Who calls the shots at Sun News?

This week Sun News ran a deeply racist story that accused Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau of pandering to terrorists because he visited a mosque in his riding. The story was a vehicle to let a Sun personality and the Prime Minister’s Office tee off against Trudeau. Worse, it’s clearly written for people who equate Islam with terrorism.

This blog post isn’t about the story, though. Jonathan Kay at the National Post already did a solid job showing why it’s bullshit. Glen McGregor at the Ottawa Citizen writes about how federal cabinet ministers are getting involved in the smear.

No, this post is to give a bit of insight into how Sun works. To be sure, Sun is openly pro-Conservative and the organization has its true believers.

Then it’s got people like, say, David Akin who are there not for ideological reasons but because they’re reporters and Sun is the one who happens to be paying them. Jessica Hume, who wrote the Trudeau mosque story, is in this camp. To the best of my knowledge she really is a reporter, not a partisan.

So how does she end up writing a hatchet job like the mosque story? My understanding is that for Sun reporters it’s not uncommon for these assignments to come right from the top. I haven’t spoken to Hume about this piece so I’m admittedly speculating here, but it’s not uncommon that one of the network’s many talking heads like Ezra Levant comes up with a political attack and then some poor Sun reporter gets assigned to cover it.

The Sun brain trust is apparently made up by three key people. They are:

Kory Teneycke – This is the name everyone knows. Teneycke is a former director of communications for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Sun TV is said to be his brainchild. He’s the big boss there.

Matt Wolf – Sun’s executive producer of primetime programming. From 2008 to 2010 he served as issues advisor in the office of… Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Dennis Matthews – The director of marketing and brand development at Sun. From 2006 to 2010 he served as manager of advertising and staff director for, you guessed it, Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Before that he worked for Conservative MP Rona Ambrose and Harper again during his opposition days.

That’s three former Harper staffers running the network. now when you start to see blatant Conservative propaganda from Sun like this…

Sun graphic

…it makes more sense. It’s a shame. Sun does have its share of legitimately good reporters who want to do real journalism. But they’re continually undermined by the guys at the top shilling for their former boss.

I guess there’s a market for that. But given the rolling layoffs at Sun papers and the chronically dismal ratings of Sun TV, you’d think after a while they’d get the partisans to lay off and let the reporters do their thing.