She says though, she's had to watch her words before. She did a radio talk show for several years, but resigned and later said radio station management wouldn't allow her to speak her mind.
Last week she said COVID will be handled much differently by her government. If you're surprised about the "pivot" she announced, you didn't listen to her talk show.
The Talk Show
In the fall of 2020, I listened to Danielle Smith doing her talk show fairly often. Although I live in Edmonton, 630 CHED had just fired Ryan Jespersen and decided to air Danielle Smith’s show across the province from CHED’s sister station in Calgary, 770 CHQR.
The hot topic on most of her shows was COVID and as I listened to Smith, it became apparent she was against the way the government of Jason Kenney was handling the COVID issue. She politely spoke against mandatory vaccinations and public health restrictions brought in by the government to combat COVID. Increasingly, she talked about the freedoms that had been taken away and wondered how much longer Albertans would tolerate it.
I also noticed how she often stopped short of making her real viewpoints known. Rather than making statements, she asked questions, like the one above about freedoms and Albertans. It was as if she had something she wanted to say, but for some reason stopped just before she did. Sometimes I noticed she would work her way towards a point about COVID and then go to a commercial break.
When she resigned from her talk show job in January of 2021, she wrote a blog that talked about her reasons for leaving. She talked about the mob of political correctness that thinks nothing of destroying a person’s career and reputation. She wrote “I haven’t slept through the night in nearly a year because of the question: did I say anything today that would incite the mob?”
I’ll never forget her last show the following month when one of her guests was Premier Kenney. The gloves were off now. She literally attacked him for the decisions made on COVID. Frankly it was awkward and embarrassing to hear a radio talk show host be so aggressive on the air. I felt sorry for Kenney. Smith was making her views known in a way that was uncomfortable to listen to.
It was pretty clear the two didn’t like one another and developments during the leadership campaign and since that time have done nothing to dispel that idea.
I heard from someone close to the situation, many of the texts Smith received on the station’s text line were highly offensive and confrontational. Just like Kenney, she was getting it from both sides because of COVID, vaccinations and freedom. I was told those text messages would make almost anyone want to quit.
On September 1, as she was running for the UCP leadership, Smith sent a Tweet that said “Speaking out against lockdowns & vaccine mandates wasn’t always as popular as it is now. I know first hand because it ultimately cost me my job.” Another Tweet from her said she lost her radio job for “refusing to parrot the media line.”
What? Wait a minute. That’s much different than what Smith said when she announced her resignation.
I thought that was very interesting and I was disappointed the media didn’t follow up on her posts and statements. If she was told to tune down her anti-vaxx rhetoric by the radio station she worked for, that’s a news story in my opinion and needed proper coverage.
Unfortunately, with media outlets being as stretched as they are, I never saw management from 770 CHQR being asked whether what Smith said was accurate. I obviously didn’t expect anyone from Global (CHQR’s parent company) to be asking those questions, but thought the other TV stations or the newspapers would.
For whatever reasons were behind her decision to leave her radio show, my suspicion about the way she seemed to be reluctant to express her views was confirmed. I’m sure some people will say she expressed too many opinions as it was, especially when she touted the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID treatment.
Remembering the way she went after Kenney during her final radio show, and bragged about it later on Twitter, we shouldn’t be surprised that Smith was preparing Albertans last week for a ‘pivot” in the way COVID is handled.
Her first two weeks in office should have taught her that comments made by politicians are taken very differently, depending on the position they hold. As a radio host, most of her comments didn’t raise many eyebrows. As somebody running tor the UCP leadership, it was the same. She was a politician and politicians say some strange things to get elected.
When she became Premier though it was different. Whether you agree with her comments, a Premier speaks for a province and her comments about discrimination and the war in Ukraine were taken much differently because she was now the Premier. If she thought she had to watch her words on radio before, she’s learning this will be even more important now.
An hour after she attacked Kenney on her final radio show in February 2021 she was an unemployed former talk show host and politician. A year and a half later she’s the Premier of Alberta.
That’s a pretty impressive comeback, especially since we thought her political days were over after the unsuccessful floor closing during the short Jim Prentice era many years before.
It’s going to be a bumpy next few months.
Image credit: 770 CHQR