In the good ole days, facts used to be, well, factual.
These days, facts have become more pliable. Non-facts can become facts by virtue of repetition. And for some unfathomable reasons, non-facts can become facts upon their first iteration, if their first iterator happens to be Danny Williams.
Take, for instance, the famous line that John Efford spouted during the Atlantic Accord debacle:
“Take it or leave it.”
It was quoted again in the latest copy of the pink-white-and-yellow news-like-paper, The Independent. Ryan Cleary writes
Remember the quote, “Here is the deal. Do you want it, Mr. Williams? Do you want it Mr. Sullivan? Take it or leave it.”
Again casting our minds back to the good ole days, quotation marks, in newspapers, used to mean a direct quotation of someone’s actual spoken words.
The only problem here: John Efford never actually uttered them.Danny Williams did.
First, it was an October 27, 2004 press release
, to wit:
Minister John Efford said earlier this week that we could take it or leave it
Two days later, Danny repeated his little big lie on CBC News Sunday with Carole MacNeil
we’re not going to just take it or leave, which is what John Efford asked us to do.
Notice the lack of quotation marks. This wasn’t a quote. This was paraphrase, and inflammatory paraphrase at that. It was Chairman Dan propagandizing at his best. It worked. In spades.
That same weekend, Chairman Dan pulled the same stunt against the then-PM’s official mouthpiece, Scott Reid, claiming that he (Reid) had “threatened” Newfoundland and Labrador.
Reid, of course, had done no such thing. He did express the view that Williams, in rejecting a deal that he eventually accepted, was making “a mistake of historic proportions” and that “he’ll pay for it in the long run.” That is, that if Danny didn’t make the right decision, his own voters would pass judgment. Notice the pronoun in the quote: “he”. Not “they”.
But Danny’s “facts” become facts, by mere virtue of their having come from Chairman Dan’s mouth. L’état, c’est lui
; if Scott Reid “threatened” Danny, by gum, he threatened the entire Republic of Newfoundland and Northern Mainland Newfoundland.
Danny’s version of Scott Reid’s comments was re-cycled, unquestioningly and uncritically, by Russell Wangersky in the January 8, 2005 edition of the Telegram
and in the paper’s editorial of January 27. Bill Rowe, who wouldn’t likely recognize a fact if it bit him, repeated Danny’s line (why wouldn’t he?) in his August 27 column.
Similarly, John Efford’s non-existent “take it or leave it!” comment was “cited” in the Telegram
of November 21, 2004; December 20, 2004 (in quotation marks); January 21, 2005 (in quotation marks); April 16, 2005 (in quotation marks); April 27, 2005 (in quotation marks); by Bill Rowe on April 30, 2005; on May 4, 2005 (in quotation marks); May 18, 2005 (in quotation marks); May 28, 2005 (by Norm Doyle, MP, in quotation marks); in Wangersky’s editorial of September 27, 2005 (in quotation marks); in the paper’s November 12, 2005 editorial (in quotation marks); on November 30, 2005 (in quotation marks); and on December 29, 2005. On the other side of Newfoundland, the Western Star
made the same “citation” on January 15, 2005 (in quotation marks); February 4, 2005 (in quotation marks); February 18, 2005 (in quotation marks); April 16, 2005 (in quotation marks); and on November 11, 2005.
For the record, the exact words from Efford himself, as quoted by Rob Antle on October 26, 2004, were:
“Let me say it, and let me say it clear: the deal is done. Do you want it, Mr. Sullivan? Do you want it, Mr. Williams? There are no more changes.”
Fast-forward to 2006. Danny Williams writes to the leaders of the federal parties
, to secure their positions and commitments on a bunch of issues.
Harper, like the other two (Danny didn’t write to the Greens’ Jim Harris), writes back
Does your party support efforts to develop the hydro-power resources of the Lower Churchill River System for the primary benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador, including the provision of a Federal Government guarantee to proceed with the project? Harper answers
We support this proposal in principle and believe that it is important for Newfoundland and Labrador to have greater control of its energy mix.
A Conservative government would welcome discussions on this initiative and would hope that the potential exists for it to proceed in the spirit of past successes such as the Hibernia project.
Harper “welcomes discussions” and suggests that the Lower Churchill should take a page from Hibernia – in which the federal government took an ownership position.
Harper makes no offer of a loan guarantee.But Chairman Dan goes into spin mode anyway
“The Conservative and NDP responses were very encouraging on several fronts, including support for a loan guarantee for the development of the lower Churchill...”
In the good ole days, facts used to be factual.
In these dark days, Chairman Dan gets to make things up and put words in other peoples’ mouths. He is now doing unto Stephen Harper what he did unto John Efford, probably for the same reason, and who knows, possibly with the same eventual result.
He has a sorry history of inventing facts. The local press have, unfortunately, an even sorrier history of, at best, failing to be diligent
in cross-checking their work; at worst, in being wilfully compliant and playing along with Chairman Dan’s game.
Is it a result of complicity? Bullying? Sloppiness? Why and how does the Premier manage to get away with his blatant nose-stretchers?
And with such fifth columnists in the fourth estate, why should Danny stop now?