Doug Ford is now in the news business. The fake news business that is.
In a series of Ontario election campaign videos circulated by Ford’s campaign team, the front-running leader of the Conservative party appears as a news subject in a two-minute video that looks and sounds exactly like a conventional TV news story.
The “reporter” is not a journalist. She is fake. Lyndsey Vanstone is Ford’s executive assistant and former press secretary. Ford speaks from a press conference podium about hydroelectric bills, a huge election issue. Cut to “business owners” and “customers” who are “interviewed.” Vanstone wraps up and signs off like any TV reporter.
As reported by the National Post, veteran Conservative media consultant Brett Jones of the Sussex Strategy Group defended the election video masquerading as a news piece:
“I think this is a first or at least a first in Canada,” “Part of me thinks, ‘Wow, what took people so long?’ … I think it’s an effective format.”
Ladies and gentlemen, join me in calling bullshit on that.
Doug Ford is the populist Toronto politician who famously referred to journalists as “maggots” and “liars” for truthfully reporting on his late brother Mayor Rob Ford’s crack cocaine habit.
At the beginning of this campaign, Ford nixed the tradition of allowing journalists on his campaign bus (the seats are paid for by news organizations).
Ford lovers and haters posted up a storm in hot debate over Ford’s obvious attempt to limit opportunities for reporters to ask him questions, something would-be Premiers might have to get used to. Observers noted journalists need more than just scrum-access to a candidate.
Ford’s defenders no doubt justify his tactics on the grounds that the mainstream media hates him, so why help them out?
The fact is that reporters don’t hate him. They just want to talk to him so they can do their jobs. It’s their public duty to press any candidate, especially a populist candidate on the right or the left, to explain their policies as if they understand them, so voters know what they are going to get.
The campaign bus tempest might have been in a teapot, but now we have something far more sinister: fake news manufactured by the candidate. No Russian plot, this.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: it’s ironic that Ford rales against the mainstream media but his campaign team apparently values the credibility of the hated #MSM.
The Ford video is intended to mislead the public and in spite of the Fordnation logo at the bottom of the screen, many will be misled into thinking it’s independent journalism.
Although in the candidate’s defence, Ford’s video differs little from a Fox news report on Donald Trump.