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SUN FUELS SMOKESCREEN
NECESSARY ILLUSION

Published September, 2006

The Vancouver Sun is blowing an incredible amount of smoke recently about Olympic spending and budgets. Unfortunately, they're way too late, two years too late. Where were they when we really needed them? Media should lead the community parade, not jump on the corporate bandwagon.

In response to pressure from publications like OlyBLOG.com, and others, and now that property values have crippled the region and are spiraling down, the Sun is finally starting to report the reality, but not before they made hefty profits off the back of our community selling full page color spreads to Bob Rennie's compliance-selling, Olympic-frenzy, condo-machine. Sun reporter, Vaughn Palmer actually implied on September 14, 2006 that VANOC CEO John Furlong sold a bill of goods to participants at a Board of Trade luncheon when he told a room of 400+ that Athens was a success.

Wow, nice work Rip Van Vaughn, but maybe your message would have been more effective if you would have told us about this when it actually happened - two full years ago on October 14, 2004.

OlyBLOG.com told everyone about this on October 16, 2004, and when I questioned the Sun's anemic reporting about this particular event they ignored me. Ironically, just recently, another reporter at the Sun rudely suggested that if I don't like how the Sun reports stories, I should send a letter to the editor. What he didn't know before he arrogantly implied that I didn't know the process, was that I did write the Sun, many times, and was ignored. (You can see some of the letters I sent in a link below.) Plus, Sun journalists and staff received regular media releases from me just like I send to all news media, locally, and around the world. I was much more cordial at the time, and gave them the benefit of the doubt primarily because they had me fooled into thinking they were inept. Turns out they know exactly what they're doing.

In Vaughn's recent recap, on September 14, he lists a series of comments completely out of context that were made by people in the Olympic network, and from those on the other side of the fence. Not only are the comments out of context respective of each speaker who made them, but the original perspectives the Sun championed at the time these comments were first published are also out of context. In other words, and as an example, in the past, the Sun could not say enough good about people like Jack Poole, but now they use his same comments to cast aspersion on his motives. It amounts to selective sniping. Poole hasn't changed one iota. His position is as solid as a rock. It's still Olympic rhetoric (I'm being nice), but he never wavers from it.

In "some" of the comments that Vaughn lists, the original story in the Sun that he drew the comments from, leads readers to believe that the comments made at the time were good for the community. Today however, according to Vaughn, he implies that they "don't" seem to be acceptable, but even today you have to read between the lines because Vaughn refuses to make a "comment" about his list of recapped comments except to say, "Place your bets," which indicates to me that he either doesn't have a clue, or he is simply following his editors orders, or, both.

Could the Sun please take a stand and stick to it? It's very hard for me to criticize you if you keep changing positions without telling us why you're changing positions. In the beginning, I too was behind Furlong, but as time progressed I figured out what was happening and explained issues incrementally. You guys are all over the place like a cougar chasing a Chihuahua. I appreciate that you do not want to offend Olympic organizations, because the prospect of becoming an Olympic sponsor can be very alluring, not to mention lucrative, but every time you dodge and weave without full disclosure we trust you less. If you didn't have so much at a stake it wouldn't matter, but considering how much revenue you already generate boosting the Games, readers need to know where you stand. Do you support the community, or do you have plans to become an Olympic sponsor? Yes or no. There is no middle ground.

The Sun gives people like John Furlong, Jack Poole, and Dick Pound free rein to spout whatever rhetoric they want, but did the Sun even once get behind the community like other local news media companies regarding Olympic controversy? For example, did you ever once tell the other side of the story regarding the Olympia restaurant on Denman Street? Ever? Your sister company, Global TV News did, and so did almost everyone else in the region. Where were you when the little restaurant was being bullied mercilessly by VANOC?

Let me remind you what the Sun did.

Instead of giving the Olympia restaurant on Denman an opportunity to tell their side of the story, in the heat of the controversy you gave John Furlong a half page to tell the community that "ambush marketing" would plunge our community into debt. You led readers to believe that businesses like the Olympia restaurant would be responsible if the 2010 Games went bankrupt. Did you allow John Furlong to scare the hell out of small business owners because maybe some day the Sun might want to become an Olympic sponsor? Thanks for your resounding community support.

In Alberta when similar situations occurred, way back in the 80's, the then sports minister, Otto Jelinek, decreed that Olympic organizations must quit harassing small businesses in Alberta. Has the Sun ever represented this position with any real substance? Instead, you play it safe, and exploit situations to unconditionally boost the Games by implying that no one challenges Olympic organizations. A good example is the ESSO ticket contest fiasco. Once again you sided with VANOC and turned a legal issue into a public relations issue. Esso was fully within their legal rights to manage the hockey ticket giveaway contest, but media pressure caused them to back off. You win. Community loses.

The Sun is now trying to lead us to believe, obscured through big puffs of smoke, that they have fairly represented both sides of the story, and that they have ethically apprised the community from the beginning, when in fact they just recently got onboard after pressure from publications like OlyBLOG.com, the Tyee.ca, and PublicEyeOnline.com, and indirectly through articles and "Letters to the Editor" that have appeared in BC Business magazine.

Noam Chomsky coined the term "necessary illusion." He describes it as feigning to support an issue, while really backing another agenda. All of a sudden, and without explanation the Sun switches gears and is the now the community's buddy? Too late.

It's time for the Sun to offer a mea culpa to the public for excessive boosterism. Something in a red six inch headline on the front page would work for me. Plus, maybe you could reimburse homeowners stung by the real estate frenzy that you, and your arms-length partner Bob Rennie helped inflate to an obscene fevered pitch. I'm sure ex-homeowner, Sabina Mawson, who was hit hard when the Whistler bubble burst and she was forced to sell her home in September of 2006 for $80,000 less than she paid for it a year and a half previous, will be the first in line. Maybe then we'll take you seriously and let you back in our community sandbox.

In the interim, regarding all the noise you're making now that you're a deer in the headlights, we acknowledge your tardy effort, and understand the illusion you're creating, however your recent actions do not change the fact that the only person at the Sun who ever fairly warned our community about the 2010 Olympics in a "timely" manner was Daphne Bramham. Timing is everything, and integrity is all that counts in these confusing times.

BTW, everyone still wants to know, so I'll ask again;

Is the Vancouver Sun interested in
becoming an official Olympic sponsor?



Letters to the Editor Vancouver Sun

Letter to the Editor BC Business magazine






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