some mindless reservation based on his employer's objectives.

Since Mr. Lee decided to make public his views of Ian Reid's partisanship, maybe he could make similar comments on his colleagues in the old media. Does he sense that any commentary by Vancouver broadcasters or newspaper people is tainted by partisanship? Since there audiences are larger, shouldn't that take priority over trying to discredit lowly bloggers?

RossK said...

Very interesting food for thought Ian, thanks.


To swipe a phrase, "in the main" I agree with you re: the moniker thing.

However, I've heard from Mr. Lee again, and he's given me cause for pause on the matter - so I'm giving it a bit of a re-think.

Oh - and he answered my questions about the issue that Ian originally wrote about. I'll have a follow-up on that in the not-too distant future.

But it will have to wait for a bit because I've got a dog whistle post to write.....


Norm Farrell said...

When on the Olympic beat, did Mr. Lee consider all those Liberal partisans at VANOC tainted sources?

Is Ian Reid denied credibility because he worked on the progressive side? Had he come from, say, the Fraser Institute, his words would not be tainted?

How about Jeff Lee's credibility when his employer has steadily promoted the BC Liberal Party for more than a decade? Vaughn Palmer is the Liberal's alternative to a press conference. The Vancouver Sun and it's people don't have an agenda?

Who knows what has gone between Lee and Reid before, but someone's petulance is showing.

spartikus said...

Well, I hope Mr. Lee publishes his arguments against anonymity and pseudonyms.

To reiterate, I would like to see a substantive rebuttal to Ian Reid, rather than a dismissive wave of the hand.

RossK said...


Mr. Lee has answered a clarifying question that I had for him regarding the specific matters raised by Mr. Reid in his Van. Observer piece.

In addition, Mr. Lee has given me permission to pass on his answer.

I'll try and get a post up detailing all of this soon.


RossK said...

Interesting questions Norman.

I did not ask Mr. Lee about that.

He may wish to comment/respond himself.


Jim Parrett said...

I lost faith in Lee in the days running up to the Vancouver mayoral election. He ran a poll on the front page of the Vancouver Sun from the eventual losing party painting a distorted view of their strength, which turned out to be not so true. Publishing such a poll from one party with such a skewed result as news is perhaps not dishonest, but reeks of partisan journalism.