First, the similarities.
- Was born in July of 1946 in New Brunswick.
- In 1979 he moved from radio broadcasting to CTV, where he stayed until 2001.
- During some of the years with CTV, he served in Beijing.
- In fact, he was present and reported on the Tiananmen Square riots in 1989.
- He also covered the Iran/Iraq war in the late 1990s.
In August of 2002, Munson was hired by former Liberal PM Jean Chretien to be his Director of Communications. Just a year and a half later, two days before Chretien would retire, he appointed Munson to the Senate to represent Ottawa/Rideau Canal.
In Mike Duffy’s case:
- He was born in Prince Edward Island in May of 1946.
- He first joined the CBC’s The National in 1977 and covered Parliament Hill during the Trudeau, Clark, and Mulroney years.
- In 1975, he also covered the fall of Vietnam and was one of the last journalists to escape before the North Vietnamese advanced into Saigon.
- In 1988, Duffy left the CBC and joined Baton Broadcasting, hosting a Sunday morning program called “Sunday Edition” where he stayed until 1999.
- After Baton, he moved to CTV to host the nightly politics program called “Power Play.”
On December 22, 2008, Duffy was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as the representative for PEI.
Now, the differences.
The main differences between Munson and Duffy are their political affiliations. Munson is Liberal and Duffy is Conservative. Yet, political affiliation aside, if there has ever been any major controversy about Jim Munson, I have never heard about it and nothing is listed on his Wikipedia page. What he does do, which is exemplary, however, is work for improvements to autism programs and services.
- However, like Duffy, Munson most certainly has done Liberal partisan work in the past, as according to this Ottawa Citizen piece, he even flew on the Liberal leader’s plane. Which brings up the issue I heard in the #DuffyTrial this week — that Senators were expected to do partisan work but were not supposed to take part in election campaigns!! True or false?
- Then, there is the fact that Munson was Liberal Senate Whip at the time of the former Senator for Manitoba, Rod Zimmer, situation. Just imagine how differently the media would have covered that scandal had Zimmer been a Harper appointee? Has former Prime Minister Martin, the PM who appointed him, for example, been held responsible for Zimmer’s behaviour?
- As well, there is former Liberal Senator Mac Harb, who will go to trial this summer over the $231,000 in housing expenses he has already repaid. The allegations against him would have happened under Munson’s watch as Senate Whip. Yet, as with Zimmer, neither he nor former Prime Minister Jean Chretien have been held responsible in any way? At least, not that I have heard or read.
However, in terms of Munson himself, there is only this column on the CBC website that mentions him when the Justin Trudeau Liberals started posting parliamentary expenses online:
“Senator Jim Munson, who lives in Ottawa, billed $103.09 for a lunch at Ottawa’s Metropolitan restaurant for two people, but gave no details about the meeting. It was his sole hospitality charge. He also charged $1,681.54 for two days of airfare, hotel and meals to attend a conference on autism in Fredericton where he gave a speech.”
- What caught my attention was the sentence that the $103.09 was Munson’s sole hospitality charge plus his air fare for his work on autism. Amazing, actually, that his meal and travel expenses were so minor when compared to what we have heard and read about Duffy’s.
- Does that mean Munson is paying his own Senate related meal and hospitality expenses or that, aside from his work on autism, he is not doing very much outside of Ottawa compared to other Senators? Of course, Trudeau kicked all the Senate Liberals out of caucus last year, so there is not as much partisan work going on now as there once was.
Plus, there is the fact that Munson lived in Ottawa before his appointment and his constituency is Ottawa. So, provincial residence requirements and housing expenses are a non-issue for him. Unfortunately, not so for Duffy or Harb!
The crux of the matter:
So, does the mainstream media treat Mike Duffy differently than Jim Munson? Absolutely. Why? I am not sure. Perhaps Duffy’s behaviour or reactions to criticisms have something to do with it — such as his attitude of entitlement, the extent of his expenses submitted and the fact that someone else had to pay the taxpayers back. But, how do we square that with Harb’s housing expenses which are even higher than Duffy’s?
Whatever. While political affiliation should not matter, it will be interesting to see and read if we get minimum media coverage or Duffy-like media coverage regarding Harb during his trial this summer.
It will also be interesting to see and read whether or not Chretien and his PMO staff will be blamed for Harb’s alleged failings “because he appointed him” as Harper and his PMO are blamed regarding Duffy.
At the very least, for the sake of our democracy, the potential for media bias is something the mainstream media itself should think about — very carefully!
C/P Jack’s Newswatch. Welcome NewsWatchCanada.ca readers.