rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

With Margaret Atwood farce, National Post explodes in its own face

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Image: Twitter/@MargaretAtwood

Like this article? Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Here's the Canadaland expose of this unprofessional, clownish farce.

In brief, a noted Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, submitted a piece to the National Post, a satirical piece about the role of hair in the current election campaign. A couple of minor changes were suggested, and agreed to.

The article appeared, after nine days. Then it was yanked. Then it reappeared, in redacted form. The author had not been consulted.*

Various National Post people issued statements. "The column was taken down because the necessary fact checking had not been completed...Senior editorial leadership at Postmedia also had not concluded whether the column was aligned with the values of the National Post and its readers," said Senior Vice-President Gerry Nott.

The National Post's Editor-in-Chief, Anne Marie Owens, said: "The decision was made to pull the column to sort out various fact checking and fit issues. Once that was sorted, we reposted the column and published it in the paper. These kinds of internal debates occur in newsrooms all the time -- they just don't usually involve a world famous author."

There are all kinds of wrong here, and I'm not referring to the statements, which appear to be covering up the truth -- namely, that management intervened directly to force changes, over the heads of the editorial staff, including Andrew Coyne, who signed off on the original.

The Post hadn't completed the fact-checking of a minor satirical piece in nine days? Seriously? And, when all was said and done, what, precisely, was non-factual about the redacted portions of the column?

Then this overripe plum: Atwood's column wasn't "aligned with the values of the National Post and its readers."

Good grief.

A disclosure: I have had more than two dozen articles published by the National Post, never with a delay of anything like nine days. Suggestions for changes have always been made quickly, and in the spirit of negotiation: I would agree to some, disagree with others, and where there was disagreement, my original wording appeared. On occasion, my editor asked if he could do some minor tinkering: because he's good at his job, I went along.

Put succinctly, my material is usually not aligned with the values of the National Post and (judging from the comment threads) its readers.

I have had the occasional column rejected. I have never had a column pulled.

Had the Post just run Atwood's article as it was, it would have been read, chuckled over by some, excoriated in the comments section by others, and in a day or two no one would have remembered. Something about hair. Political leaders.

Instead, with all the aplomb of Larry, Curly and Moe, the powers that be over at the Post have made themselves the story. It's a story even sillier, in its cack-handed ineptitude, than Globe and Mail Editor-in-Chief David Walmsley's re-writing of a pro-Wynne editorial to endorse Tim Hudak for premier of Ontario. Remember that?

I wonder if Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey had any hand in this farce: the person who had no problem with a grotesquely racist "yellow peril"-type cartoon appearing in the Toronto Sun last Fall, finding it perfectly acceptable.

If so, at least he's being consistent. This vicious caricature -- again judging from the majority of comments in that neck of the woods -- was certainly consonant with the values of Toronto Sun readers.

I'm not particularly surprised that the Conservative/conservative party line can be enforced with TASS-like ruthlessness and efficiency by corporate media overlords. It's what we on the left have been saying for years, pointing, for example, to the overwhelming editorial support for Harper during the last election.

It's just the stunning incompetence in the instant case, the egregious carelessness of it all, as though the overlords in question don't even have to pretend any more. Perhaps they don't.

* Here's the original uncut version. I had mistakenly thought that Jon Kay's republication at The Walrus reproduced the original, but some content had been redacted. Here's the current Post version.


Image: Twitter/@MargaretAtwood

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.