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.


In Tuesday’s Sun: time to panic

For a bunch of people who should be panicking, they sure don’t look panicked.

The Conservative Party, that is.
For more than a year now, the Conservative Party of Canada has been eating Justin Trudeau’s dust.
Dozens of polls have shown them to be slightly behind, or really behind, the revitalized Liberal Party. Dozens of polls have made clear that Canadians want Justin Trudeau to be prime minister, not Stephen Harper. And yes, sure, polls have been pretty unreliable recently.

But, still.

Take a look at the big poll released by Ekos this week. For Conservatives, it was like a double root canal, without novocaine. It was like a two-week Justin Bieber Music Festival. It was like…well, you get the idea.

“This poll reinforces the notion that the now profound lead enjoyed by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party is far from a blip,” said the Ekos folks, who – yes, yes – have gotten plenty of things wrong in recent months.

“It appears that the Canadian public are now moving to the centre and left…the Liberal Party of Canada has gone from a dismal 18.9 points in the last election to a muscular 38.7. The very surprising Conservative majority with an impressive 39.6% of the vote has collapsed into a meager 25.6% with the NDP within the margin of error at 23.4%.”

The question isn’t why this is happening, declared Ekos. The question is what is going to happen when a general election takes place next year: “[It] isn’t whether the Conservatives can repeat its stunning majority triumph of 2011; it may be whether it can even hold onto opposition leader status.”

Ouch.

Now, if you were a member of the Conservative caucus – or someone who has sought and won a Conservative nomination in some riding somewhere – wouldn’t that sort of prose have you looking for the exits? Wouldn’t it, at the very least, have you reassessing your election strategy?

Not the Conservatives. They, and their stoic leader, are the very picture of serenity and calm.

In the New Democratic Party, those kinds of numbers would have Gerry Caplan and Judy Rebick scrambling to write self-flagellating op-eds in the Globe and Mail about how social democrats are an endangered species. Those numbers would have Liberals burying stainless steel between each other’s shoulder blades.

But not the Tories. The Conservative caucus, historically a mutinous bunch, remains unified. No leadership challengers have started second-guessing Harper in the morning papers – all anonymously, of course. And the prime minister himself has given no sign that he intends to take a proverbial walk in the proverbial snow.

So, the Conservatives continue to try to depict Justin Trudeau as a dope-pushing, strip-teasing, shaggy-headed member of al-Qaida. They’ve spent millions on that attack strategy, in fact, and millions of Canadians remain unmoved. In fact.

Despite all that, ink-stained wretches – such as the one who writes in this space – have yet to start typing up Harper government obituaries. How come?

Because Harper is smart. Because he undersells and overperforms. Because he is an expert at political rope-a-dope. Because his party has more money than God, and because they have a budgetary surplus, and because we are still the best country in the world.

Because (as noted) the polls have been proven too wrong, too many times. That’s why.

But here’s the thing, and it’s a good place to conclude: what if the polls are right? What if the Conservative trend line is all down, not up? What if the stuff the Con war room used against Messrs. Martin, Dion and Ignatieff just doesn’t work on Trudeau? What about that?

Sometimes, in politics, things truly are as simple as they seem. And that means this:

The Conservative Party of Canada, and Stephen Harper, are going to lose.

Badly.


Dear Facebook friends

I’ve got 5,000 of you, and you’re all smart. Help me with my problem, please.

Facebook, as you undoubtedly know, has been forcing users to download and use their “Messenger” app. They’ve made it so you can’t stay with the old system.

I therefore read some of the stories about Messenger (you should too). I have no doubt, now, that it violates several privacy laws. It is actually scary.

So I refused to download it.

That creates a problem, however. I am no longer able to receive any messages from folks on Facebook. Moreover, that annoying red dot showing I have messages – messages I can’t read – won’t disappear.

Questions:

• Is there any way to get back to the old platform? (Unlikely.)
• Is there any way to get rid of the annoying red message notification dot thing? (Please God.)

If you have answers, I would be most grateful. In the meantime, I look forward to Facebook getting its Orwellian ass hauled into court.

Sincerely,

Warren


Down the memory hole

Several posts have gone down the memory hole, seems. There’s a big glitch when I use WordPress on the iPhone – stuff disappears, and I get error messages. The WiFi up here ain’t so good at the moment, either. Frustrating.

Anyhow, I repeat my offer of a wk.com Reddit-style AMA thing. Send your questions and I will faithfully answer – although not perhaps in a video thing (see above).

Have a great August weekend, in the meantime. Was pretty cool last night – it feels like the end of Summer 2014 ain’t far off.