Was Ezra Levant just a personality at Sun News Network or was he bigger than the brand?
While Sun News Network is off the airwaves, the shocking and controversial television personality sure knew how to rally public interest, both positive and negative.
Levant’s latest venture, The Rebel, an online video outlet filled with many familiar Sun News Network personalities, is the new home for Levant’s unique style of commentary.
This interview with Levant was conducted roughly four months before the demise of Sun News Network.
Levant understands the media business and how to capture an audience and isn’t shy to speak directly about the industry.
“In television I have to appeal to the medium. Anyone who wants to attract an audience, anyone who is in the marketing business, that’s what you’re trying to do, you’re trying to get more people to watch than less. I believe that making things fun, or entertaining, dramatic can help teach a lesson,” he said.
When asked about his role in Canadian media, Levant explained his role was to be divisive.
“… there are some issues as well upon which we ought to be divided, because by nature, they’re divisive questions,” he said referencing Israel and Palestine, and abortion. “… so when people say ‘you’re divisive’ I say of course I am because I deal with divisive issues and I take a side.
I think that’s preferable. How can you be neutral on so many matters out there, so I don’t mind the fact I’m divisive, it’s on purpose.”
Regarding activist judges and judge-made law, Levant said: “Every controversial issue in this country will be decided by a vote, the only question is is it 35 million canadians at election time, is it 308 MPs in a parliamentary debate or is it 9 elite judges, unaccountable appointed for life essentially in a private Ottawa chamber of the court house. There will be a vote, the only question is who gets to decide.”
Unafraid to ruffle feathers, when asked about declining voter turnout, Levant replied that he thought declining turnout to be “enormously healthy, it’s a sign that people are not obsessed by politics.”
“The only people who bitch about turnout rates are politicians and the media class … because they think every normal canadian should be as obsessed with politics are they are … it’s a form of arrogance for those involved in the political class to think they’re so damned important that everyone else in the country has to drop what they’re doing to pay attention.”
“It’s only a solipsistic, self-centred naval gazing political class that insists, and I’m even going to go one step further, I do not want high voter turnout, because I don’t want people who don’t know or don’t care or can’t even name the issues or the politicians or the parties. I don’t want their uninformed low information vote to counter my vote,” he said.
“I’m happy they don’t vote, I’m not saying they shouldn’t have the right to vote, but I’m happy they’re too busy dating and getting high and listening to music and sloughing off to vote, aren’t you?”
When asked whether he is misinterpreted as a television personality, Levant answered no.
“I don’t think I’m necessarily misinterpreted, I think that a lot of them just disagree with me, they interpret me just right, they get my number just right, and their response to me is thoughtful,” he said. “… I don’t think the opposition against me is ill informed, I think its very well informed.”
“If you didn’t care about what someone was doing, if you thought someone was ineffective, you probably wouldn’t be following them on Twitter and heckling them day after day. I think people oppose me for the right reasons.”
Levant has always been an outspoken critic of antisemitism, and when asked whether he thought antisemitism was prevalent in Canada and on the rise, Levant responded that he’s sees it throughout society imported from Middle East countries.
“… I think in the last 10 years there has been an increase in antisemitism largely from immigrants from anti semitic countries. There are countries that are overwhelmingly antisemitic … even though many of them are practically Jew-free, they hate Jews … when you import hundreds of thousands of immigrants from those countries, some of them lose that antisemitism and other medieval thinking when they come to Canada, but some don’t, some of them still believe it.”
“I don’t think its controversial to say that a majority of antisemitism in Canada today are new immigrants from Arab and Muslim countries that have imported their ancient hatred with them. And i’m not saying we should say no to immigration from Arab or Muslim countries … but we have to inculcate liberal Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance and rule of law and peaceful settlement of our differences … we need to do a better job of acculturating our immigrants, but frankly I think screening the worst of the bigots out.”
Levant also noted what he sees as a similarity between himself and Jon Stewart, namely, that they both serve a similar role.
“Jon Stewart on the Daily Show … is a political commentator who dresses up what he does as a comedy show, but make no mistake about it, he is a liberal political pundit with a sense of humour and a bunch of comedy writers, but because he’s so good at entertainment and humour, his politics is delivered so effectively and so widely to people who otherwise wouldn’t give him the time of day.”
“If Jon Stewart simply sounded like another haranguing left wing politician, he wouldn’t have the viewership he does. I’m not saying I’m like him, I’m just saying understand that when you are in the media business, you are in the media business.”
“I don’t think anyone on the TV is exactly the same in their private life, that would be weird.”
This interview first appeared on The Windsor Independent: http://windsorindependent.com/ezra-levant-controversy-and-the-sun/