08.14.2014 08:39 PM

In Friday’s Sun: TV is pictures. Warren is unpredictable.

Ezra Levant. Peter Mansbridge. Rick Mercer. Don Cherry. Tracy Moore. Lisa Laflamme. Steve Paikin. Amanda Lang. Ben Mulroney. Dawna Friesen. And so on, and so on.

To some, it is their fantasy dinner party guest list. To others, a convincing argument for reading more books. For the Globe and Mail, it’s “the biggest names in broadcasting.”

Thus, the self-styled national newspaper put together a fun little interactive thing, where people got to vote for the broadcaster who was most trusted, most respected, most entertaining.

My pick will shock you. Shock you!

To figure out who is best at TV, you need to first define what is TV.

To ascertain which messenger dominates the medium, you also have to understand the medium. Because I hardly ever watch TV – even when Sun News puts me on TV – I am the best person to define television.

First of all, TV IS LOUD. What works best on TV – ie., what attracts the greatest number of eyeballs and ears – is the thing, or the person, who is LOUDEST.

There are many, channels to choose from. There are an even greater number of things to watch. To break through the smog of data – which used to be like caviar, but is now doled out like potatoes – you have to be LOUD. Volume works. Subtlety doesn’t.

Secondly, TV is pictures. It is not just a visual medium – it is THE visual medium.

In a contest between words and pictures, the latter will always beat out the former. That may be sad, that may be regrettable – that may be conclusive proof that we are doomed as a species – but it is a fact. TV better understands the way in which our brains are wired.

TV is the dominant medium on the planet, still, because it uses pictures to tell stories, not words. Symbols move nations; syntax, not so much.

Third: TV is all about emotion, not information.

A few years back, as a reporter in Calgary, I was asked to go on TV to talk about a story I’d written. I was nervous, so I studied and I studied. Afterwards, the producer told me I was awful. “You tried to cram in too much information,” she said. “It was boring.”

TV, in its essence, has nothing to do with information, or conveying facts or statistics. It is most powerful – and memorable – when it strikes an emotional chord.

No other medium is more adept at making you cry or laugh or smile or angry – and sometimes all within the context of a single commercial – than television. Newspapers may profess to be preoccupied with minds, but TV is all about capturing hearts. It’s really good at it.

Fourth: TV is irreverent. When it comes to covering a funeral or a notable person, or the tragic death of lots of people, of course, we of course turn to TV first. Those are serious, sad happenings.

But, most of the time, the television personalities who have the greatest audience are the ones who do not take themselves seriously, at all.

How else to explain the Gong Show, or reality TV? How else to understand that the most popular TV shows on the planet are about flesh-eating zombies, or mythical medieval figures who lop off each other’s heads?

There you go: TV defined, in four easy pieces, by someone who rarely watches it.

So, if TV is LOUD, who is best being the LOUDEST? If it is about pictures, who uses them to their maximum advantage?

If TV is about emotion, who is the best at emoting? And if it’s irreverent, then who is best at not taking themselves too seriously?

The guy I voted for, that’s who. We’ve hated each other’s guts, deeply, at different points. We have despised each other in ways that most folks couldn’t begin to fathom.

But if TV is what I say it is – and it is – then only one TV personality is “the biggest name.”

And that name is this: Ezra Levant.

53 Comments

  1. davidray says:

    there is still one thing on the planet more worthless than Ezra Levant. A Sochi Selfie with Putin.

  2. Kelly says:

    Sorry Warren, your endorsement won’t help you get a senate seat when Ezra becomes PM. It might keep him from sending a future as yet non-existent secret police force after you, but it definitely won’t get you a Senate appointment. Nope.

  3. Iris Mclean says:

    I quit watching TV over twenty years ago. Don’t miss it a bit.

  4. islandcynic says:

    Ezra Levant.

    Who dat?

  5. Bruce A says:

    “But if TV is what I say it is – and it is – then only one TV personality is “the biggest name.”

    And that name is this: Ezra Levant”.

    This is like being the MVP in the Asia League Ice Hockey.

  6. que sera sera says:

    Ezra IrreLevant? Whoo-ha. Funny. SUN-block can help to prevent SUN-strokes.

  7. TrueNorthist says:

    “…where people got to vote for the broadcaster who was most trusted, most respected, most entertaining.”

    1 out of 3 ain’t bad. Once Rikki Ratliff went to Stossel things started to go down-hill pretty fast and culminated with him wailing about the unfair treatment of Rob Ford. Watching him over time it quickly becomes evident that he is little more than a shamelessly partisan smear artist. His lack of sponsors is probably his strongest indictment. That is lethal in any media.

    But I get the feeling I was bang on in my prediction? I sure hope so.

  8. james Smith says:

    Who?
    This is a serious question, I know the name but can’t recall why or who this person is.

  9. Joe says:

    Whether you like Ezra or not you have to admit he is the only muck raker/pot stirrer who is trying to be serious on the entire list. Mercer does his schtick for laughs and Cherry to advance Cherry but Levant comes across as someone not afraid to prick the pretensions of the pretentious. Most of the list is comprised of news readers not investigators and their overall appearance is one of greyness. Not black, not white, not hot, not cold just grey/bland/blah. Even though I have only seen Ezra on the internet as I don’t subscribe to SNN he is a refreshing change from the Canadian newsreaders that I have come to despise and avoid because of their blandness and devotion to the media party line.

  10. I agree that Ezra makes sense. He challenges the progressives’ self-conceit that they are agents of positive change, and does so in a way that makes them squirm, which lets the viewer be entertained. (Who *isn’t* entertained by the sight of a know-it-all realizing that his viewpoint could be wrong?)

    If the CBC were smart, they’d get on-air personalities who aren’t afraid to challenge their targets as Ezra does.

    • smelter rat says:

      Makes sense?? God help us. Sued how many times for slander?

    • Kaspar Juul says:

      Who *isn’t* entertained by the sight of a know-it-all realizing that his viewpoint could be wrong?)”

      I see you’ve been following the lectures of professors Al and Joe from the University of Cranbrook.

      I’m pretty sure the cbc doesn’t want Ezra’s ratings.

    • que sera sera says:

      Ezra Levant’s peculiar brand of “common sense” apparently includes:

      1/> being successfully sued for defamation
      2/> being successfully sued for libel
      3/> issuing retractions & public apologies when faced with lawsuits
      4/> violating professional standards of the Law Society
      5/> violating various ethics and codes of Canadian Broadcast Standards

      I suspect it’s not much of a “challenge” for Levant to spew litigious, obstreperous, and untruthful nonsense from his bully pulpit to hornswoggle his particular audience of critical thinkers.

      The “know-it-all realizing that his viewpoint could be wrong” often appears to be Mr. Levant himself.

    • Iris Mclean says:

      Rex Murphy is CBC’s Levant. No?

  11. socks clinton says:

    Some of those names may be an ideal guest list if you’re going to serve them all poison drinks.

  12. JH says:

    Who actually watchs or reads what the national press has to say anymore? I mean among the Mr. & Mrs. Front Porch majority of Canadians. I know the junkies do, but when you chat with folks on main street and discuss a recent commentary from one of the usual suspects, or raise a point made on any pundit show the night before – you usually end up with a blank look. And yet millions of dollars and forests of trees are being wasted to produce this stuff, much of which is just the same old, same old boring crap. I read a letter in a small local paper recently which addressed the latest layoffs/firings at CBC. The letter writer said he and most of his family and friends rarely watch any of their news or pundit shows anymore or those on any channel, because basically all they did was throw mud at elected officials of every kind and discription. His thought was that CBC and the others should get out of the ivory towers in Toronto and devote more money and times to local issues and regional programming. Not saying he’s right, but I think he’s reflecting what many are saying, not just about CBC but the media in general. Thus the general malaise in the press continues and more downsizing will be the inevitable result.

  13. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    Ezra reminds me of Senator Ted Cruz. As much as I disagree with their politics, you have to admire the way they stick to their guns come hell or high water. They are not there to be clubby or make friends, they are there to speak their truth as they know it. One must admit that takes one hell of a lot of guts to go against the grain.

  14. James Bowie says:

    I lost respect for Ezra the “free speech warrior” when he started censoring my comments on his blog. The man is a hypocrite.

  15. Nicole says:

    If Ezra Levant is the best there is on television, then I don’t know of a better argument to convince people that television is bad for you.

  16. Bill Templeman says:

    Much as I believe Ezra Levant is a propagandist, not a journalist, Warren, you have a great point about the TV as a medium, especially for political content. Emotions trump brains, sadly, when it comes to how we consume political news. Even door-to-door canvassing for votes by a politician has more to do with sociability and people skills than an intellectually rigorous and consistent platform. Ezra gets eye balls, as much as I despise his spin and bias.

  17. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Ezra can get on one’s nerves at times, but…

    Let’s review some of what he has dug up and carved into.

    Rockefeller pumping money into environmental groups to in turn undermine the oil sands through our courts, First Nations, and the media. I’ve save a copy of the power point presentation. Anyone ever hear one single word about this on the other networks? CBC? Of course not! Doesn’t fit their AGW narrative.

    The facts on fracking, and the facts on those trying to undermine the energy industry across N. America and Europe.

    Last night he was in Vegas covering a climate change conference on the skeptics’ side of the issues, part two coming tonight. Can people hear the other side of the story from CBC, CTV, pick one? Never! Hell will freeze over first!

    Went to Naniamo and took on a city council over an appalling decision to ban a Christian conference at the last minute. He got it done, and hundreds turned up a rally to thank him for his work, and in support of free speech.

    He goes to Calgary, hosts a rally for free speech, and embarrasses the local police into taking action and laying charges against a bunch of thugs for terrorizing pro-Israeli supporters.

    He goes places nobody else in the MSM in this country has the gonads to do. He’ll even stride head first into demonstrations to confront them with hard questions…the kind they hate to be asked, and hate him for asking.

    What the MSM needs in this country is a helluva lot more the fearlessness that Levant brings to Sun News! Not to mention his contempt for the censorship of political correctness that pervades so much of the MSM!

    • Kaspar Juul says:

      And that is a comment version of a reacharound.

    • Bill Templeman says:

      Al, you and I have plowed this particular field before, and neither one of us is in danger of surrendering, but just for the record re your slurs against mainstream media outlets like the CTV, CBC, etc.: All these wicked media outlets employ really smart folks as editors. If some exotic freelancer covered a NASA conference on space travel from a flat earth or anti-gravity perspective, those editors would probably give that freelancers submissions a pass because there is no other side of those stories. Those editors, who are pretty smart folks, know that there is no other side of the story to the earth being a globe or gravity being a scientific fact. On a slow news day, a few of those editors might run our freelancers stories just to amuse their viewers. Sorry, there simply is no other side of climate change story, unless the earth is flat and gravity are left-wing hoaxes. This is not censorship; this is just a respect for scientific facts. The links you posted last time we jousted had no science behind them. Just spin.

      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        Bill…

        You know what drives people to insist “there simply is no other side”? Blind faith in an ideology/religion, commonly known as “zealotry”. Right up there with, “I’m right, because God is on my side.” (Have a look around the world at how that’s working out right now.)

        What is a scientist first and foremost? A SKEPTIC.

        I can post links from scientists in the fields of meteorology, climatology, geology, paleontology, you name it, until hell won’t have any more who are skeptics of AGW. I can post hard data from NASA, NOAA, whatever…you know, like I did last time we tangled…and you will ignore all of it, because it doesn’t fit neatly inside the lines of your ideological/religious narrative du jour. Because you don’t give a rat’s ass about the science. What you care about is your belief system that you wrap your very identity and being around, and that you can’t imagine facing even one day in this world stripped thereof.

        I don’t give a shit about ideology, or religion, of any kind! Kind of liberating, you should try it some day! I’m interested in just one thing: The truth. From wherever it comes.

  18. Ridiculosity says:

    You’re wrong, my friend.

    The only TV personality who can loudly, emotively and consistently – week after week – make Canadians from coast to coast laugh, cry, smile, and get angry enough to write letters, pick up the phone, talk to their neighbours, and get up off the damn couch and try to change things is Rick Mercer.

    Levant is a legend (only) in his own mind.

  19. davie says:

    I agree that Levant is good at what he does. I have always been fascinated by language use. As a teenager in the late 1950’s S’west Ontario I would turn my radio dial late at night looking for jazz. Often I would come across radio preachers from Cincinnati and points south. the rhythm of their patter, the allusion, and the enthusiasm I found gripping. I thought the same of Jimmy Swaggart when I first saw him on tv. Recently I watched a couple of tv programmes featuring a John Hagee. I have always thought that Fox News in USA was redundant because the right wing patter, allusion, innuendo, allegation, and the Manichean accusations against the enemy were already on religious tv programming.
    On Fox News today they have some pretty good commentators. I think Hannity is terrific at what he does.
    On SunTV, Linney is pretty good. Rex and Rick Mercer get some pretty good accusative, black versus white, rants off. But Levant is pretty consistent. His stuff is well written, well thought out. He can get in as many false accusations, unsubstantiated claims, slippery innuendo, outraged self righteous insults, and oily half truths into five minutes as can anybody. And he does so with a veneer of sincerity and enthusiasm worthy of an Emmy.

  20. pc says:

    Yes, so very serious…

    http://rootsgpk.blogspot.ca/2011/10/blog-post_22.html

    Ezra is the joke, and his adherents are the punchline.

  21. Amber Jensen says:

    More from the underground conservative press:

    Subversion

    One of the downsides of long-term cannabis use is that people of average intelligence and cognition blast away precious IQ points year-in-year-out, joint-by-joint to become, forgive me, idiots. Case in point, Marc Emery.

    Giuseppe Valiante, in 24 Hours, writes: “Marijuana activist Marc Emery promises to campaign for the federal Liberals, but he says the party doesn’t seem to want anything to do with him.” Of course this wild red-eyed bewilderment is the classic symptom of a shot memory and the strange pseudo-sense of enlightenment that cannabis gives to its devotees. Could it be, Mr Emery, commentary like this: “(Pierre Trudeau’s) son has smoked with me four or five times, so it really pisses me off when I see Justin Trudeau, who took big gaggers with me, is in Parliament actually voting for Bill C-15. What a fucking hypocrite”? (Emery latter clarified: “Now, it is really embarrassing that this video has me saying ‘4 or 5 times’ without further clarification, and its been out there for years; no wonder the Honourable leader of the Liberal Party is pissed and says I’m “flat-out lying”.)

    Mind, the Liberal Party itself seems to exhibit this disastrous implosion of memory and reason. For example, the party of the non-open/open nomination was recorded in the same article: “A Liberal Party spokesman wouldn’t comment directly on Jodie’s upcoming campaign, only saying that “(The Liberals) have open nominations in every riding and any Canadian can apply.” Really? Just one day after a defamation lawsuit by thwarted Christine Innes, the Liberals acclaimed Freeland. Have you forgoten Kristy Duncan, Judy Sgro, David McGuinty, Carolyn Bennett, Navdeep Bains, John McKay, John McCallum, Mauril Belanger, Jane Philpott? All acclaimed? Everyone knows unless you can ingratiate yourself to the Dear Leader you are plain out of luck. The Party would be better to simply silence Liberal Party spokesman, as the cannabis movement should silence Emery. You are not helping your cause.

    Beside the trashing of intelligence and skill, there is a darker truth. Subversion (Latin subvertere: overthrow) refers to a process by which the values and principles of a system are contradicted or reversed. Subversion is an attack on the public morale. In the context of cannabis, intelligence agencies discovered long ago in their quest for the mythical truth serum that nothing could beat a strong dose of cannabis. The protective shell that surrounds the ego tended break away. Interrogations turned into willing confessions in the labyrinth of mental confusion. Submission was easily obtained. For the sovereign intent on some kind of mass-cult scenario, a population stoned to the gills is a dream scenario. It is no coincidence that Cairo is one of the stonedest cities in the world, by some estimates 10% of the population addicted to hash. The powers-that-be, including the Muslim Brotherhood, learned to not touch this magical smoke that dampened down clear thinking and the impulse to improve one’s lot. In this vein, Emery added “the Liberals should forget about the Chinese and Jewish votes because their support will likely go to the Conservatives” (24 Hrs) to his repetoire of the bizarre.

    When Marc Emery touched down on Canadian terra firma, apparently as a red-hot Liberal, the AI outputted: “First it was pot; now it’s prostitution…the federal Liberal party is proposing a resolution for the party’s next national convention aimed at ensuring sex trade workers are legally able to run a “safe and successful business,”…employers and clients and taxed just like “any other commercial enterprise” (CBC). When exactly did the Liberal Party of Canada’s playbook read like Leaving Las Vegas or the Best Little Whore House in Texas?

    Corrupted powers – i.e. the state as pimp – believe that by directly attacking monogamy, one accelerates the breaking apart of the most fundamental societal unit, husband and wife, and creates a social situation where marriage declines – thus increasing dependency on the state. The historical precedents are there. Mussolini ran a campaign where masses of women voluntarily traded in their gold wedding rings in exchange for steel wristbands bearing the inscription, “Gold for the Fatherland” – in essence, they were married to the state. When the press notes, “Single women have become Democrats’ most reliable supporters, behind African-Americans…two-thirds of single women who voted supported President Barack Obama… Unmarried women, especially single mothers, have greater, economic vulnerability” – again, the scenario of state-as-husband.

    Further, princes know that the most likely demographic to challenge state power is young men. If young men can be demoralized knowing that every other young woman holds to a philosophy where sex goes to the highest bidder – the millionaire erotic connoisseur, the sugar daddy – this despondency, demoralization, at being relegated to minor John and/or glorified cuckold a/k/a “open relationships” is thought to weaken the revolutionary impulse. In addition, many an advanced academic degree has been procured through prostitution; these women now fill positions in academia, journalism, public relations, law; they, like the concubines and harems influencing princes Montesquieu warned off, have shaped public policy with pillow talk.

    To cannabis and the Great Orgy, add-in harder drugs. Justin Trudeau stated on Facebook: “Exciting news about Insite Clinic in Vancouver. A victory for medical science, Charter rights, and common sense over narrow, right-wing ideology and politicking.” Russell Brand – self-confessed heroin, sex, and alcohol addict, arrested twelve times – described Vancouver’s drug injection facility as the “crown jewel” of Vancouver. He went on to declare, during his routine at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, that “Communism is just sharing, isn’t it?” Then, pointing to a huge image of Che Guevara, described it as, “fierce, noble… what a leader should look like.” Brand went on to attack Canadian Prime Minister Harper ranting, “We wouldn’t let him be in charge of pencils!” Drugs, the Communist Manifesto, and pornographic propaganda; if religion is the opiate of the people, this surely is their heroin.

    The Canadian state is already deeply compromised from taking a cut from gambling, alcohol, prescription drug abuse, and tobacco (although, Aboriginals control a huge black market in smokes, 50% market share by some estimates.) The Liberal Party now wants to add cannabis, other drugs, and prostitution. Liberal mores have created a social landscape where people are getting married less and less, or even dating – replaced by greasy hook-ups and bordellos. There is a world epidemic of sexually transmitted infections (condoms do not protect against herpes and genital warts.) Young people are having few or no children. Binge drinking, especially among young females, has reached alarming levels. Addiction and the attendant crime is a growing problem. Canada drifts towards authoritarian personality cults, where precious time, health, and disposable income, evaporate on booze, drugs, games of chance, smokes, whores, etc. Like a cancer, the body politic and the will to resist wither amidst the debauchery and vice. We say no to Marc Emery. No to the Justin Trudeau Party.

  22. patrick says:

    No, it also has to be some one who is taken seriously. I assume most think he’s a vulgar joke.

  23. Ron says:

    I had it at LOUDEST. I did NOT have to peek.

  24. Nic Coivert says:

    I thought you were describing Don Cherry. Who the fuck is Ezra Levant, not a house-hold name.

  25. cynical says:

    You ARE aware that the poll was being gamed, eh?
    Mr. Levant is not exactly the people’s choice. More like the choice of a whole bunch of folks being driven to the Globe site by various interest groups.
    Obvious, I guess, but just saying..

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