Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Media and CSIS

This post has been sent to The Globe and Mail editor

Under the headline, "Fadden raises espionage alarm," The Globe and Mail reporter Sarah Boesveld begins, "At least two provincial cabinet ministers and a number of other government officials and employees are under the control of foreign countries as part of espionage schemes, Canada's top security official said Tuesday." (Italics mine)

No such thing was said by Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). Not until the fourth paragraph does Boesveld let him speak, "We're in fact a bit worried in a couple of provinces that we have an indication there are some political figures who have developed quite an attachment to foreign countries."

A report from the CBC's Brian Stewart constitutes the bulk of the remainder of this news item. According to Stewart, Fadden "deems" the two cabinet ministers to be "agents of influence" or "secret supporters." Boesveld correctly attributes these words to Stewart, not Fadden.

Beware of reporters quoting each other, especially when the original reporter claims that a third party was merely "deeming" something. One reporter's speculation becomes another's fact. The next day, a Globe editorial massaged Stewart's "deeming" into a "declaration".

As did most other media, the Globe missed the real point, the real need in this affair. Fadden alerted malleable politicians that they are being watched.

Suggested solution: All politicians should immediately post on their websites the source of all gifts from, and free trips to, foreign countries. Then, investigative reporters might check relevant voting records to determine the truth of these "deemings." The innocent have nothing to fear.

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