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Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 19th position [post 10 of 11] (#265)

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We’ve arrived at the 19th spot in this series which looks at the 20 most trusted individuals in Québec.   These rankings came from an Ipsos Reid poll of people across the province.  Lets now look at the last two spots on this list of the top 20.

This particular post was supposed to be the last post in the series (10-post series)… but I used up so much of the room’s oxygen from all my huffing and puffing from typing so much about Anne-Marie Dussault, that there was no time for me to make this the last post in the series.

Thus there will be one last post after this one.   Let us now get right into this next post!

#19  Anne-Marie Dussault

Of all the people on this list, Anne-Marie Dussault is the one who I’ve dreaded the most to write about.  The reason is actually quite simple:  I simply do not know what to make of both Dussault, or her show 24/60.

I’m going to get something off my chest before I go into why I believe Anne-Marie Dussault is one of Québec’s most trusted individuals (et ça je dis avec une pince sans rire). 

This is going to be a completely subjective opinion piece… I have a couple of friends who completely disagree with me — so let it be known upfront that I certainly do not have the monopoly on opinions here … and you are free to watch 24/60 to form your own opinions.

I also say the following while fully recognizing, that Anne-Marie Dusseault knows her subjects, quite often formulates excellent questions, and works for an organization (Radio-Canada) which I feel normally does an very good, professional job.

My beef rather is with the format and the direction her show, 24/60, has taken.

24/60 airs on the 24-hour news channel, RDI.   It is a dinner-time talk show.   The show has a format very similar to Larry King’s old show.  In this sense, Anne-Marie Dussault could be considered Québec’s Larry King.

I’ve mentioned 24/60 and Anne-Marie Dussault a number of times throughout this blog… I even did a post on what I thought was one of her train-wrecks of an interview (although a couple of my friends chewed me out in private after writing that post, since it was their belief that I missed the point of the interview entirely – and they love Anne-Marie Dussault).  Regardless, I still stand by that post, which you can read by clicking HERE.   Thus, if I’m going to continue to mention 24/60 in this blog… I might as well let it all out with how I feel about the direction Anne-Marie Dussault has taken her show.

I watch her show quite often.  It comes on TV when I get home from work, and I often watch it as I’m doing stuff around the kitchen.   The fact that I watch the show demonstrates that I value the show’s overall societal contribution.   But I still can never quite shake the feeling that the show makes me uneasy.   I feel it misleads the public into a false sense that they’re their receiving the “full-picture”, whereas I believe it gives only half the picture (if even that).

Actually, I think I just hit the nail on the head when I said the show gives me a feeling of “uneasiness”.  You’ll note that I chose to say that Dussault is Québec’s Larry King, and I did not chose to say Montréwood’s Larry King.  There is a difference between saying “Québec” and “Montréwood”, and it’s all in the nuances.

If I chose to use “Montréwood” as an adjective (ie:  Montréwood music, Montréwood movies, Montréwood Television, Montréwood radio, etc.), then it is Francophone culture which is open, inclusive, and available to anyone who also shares that same culture (or to anyone who at least integrates a large part of that culture into their daily lives).  It doesn’t matter if the person lives in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Québec, or Nova Scotia.  It is a bit of everyone’s culture – and it’s something all of us can be proud of.  I can use Hollywood culture as a parallel analogy.   It would be wrong to say that Hollywood culture belongs to only those who live in California.  It belongs to people living in Washington, Florida, Vermont, and Missouri.

But if I chose to use “Québec” as an adjective to describe something cultural, such as a Québec TV program (such as my description of Anne-Marie Dussealt as being Québec’s Larry King)… it means that I feel there has been a wall erected between whatever it is which is being discussed by Dussault , and the rest of the country.   It makes me uneasy… especially as someone who lives a big chunk of his life in French outside of Québec.  This has been the topic of conversation among a few other people I know here in Ontario (both Francophone and Anglophone;  all who share French as the common denominator in their daily lives and) – and they too also share the same sense of unease regarding Anne-Marie Dussault and her show, 24/60.

First of all, her show is presented and advertised to us as supposedly being an objective interview program.   Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that it is an opinion-maker columnist-styled program (read the next post on Richard Martineau to understand the difference).

That is my #1, main beef.   I would not have a single problem with the show if it were promoted as an opinion-maker, subjective, and columnist-driven program.  But it is not.  You can’t say you’re one thing, and then act as if you’re another.   Ironically… I likely would give her show raving reviews if those behind it simply faced up and said very loud, very clear that they are an opinion-maker columnist-styled program.

But the rest of my critique will be from the stand-point of critiquing a program which purports to be objective.  Buckle your seat-belts… because I have a lot to say, considering they (and the CBC/Rad-Can ombudsman) claim the show is supposed to be “objective”.

Her show airs on a national (pan-Canadian) network, for which we all have in interest, investment and certain expectations (RDI belongs to Radio-Canada, and is one of “our” public broadcasters).

Yet this show is 99.99% Québec-centric (even when it discusses “national” or “federal” issues, it only presents the arguments from a Québec-centric point of view).   Regardless if you are living in Whitehorse, Yukon (which, by the way, is over 25% Francophone and Francophile), or a 50 minute drive away from downtown Montréal, just on the other side of the Québec/Ontario border, you get the sense that this show doesn’t give a beep about you (purposely, might I add), unless you physically reside in Québec – or are Québécois de souche.  Anyone else with an interest in this show might as well not even exist (so much for our caring “national” host with the most).

You can’t help that this show deliberately wants to erect walls, that it deliberately choses lines of questioning and topics which accentuate the notions of the Two Solitudes (including the pan-Canadian Francophone-to-Francophone Two Solitudes, as well as Anglophone/Francophone Two Solitudes, and Québec/Canada Two Solitudes). 

You wonder if Dussault wishes to send a message which says “there’s us, and there’s you, and we don’t give a rat’s-ass about you”.   Seriously…  If that’s the case, it’s just not right.   Imagine if one of Hollywood’s highest rated “national” talk shows refused to relate to the rest of the USA, or refused to point out the importance of anything unless it happened in California?!!  In other words, unless it were California related, then it is not worth two cents.  Do you think that CBS, ABC, NBC, or PBS would dare to format one of their national programs in such a manner?   That’s the situation we’re seeing with the direction Dussault and her team have taken with 24/60.  (And don’t think that I give a free-pass to certain CBC programs either… they have programs which are just as guilty of this – and which fail to live up to its national mandate).

I don’t have many beefs about Radio-Canada.  I’m a huge supporter and friend of Radio-Canada.  I greatly appreciate its dedicated, hardworking, and well-intentioned employees.   Radio-Canada is an essential and commendable institution.  But this is one of the very few shows which I feel has gone off the rails.

But hey, if I have pegged this show wrong… then someone from Radio-Canada, please, by all means, post a comment and tell me I’m wrong (I saying this while “knowing” that there are people within Radio-Canada who are reading this blog).  Thus, I’d be more than happy to “publicly” receive a rebuttal from Radio-Canada insiders – even if it’s done anonymously.

I’d only ask that the 24/60 Robert Latimer interview in Vancouver not be used (again) as an example of the show’s “openness”   After all, Latimer obviously felt lost by Mme. Dussault’s lines of questioning during the sit-down interview in Vancouver.  She kept drilling him about “Québec” and “Québec’s deepest political inner-workings”, and how it pertained to the right-to-die debate.  Robert Latimer had never even once set foot in Québec (he went from living his whole life in Saskatchewan, to going to prison, to being released in Vancouver).  Thus it left him speechless about how to answer Dussault’s questions (just as someone from Manitoba wouldn’t be able to comment on the inner workings of the Newfoundland government).  Not only was Latimer left speechless, the rest of us were left speechless that Dussault would even formulate her questions to him in such an insensitive manner.

I just find it ironic that for a show which is supposed to be non-biased, with a goal of putting things into “overall context”, that it seems that guests who have an interest in Canada’s welfare (and its overall citizen’s welfare) seem to be the ones who are taken to task the most.  Read into that what you will

It’s unfortunate, because Anne-Marie Dussault can otherwise be a very good interviewer.

What I find even more ironic (and just plain weird) is that I see sovereignists complain about a bias against them (accusing Dussault of being Federalist with a chip on her shoulder against them), and then I see Federalists complaining about a bias against them (but this time, accusing Dussault of being sovereignist with a chip on her shoulder against them).   So I (and many others) are left to wonder what the heck?!   That in itself shows that Dussault’s program is flawed — nobody should be complaining along these lines.

Can’t the show just balance everything out – and put the issues in an overall provincial, national, and international context??   Then nobody would care if she’s left, right, sovereignist, federalist, blue, green, fluffy, bumpy, plump, thin, tall, short, yummy, sour, a fashion wreck or a fashionista.

RDI’s other two flagship shows do a commendable job.  Therefore what is holding 24/60 back from doing a better job?  RDI’s Le Club des ex” (with Durivage at the helm) gets rave reviews from everyone (it’s no wonder that it’s RDI’s highest rated program).

Over the past year, even RDI Économie has done a very commendable job of adding greater local, national and international perspective and context to the issues being discussed.   I’ve noticed a significant difference in how Gérald Fillion of RDI Économie has re-balanced his show and how it presents its stories in a more provincial, national, and international context.   Hats off to that program as well.

Radio-Canada has many other examples of well-balanced, probing programs.  Just because you touch upon sensitive subjects does not mean that you cannot lose objectivity.  An excellent example of a program which definitely does things right is Faut pas croire tout ce qu’on dit – and it is only one of many.  It touches upon many of the same subjects 24/60 does, but the difference is night and day.

So what is Anne-Marie Dussault and 24/60 waiting for?!?   Her colleagues at RDI and elsewhere in the network are leaving her behind in their dust!

What’s even more unfortunate is that I think I agree with a good number of Dussault’s viewpoints… and thus I am not saying any of this from the standpoint of being an ideological enemy towards Anne-Marie Dussault .   She just is unbalanced in how she presents her program which many people depend upon to help them shape their views of the world.  People are being mislead into believing that the views being presented to them are objective (that’s scary!).

Perhaps I should just lighten up a bit with respect to Mme. Dussault, and just laugh.  Here’s a funny clip… and if you’ve been following this blog, this clip mentions many people who have been the subject of previous posts over the last few months.

Good… now that I got that off my chest, I’ll get back to the bit where I’m supposed to be objective. 😉

Every evening (Monday to Friday), at 7pm, Anne-Marie Dussault invites Québec-related newsmaker guests or current-events experts to her show to talk about the major events of the day.

As the host of 24/60, Anne-Marie Dussault demonstrates a deep knowledge of local Québec-related subjects of the day.

She brings years of accumulated knowledge to the table, and she is able to pose probing questions which can lead her interviewees down a path they may not otherwise feel comfortable talking about.   I suppose that’s the value of her program.

Dussault chooses what guests she will invite, how far she will push her guests, and which guests she will push harder (and guest she will not push as hard).

I guess there is a good chunk of people out there trust her for that.

I watch her show.

I have nothing else to say about her.

Moving on…

The next post will be with respect to our last person in the list of the top 20 most trusted individuals in Québec.

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