Monday, July 20, 2015
THE HATERS ARE AFTER EZRA LEVANT THE ISRAELI AGAIN.LYING ABOUT HIM.AT A CLIMATE CHANGE PROTEST.
THE HATERS ARE AFTER EZRA LEVANT THE ISRAELI AGAIN.LYING ABOUT HIM.AT A CLIMATE CHANGE PROTEST.
EZRA LEVANT GETS LIED ABOUT HIM.
OTHER EZRA CONFRONTS ENVIROMENTALISTS
Toronto Star’s story about Ezra Levant is fiction — and our video proves it-Posted by Ezra Levant on July 7, 2015 in TheRebel.Media
Maybe you’ve read Toronto Star columnist Catherine Porter’s account of my encounter with her and her daughter at Sunday’s Queen’s Park protest. The trouble is, the central facts of Porter’s story are made up. And we have the video to prove it.Ms. Porter writes that her 9-year-old daughter Lyla saw me disagreeing with someone about global warming, and that Lyla “was preparing to brawl with Levant.”But that’s not true.Ms. Porter tried to set up some sort of teachable moment between her daughter and me, but it just didn’t happen. So she made up the facts she wanted.It doesn’t really matter to me – I’ve had worse lies told about me, by better people than Catherine Porter.As I said in my earlier report, I had a great time at the protest. I met a lot of colourful people. I had some lively debates. But no fights.I met some really weird people, too.But to be honest, the weirdest person I met was Catherine Porter, who demanded I talk to her young daughter, and then lied about it in the newspaper.Ezra Levant is a lawyer, author, newspaper columnist and founder of TheRebel.media.
My daughter's run-in with Ezra Levant at her first protest: Porter-As my daughter attends the Jobs, Justice and Climate march, she is incredulous to learn the right-wing broadcaster doesn’t believe in human-caused climate change.Catherine Porter's daughter, Lyla, stands on the lawn before Queen's Park, preparing for her first march.By: Catherine Porter Columnist, Published on Mon Jul 06 2015-the toronto star
My daughter’s first protest started off with a fight.We were standing in a crowd of vegans on the lawn before Queen’s Park, watching right-wing broadcasting bully Ezra Levant cross-examine a man dressed up like a chicken. (See note below regarding Levant’s response to this column) Lyla asked what he was doing. I told her that he was belittling him, because Levant doesn’t believe climate change is being caused by humans.“ That’s like calling a blue car yellow,” she responded. “How can he not believe in climate change?”She picked up her placard — a green car she designed, with sunflowers for headlights — and marched over to ask him why.I let her go. I haven’t decided if this was a good parenting decision or a bad one. In fact, part of me wondered if bringing Lyla to the Jobs, Justice and Climate march would backfire as well.When I was a kid, everything my mother pushed me toward repelled me on principle. Maybe Lyla’s inaugural protest would confirm in her mind that protests were futile. Maybe, when she is wrinkled and arthritic-kneed, she will tell her biographer that her climb to the pinnacle of Unfettered Capitalism began right here, at a protest her hippy mother dragged her to.The reason I’d brought her: Returning from the zoo one day last spring, we got to talk talking about polar bears and climate change and what our family could do to stop it.“Protests don’t change anything,” she’d replied to my suggestion.Since then, I’ve been working to convince her otherwise.We visited the Greenpeace warehouse in Leslieville twice so she could make her placard alongside some other young activists. This was a success. The activists were welcoming and fun, and she loves art. This was a warehouse full of art supplies! And now we were here at Queen’s Park, surrounded by thousands of people with signs and banners and costumes and drums, and my 9-year-old was preparing to brawl with Levant, arguably the one person in the crowd who would confirm her doubts.Instead he honed his microphone onto me. Did I own a car? Were my clothes made from synthetics? See, I was a hypocrite! Why did I think I was better than everyone else? “You’re being mean to my mom,” Lyla whispered before Levant walked away.The vegans rallied around us.“We are not perfect,” one told Lyla. “But we’re trying.”“He’s entitled to his opinions. But we all think otherwise,” another said.I realized two things. One, I couldn’t control Lyla’s experience at the protest any more than I could control her time at recess. And two, why waste this precious time arguing? You can do that every day on the subway. The whole point of coming here was to be surrounded by like-minded people.See, we are not the only people worrying in our basement about future floods and fleeing migrants and dying polar bears! There were thousands of others, spilling down Queen’s Park as far we could see. What a hopeful sight.The power of a protest is not just the result, but also the process.We marched down the middle of the grand avenue with a giant sea serpent swimming behind us, and Gloria Gaynor belting out “I Will Survive” from speakers attached to the back of one marcher’s bike.Oh, what fun. We were in a parade! “Hey, ho, Stephen Harper has got to go,” the women behind us chanted, and Lyla joined in. “This is what democracy looks like.”But still she had questions. My kid has a dogged mind.“Will this protest change something?” she asked, while we were walking down Dundas St. W.I turned to other parents in the crowd to give her their responses.One father told her it will convince politicians that climate change is a big issue for the upcoming election. (Good point.) Another, walking with his two sons, said he thought it would encourage other people to get involved — people who are worried but haven’t done anything yet. (Agreed.) Change doesn’t happen swiftly. It builds up, I told her. You never know which crack will unleash the dam.Parenting is similar.We got to Allan Gardens, where volunteers offered us water and bananas, and a woman on stilts danced to the drumming of a samba band. An elder with the Chippewa of the Thames First Nations offered his eagle feather fan for Lyla to touch.The city felt like a small, picturesque village.We found a patch of grass in the shade, where Lyla did cartwheels and I lay down, listening to Joel Plaskett strum his acoustic guitar and sing.A magician with a glass ball came by to tell us that a kids’ craft table had been set up.Could you think of a better way to pass a Sunday with your kid? “I like protests,” Lyla said, before settling down beside me. I thought of a snapshot of me, at her age, lying beside my mom — who, in the end, I agree with on most things.Maybe I am doing something right.Note – July 8, 2015: See Ezra Levant’s response to this column, “Ezra Levant begs to differ.”Catherine Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Catherine Porter, Ezra Levant and journalism standards-What happened at the climate change protest point to a journalistic failure regarding accuracy and fairness.Star columnist Catherine Porter asked Ezra Levant to answer her daughter's question at a climate change protest.By: Kathy English Public Editor, Published on Fri Jul 17 2015-TORONTO STAR
It is an understatement to say there are ideological differences between Toronto Star columnist Catherine Porter and conservative commentator Ezra Levant.Porter, a National Newspaper Award-winning journalist, is a “social justice activist/columnist” for the Star. Levant, a well-known — and certainly controversial — former host with the now-defunct Sun News Network, describes himself as a “lawyer, author and all-round trouble-maker” who is now “rebel commander” of therebel.media, his start-up “news, opinion and activism” website.Given the vast chasm in perspectives between these two, it is not hard to imagine that sparks might fly should this columnist and that commentator engage in debate at a climate change protest.Indeed, as Porter’s July 7 column, headlined, “My daughter’s run-in with a right-wing bully” and Levant’s subsequent letter to the editor rebutting her column, titled “Ezra Levant begs to differ,” make clear, things did not go at all well when the two met at the recent “Jobs, Justice and Climate” protest march outside Queen’s Park.That too is an understatement. Porter’s column and Levant’s letter provide two opposing narratives on what happened between the pair when Porter took her nine-year-old daughter, Lyla, to her first protest.That’s not particularly surprising: ask a half dozen people to describe what they believe happened at a traffic accident in which they were involved or witnessed and you’re likely to receive as many different narratives with each storyteller fixed on contradictory details and omitting or confusing relevant information. Discerning the “truth” in such situations is never easy.In the case of this run-in, however, there is video evidence that tells its own truth, at least when the camera was turned on. As we’ve seen in widely circulated videos that have captured wayward police in action, video can provide powerful evidence of what happened when trying to sort out conflicting narratives. But, it doesn’t always tell the entire story, and as you will see, what is not captured on camera remains a significant issue of serious journalistic concern.But, what is not in question here is that Porter’s column fell short of the Star’s journalistic standards regarding accuracy and fairness. It misled readers in omitting key facts captured on the video, portraying Levant as having been mean to her daughter when the video evidence makes clear that was just not so. This controversy also raises significant questions about Star standards regarding the need for journalists to clearly identify themselves to those they write about and newsroom policies regarding columnists, advocacy and journalists involving their children in their work.Porter acknowledges she fell short here: “I made some mistakes,” she told me.Editor Michael Cooke concurs: “Catherine Porter especially regrets these failings, and I apologize on behalf of the paper. Lessons learned. The hard way,” he said.“The public editor’s column and an up-coming column by Catherine Porter herself are the Star’s best efforts to correct this.”The video that captured Porter and Levant at the protest was shot by Levant’s team, posted on his website (with his own commentary) and on YouTube, where it has received more than 21,000 views. Given that the video presents a significantly different view of events than Porter presented in her Star column about her daughter’s first protest, it is not surprising that we’ve heard from more than 100 readers questioning the column’s accuracy and fairness. This is of serious concern to the Star, but as Porter left for a wilderness canoe trip immediately after her column was published, we could not talk with her about these issues until this week.To be fair to Levant, even before her return, the Star gave him the opportunity to respond in a prominent letter to the editor that pointed readers to his video.To some extent, even with the video evidence, this remains a classic case of a “he said, she said” dispute because not everything of concern was captured on video and both journalists continue to have their own interpretation of what the camera shows and what elements matter most.I was not there so I cannot pronounce judgment on whose version is “the truth.” But, as public editor, it is my role to consider matters of accuracy, fairness and the Star’s journalistic standards and to tell you where I believe the Star fell short.I have looked at these issues closely. I have carefully read Porter’s column and viewed three videos Levant has posted. I’ve talked many times to Porter and her editors and with Levant on telephone this week. Levant has been nothing but polite and civil with me. At my request, he provided the Star with what he assures me was the “unedited, raw” videotape starting from 15 minutes before the encounter with Porter and ending about a minute after.For me, the most important matter regarding Star policy is the critical question of whether Porter identified herself to Levant as a Toronto Star journalist on assignment for the Star. This is one of the most basic fundamentals not only of the Star, but of journalism: the “contract” between a journalist and a subject of a potential story. Star policy decrees that Star journalists must always identify themselves as journalists, except in rare circumstances when “undercover” reporting is approved by senior editors.Porter is adamant she told Levant she was a Star journalist. He is just as adamant she did not.He told me he had no idea she was a Star journalist until her column was published. Previous to that, he said, he viewed her simply as mother who asked him to talk to her child at the rally. In his initial report of the protest, edited, he said, before Porter’s column was published, he refers to her in this way.“I had no idea who she was,” he said. “If I knew I was dealing with a Toronto Star journalist things would have gone down quite different. Do you really think I would not have made hay with that from the outset?”There is no video evidence that shows Porter identifying herself as a journalist; on camera we see her stating her name only. But, Levant acknowledges that the camera was not turned on in the minute or so before Porter states her name. She believes that was when she told him she writes a column for the Star and that her daughter was waiting to ask a question.“It is possible Ezra did not hear me say I was a columnist at the Toronto Star. We were at a protest. It was noisy,” Porter said. “I most absolutely told him that.”Both Porter and Levant can offer up witnesses who they believe can support their version of what happened in regard to this critical point. I have not talked to any of them because I see little point in engaging in further “he said, she said” competing narratives. I don’t see how it can resolve this matter with any certainty.Bottom line: I believe — and so do Porter’s editors — that it was her responsibility to make certain Levant clearly understood she was a Star journalist. Such an understanding seems not to have come about, despite her recollection of telling him so. She acknowledges she did not have her journalist’s notebook in hand; nor did she think to give him her card identifying herself as a journalist.On the question of accuracy, Porter’s column has a clear factual error, which she now acknowledges. She reported that before Levant walked away, her daughter whispered, “You’re being mean to my mom.” In fact, as we see and hear on camera, Lyla said, “You’re talking to my mommy, you know that, right?”Porter, who wrote the column the day after the protest, did not take any notes during her encounter with Levant – an issue for me. She wrote from memory and misremembered what her daughter had said at that particular time.While Porter told me Lyla did say the words she reported at some point after the encounter, that’s not what the camera shows. In journalism, the words within quotation marks must be the exact words stated so this misquote is a journalistic lapse caused, I believe by not doing the proper due diligence of taking careful notes on assignment for the Star. Certainly journalists need notes to support what they publish, especially when it puts someone in a bad light.On the issue of fairness, Porter’s column distorts what the camera shows us in telling readers in the first sentence that, “My daughter’s first protest started off with a fight.” From this, the reasonable reader would likely conclude that Levant, whom Porter described as a “right-wing broadcasting bully” had brawled with a nine-year-old girl. As the video shows, Levant was kind and gentle to Lyla, engaging with her in a charming manner. Porter column is misleading in not telling readers that Levant played nice with her daughter. She omitted this entirely.Porter says her opening sentence was meant to refer to what she saw as her fight with Levant, witnessed by her daughter, standing by her side. Porter regarded her exchange with Levant as a disturbing incident that left her and her daughter shaken. That encounter remained top of mind the next day when she sat down to write her column and, she says, that’s why she opened her piece by referring to a “fight” with the well-known Levant.The column also misleads by not telling readers that Levant was reluctant to talk to Porter’s daughter at all because he prefers not to interview children. She also omits the fact that she asked him to talk with her daughter, when the little girl could not get Levant’s attention.The raw video shows, as Porter wrote, that her daughter did indeed go over to talk with Levant, placard in hand. It clearly captures Lyla hovering in the background, waiting to talk to Levant as he interviewed others. But it also clearly shows him saying that he does not want a “little person” on film.Porter should have been straight-up about what the camera also captured – her calling to Levant and saying “she has a question for you” and then stating on camera (in response to his request to her to grant him explicit permission to talk to her daughter): “My name is Catherine Porter and I give you permission to talk to my daughter, Lyla Burt.”In fairness to Porter, I don’t think Levant has been fair to her on this point either. He has reported repeatedly that Porter called him over to talk to her daughter, stating that Porter “made up” the fact that Lyla went over to him, without telling his audience what the camera also shows – Lyla walking over to him with her placard in hand and waiting to talk to him. Even if he did not notice the girl at the time, the raw video does not support his subsequent charge that Porter lied about her daughter going over to him.From the outset, Porter made clear that it was Lyla, not her, who initiated contact with Levant. She said she then interjected on Lyla’s behalf, calling out to Levant because her daughter wanted to ask him a question about climate change. As Porter wrote, she and Lyla were watching Levant interview a man in a chicken costume when mom told daughter that Levant does not believe in climate change.“Lyla and I have been speaking a lot about climate change deniers. ‘How can they not believe, she keeps asking?’ I tell her I’m not sure, but I think they just don’t believe in it. So, when she said she wanted to ask Ezra Levant why he doesn’t believe in climate change, I thought — why not? “That was very stupid,” she added. “I was naïve, totally naïve.”This matter also raises questions regarding other Star journalistic standards and policies. Foremost, given the Star’s standards regarding journalistic impartiality, I grow uncomfortable at seeing video footage of a Star journalist marching in a protest carrying a sign – whatever the cause. Certainly had any news reporter put themselves in such a situation, it would be a clear violation of Star policy.But, Porter is a columnist and the policy is murky about whether Star columnists – who have wide latitude to express their own opinions — can act in public in line with those opinions, so long as they are fully transparent.While many other columnists have told me they would never participate in such public events, believing in the impartiality principle that “it is not proper for journalists to be both actors and critics,” Porter is a columnist who is also a social justice advocate and newsroom leaders have endorsed that role for her.Porter is right in her understanding that she has explicit permission – and encouragement – to take a public stand and act in line with her views on social justice issues. Certainly the editors who asked her to write about the climate change rally understood that she was participating in the protest as a means of introducing her daughter to the power of protest.Second, this leads to questions about whether Porter let her ideology get in the way of the accuracy and fairness demanded of any journalist. Did she only see what she wanted to see and not see that Levant was charming to her daughter because that was not in line with their ideological differences? Another example that puzzles me and many others: Porter wrote that she saw Levant “belittling” the man dressed up like a chicken. What I saw on the video didn’t seem to me to Levant belittling the guy. But, that’s her perspective.Readers have also raised questions about whether the columnist “used” her daughter as “bait” to set-up a “gotcha” column about Levant. I don’t believe there was any such intention on Porter’s part and I hope she’ll write her own column to address this troubling matter.A few points are important to me on this issue: There is nothing in the Star’s policy to address questions about a parent involving a family member on an assignment, beyond the need for transparency. And, certainly Porter is not the first Star journalist to write about her children. Indeed, as editor Cooke made clear to me, columnists are often expected to write about their own lives and broader experiences.As well, Porter had been very clear in recent columns about her intention to expose her daughter to protests after Lyla had told her she didn’t think protests work. “I planned to show her otherwise,” she said.“The point of me taking my daughter to the march, from my perspective, was to show her the power you can feel there. I wanted her to get a whiff of camaraderie and agency that protests inspire,” Porter told me.It is certainly well outside the scope of my role to express judgment on Porter’s parenting decisions. What I do question however is whether her role as a good mom intent on looking out for her daughter at her first protest took precedence here over her responsibilities as a Toronto Star email@example.com
OTHER EZRA STORIES I DONE
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