CALGARY – An expert on media coverage and politics says there is no doubt in his mind that “Scud Stud” Arthur Kent was a rogue candidate during the 2008 Alberta election.
Greg Elmer, a professor of radio and television arts at Ryerson, was asked to write a report on behalf of Postmedia, the National Post and former columnist Don Martin accused in a defamation lawsuit filed by Kent.
Kent is angry over a column headlined “‘Scud Stud’ a ‘Dud’ on the Election Trail,” which portrayed him as an egocentric celebrity candidate who had created disarray within his own campaign be speaking out against his Progressive Conservative party.
Martin used unnamed party sources for the article and has acknowledged he didn’t contact the former television war correspondent directly for comment.
Elmer testified Tuesday that candidates who speak out against party leadership or policies are few and far between.
“A rogue candidate is rare in Canadian politics,” Elmer told court in Calgary.
“The press is always on the lookout for individuals who divert from that central message. They are often ones that generate movements behind them to oust leaders, to push parties in different ideological or public positions and they’re also interested in seeing how the leadership of these parties react to these kind of things.”
Elmer said the scrutiny gets even more intense if the rogue happens to be a star candidate.
He noted Kent, who was known for his time reporting on the first Gulf War for NBC, had no hesitation speaking to the media or publicly questioning the Tories’ plans for a royalty review.
“I think its fairly obvious Mr. Kent frequently offered comments to the press and repeated those comments criticizing the party.”
Elmer said rogue candidates are often criticized because when individuals join a political party, particularly with the aim of being elected, they agree to put aside any “public dissent” during general elections.
A former vice-president of audience and analytics for Postmedia testified there were a number of reports compiled that tracked the Martin article by views on various Postmedia websites.
Jeffrey Clark said Postmedia gets millions of page views each year and the information took months to compile
Clark said there were 6,074 views of the Martin article from 2008 to 2012, including 3,083 immediately after the column was published.
Kent’s lawyer questioned the methodology used in obtaining the data, noting that it didn’t track variations of the column that might have existed.
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