A eulogy for the Sun News Network.
Sun News is dead, and although we might mock the Ezra Levants and Michael Corens and other such types who now have to scurry to find another conservative cause to monetize, in some ways it’s almost a shame.
The network employed approximately 200 people, and most of those 200 people are not Ezra Levants and Michael Corens, who only have to stand up and shout something vaguely racist, and some right-wing media platform will give them some money. The Ezra Levants and Michael Corens of the world have learned that, regardless of the impact on the subjects they discuss, spreading poison can be very profitable, and by God have they got a lot of practice. The guy who was operating the camera that was on Ezra Levant, on the other hand? Nobody’s giving that guy money for being a cartoon villain any time soon.
The writing was on the wall for Sun News more or less from the beginning. Although early on the network tried to brag about its ratings (at a time when CBC News had about 14 viewers for every one of Sun’s—and this was when Sun News was being heavily promoted and had novelty on its side), the truth is that practically nobody watched Sun News. In 2013, the news channel nobody watched actually tried to get the CRTC to force cable carriers to give it a basic cable spot, because if you’re an irony-free pro-free-market news channel, of course you run to the government like a mewling baby. At that time, they were forced to disclose that their average viewership was approximately 8,000 people at any given time despite a reach of over five million households in Canada. More Canadians watched CTV News Channel than Sun News. More Canadians watched CNN than Sun News. More Canadians probably watch the Golf Channel than Sun News.
It probably didn’t help that the target Sun News demographic meant they were in competition with the Golf Channel. Anybody who ever watched Sun News—most of us did it on a dare—quickly learned that the channel was supported by ads from As Seen On TV devices, reverse mortgage providers and the types of insurance providers who don’t mind if you’ve had a couple heart attacks.
Old people take what they can get when it comes to TV content, which explained both the 1980s-like video quality standards to which the network apparently adhered (seriously, we’ve seen old episodes of Just Like Mom on YouTube which look better than most Sun News shows), as well as the network’s choice of hosts during the eight hours of original programming the supposedly 24-hour news network aired every day. As a TV talking head Newstalk 1010’s Jerry Agar demonstrated that he made for an okay radio guy. Adrienne Batra was given a show on the network seemingly because she made headlines for being Rob Ford’s flack. Charles Adler was somehow deemed a ratings draw. And Michael Coren was Michael Coren, which is to say a character of biblical dimensions—but more the angry old testament kind.
And of course, there was Ezra Levant, who got Sun News in trouble numerous times because Ezra Levant is a pathetic excuse for a journalist, and just a generally lousy person. Most notably, in 2012, Levant went on a tear for almost 10 minutes complaining about how all Roma were criminals. That is in no way an exaggeration and it was not some side digression in a longer piece; Levant simply ranted about Roma being thieves and didn’t stop, because peddling hateful language is part of what makes Ezra who he is.
Sun News didn’t fire their top personality for that, or for any of his other reprehensible actions. Ezra Levant worked at Sun News right up until the network shuttered its doors, which says a lot about the values of the company. So while it’s a shame that 200 people—most of whom are decent and did not deserve this—are now unemployed, it’s not a shame that this crap-peddling network died as a result of Canada’s utter lack of interest in Fox News–style propagandism and an endless parade of middle-aged white mediocrities.
It is dead; let it rot.