This week saw Quebec's largest independent network TVA, publish quite prominently, two stories that were completely untrue, stories that fed into the latent racism that marks Quebec society.
The first story, is that of a mosque in Côte-des- Neiges in Montreal, that was falsely accused of asking a construction company which was doing work in the street in front of the mosque if it could curtail the presence of women on the job site on Fridays during prayers.
You've probably heard about that fiasco and the network's tepid reaction to the revelation that the story was completely false, a figment of imagination of two construction workers whose word the dimwit TVA reporter took at face value without verification.
The reporter confronted the mosque officials and told them that the contract for the work had a clause banning women from the site, a complete lie that the reporter made up or one that she had been fed. If she was told this by a source, she should have realized that it couldn't be true because the contract was between the city and the contractor, one which the mosque had nothing to do with, nor any input in its terms.
After the leaders of the mosque denied ever making such a demand, they asked for proof that such a clause actually existed, to which the dummy reporter, Marie-Pier Cloutier, told them she'd be back with the contract which according to her, would show in "black and white" the interdiction on women, which of course never happened. The city later confirmed that no such clause existed. The very idea that the city would include such a clause in a contract is ludicrous and the moron reporter, should have known this.
You'd think editors and bosses back at the ranch would smell a rat, but this story was too good to be true and thus they ran with banner headlines and video splashed across its media empire. Politicians, including our Premier, commented on how wrong this incident was and a militant anti-Muslim group announced a demonstration in front of the mosque to protest.
Credit the CCQ, the Commission overseeing the construction industry which undertook a lightning fast investigation after complaints from the mosque. In short order, the CCQ announced that the whole affair was a complete 100% fabrication.
TVA first defended its reporting but later reluctantly admitted that they were suckered and published what amounted to fake news. That being said, the network issued a 'clarification' buried at the bottom of its web page which wasn't really much of an apology.
And by the way, even after the story was debunked, the planned demonstration against the mosque still went ahead with one protester telling a reporter that the story was probably true, but covered up.
The mosque received the requisite number of threats and was forced to put up a banner proclaiming that it supports women's rights. Police were required to provide security and this Friday's prayers were sparsely attended for good reason.
And that's not the only fake news coming out of TVA.
Earlier in the week, it reported that an SAQ outlet, (the government-run liquor monopoly) had left its
"Pro-active unreasonable accommodations" was the outraged opinions offered by the network which reported the story without checking the sources. Let us remember that TVA is a large network with huge resources.
When the network realized that it had published another fake news story, they actually blamed the employee for the fiasco and playfully commented that they had been 'had' with a clever play on words.
At any rate, all this happens because Quebecers want these stories to be true, in order to validate their prejudice.
Quebec's TVA network suffers from the same disease that has befallen American networks like CNN, ABC and CNBC whose opposition to Donald Trump is so bitter that they publish any negative tidbit they can without applying proper journalistic standards, leading to the same embarrassing retractions as has befallen TVA.
TVA says they are reviewing their journalistic practices in light of the fiascoes, but it probably is just a smokescreen and when the smoke clears it will be business as usual, publishing real and dubious stories that make minorities look bad.
Because the public loves it. It feeds the xenophobia and anti-English sentiment that rages throughout the province.