If nothing else, Susan G. Cole, NOW‘s Senior Entertainment Editor, does live up to one part of her job title: she sure is entertaining.
Back in February, she wrote about how, if Slumdog Millionaire took home the Best Picture Oscar, it would be “the most violent film to do so ever,” which is just about the craziest thing we’ve ever heard. (So aghast were we that we wrote about it twice.) In May, Cole wrote an article slamming Ezra Levant for his fight over regulating offensive speech. Commenters accused Cole of Antisemitism for the Photoshopped picture of bills shoved into Levant’s mouth, but her piece was more accurately dismantled by those totally befuddled that a senior editor of any newspaper—particularly one that wears its political leanings on its sleeve—would advocate restricting speech simply because someone deemed that speech offensive. (In contrast, Eye‘s recent coverage of the Levant saga has been, without exception, excellent, and its stance on freedom of expression has been right on the money.) Last week, in the aftermath of Pride, Cole wrote an article about how nice it’d be if the parade was a little less inclusive, because straight people are such a buzzkill. Which is sort of offensive, though we’re holding off on making a Human Rights Commission complaint about it.
That’s nothing, though, compared to the last twenty-four hours. On Tuesday afternoon, the day after news broke that local radio legend Martin Streek had committed suicide, Cole wrote his obituary for NOW. Streek, Cole ended her article by saying, “had been trying to clean up over the past years—decades on the club scene had led to some dangerous excess. But he didn’t make it. Toronto’s lost a true original.”
Suggesting not only that Streek had an ongoing substance abuse problem (the obituary began by saying that he “always lived on the edge,” a bad pun about the station that Streek worked for), but that that substance abuse problem led directly to his death—both claims that, as far as we can tell, are close to the opposite of what was true—Cole has been raked over the coals by dozens and dozens of commenters, many of whom found their way to the article from a forum thread in the Facebook group devoted to Streek’s memory.
(Commenters were also initially angry about a mistake Cole made that we made too, incorrectly saying that Streek was born in 1952. Notably, Cole said Streek was “never happy to reveal his birth date,” when she almost certainly got his year of birth from either the joke bio on the Edge’s website that Streek himself wrote or Torontoist’s article, which was corrected and updated twelve hours before Cole’s article was published.)
What’s saddest, though, is that Cole’s obituary was, for the most part, reverential. Streek, she wrote, was “all music…and very little ego, which was what made him stand out.” She wrote about how “he loved his work, took it seriously and demonstrated zero attitude on the job.” But in writing, as in life, conclusions matter a great deal.