Stories about corruption and dishonesty in political circles always collar all media attention. At one hand, media as the watchdog of democracy has the moral and ethical obligation to inform the citizen about alleged misuses of office by elected representatives. Furthermore, media has the obligation to investigate such stories in detail and submit the fullest information possible to the public. Media grapples with the establishment in the effort to prevent politicians ‘to keep the public in the dark.’
However, it often seems that media investigates such stories with superfluous fervor. There is a fairly prosy reason for that. Stories about corrupt and evil politicians sell well. People rejoice when they realize that politicians are not sinless but susceptible to the same temptations as mere mortals. Thus, media sensationalism that usually surrounds stories of the like nature is pretty understandable. With these thoughts in mind, every journalistic piece dealing with a corruption scandal should be carefully analyzed.
The story of clandestine relations between Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber is presented in a fairly trustworthy manner. The story is told in a chronological order touching upon the beginnings of Mulroney’s political career and is supplemented with names, dates, and places to make it appear credible. Excerpts from Mulroney’s memoir are contrasted with the facts of real life to reach greater effect. Pictures of Brian Mulroney with Karlheinz Schreiber and other lobbyists or political figures are presented.
However, it is important to keep in mind that while the facts presented may be true, interpretation of the facts matters a lot. A hint that the story is sensationalized can be found in the abundance of details describing the elements of lifestyle of ‘the rich and famous,’ for instance, the fact that the meeting took place at the Savoy hotel over the lunch consisting of salmon and capers. Furthermore, the former Prime Minister is accused not only of corruption but also lying to his readers in the memoir that was supposed to ‘set the record straight,’ as well as lying under oath in court.
In fact, cronyism and corruption has been always present among politicians; lobbyism is essentially about balancing on the verge of legal promotion of certain interests and crimes of bribery and fraud. Media, without being able to show genuine harms to the nation in the Airbus case, decided to focus on the figure of Karlheinz Schreiber, portrayed as the victim of betrayal by his powerful friends. Telling the story from such an angle was sure to make viewers associate themselves with other ‘small people’ that are manipulated and abused by their superiors. At the same time, Karlheinz Schreiber was wanted in Germany for a number of serious crimes, therefore such a sympathetic portrayal of his figure is another hint that the story is sensationalized.
For all these reasons, the story was doomed to attract public attention. The fact that was emphasized additionally was the success of Mulroney’s legal battle wit the government. A storm of indignation was sure to follow after the statement that Canadian taxpayers had to cover the costs of Mulroney’s cover-up public relations campaign. Yet there are many questions unanswered. In fact, the only reliable witness that testifies against Brian Mulroney is Karlheinz Schreiber – a man who might be desirous of getting even with Mulroney. As for the factual evidence, the Swiss account reading ‘Britain’ and potentially meaning ‘Brian’ has never been proven to be explicitly linked with the affairs of the former Prime Minister.
The statement that Mulroney haven’t solicited or received any money from Karlheinz Schreiber might have been just an attempt to save former Prime Minister’s public reputation. The only piece of evidence that could link the mysterious ‘Britain’ account to the ‘grease money’ of 300,000 dollars – the letter from the former PM asking to invent a possible cause the money were spent for and blatantly ignored by Schreiber – hasn’t been shown to the viewer. Provided all the facts from the story, is the interpretation offered by CBC the only one possible?
CBC News. (2007). ‘Brian Mulroney: The Unauthorized Chapter.’ Retrieved from www.cbc.ca/fifth/unauthorizedchapter