The above headline might seem odd coming from a right-leaning libertarian website, but I assure you it isn't.
Rebel Media is on a fundraising kick this holiday season, hoping to be the Breitbart News of the north. But they can never be Breitbart News for one fundamental reason, they are not a truly independent media outlet like Breitbart.
Media in Canada (and yes I'm speaking from firsthand experience) is about as corrupt as it gets. In print media four major companies control just about everything, and to make matters worse, they don't compete against each other, they illegally collude to secure monopoly markets for themselves.
And on top of that, they are inter-owned. Of the four print media companies, Glacier Media, Black Press, Torstar and Post Media, Post Media owns (approximately) 15 percent of Glacier, and Torstar owns 15 percent of Black Press.
Now you might think the two inter-owned entities would at least compete against each other, but you'd be wrong. Glacier Media goes so far as to let Black Press use its content, that's a long way from the romanticized world of dog eat dog reporters in the play/movie 'The Front Page,' doing whatever it takes to scoop their competitors. That was never really part of Canada's newspaper history, but certainly it's more true now than ever.
But far worse than the homogeneous nature of print media in Canada, is the openly illegal dealings of the companies themselves. For example: In B.C Glacier Media closed its daily newspaper in Kamloops, to give Black Press a monopoly there. In return a few hundred miles north, in a similarly sized city, Black Press sells its Prince George Free Press twice-weekly to Glacier (where they already owned the daily) giving Glacier the monopoly there.
That's but one example, and the blatant (and let me restate, illegal) collusion goes on, with government of all stripes turning a blind eye.
So what does this all have to do with Rebel Media you probably ask? Well, let me tell you. Ezra Levant, the founder of Rebel Media (and the one leading the fundraising charge) started his career with close ties to Glacier Media, and considering the extreme clubbiness of Canadian media, it's highly unlikely he ever broke them. In fact, as I've experienced first hand, one does not advance in the Canadian media landscape unless one plays ball with all concerned corporate entities, which, as I've outlined above, are closely connected.
And that includes Ezra's defunct Western Standard Magazine (which, full disclosure, I used to write for). So once again I know, media in all forms in Canada are in some way linked, and when when push comes to shove no one upsets the apple cart.
Another reason not to support Rebel Media is the massive hypocrisy of Levant. He purports to be a free market champion, and never misses a chance to criticize the tax-payer funded CBC, yet took millions in government grants himself. Levant's other bugbear, is the so-called "Media Party" but he, for the reasons outline above, is very much a part of the Media Party.
In the past ten years as independent newspapers have been bought out or quashed (as was mine) Levant has flourished, despite the failures of the projects he's been involved with, the Western Standard, Sun News and going way back, the Alberta Report, which is where he made his Glacier Media contacts.
Now he's at the helm of Rebel Media, who claim they are 100 percent crowdfunded. Really? A Kickstarter campaign paid for a studio, and the salaries of over a dozen employees and the funding to fly reporters all over the world?
No, clearly they have other funding, and it's not oil companies, as CANADALAND podcaster Jesse Brown likes to claim. Ezra's funding, is likely the same source it's always been, his friends at corporate media.
But so what? You might ask, you don't care where the funding comes from, it's the content. Now don't get me wrong, as the Rebel is now (mostly) we are in agreement politically and philosophically. However there will come a time when neophyte journalists like Lauren Southern and Shiela Gunn Reid will discover their content is perhaps a little too raw for the Rebel, and requires some editing, and before long stories are spiked altogether, so as not to upset corporate sponsors (whose only concern is the bottom line, again, I speak from firsthand experience.)
You might have noticed that lately the Rebel has been challenging the CBC's foray into online editorials, under the guise that the taxpayer funded CBC is undermining private enterprise. Those would be the poor media giants that Levant and the rest of Rebel and co. never inform you also receive millions in direct taxpayer subsidies. Why would Rebel make saving other media companies one of their crusades? They'll say they just don't want state media to run roughshod over private media. Except these same media companies, as we've noted, collude openly, and receive government subsidies, all information you won't get from Rebel Media. The sort of government/corporate corruption that the late Andrew Breitbart railed against.
To the experienced eye, it would seem that Levant, as part of the Media Party, wants to position Rebel as the monopoly source for alternative, right leaning news in Canada, with the blessing of his corporate masters and friends. They've watched Breitbart News upset the apple cart down south, and if there's one thing the media does well in Canada it's protect their markets (it helps when you can be openly corrupt and receive government funding). They will support Levant and Rebel Media in order to have control of, and a monopoly on the sort of news and information Breitbart supplies.
But corporate media won't tolerate anything, or anyone who rocks the boat. They can let Levant and his inexperienced, but passionate reporters have their fun and deliver eyeballs, but eventually (not to beat a dead horse but... long experience) when they have their firmly established market share, the content will become very watered down, and yes, eventually, censored.
Some of you may remember when the National Post was going to shake up the Canadian media establishment, and it did for about two years, now it's somewhere to the left of the Globe and Mail.
And what will happen to those inexperienced, yet passionate reporters? You might say that when faced with censorship, and the complete destruction of their faith in a media company they helped build they will depart en mass.
Except they won't, because if they do, they'll find themselves viciously slandered and blacklisted, so after committing years to the Rebel Media project they can either mutiny when they discover they're part of the media Goliath, and face unemployment, or just take a paycheque and go along to get along, like the rest of Canadian media, very likely it will be the latter.
So, as the headline reads, don't support Rebel Media, don't let the hypocrite Levant and his masters take over alternative media. if the Rebel fails, or if they at least are underfunded enough that they can't dominate, then real alternative media can flourish. Then perhaps Lauren Southern and others can eventually establish their own competing media outlets (which, take my advice, they should while they can).