Gotcha!: How the Media Distort the News


266 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 1-55013-555-4
DDC 070.449320971






Reviewed by Agar Adamson

Agar Adamson is the author of Letters of Agar Adamson, 1914–19 and former chair of the Department of Political Science at Acadia University in Nova Scotia.


In this book (which should be required reading for all political
journalists in Canada), George Bain, a former senior Globe and Mail
Ottawa columnist, describes in minute detail how a number of recent
“political issues” were distorted by the media—particularly the
CBC and The Globe and Mail, the twin pillars of the English-Canadian
media establishment.

Bain uses such examples as the Tainted Tuna Scandal (1985), the
Sinclair Stevens Inquiry, the Globe and Mail’s (get) Getty series, the
Richard Vogel Affair (1982), and the (1992) TV series “The Valour and
the Horror” to illustrate how the press mislead the public. The
conclusion he draws with respect to the tuna scandal summarizes the
thesis of the entire book: “The ... scandal was a great story as a
story, but by the time it died down the public had lost a substantial
measure of confidence in the government. ... A similar ... loss of
public confidence could have occurred in the media but for the fact that
it is the prime characteristic of pack journalism that it gives the
public only one set of conclusions to consider its own. This was a
scandal that wasn’t.”

This book exposes two facts. The first is that most media types dislike
politicians and look down on them; the second is that the political
preferences of the media are centrist or centre left and, unlike many of
their predecessors, journalists today are unable to separate their
reporting from their own political biases. Gotcha! is a signal to those
who cover national politics to clean up their act.


Bain, George., “Gotcha!: How the Media Distort the News,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 12, 2024,