08.23.2017 06:53 AM

About that Hamilton PC “criminal” investigation, and credibility 

On August 8, I linked to a QP Briefing story that claimed that police had launched a criminal investigation into the Ontario PC’s candidate selection in Hamilton, here.

Two days later, CBC reported that – contrary to what QP Briefing had reported, there was no criminal investigation, here. I apologized for passing along what looked like erroneous information. 

I subsequently heard from very senior Ontario Liberals, and QP Briefing, who insisted CBC had it wrong and QP Briefing had it right. Here’s what the reporter said to me:

In the interest of accurate, accountable journalism — and for your readers’ sake and mine — I’d appreciate if you offered a correction that the criminal investigation is ongoing and QP Briefing reported the story correctly. 

Um, no. 

I told them that I was a lawyer and a former cop reporter and I would be happy to help out, if they promised to pay for my resulting legal bills. I said so.

Now, this week, QP Briefing quietly appended this at the end of a story on their web site:

“This story has been updated to remove the phrase “criminal probe.” Hamilton Police spokesman Claus Wagner told QP Briefing on Aug. 22 there’s an open investigation into a complaint concerning the nomination, which concerns whether or not a criminal offence has taken place. However, police have not yet determined yet if an offence has occurred, or not, so police do not consider the probe a “criminal” investigation, said Wagner.”

Among other things, I am not impressed. (And I’ve yet to hear from the reporter who insisted I publish a “correction.”) 

So, two things. 

You don’t win elections by promoting falsehoods, Ontario Libs. 

And you don’t help your journalistic reputation by getting things this wrong, QP Briefing – and also by chastising writers (like, say, me) who are interested in being accurate. And not getting, you know, sued. 

A bit of partisan spin is fine. But insisting others echo what is false, and getting irritated when they don’t? 

That’s a good way to lose all credibility. 

6 Comments

  1. P. Brenn says:

    wow ..just plain goofy really

  2. Cath says:

    Indeed Warren. You’re right.

  3. BlueGritr says:

    As if Hamilton is going to vote PC anyway.

    • Miles Lunn says:

      Depends which ridings in Hamilton. Flamborough-Glanbrook which is largely rural (note Hamilton like Ottawa extends well out into the countryside) will likely go PC (It went Conservative federally). Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, which is the riding mentioned would have gone Tory federally in 2011 so definitely possible although I give the Grits a slight edge here. This one is more suburban than urban although it does have the university so a lot will depend on vote splits and if strong as the PCs remain at over 40% in the polls provincewide (not a given, but certainly possible) they should pick this up, but if there isn’t strong vote splits and/or PCs get under 40% province wide, do not see them holding this. Hamilton Centre, Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and Hamilton Mountain agreed are not winneable for the PCs. A general rule of thumb in Ontario is city proper always vote for progressive parties, suburbs tend to back the winner, while rural areas go conservative no matter what.

  4. JH says:

    Much of the ‘partisan’ spin these days seems to come from a few the MSM, not just the political spinmeisters. Being an avid news junkie, even I was somewhat surprised to learn there is a Society of Professional Journalists and they actually have a code of ethics.
    http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
    Please allow me to quote the preamble;

    Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.

    The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.

    Whodda thunk it eh? Dr. Foth (Alan Fotheringham) used to call his colleagues The Dandy Lions of Journalism. Strikes me that some of these folks are more like the noxious weeds of their profession.

  5. rww says:

    Seems pretty nuanced for the average person/reporter/political type. Essentially, IF I understand it right a probe into whether criminal wrongdoing occurred is not a criminal investigation until it is determined that criminal wrongdoing has occurred.

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