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Andrew MacDougall @AGMacDougall
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THREAD on this lazy (but seemingly popular) piece of journalism from @CTVNews (full disclosure: my partner is the London correspondent for CTV)
In summary: story says Harper is planning a “secret” trip to the White House, a trip “official Ottawa knew nothing about”, “seemingly blindsiding” the current Canadian government.
It is portrayed as a “total breach of convention” at a time of “unprecedented tension in Canada-US relationship”, when Donald Trump and his officials are openly insulting Justin Trudeau.
Ooh, juicy! But it is true? What are the facts? There aren’t really any reported in the story. Lots of speculation about Harper’s motives, though. (Book sales! Business! Hurting Trudeau!)
Story rests on “emails obtained by CTV News” (read: given to CTV) which describe how American officials are “expecting” a visit by Harper on July 2. Speculates meeting is with John Bolton, but no confirmation.
NB: story doesn’t say they’re American emails, just that they describe how “American officials” are expecting Harper. In other words, the emails could be Canadian. (Hmm.)
CTV says it “reached out to Harper’s office for comment, but has not received an answer”. CTV could have also called Bolton’s office to confirm, but no indication they did. Story aired without either’s comment. Poor.
Story doesn’t say when they asked for comment. Was it in good time? CTV knows Harper is in U.K. (they filmed him there) - was his office told when the story was going to air? Were specifics asked?
That last bit might seem a silly question. But I used to get emails from reporters all the time saying “I need to talk to you about a story I’m working on” without specifics. And then - BOOM, published.
Note that CTV didn’t put question to Harper in London, even though they were at the event. So, safe to assume emails were “obtained” after the London event.
But let’s assume specifics put to SH’s office. Say Harper is meeting Bolton. Is it more likely they’d talk NAFTA, or Bolton’s files? Both are also founder members of the Friends of Israel Initiative. Maybe they’re talking Jews?
CTV ignores the fact that it doesn’t know and instead go on to speculate. But nowhere does CTV raise the possibility that Harper could be coming under the auspices of the IDU, of which he is now the Chair and the GOP a member.
Let’s remember, CTV can’t even say that the trip is even happening, only that US officials are “expecting” Harper to come (not that we’re shown said emails).
Fine. If he is going, when should Harper alert the current government. When meetings are being lined up? Or when they’re confirmed? Should he update after every scheduling call or email?
Instead of speculate about everything, as CTV does, why not wait for Harper’s office to comment? No reason story had to go so quickly. Could have easily aired the next night.
It was an exclusive, remember - low risk of another outlet getting the story. Why not get it right, instead of guessing?
Perhaps there was a different pressure? Maybe CTV had the exclusive only if went quickly (ie yesterday). Yup, that happens. I used to hand out stories on those terms.
Put differently, who benefits from this story being out there? I know I’d be high-fiving this story if I were in the current PMO. Especially on a day five outlets wrote about the PM’s groping incident.
We know the PMO is involved in this story. They would have had to confirm to CTV that they/GAC/embassy had no heads up from Harper. Unless CTV didn’t bother asking.
Say PMO is not involved with planting story. When presented with emails about expected Harper visit, do they say “Tx, let me ring Harper up to see what’s up” before this story causes a fuss?
I mean, with NAFTA in the balance, I’d want to figure this out in private. Wouldn’t you? Unless, of course, I need a channel changer
And so it’s CTV reporting for duty! And you know the TV story was rushed, because it gets the date of Harper’s book being published wrong. It’s not September. A quick check of the Harper Twitter could have confirmed that!
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