, 02.23.2022 02:25 PM

My latest: stop the media bullshit

At the risk of sounding indelicate, I had to ask: Where’s the body?

It’s an awkward question, to be sure. It makes people uncomfortable, when you demand to see human remains. But not a few folks were asking it over the weekend, just the same.

On Friday night, Fox News — and too many others — reported that an elderly female protester had been trampled to death by mounted police in Ottawa. Sara A. Carter, a longtime Fox News personality, tweeted this: “Reports are the woman trampled by a Canadian horse patrol just died at the hospital.”

That’s a word-for-word quote. Fourteen thousand people retweeted it, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Fifteen thousand people “liked” it.

Except, well, no. The woman — happily — didn’t die. No one died, in fact. (And Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, properly, is investigating what happened to the woman.)

Toronto Police Mounted Unit officers push through a crowd at the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa and trample at least two demonstrators on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022.
Toronto Police Mounted Unit officers move through a crowd at the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022 in a screengrab from Twitter.Photo by Twitter

Carter later had to issue a complete retraction and apology. The acting chief of the Ottawa Police Service was restrained, and called the trampled-to-death report “misinformation.” The rest of us would have another name for it: Bullshit.

Last weekend, combined police forces came together, from Vancouver to the SAQ police in Quebec. They were efficient, professional and restrained. There was, as my Sun colleague Brian Lilley stated many times, no instances of police brutality. Whatsoever.

But that didn’t stop the the fibbers, fabulists and fabricators — on both sides of the ideological divide — from attempting to peddle, um, horse hooey. In Ottawa, along with protesters and trucks, there was quite a lot of horse manure to be seen. (Horses, too.)

Take (please) one of the head honchos at Rebel News, which I personally regard as neither rebels (in the traditional sense) nor news (in any sense). He tweeted this about the woman-trampled-to-death incident: “Trudeau orders mounted police to charge the crowd of unarmed civilians.”

Let’s look at that, shall we? There are big problems with it.

For starters, the two starting words are flat-out false. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whatever else his powers, does not have the power to “order” police to do anything. Also: The protesters were warned the horses were advancing, multiple times. If that’s a “charge,” it’s not a very good one.

And “unarmed civilians?” Really? Does that make the victim more victim-ish? Perhaps the “rebel” could have also tweeted that the woman in question — who, again, is quite alive — also goes to church every morning, and donates all of her wages to orphanages. And has a halo.

Anyway. The B.S. wasn’t just coming from the so-called right side of the ideological spectrum. It was coming from the so-called left side, too.

The New York Times, which is usually considered one of the best newspapers in the world (after the one you now happily grip in your hands), had this as an actual headline on page 11 of their Sunday edition: “Police in Ottawa Arrest Truckers at Gunpoint as They Clear Downtown.”

The Times got it wildly, dramatically wrong. None of the 191 people arrested in Ottawa — not a single solitary one of them — was arrested at gunpoint. Zero, zippo, zilch.

The lede was even worse: “Canadian police officers advanced on demonstrators at gunpoint.”

Well, no. The police had guns, yes. Police usually do. But those guns were holstered. And whatever you think about the assembled anti-vaxxer folks in Ottawa — and this writer doesn’t think much of them — none of them needed to be arrested “at gunpoint.” Most went quietly.

Many inquiries and commissions are soon to take place, examining how the Ottawa occupation happened, and how to avoid it from happening again. They will go on for months and years.

There needs to be a review into some of the media coverage, too. Because some of the media — on the left and the right — got it wrong.

Very, very wrong.

— Warren Kinsella has taught media law and legal journalism at the University of Calgary and Carleton University.

9 Comments


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    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    One wonders how these kinds of factual mistakes can take place at the more credible media outlets on the planet. One does not wonder how when they come out of outlets with a permanent blinkered agenda, either on the right or the left.


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      Sean says:

      No media company made any advertising revenue telling their readers that the government handled a problem responsibly….. Its all about money. Simple as that.


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    whyshouldIsellyourwheat says:

    The Ottawa police initially did not tell the truth about the “disabled indigenous woman with a scooter” either. They initially said a bicycle was thrown at a mounted rider.

    There is also video of police forces with rifles pointed ant drawn as they cleared the big rigs. So the New York Times was not in error.

    The NYT, the FT, and the Economist have different narrative of the events in Ottawa than the Trudeau-subsidized Canadian media.


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      The Doctor says:

      So what about that Fox News “protestor trampled to death” thingy? Are you simpatico with that?


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    Doug says:

    Too early to know what actually happened on Parliament Hill.

    Perhaps the most egregious misreporting in recent times came from CBC:

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/syria-migrants-canada-drowned-migrants-1.3213772?cid=

    Even though CBC published a correction, this likely influenced the 2015 election


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    Sean says:

    If you bought groceries this week…. thank one of the 90% of VACCINATED truckers who didn’t waste everyone’s time fighting a fake cause on behalf of foreign interests.


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      Steve T says:

      Bingo


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    Robert White says:

    Breitbart & Rebel News have been pumping misinformation as fast as they can these days. Ezra Levant is clearly an adversary to the entire media throughout Canada given his daily misinformation campaign that is aligned with Breitbart & Bannon.

    The entire right-wing political spectrum is Fascist pretending to be proto-fascist, but they’re Fascist with a capital F.

    Rebel News is almost as bad as Your Ward News IMHO. Same kinds of racist scum write for both rags.

    P.S. Glad James Sears was dumb enough to break parole. Too bad Ezra Levant is not his cell mate.

    RW


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    Peter Burnet says:

    to the SAQ police in Quebec

    I think perhaps you meant the SQ. The SAQ police nabs shoplifters in liquor stores.

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