Canada’s COVID Media Disaster
Breaking the rules and failing every ethics test
On Thursday, May 18th 2023, an earthquake occurred. On that day three senior journalists described under oath how Canada’s mainstream media broke the rules and failed every ethics test during the COVID era.
Media coverage of the Freedom Convoy was so obviously dishonest because journalists had, by then, gotten used to torquing the news outrageously. After two years of mindlessly parroting every official COVID talking point, they’d ceded their independence so thoroughly they no longer cared about the audience to whom they were meant to be delivering a public service. Taking orders from above, they were playing follow-the-leader.
Last Thursday, at a National Citizens Inquiry hearing, Marianne Klowak talked about resigning from CBC Winnipeg. In disgust and despair. After 34 years on the job. In her words, “I had witnessed in a very short time the collapse of journalism, news gathering, investigative reporting. And the way I saw it is that we were, in fact, pushing propaganda.”
The above quote, along with the video at the top of this post, is from the first 10 minutes of her testimony. This is a CBC insider speaking. Describing how a once-great media institution failed Canada at the very moment in which we were in desperate need of open debate and well-informed decision making.
In her words, the CBC “shut down one side.” It silenced and discredited anyone who challenged the official government narrative. In her words, “we had elevated and designated ourselves as the gatekeeper of the truth. We no longer believed our audience was capable of critically thinking for themselves.”
Marianne makes it very clear. The CBC deliberately ignored newsworthy events. It deliberately misrepresented events. To someone who believes journalism is about truth telling, this was intolerable. Here’s how she explains it:
“As a veteran journalist, I had solid contacts in the community. I had people calling me with stories. So I was seeing, and I was hearing, and I was absorbing all their stories of suffering and pain. And they were sharing them with me. And these stories weren’t being told.
“Some of those were from the vaccine injured. Some were from people who had lost their job because of their vaccination status. Those whose families had been blown apart, and they’d been ostracized. University students who were depressed over repeated lockdowns and mandates. And parents who were calling me, that were agonizing on whether they should vaccinate their child or not.
“So all these stories were sitting inside of me, they were left with me. And I felt the crushing burden and the weight of their truth not being given a voice. And it affected my well being because these people trusted me and I felt I had failed them and I had let them down.”
During the 34 years she worked at CBC Winnipeg, Marianne Klowak reported award-winning news stories. Her on-air scripts were rarely edited, and when stories were published online, only minor alterations had ever been made.
All of that changed, she says, after COVID arrived. She says her employer became a propaganda arm of government and public health officials – rather than exposing and unearthing facts the public had a right to know, “I no longer recognized the CBC,” she says.
Impartiality is supposed to be one of it’s core values, but Marianne says fellow journalists were overtly associating themselves with “Team Pfizer” or “Team Moderna” on CBC social media accounts. When she raised this with management, she says it was shrugged off as a non-issue.
Marianne was used to researching a story and having it go live within a few days. But when she wrote about the reservations some parents and medical experts were expressing about giving children a vaccine that had undergone only limited testing, her story didn’t air.
“I never had more hands” involved in the vetting of a story, she says. After being flagged internally, it was forwarded to a special unit within the CBC known as the Toronto Health Unit. Five weeks later, she was urged to replace the experts she’d interviewed with experts hand-picked by Toronto. One of these individuals had “chaired a national committee overseeing the approval process of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada.” Her position was that this kind of government-affiliated expert had been presented to the public a thousand times already.
Long story short, she abandoned the story rather than make changes she viewed as unethical. The date these events occurred is burned into her memory, she says, because “Part of me died that day with that story. And that was the death of journalism for me. July 8th, 2021…we were clearly pushing propaganda. So I had to call back everyone [I’d interviewed] and I thought, ‘How am I gonna handle this?’
“So I apologized, and I told them the truth. And it was shameful and it was humiliating cuz these people had put themselves on the line to tell me their story.
“And I said. ‘This is why I can’t do it. This is why I won’t do it.’…And I said, ‘I’m sorry that I have failed you, and I have let you down.’”
Before taking early retirement, Marianne secured a meeting with Brodie Fenlon, the editor-in-chief of the CBC. A second senior executive was part of the video call.
“I told them what had happened to my stories, how devastated I was to be leaving the CBC after spending three decades in a career that I loved. I asked them, ‘What’s the makeup of the CBC Toronto Health Unit? Like, who are these people? Are they journalists? Are they scientists? Like, who are they?’
“I was basically told they were experts who are really good at what they do, but I still don’t know who they are.
“Then I brought up the issue of mandatory training and seminars for journalists that we had to take on what was called ‘conscious and unconscious bias’…I said, ‘You know what? We, the CBC, have a glaring bias – both conscious and unconscious.’”
In her view, that bias was in plain sight with respect to how the CBC talked about unvaccinated individuals – both in the newsroom and on the air. It was in plain sight whenever an expert who challenged the official COVID narrative in some manner was discussed. She says she told the senior executives:
“We failed to serve the public. We broke their trust.
“I told them, ‘You can silence and cancel scientists with impeccable credentials, you can even cancel me.’ But I said, ‘My solace is that the truth will come out. It will come out.’
Brodie thanked me and he said he was sorry that it had ended this way – and that he didn’t think the CBC had done all that bad.”
Donna Laframboise writes a daily blog at ThankYouTruckers.substack.com. It is a first draft of her upcoming book that focuses on interviews with Freedom Convoy truckers. She is a former National Post and Toronto Star columnist, and a former Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.