To paraphrase a famous American: I knew Mike Duffy, Senator, and you’re no Mike Duffy.

I couldn’t help thinking that as I read Halifax Metro’s account this week of Duffy’s inane, ill-tempered and spectacularly ill-informed rant about the King’s College Journalism School to 60 Cumberland County Conservatives. Full disclosure: I teach at King’s.

“Kids who go to King’s, or the other (journalism) schools across the country, are taught from two main texts,” Duffy huffed. Those texts are Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent and some other unnamed tome on the “theory of critical thinking,” which, to Duffy, appears to mean subversive.

“When you put critical thinking together with Noam Chomsky,” Duffy puffed, “what you’ve got is a group of people who are taught from the ages of 18, 19 and 20, that what we stand for, private enterprise … is bad.”

Uh… Earth to Mike: Noam is not on the curriculum at King’s. And critical thinking? What were you thinking? What were you drinking?

“When I went to the school of hard knocks,” Duffy explained, taking refuge in the last refuge of any guy who is long past his best-before date, “we were told to be fair and balanced. That school doesn’t exist any more.”

Yes it does, Mike. It’s called journalism school. We still teach that fair-and-balanced mantra your soft Senate sinecure has long since hard-knocked out of whatever was left of your own critical thinking. Only we do it far better now.

Trust me on that. I may teach in what you consider an effete journalism school, but I learned my trade in the same hit-and-miss school of hard knocks you did.

The irony — worth remembering if only for the sake of nostalgia — is that Mike Duffy was once a very good reporter. When I was a junior journalist at CJCH Radio in Halifax in the early ’70s, Duffy was a star at CHNS, our bitter cross-town rival. He was energetic, driven. His skepticism about everyone and everything — call it critical thinking — made him an equal-opportunity skewerer of all he encountered. Fair and balanced?

Somewhere along the line, however, Duffy gave up thinking, let alone critically. He even used his last journalistic bully pulpit at CTV to brazenly audition for the ultra-soft-knock job of Tory Senator. By the time he’d officially become a wind-up toy for Stephen Harper, he’d long since become a parody of the journalist he once was. Pity.

I knew Mike Duffy, and you, Senator, are no Mike Duffy.

– Stephen Kimber, the Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism at the University of Kings College, is the author of eight books.

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