That's the adjective that best describes Saturday's Winnipeg Free Press.
It started the moment we physically picked up the newspaper and something dropped out.
It was an appeal from Siloam Mission for donations.
"A plate of Christmas cheer for someone who is hungry in Winnipeg's inner city...$2.58"
"We really need your help."
This out of a newspaper whose employees were just bragging about how they snagged 1500 pounds of prime minced pork out of the mouths of the poor and hungry? That government subsidized pork was always intended for food banks just like Siloam Mission.
Instead, striking Free Press employees greedily snatched it up the moment that someone they're still refusing to identify drove a pickup truck full of it to the picket line.
But it only got worse.
The next thing to see was a story about the Free Press annual Pennies From Heaven drive.
They stole thousands of dollars of food from the poor, and now they want to raise pennies for the same poor?
The story said the Free Press campaign is :
"to raise funds for two worthy causes: the Christmas Cheer Board and Winnipeg Harvest. "
Would that be the same Winnipeg Harvest whose pork was delivered by a mysterious source to the Free Press employees?
"The beauty of this campaign is everyone can participate. A child who finds a penny on the floor can contribute."
The story failed to mention how Free Press employees, celebrating their raises ranging up to $2000 a year, kickstarted the campaign with their own donations... Oh, maybe that's because they said they plan to donate the stolen pork in Christmas hampers.
Pardon us as we puke.
Further in the newspaper we found a story headlined "Humane society suffers financial hit." It told how the Winnipeg Humane Society has had to cut hours of operation and lay off staff because its annual campaign to raise operational funding has collected only $50,000, half of what it normally raises by this time of year.
A few pages further we hit a large ad from The Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It carried a picture of Arni Thorsteinson and Susan Glass wagging their fingers at "citizens of Manitoba and Saskatchewan" and challenging them to donate to the museum.
They promised to donate another $800,000 themselves as a "matching gift--dollar for dollar--for donations or pledges received between now and December 31, 2008."
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the Black Hole of Manitoba, sucking up millions of dollars (a quarter of a billion dollars-plus so far) in donations while smaller charities like the Humane Society are paying the price. The multi-millionaires think its fun to wag their fingers and play at fundraising for their pet projects as the little people worry about their lost pets.
Maybe one of those millionaires can cut out a fundraising gala or two and toss the Humane Society a bone and bail them out of their hole.
But then, the money-sucking museum is a pet project of Winnipeg Free Press owner Bob Silver who, with his partner Ron Stern, donated $500,000.
You want more?
Free Press columnist Gordon Sinclair confessed Saturday that there was a small problem with his story about the poor single mother who was desperate because she expected to be evicted the very next day for non-payment of two months rent. The problem was that it wasn't true.
The woman wasn't facing imminent eviction, as he wrote, which means the nearly $6000 in donations she received was nothing more than free money.
Sinclair found that out when he finally spoke to her landlord, something he neglected to do before writing his first story about the woman---or his second.
Damn. There's nothing that spoils a good sob-story faster than the facts.
The pathetic attempts by the Winnipeg Free Press to paint themselves as great humanitarians continue to ring hollow, and will until the day the employees come clean about the Picket Pork scandal.
Who delivered the food?
Where did it come from?
And, more importantly, why did the people who had good-paying jobs think it was a good thing to take the food that was clearly intended for the unfortunate?
P.S. Just when you think it can't get worse…
A new, and more stomach turning version of Picket Pork has turned up.
Blogger Jim Cotton writes about meeting Free Press reporter Mary Agnes Welch on Saturday and asking her about "Porkgate."
"She looked me in the eye and said no one wanted to touch it and the guy was forcing the Pork on them."
Yes, people, the good-folk at the Free Press were forced---forced, damn it---to take the pork intended for the poor. There, now you have it. The true story. Mark 6.
Cotton, coincidentally, was the citizen journalist who poked the biggest hole in Sinclair's rent-girl story. He spotted the happy woman, newly flush with thousands of dollars in donations, celebrating with drinks at a downtown bar and a shopping spree the next day at high-end Polo Park stores.
Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler.