Mediacheck

Here Comes the CBC Doughnut Campaign

If last night is the measure, it's gonna be a long one.

By Steve Burgess 29 Nov 2005 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess is a freelance writer and the author of Who Killed Mom?, published in 2011 by Greystone Books.

Born in Norwalk Ohio, home of the famous virus, Steve was raised in Regina, SK, and Brandon, MB. He writes a regular column for The Tyee, often reviewing films but also, sometimes, detailing his hilarious world travels for Tyee readers. Steve is a former CBC Radio host and has won two National Magazine Awards. He has also won three Western Magazine Awards.

Reporting Beat: Travel, pop culture, politics, cobbling, knife sharpening, furnace repair.

Twitter: @steveburgess1

Website: Steve Burgess

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Cartoon by Ingrid Rice

The doughnut campaign is underway. This will be a federal election with a big hole in the middle, while the real Santa takes over from the part-timers. Monday, after the government fell in parliament, the CBC offered up the first election edition of The National. Based on "Day One," it could be a long campaign.

CBC-TV has more resources than any other Canadian television entity and will likely remain the first choice for Canadians in search of campaign news. While there's no reason to doubt they will cover the campaign thoroughly, round one had more than its share of cringe-worthy moments. The National, it seems, has caught a bad case of the cutes.

News, by actors

CBC-TV News has never been much for comedy, a point they proved again Monday. An early set-up piece on the coming campaign inexplicably used the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty" as a framing device, complete with tinkly music. Cute.

Later came the debut of a new feature, "Campaign Insider." An anonymous political operator, apparently highly placed in one campaign or another, will compile a twice-weekly account on how things are going. To maintain the insider's anonymity, the reports will be read by an actor. It's an intriguing idea.

Maybe the reports will get better. Episode #1 was a dramatic statement of the obvious ("everybody's worried, everybody thinks the public distrusts their opponents, it's going to be tough") read by the actor in a style reminiscent of the narration from a third-rate detective flick. Again, cute.

'Allabunchacrooks'

Rex Murphy was present to read the blustery e-mails from ordinary Canadians on the eve of political mayhem. Such public feedback is a staple of modern TV news wherever you turn, but like mom always said, just because the other kids are doing it doesn't mean it's right. We already know that Joe from Alberta and Jenny from St. John think they're allabunchacrooks. Little is gained from hearing it ad nauseum through an already-bleak winter slog.

Finally, the big comedic moment. A group called the Content Factory provided an animated segment involving talking portraits of Prime Ministers, trading political barbs. There was a clever line or two, which you may have picked up if you weren't too busy wincing with embarrassment at the Air Farce-level cheesiness of it all. At least Peter Mansbridge and Rex seemed to get a good chuckle out of it, and Mansbridge promised there would be more such hi-jinx in the weeks to come. As if a January election weren't enough to give us the shivers already.

Steve Burgess is a keen hi-jinx analyst who gets shivers just thinking about politics.  [Tyee]

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