There were many glowing obituaries in Canada for Christie Blatchford last week. I have decided to fix them.
Christie Blatchford: she was not a truth-teller. Although she worked at Toronto’s Globe and Mail as a sports reporter (I remember when she did this) and then at the Star, her career truly was built at the Toronto Sun where she most often pictured children as little victims of crime, without context. She particularly relished reporting on the deaths of children, or on kidnappings, because she could make use of the sentimental mode when writing about them. She was embedded with the military during the Afghanistan campaigns, and wrote uncritical human interest stories about soldiers. She was relentlessly unable to comprehend the lives of anyone without enormous amounts of privilege, and she wrote about social issues without evidence of understanding or insight, including outrageous claims about Six Nations, for which she should not have won the Governor General’s Award for Nonfiction. She was notable for writing against the outpouring of grief when Jack Layton (leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party from 2003 to 2011) died, a particularly ungenerous act, even for her. She once wrote a story about horrific animal cruelty, but used the deaths of animals as a way to write about her own dog, as if the deaths and suffering of others somehow justified her own feelings. That approach sums up how she wrote about most issues. I think of her as a little Eichmann, someone who remained rigidly, blissfully, stupidly, stubbornly unaware of what her actions unleashed, every time she wrote. She was the product of Conrad Black’s relentless acquisition and destruction of newspapers through Southam and other companies, and the recasting of the Canadian media landscape as one almost without reporting, as its compliment of right wing columnists remained. I would not wish cancer on her, and I will not say of her what she said about Jack Layton, that it is somehow unseemly for those who miss her to mourn her. But I will say that there is a distinct lack of clear-eyed assessment of much of anything in Canada right now, and she was part of that problem, which unfortunately, survives her.
There. Fixed it.