Prime Minister Cumberland’s Funeral

It’s a popular game amongst the employees of Canada’s Dominion News Network, or DNN for short.  What would you do if you didn’t care about your career anymore?  Reporters, producers, camera operators, writers, editors, administrative staff…they all have their fantasies, the bulk of which consist of running through the newsroom naked, showing up only when they felt like it, and giving the jerk sitting in the anchor chair the same superior attitude that he’s been dealing them for the past twenty-five years.

No one has ever asked William Swanson to join in the game, likely because he’s the aforementioned jerk who sits in the anchor chair.  William Swanson really isn’t a jerk.  Well, there are moments when he acts like one, but don’t we all at times?  The staff just think he’s one because he demands the very best from his colleagues.  After all, they’re not the ones the viewing public will think is an idiot if something goes wrong during a broadcast.  No one ever says, “Did you see how dark that shot was?  Larry Smith is the worst cameraman ever!”  People don’t even know that Larry exists.  All they see is William Swanson, so as far as everyone is concerned he’s the only one who works there.  If there’s a mistake then it must be his fault.

It’s a shame that William has never been asked to play the game because his ‘I don’t care about my career anymore fantasy’ far outshines them all.  William Swanson – award winning anchor, survivor of countless trips to various warzones, natural disaster areas, and threats from the shady companies that he has exposed – would go off script and tell people what he truly thought.  Journalists aren’t supposed to interject their beliefs into stories, but people aren’t supposed to exceed their daily quotient of sodium either and that goes on all the time, so why now give neutrality the middle finger on your final broadcast and do something truly epic?

William Swanson’s final broadcast would be the day of former Prime Minister Edward Cumberland’s funeral.  The old guy has to die sometime and William has been looking forward to the day ever since the idiot lost his final election ten years ago.

Every dead Prime Minister’s funeral is the same.  Members of the party he represented during his time in office will show up trying to look sad, when really they’re delighted that his death has sparked renewed interest in the party.  Members of the opposition party who criticized him while he ruled will magically find something positive to say about the man who was once their sworn enemy.  The citizens who voted against him all those years ago will say that it’s a shame he’s gone.  You don’t speak ill of the dead, that’s the rule.  However, rules are made to be broken; especially by those who no longer care about their career.

The night before the funeral, William would go through his fake plans for the next day’s broadcast with his crew.  “We’ll say a nice thing here, a nice thing there,  and then show a picture of him playing with his kids when they were younger.  People will be weeping by the time we’re through.”  His real plan, though, would garner more of a “WTF?!” reaction.

“Remember the time lead us into a war that didn’t need to be fought?” was how he would kick off the coverage.  “How many soldiers died in that conflict?  Six thousand?  Plus we can’t forget the civilian casualties.  Whew, what a mess!”

His crew would be stunned into silence, which would give him the fuel he needed to go into his next tirade.

“Then there was the time he ruined the economy.  He and his cronies retired rich, but it took the rest of us ten years to recover.  And don’t get me started on all the extramarital affairs he had.  Where did he find the time and energy?  Although I suppose I should give him props on that last thing.  I’m lucky if I have enough energy left to make dinner after working all day.”

At this point, those back at the studio would be debating whether or not to cut off his mike under some false pretense of technical difficulties, so he would have to be quick if he wanted to make his final point.

“Oh, then there was the time he had to go to rehab for his drinking problem, but we told everyone he was taking time off to be treated for cancer because he had threatened to cut our funding if we told the truth.  Now we’re supposed to go on and on about what a great leader he was when we all know he was about as well loved as a bottle of skunk scented perfume.”

He knows that some members of the public would be outraged if he ever did say such disrespectful, albeit, truthful, things.  However, he does like to think that others would see him as some sort of folk hero.  He’ll likely never know because William Swanson has another ten years to go before he’s eligible for a full pension and that old bastard, Edward Cumberland, is just spiteful enough to live eleven more years.


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