OK, this is now becoming a *story.* [UPDATED]
CTV ups the ante.
By Moe Lane Posted in Foreign Affairs — Comments (17) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
[UPDATE]: The actual story also includes a new report that Austan [oops!][double oops!] Goolsbee (Obama's economics guy) met with the Canadian consulate in Chicago. This is not replacing the existing narrative, merely supplementing it; they continue to claim that they have a source inside the Canadian Embassy. Interesting - and note that the response to the Goolsbee allegation was apparently no-comment. - Moe Lane
Taylor Marsh (who, by the way, is no doubt happily bemused that she's getting links from the Right that aren't mean at all) gives us the latest volley in what is promising to be increasingly less an American political story and more a Canadian one:
You can get up to speed here: essentially, CTV reported that Senator Obama's campaign (and possibly Senator Clinton's, for those steaming about it) called up the Canadian Ambassador to reassure Canada that no, they weren't going to junk NAFTA after all. Just politics, in other words. The Canadian Embassy has denied it, so has both campaigns - but CTV has not withdrawn the story, and has pretty much declared that the Canadian government is lying about this in order to avoid looking like it's interfering in a foreign election. They have not revealed their source, but have declared that they have reconfirmed the story.
Yes, see what I mean? We'll forget this in a day or two; the Canadians might not.
The problem here is that CTV's version of the story is plausible, but essentially impossible to confirm without revealing the source. Walking through the plausible part first: it is hardly inconceivable to think that a political campaign might choose to, well, lie about its agenda in order to shore up hot-button votes. Those wishing to argue this point should meditate on Iowa, and the way that both parties seem to be on a four-year cycle regarding the promotion of ethanol fuels. NAFTA is a similarly hot-button issue in Ohio, at least among Democratic voters. It is also hardly inconceivable that a campaign might decide that they should pass a quiet word of reassurance along. True, it would be stupid of them to do so - as this story is currently demonstrating - but there's no rule that a campaign has to be smart. Lastly, CTV's suggestion as to why the Canadian Embassy is denying the story has one thing going for it: the Canadian government does not want to look like it's interfering in an American election. Neither our electorate nor theirs is likely to approve; and while it won't end in a war, it will cause headaches.
So, plausible: but impossible to prove, and that's a problem for a news agency. Personally, I see no reason why CTV shouldn't reveal its source, given that it essentially started this whole story and there's likely to be no classified information involved (if there had been classified information involved I of course would have not agreed with them running the story in the first place). In fact, if they do, then they've got the makings of a fine, ratings-increased scandal; one that, again, we'll stop noticing by next week, but one that should keep Canadians interested all spring. If they won't reveal the source, then they should retract the story: these have become serious charges, which means that they require serious evidence. And I say this, confident that various individuals will wholeheartedly agree with me.
A pity that more of them won't take the point that they should be doing the same thing when it's, say, the New York Times doing it, but then, I stopped expecting internal consistency from our opposite numbers roughly four years ago.