By Daniel Dale, CNN
Fox News has been repeatedly inaccurate in its coverage of the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” protests against vaccine mandates, Covid-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
As the protest in the capital city of Ottawa has been dispersed by the authorities — Ottawa police tweeted Sunday afternoon that 191 people had been arrested and 79 vehicles towed — Fox inaccuracies have continued. Here’s a look at three false claims made by two Fox hosts and a Fox contributor since Wednesday.
A Fox spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
A false claim of a protester being killed
Sara A. Carter, a Fox contributor with about 1.3 million Twitter followers, tweeted a dramatic allegation on Friday after a chaotic incident involving police officers on horseback riding near a crowd of protesters on an Ottawa street. Photos and videos showed a female protester lying injured on the ground.
“Reports are the woman trampled by a Canadian horse patrol just died at the hospital,” Carter tweeted, adding the hashtags #Trudeau and #FreedomConvoyCanada.
The claim about a woman being trampled to death went viral. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican of Texas, quote-tweeted Carter’s tweet and added himself, “This…is…horrific.” Right-wing commentator duo Diamond and Silk said in their own quote tweet: “#Trudeau should be arrested for murder!”
Facts First: Carter’s report was false. Nobody died in the incident involving the police officers on horseback. The woman seen on the ground was indeed injured, but she is alive; she posted on Facebook on Saturday night that she was “hurting but ok.” Carter retracted her “just died” claim on Saturday morning — after it had already been retweeted more than 10,000 times — and deleted the false tweet hours later.
Carter wrote in her retraction tweet: “The Reports I was given earlier yesterday from sources on the ground that someone may have died at a hospital during the trampling was wrong.” She added a claim that someone else at the protest had been taken to the hospital with an issue not caused by a trampling, and she concluded, “I want to clarify this again and apologize for any confusion.”
Cruz and Diamond and Silk subsequently deleted their own tweets. Cruz explained that he took his tweet down because of Carter’s retraction.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which investigates certain incidents involving the police use of force, announced Sunday that it was probing a Friday incident in Ottawa involving a mounted police officer from Toronto, saying a 49-year-old woman had suffered a “reported serious injury” in the incident. The unit defines serious injury to include those that require a hospital admission.
It isn’t clear if the protester seen on the ground in the photos and videos was injured because a horse trampled her or if she was hurt when she fell or was knocked down amid the commotion. Attempts to reach the woman on Sunday were unsuccessful.
A false claim about the protest in Ottawa
On the Fox show “The Five” on Wednesday, co-host Geraldo Rivera criticized the protest in Ottawa — which had involved protesters relentlessly honking truck horns and car horns — for “taking away the right of the homeowner to sleep in peace,” among other impacts on local residents. But co-host Greg Gutfeld scoffed, skeptically asking Rivera where he was “seeing this.”
“They’re not parked in front of people’s houses,” Gutfeld claimed. “They’re not parked in front of people’s houses honking in the middle of the night.” Gutfeld continued, “They’re actually being welcomed.” He then questioned Rivera’s credibility, saying, “You have one person you’re talking to in Canada.”
Facts First: Gutfeld was thoroughly inaccurate. Thousands of people live in the parts of Ottawa where the protest was concentrated, and some of the protesters did park vehicles right beside residential buildings; as Rivera said, the constant honking, which took place in the middle of the night as well as during daylight hours, disrupted sleep and daily life for days. An Ottawa resident eventually initiated a lawsuit that resulted in a judge ordering a temporary end to honking in a significant portion of the city. And while it’s certainly possible to find Ottawa residents who were fond of the protesters, Gutfeld was incorrect in suggesting that, on the whole, protesters were “actually being welcomed.”
Catherine McKenney, who serves on the Ottawa city council and represents the area that became the main protest zone, told CNN in a Sunday interview that some protest vehicles were parked “right outside of people’s bedroom windows” and that protesters “would pull on those air horns almost all night long. It was shocking.” One street that had been packed with protest vehicles has townhouses and small walkup apartment buildings as well as residential high-rises, McKenney said.
All of the available evidence — comments from Ottawa’s mayor and other local politicians, media interviews with local residents, polling data — shows that the protests have been highly unpopular in Ottawa, as they have been in Canada more broadly.
A false claim about where Canada’s Parliament stands
On Friday, “The Five” debated Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, a never-before-used law, created in 1988, that temporarily gives the government extraordinary powers. The use of the act requires parliamentary approval.
“The Five” co-host Jeanine Pirro said, “Parliament has to vote on this emergencies power act, and they punted.” (Before Pirro said “they punted,” another host had said the same thing off-screen.) Pirro continued, “They don’t want to vote on it. Because they are with the truckers.”
Facts First: It’s not true that the Canadian Parliament is “with the truckers.” Three of the four biggest parties, together representing a large majority of the House of Commons — Trudeau’s Liberal Party, the left-wing New Democratic Party and the Quebec sovereignist Bloc Quebecois — have all condemned the protesters’ tactics. (The Liberals and the New Democrats, themselves representing a majority, last week voted down a motion for the government to quickly put forward a plan to end all federal Covid-19 mandates and restrictions.) The “punted” claim is misleading, too: a planned Friday sitting of the House of Commons was canceled because of the police operation in the area that day to remove protesters, according to the Speaker of the House, not because any party was avoiding the issue; the House of Commons resumed debate on Saturday, and a vote is expected on Monday night.
Trudeau’s Liberals, who have the most seats in the House of Commons, have strongly denounced the protests. So have the left-wing New Democrats, led by Jagmeet Singh, who has the fourth-most seats and has expressed cautious support for the use of the Emergencies Act.
The Bloc Quebecois, which has the third-most seats, says the Emergencies Act is an inappropriate tool to use against these protests, and the party supported a Conservative Party motion last week for the Liberals to introduce a plan by the end of the month to end Covid-19 mandates and restrictions. But in early February, the Bloc’s leader, Yves-François Blanchet, denounced the protesters’ tactics as illegal and said “this has to be stopped.”
The Conservatives, who have the second-most seats and oppose Trudeau’s use of the Emergencies Act, have been the most sympathetic to the truckers; some Conservatives in the House continue to be supportive of the protests, and the party’s interim leader, Candice Bergen, previously showed support. Bergen called on February 10 for the protests to end, saying they were disruptive and hurting the economy, while also telling protesters, “Conservatives have heard you and we will stand up for you, and all Canadians who want to get back to normal life. We will not stop until the mandates have ended.”
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