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Rex Murphy, a Dominant Pundit on the Right in Canada, Dies at 77

Rex Murphy, a Dominant Pundit on the Right in Canada, Dies at 77


Rex Murphy, a Canadian newspaper, radio and tv commentator who delighted his nation’s conservatives with sharp assaults on environmentalists, liberal politicians and what he referred to as their “woke politics,” died on May 9 in Toronto. He was 77.

His demise, from most cancers, was introduced on the entrance web page of The National Post, the extensively learn day by day newspaper for which he wrote a column, certainly one of a number of he had over time in Canadian papers, together with The Globe and Mail in Toronto. His editor at The National Post, Kevin Libin, mentioned Mr. Murphy died in a hospital.

In his heyday, within the Nineteen Nineties, Mr. Murphy was the uncommon political commentator who commanded a national viewers, skewering Canada’s elites in addition to its generally fragile sense of nationhood. His roots in Newfoundland — Canada’s youngest province, and certainly one of its most rugged — knowledgeable a combative patriotism and an affinity for the nation’s working class.

For 21 years, from 1994 to 2015, he was the host of “Cross Country Checkup,” a preferred weekly call-in radio present aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He would hear patiently as cranky listeners aired their views, then delivered his personal again, pointedly. For a lot of that interval he gave a weekly phase of commentary on the CBC’s essential nightly TV information program, “The National.”

“For a really very long time, he was Canada’s premier provocateur,” mentioned Tim Powers, a good friend and former CBC colleague.

In a 1996 profile, the Canadian newsmagazine Maclean’s wrote of Mr. Murphy, “He has grow to be the unlikeliest of Canadian celebrities — a quirkily untelegenic presence who has defied the canons of standard programming knowledge to etch himself upon the nation’s consciousness.”

With his lengthy rolling sentences, regional accent and Rhodes scholar vocabulary, Mr. Murphy was one thing new in Canadian broadcast journalism.

He professed a modest view of his personal contribution. “You can type of stir the pot a tiny little bit, nevertheless it’s actually conversational stuff,” he informed a CBC interviewer in 1995.

His maintain on a conservative nationwide viewers was unquestioned, nonetheless. “In a rustic the place individuals are extra prone to take an ‘on the one hand, alternatively’ strategy,” Mr. Libin mentioned, “Rex did nothing of the type. He had full readability on what he meant to say.”

Mr. Murphy’s sharp political flip to the correct — from commenting for centrist shops just like the CBC and The Globe and Mail, the place he had an everyday column till 2010, to the right-wing views he espoused at The National Post — had its roots in his personal working-class background, within the view of those that knew him.

The National Post, based by the media mogul Conrad Black — who was convicted of fraud within the United States in 2007 and pardoned in 2019 by President Donald J. Trump, about whom Mr. Black had written admiringly — turned out to be a congenial discussion board for Mr. Murphy.

He echoed, as an illustration, the usual U.S. conservative media defenses of Mr. Trump. The actual story, he asserted in a 2021 column, “was the F.B.I. management making an attempt to arrange Trump by utilizing the now notorious Steele file,” a reference to the fabric compiled by the previous British spy Christopher Steele detailing unproved claims of hyperlinks between Mr. Trump and Russia.

Mr. Murphy’s rightward journey could possibly be traced by means of his commentaries. He went from mocking O.J. Simpson’s “platoon of Rolex legal professionals” on the CBC in 1995 to a 2004 Globe and Mail column deriding what he referred to as “Bush-haters” — critics of President George W. Bush on the time — after which to tirades in The National Post towards what he referred to as “the local weather alarmist,” an individual involved about local weather change.

He usually took on what he deemed the sins of “woke” politics and “wokeism.” In a February 2023 column, he wrote: “I’ve lastly fastened upon the definition of progressivism. It means the dismissal of the whole lot that counts, unconcern with what makes life exhausting for many, and a scorn for the realities of everyday; as a substitute shepherding to very specific political curiosity teams.”

In his closing days there have been diatribes towards critics of Israel throughout its battle with Hamas and towards the liberalism of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In his final column, on May 7, he referred to as Mr. Trudeau “clumsy, incompetent and novice” and asserted that Canada “is diminished on the world stage.”

Mr. Murphy was animated, Mr. Libin mentioned, by “the sense that we have been being ruled by individuals who seemed down on us.”

Still, for all his professed dislike of what Mr. Libin referred to as “elitist politics,” Mr. Murphy was a defender of among the nation’s financial elites, particularly the oil trade. In 2014, he got here beneath hearth from CBC viewers and listeners for giving paid speeches to the trade’s executives. He left the community three years later.

Robert Rex Rafael Murphy was born in March 1947 in Carbonear, in what was then the British Dominion of Newfoundland. (The 1996 Maclean’s profile mentioned “his delivery date is the topic of dispute.” Mr. Murphy himself was chary in interviews about answering questions on his background.)

He was the second of 5 youngsters of Harry and Marie Murphy. His father was a prepare dinner on the American army base in Newfoundland’s port metropolis of Argentia, and Rex attended faculties in close by Freshwater. He entered Memorial University in Newfoundland at 15 and graduated with a level in English at 19. Awarded a Rhodes scholarship, he studied regulation for a 12 months on the University of Oxford in 1968.

After getting back from Oxford, he labored in native radio and tv in Newfoundland and thrice ran unsuccessfully for the province’s House of Assembly within the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s, twice as a Liberal. Stints on the satirical CBC tv program “Up Canada!” introduced him to nationwide consideration, and when he started internet hosting “Cross Country Checkup” in 1994, he grew to become a nationwide movie star.

Mr. Murphy made a number of documentaries for the CBC as nicely, together with about his native Newfoundland.

He was briefly married to Jennifer Davis Guy, with whom he had a daughter, and had lengthy been divorced, Mr. Powers mentioned. Complete data on his survivors was not instantly out there.

Throughout his profession, Mr. Murphy set nice retailer by verbal expression. His followers and his critics agreed that his distinctive, generally high-flown use of English was what set him aside from his nation’s different journalists. Profiles famous that he was as dedicated to the works of John Milton as he was to “The Simpsons.”

“I’ve at all times thought of that model was extra necessary than substance,” he informed the CBC in 1995. “If you’re sloppy, slangy, vulgar, blasphemous,” he added, “then your ideas are the identical.”

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