The Sun News Network — for those of you outside Canada, imagine FOX News, but with on-air personalities seemingly culled from a fifth-rate college’s Ayn Rand club and production values that made Wayne’s World’s basement show seem opulent — shut down after four years.
While it’s sad that 200 people are losing their jobs and it’s nice that many people in the same Canadian media who were often attacked by Sun News Network are offering kind words to them, let’s not mince words:
It was a shitty, shitty television station, and it deserved to go under.
It was available to 5 million households and on its best days could barely garner 8,000 viewers, which isn’t even two-tenths of a percent of their market. By the rules of the free market which they claim to hold dear, they should close up shop. Which they did, so hey, kudos to them for sticking to their guns!
Another area in which they were consistent was their “white makes right” messaging. They featured on-air “personality” Ezra Levant calling the Roma “a culture synonymous with swindlers … one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging”, which led to him having to make a rare and unconvincing apology, the usual diatribes against First Nations people, and of course, invectives against their favorite target, Muslims, with pieces like Islam’s War on the World, which attempted to paint 1.6 billion people with the same brush. And how can we forget this classic “whitesplaining” segment in which they had a bunch of white guys explain to a brown guy that there’s no such thing as white privilege?
They did try to make up for it in a follow-up segment by asking Desmond Cole, a black guest, to explain white privilege, but host Jerry Agar does an even better job of explaining it — inadvertently, by demonstrating that he’s got it in spades.
They knew how to sensationalize, as shown in this promo for their expose on — of all things — wind power:
They made their dislike of the arts and arts funding known, in the infamous Margie Gillis “ambush interview”. It led to nearly 7,000 complaints being filed with the CRTC, a number almost as large as their viewership:
Although they got few fans, the ones that they were able to get were really big ones. Here’s Sun News Network’s biggest fan from the U.S., and surprise, surprise — he’s from the worst state in the Union:
More recently, one of their reporters, Vandon Gene, crassly asked Anderson Cooper to pose for a photo with him at the scene of the Ottawa shooting, and threw a hissy fit when Cooper refused, reminding him that they were in a place where a soldier had just been killed:
Gene took the hissy fit to Twitter. He later deleted these tweets, but it was too late — people had already taken screen shots:
Sun News Network promptly fired Gene, who’s still carping away on Twitter and presumably embarrassing his schoolmates at Carleton University. (As we used to say at Queen’s: “If you can’t go to school, go to Carleton!”)
And finally, only a few months ago, a straight-up, cynical, bald-faced lie. I’ll let Jonathan Kay do the explaining:
This desperation to whip up outrage—any kind of outrage—within the Sun News audience community caused Sun producers to target dubious scare stories. One of the worst examples came on November 10, 2014, when the network began zeroing in on a single school board that, Levant claimed, was letting Muslim kids opt out of Remembrance Day ceremonies. The story wasn’t even true, but the network kept spinning it for another day or two simply because it had nothing else to put on the air.
Worse still, Sun News Network’s Ezra Levant continues to use the fake story, even though it’s been discredited, to drum up business for his online store selling T-shirts:
Of all people, Levant should know how wrong this sort of libel is, never when it’s used in the service of crass commercialism. But hey…it’s against people he doesn’t like, so that’s okay! And besides…CAPITALISM!
But after a long battle for viewers, an unsuccessful bid for “mandatory carriage”, and bleeding money, they closed their doors in every sense. On Friday the 13th, no less! If you tune into their channel slot right now, it now looks like this…
…and even their web presences — their site, Twitter account, Facebook page, and so on — have been yanked offline.
It’s my hope that the 200-ish people who worked at Sun News Network go on to find new jobs. Preferably real jobs where their efforts would go to making the world a better place, or at least where their talents for creating some of the most surreal television in Canada are applied in a more productive and beneficial direction. I hope that they capitalize on their downtime to think and reflect long and hard about what they’ve done.