The Dunnville Chronicle, to their great credit, published Gary McHale’s scathing letter to the editor regarding their recent editorial entitled, ‘Craving Attention‘ [REPRINT]. My comment and reference material follows.
JUST EXERCISING OUR RIGHTS
July 08/09 [LINK]
TO THE EDITOR:
In a democratic society there are tens of thousands of groups seeking to get media attention for their cause. I hate to be the one to tell the Chronicle, but modern marketing is all about doing things to get media attention -it is far better than wearing masks and beating the crap out of people.
The media, on the most part, are scum. They are not truly interested in the concerns of people and are only interested in selling ad space. The bloodier the story the more coverage you get. After three years I have seen few media outlets reporting the content of any speeches, airing the footage of any peaceful protests or capturing the meaning of what people are concerned about.
Announce you are marching onto DCE and suddenly media are there to capture whether, in the course of an hour, someone swore or gave the finger -that is what will be aired.
If the Chronicle is upset by the use of the word ‘militia’ because it was used to get media attention then you need to look into a mirror and ask the following questions:
How many of the court rulings have you reported on? Did you send a reporter to Queen’s Park last year when we protested there? Did you interview a single Caledonia resident before you gave the great send-off story about Insp. McLean?
In other words, you don’t cover the story unless we use the word ‘militia’ then whine that the media was fooled.
As far as credibility, without the use of lawyers we have created three case law rulings in seven months. Most lawyers never create even one in their entire career. The latest ruling occurred last week on Thursday when Judge Marshall ruled that the Crown had exceeded its authority and ordered a new hearing into charges against government officials. Even Judge Marshall stated in his ruling that this had never been done before in Canada. But of course, you will be reporting on this ruling because such a landmark ruling in Haldimand county deserves coverage. Sorry I forgot you don’t cover the news unless someone uses the word ‘militia’.
You asked what we have done that has benefited the negotiations. Well, first your question demonstrates a typical Canadian response which is that everyone should hide under their beds and wait for big brother McGuinty to save the day. The fact that Oka is still ongoing after 19 years and Ipperwash remains an occupation after 17 years doesn’t lead the editorial staff at the Chronicle to understand that Caledonia may not be resolved for many more years. Maybe the Chronicle is still believing the statements of Peterson and McGuinty back in June 2006 when they told the public the negotiations would be over in weeks, not months.
To list what we have done would require the whole newspaper. Other than the three case law rulings we have won I can say the following. There is not one single illegal occupation anywhere in Haldimand county and there has not been one single native protest for the past year.
The third year anniversary protest was done in Brantford not Caledonia. The recent march down the road was done on the 403 to Brantford and again not in Caledonia. The Floyd and Ruby show of blocking construction sites has also moved to Brantford after I got a judge to sign extortion, intimidation and mischief charges against both Floyd and Ruby.
The Rallies allow us to videotape the illegal actions of the OPP – regarding Race Based Policing. These videos are now making it into court which is why we are winning. No court is going to uphold the right of the OPP to discriminate against a group of people.
So while the Chronicle rarely covers what is happening week by week in Caledonia the public is learning there are those who are fighting to restore Law and Order.
By the way, if the Chronicle ever did start to cover what is happening in court you would know that no one is talking about taking the law into their own hands. The courts have ruled that every citizen has the right to use reasonable force to remove native protesters -yes the RIGHT. That RIGHT includes asking others to help you.
But hey, why should the Chronicle start listening to the court?
Gary McHale, Binbrook
VoC Comment – ‘Ethics for Journalists 101: Are Media Scum?’
I once seriously considered going to journalism school because of Woodward and Bernstein, who taught us that people in high places are capable of great crimes against democracy and reporters are, or can be, the watchdogs who stand on guard against them.
This is why I must offer my thanks to the Dunnville Chronicle for publishing Gary’s letter, his ‘most media are scum’ comment notwithstanding. It must have been a tough letter to read, but it took some true journalistic guts to print it! Good for you.
‘The media are scum’ comment – first said by a journalist!
Now, one may be tempted to jump on Gary for generalizing in such a way, but it wasn’t he who originally made the comment – it was a journalist. On Dec 26/06 Gary and three other people including two Caledonia residents met with the founder of CanadaFreePress.com Judi McLeod in her home to try to convince her that CFP should be covering the Caledonia story. During their conversation McLeod repeatedly told Gary, “You have to learn - the media are scum.” It seems she was right. CFP hardly covers Caledonia at all, save and except for the occasional article.
CFP may ignore Caledonia and the all-out struggle to restore the rule of law there, but at least we can be grateful they’re not publishing stories that deliberately twist the truth and smear non-native activists with sleazy, unsupported accusations as other, supposedly ‘mainstream media’ have done.
‘The Dark Days of Canadian Journalism’
When this struggle is over I hope to write a book called ‘The Dark Days of Canadian Journalism’ to document how media failed the victims of Caledonia. In the meantime, here are a couple of references that may enlighten readers as to Gary’s rationale for painting media outlets as ‘scum.’
Note that none of the references below talk about the role journalists played in helping CUPE & its supporters smear our reputations via the June 23/09 Cayuga protest [also see, LINK] that was orchestrated to spread false accusations that we (CANACE founders & Doug Fleming) are, or have been associating with, white supremacists – that story will come out when we announce our various legal actions in the coming weeks:
- VoC, July 23/08: Ryerson Review of Journalism: McHale & Vandermaas important news sources for Caledonia dispute
- VoC, Dec 05/07: Brantford Expositor endorses violence against civil rights activist (the all-time low point for Canadian journalism- UNTIL the Expositor’s recent CUPE protest coverage which I will not link to here. Hard to argue which was more disgusting.)
- VoC, May 16/08: CANACE letter to Hamilton Spectator Editor-in-Chief
- VoiceofCanada, Nov 12/07: Fantino – delusional or desperate?
- VoiceofCanada, Dec 05/07: Letter re: CHTV ‘piece of garbage’ comment
- Nov 13/07: VoC interviewed for journalism school project (contains a list of stories gone untold as of Nov/07. The list would be longer today)
- CANACE report: The Human Costs of Illegal Occupations - see ‘Media betrayal of the Public Trust,’ page 71.
Laziness, PC Racism, Fear of ‘racist’ label?
It seems to me that many journalists are printing the most outrageous of stories without even wanting to know the facts, let alone verifying them. We have offered repeatedly to various outlets to come in and meet with them to answer questions about us and our work, to no avail. I can’t explain it completely. Whether it’s laziness or the desire, as Gary says, to sell papers, or politically-correct racism, or the fear of being labelled a ‘racist’ by extremists, I really don’t know.
From personal experience during the past 2.5 years it is my impression that we are lucky if 25% of the real story of Caledonia is covered by MSM, and luckier still if the stories that do make it to print do so without without factual errors or outright distortions in them. Like all professions, there are some good reporters and outlets and there are some really, really bad ones.
In fairness, journalists themselves are affected by ownership concentration and the shift away from a traditional ’democracy watchdog’ role to the business of selling advertising. Still, this should not relieve them of the responsibility to ‘get it right’ when it comes to an issue of such national and regional importance.
MSM are missing the REAL story of Caledonia
The real story of Caledonia is NOT the burning bridge, or the assaults, or the occupations or the smokeshacks. No, the real story is that a police force, aided and abetted by a provincial government, and the Office of the Attorney General, made a wilful decision to suspend the rights of an entire class of citizens right in front of the noses of every major media outlet in Ontario, not one of whom (to the best of my knowledge) has ever asked what legal authority they had to do so.
Not one media outlet has ever told the story of how three McGuinty cabinet ministers are alleged in the Brown/Chatwell suit to have directly interfered with policing in Caledonia.
Not one media outlet outside of Caledonia has ever told the story of how children have to take medication and go to counselling because of the trauma and stresses they suffered due to having to show passes to get through barricades manned by masked natives with guns, or how the heartless thugs put a deer carcass on a hydro pole so kids could see it on their way to school.
Not one media outlet outside of Caledonia (with the sole exception of the Western Standard) has ever told the story of how the Ipperwash Inquiry excluded all residents from testifying about how they were victimized by native extremists, or how the Inquiry never even studied the issue of violence against third parties when arriving at the 100 recommendations McGuinty & Co. now use to justify the government’s hands-off approach to Race-Based Policing Practices.
Not one media outlet has told the story of how Gary McHale won an important legal ruling that now paves the way for criminal charges against government officials for their conduct in connection with Race-Based Policing in Caledonia.
Not one media outlet was in court during McHale’s preliminary hearing when, under his cross-examination (McHale can’t afford a lawyer) an OPP officer admitted that racial policing exists.
I could go on and on about how the MSM have seemingly deliberately refused to tell readers/listeners about the crimes and misfeasance committed against non-native residents and activists.
Instead, journalists appear content to waste their time asking non-native protesters silly, superficial questions based on logic that history long ago exposed as specious, like, “Aren’t you afraid of provoking violence by trying to put up a Canadian flag across from the Douglas Creek Estates?” Of course, it never seems to occur to them to ask native extremists why they are threatening violence against peaceful, law abiding people, or why the police are giving in to the threats. For some reason, it’s always the non-natives who are ‘provoking’ something or being ‘unhelpful’ when they refuse to allow the state or extremists to take away their rights.
Again, is it laziness, politically-correct racism, or the fear of being attacked with the oh-so-tired ’racist’ epithet? I do not know.
Why MSM are losing readers
I would argue – again, based on my personal experience – that the reason mainstream media outlets are having problems maintaining readership, and therefore, ad dollars, is that their refusal to tell the whole, ugly truth about important issues or to take a strong stand on the side of democratic principles, is driving savvy readers to seek real news in places like VoiceofCanada and CaledoniaWakeUpCall.com, as was recognized by the Ryerson Review of Journalism in their July 2008 edition.
Internet bloggers, some journalists argue, couldn’t exist without professional reporters digging up stories for them to comment on. Partially true perhaps, but my/our experience is that when people like us are actually making news and digging up important stories while doing it, the journalists often won’t listen to the evidence or even report on the story no matter how compelling it is.
If MSM want to make money, how about stopping the ‘drive by’ reporting and start spending some ‘quality’ time with people who devote their lives to an issue of national importance, such as Caledonia? How about taking a stand based on principles instead of dollars? How about not repeating sleazy attacks on innocent people until you’ve actually seen the evidence? What about assigning a reporter to be the resident ‘expert’ on vital, ongoing national issues who could be a ‘go to’ person for people like us who devote our lives to an issue? I’m not asking for anyone to print something because I say so, only to sit and listen to the evidence and print the truth.
The issue of the rights and protection of third parties during land claim disputes is a critically important issue that will affect generations of Canadians to come, never mind the thousands of victims it already encompasses. This stuff really matters.
I suspect that years from now Journalism professors will be analyzing ‘what went wrong’ with the media coverage of Caledonia, wondering out loud to their class how an entire industry could have failed all of Canada on an issue of such importance with such mean-spirited, inaccurate, and incomplete coverage. Indeed, the title of the course might well be, ‘Ethics for Journalists 101: Are Media Scum?’
Some bright lights…
There are some recent bright lights such as the CBC reporter who refused to get suckered into the CUPE attempt to smear us with the phony ’white supremacist’ “sideshow” on June 23/09 that completely hooked the Brantford Expositor and Simcoe Reformer. CHTV also refused to swallow the CUPE bait and so produced an outstanding report on Doug Fleming’s Caledonia Peacekeepers initiative. We have been critical of some CH coverage in the past, but they did well on the CUPE Cayuga protest. Thanks for that.
The Regional News – a voice for the victims
I simply cannot close any discussion about the role of media in Caledonia without, once again, acknowledging the outstanding commitment to freedom of expression by Haldimand’s Caledonia-based Regional News, its publisher Chris Pickup and reporter Bill Jackson who, over and over again, prove to me that I was NOT lied to when I was taught that journalists are ‘democracy’s watchdogs.’ Since first acknowledging their premiere ‘watchdog’ status in my article about our mention in the Summer 2008 edition of the Ryerson Review of Journalism, the Regional News has:
- Given Gary McHale a regular column (scroll down to ‘Court Beat & Regional News) so readers can read his words for themselves instead of relying on rumours and outrageous lies;
- Openly criticized those who demean the efforts of non-natives to oppose racial policing;
- Become the first to publish our report, ‘McGuinty’s Ipperwash Cover-up: the Caledonia Legacy’
Thank you again, Regional News!
Mark Vandermaas, Editor
- Dunnville Chronicle, July 08/09: Just exercising our rights
- Dunnville Chronicle, July 01/09: Craving attention REPRINT
- VoC, June 05/09: Ontario Superior Court: OPP refusal to aid Cayuga land owner an ‘abuse of power & police discretion’
- CANACE, About Us: Founding Advocates (click on ’RESUME’ PDF link)
- VoC, July 02/09: McHale v. R., 2009: Gary McHale & CANACE make legal history!
- VoC feature: Caledonia Lawsuits
- CANACE, About Us: We Believe…
- CANACE reference feature: Race-Based Policing
- CANACE report: Legalized MYTHS of Illegal Occupations
- CANACE report: The Human Costs of Illegal Occupations