Michael's Essay: No media conspiracy here, folks.

Could these members of the Toronto media be plotting to take down their mayor? (Photo of John Tenniel's,

Could these members of the Toronto media be plotting to take down their mayor? (Photo of John Tenniel's, "A Conspiracy," August 1850 (Private Collection, UK) / http://commons.wikimedia.org/ )

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The literal meaning of the word conspire is to "breathe together."

People focusing on a single event or series of events come to share beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of the particular happening.
 
This Friday we marked the 50th anniversary of perhaps the greatest example of a conspiracy theory of all time, in the murder of John. F. Kennedy.

In the half-century since that dreadful day in Dallas, hundreds upon hundreds of theories about what really happened have been put forward and widely promulgated.

The theorists simply cannot believe that a non-entity such as Lee Harvey Oswald could bring down the charismatic JFK.

Sadly, this brings me to the grisly unfolding of the never ending saga of the mayor of Toronto.

Throughout the scandal of Toronto Mayor Robert Ford, there has been talk of a media conspiracy to bring down Mr. Ford.

The allegations of a conspiracy have been made by right-wing commentators, columnists and pundits on private radio talk shows and on the hysterical Sun News Network programs.

The conspiracy goes like this: downtown Toronto media elites, with their bicycles and their book stores, have targeted Mr. Ford because of his conservative policies.

The coverage has been ignited not by the mayor's behaviour, but by an inherent, ongoing, anti-conservative bias.

If there is any risible element to this awful story---and there aren't many--- this is a major one.

The idea of a conspiracy by the media is absurd on several levels.

First of all, in order to have a conspiracy you have to have agreement among the conspirators.

Having covered municipal politics on two of the allegedly conspiring newspaper, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star, I know the suggestion to be laughable.

The merest whiff of some kind of collusion between and among reporters for those papers would mean that somebody immediately gets fired.

Far from any collusion, city hall reporters for those papers see each other as professional enemies to be beaten at every turn. When I was covering the beat, we usually couldn't agree on where to have lunch.

Secondly, the Toronto mayor is about as conservative as my kitchen table.

His ideology, if you can call it that, begins and ends with mantras about lower taxes, gravy trains and the menace of big government.

It is the same kind of right-wing rhetoric that has filled the air for at least 20 years.

It is doubtful that Mayor Ford could explain in understandable detail his theory of modern, complex conservative thought.

Beyond taxes are bad.

Real conservatives such as Jason Kenney and others, are fleeing the Ford gong show as fast as they can.

Far right conservatives in Ford Nation actually believe the mayor has saved a billion dollars and held the line on taxes.

He hasn't. He won't.

If there was a media cartel conspiring against the mayor, it must have been world-wide.

But it was not Mr. Ford's conservative agenda that put him on the front page of Le Monde in Paris.

It was not his conservative policies that put him on the front page of The New York Times on Tuesday.

It has always been about his behaviour, not his politics, that has been driving this sorry story from the beginning.



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