Er, never mind


 

The Telegraph-Journal retracts its wafer story and apologizes to the Prime Minister. And then apologizes to its own reporters.

There was no credible support for these statements of fact at the time this article was published, nor is the Telegraph-Journal aware of any credible support for these statements now. Our reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras, who wrote the story reporting on the funeral, did not include these statements in the version of the story that they wrote. In the editing process, these statements were added without the knowledge of the reporters and without any credible support for them.

The Telegraph-Journal sincerely apologizes to the Prime Minister for the harm that this inaccurate story has caused. We also apologize to reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras and to our readers for our failure to meet our own standards of responsible journalism and accuracy in reporting.


 

Er, never mind

  1. Is this how Wafergate™ ends? Not with a bang, but with a whimper?

    In the editing process, these statements were added without the knowledge of the reporters and without any credible support for them.

    Who added the statements, then? The editors? If so, shouldn't someone get sacked for this?

    • Nothing surprises me from the mainstream media, especially when it comes to political coverage.

      You have these self-righteous left-wing types who operate with their credo that the ends justify the means. Harper's the enemy so if we can make him look bad in some way let's do it, even if we have to edit or create reality. There's no doubt in my mind that it's the self-righteous left/lib media reporters, columnists and editors who are most egregious at breaking journalistic ethics. Remember that for them, the ends ( the promotion of their left/politics) justify the means (let's smear those who disagree with us). It's a sad, sad reality of modern media in this country.

      Speaking of self-righteous, I would encourage people to go over to the Green Party website an read Elizabeth May's incoherent rant on this issue. It's a bloody mess and it'll make your head spin. You're forewarned.

  2. Wow. This was already a story that was driven by the media, but this takes the media culpability to a whole new level. Reporting that the wafer went into Harper's pocket when there was no direct evidence to suggest it is bad enough; but the editors of the paper fabricating a quote from the priest demanding to know what happened to the wafer, and inserting said fabrication into the reporters story takes this to a whole new level of malpractice.

    This story ran on July 7. Why did the paper wait 3 weeks, until the story was long dead, to issue this apology? Has the editor who perpetrated this baseless smear against the PM been disciplined?

    They should be apologizing to you too Aaron. How many blog posts did you write on this story?

    • Still trying to get to the bottom of exactly what this apology covers, but I note that the same priest who you suggest was the victim of a "fabricated" quote gave a *subsequent* interview to CanWest, in which he does not mention anything of the sort. It's not a rip from the original interview — not of the one that appeared in the paper, that is — because, as you can see, he is reacting to the denial from PMO, which occurred later. (He also never mentions "strict rules" in the TJ story.

      I honestly, truly don't know what went down here, but I think we should be just as careful as the TJ editors clearly were not to avoid overbroadly interpreting what is being said here.

      • HA! You were the head cheerleader for this story Kady.

        I expect you won't spend quite as much Blog space on it this time around though.

      • FYI, when you link to stories you need to put the URL in quotes in the A HREF tag otherwise your link points back to the original post.

      • The three week delay is striking. For a few days this story was all over the place. The CBC had youtube pull the video of Harper taking the communion and not immediately consuming it ages ago. Anyone who was misquoted would have noticed earlier. There must be some reason the paper is only reacting now. I suspect there is an interesting story behind that.

        • And what are the chances the LibLuvin media will cover a story about media bias against PMSH?

          Wafergate and being 1.3 minutes late for a photo shoot…..that got ALL the media attention,
          not PMSHs excellent performance at the G8 meeting and a visit with the Pope.

          Aaron Wherry posted 4 times on wafergate, over 2 days.

      • I don't want to lightly toss around accusations of made up quotes; however, this is what was in the article:

        Henneberry said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office is in order. “If I were the prime minister, I would at least offer an explanation to say no offence was meant…I would hope the Prime Minister's Office would have enough respect for the Catholic Church and for faith in general to make clear whatever happened.”

        The apology from the TJ stated the following:

        The story stated that a senior Roman Catholic priest in New Brunswick had demanded that the Prime Minister's Office explain what happened to the communion wafer….There was no credible support for these statements of fact at the time this article was published, nor is the Telegraph-Journal aware of any credible support for these statements now.

        If the paper is saying that the priest made no such demand of the PMO, I don't see how that quote can possibly be legitimate. I look forward to hearing what you learn from the TJ, as fabricating a quote should be grounds for dismissal.

        • Unfortunately, the TJ is referring comments to the lawyer that, presumably, crafted the apology, but I quote from the story linked above, which came after the original article, in which the same priest responds to the explanation from PMO:

          “So we treat them with great respect and so we have very strict rules,” Henneberry said. “If they said he consumed it, then that's all right.”

          Notice the use of the tense, which indicates that they – PMO, that is — have said that he consumed the wafer. Since neither that quote, nor any of the others, appear in the TJ story. I'm not sure why the priest wouldn't have made it clear that the original story — in which he allegedly or not allegedly, depending on how you parse the apology, demanded an answer — included fabricated quotes like the one you include above.

        • Unfortunately, the TJ is referring comments to the lawyer that, presumably, crafted the apology, but I quote from the story linked above, which came after the original article, in which the same priest responds to the explanation from PMO:

          “So we treat them with great respect and so we have very strict rules,” Henneberry said. “If they said he consumed it, then that's all right.”

          Notice the use of the tense, which indicates that they – PMO, that is — have said that he consumed the wafer. Since neither that quote, nor any of the others, appear in the TJ story. I'm not sure why the priest wouldn't have made it clear that the original story — in which he allegedly or not allegedly, depending on how you parse the apology, demanded an answer — included fabricated quotes like the one you pasted above.

          • This interview doesn't really shed any light. The first sentence of your quote ("we treat them with great respect") was referring to communion hosts, not the PMO. The priest didn't even seem aware of the quote that had been attributed to him in the TJ article; the PMO explanation was to address the concerns raised by his parishioner.

            As things stand, we have a quote that was attributed to the priest demanding the PMO to explain, and an apology 3 weeks later saying that no such demand had been made. I hope the TJ will clarify this obvious inconsistency, though it sounds like the lawyers are clamming them up.

          • I don't see any "demand" in the quote you copied. It has "If I were…I would" "I would hope…" Seems more like suggesting than demanding.

          • But see, that doesn't make sense either, if you think about it, from his perspective – that is, if he hadn't actually given that interview to the TJ, and was unaware that the issue had become a major media kerfuffle. Why would CanWest be calling him to react to PMO's response to a concern his parishioner raised with him? Wouldn't he wonder how they – PMO, that is – became aware of the issue? And why would the media not call the parishioner in question? It just doesn't seem to work with the suggestion that the quotes from the priest were fabricated, which is why I'm waiting for a less incoherently cryptic explanation from the publisher.

            Remember, for a journalist — and, I imagine, for an editor — the very worst things you can be accused of, as far as your professional integrity, are plagiarism and fabrication. For that reason, it's really not a charge that I'm comfortable tossing off lightly. By comparison, it's not difficult to see how the second statement — that the PM slipped the wafer into his pocket — was badly worded, at best; according to other reports, and even the original TJ story, the priest allegedly told a reporter that his parishioner claimed that this was what occured; he did not claim to have seen it himself. That definitely should have been reworded to make it clear this was an allegation, not a statement of fact.

          • But see, that doesn't make sense either, if you think about it, from his perspective – that is, if he hadn't actually given that interview to the TJ, and was unaware that the issue had become a major media kerfuffle. Why would CanWest be calling him to react to PMO's response to a concern his parishioner raised with him? Wouldn't he wonder how they – PMO, that is – became aware of the issue? And why would the media not call the parishioner in question? It just doesn't seem to work with the suggestion that the quotes from the priest were fabricated, which is why I'm waiting for a less incoherently cryptic explanation from the publisher.

            Remember, for a journalist — and, I imagine, for an editor — the very worst things you can be accused of, as far as your professional integrity, are plagiarism and fabrication. For that reason, it's really not a charge that I'm comfortable tossing off lightly.

            By comparison, it's not difficult to see how the second statement — that the PM slipped the wafer into his pocket — was badly worded, at best; according to other reports, and even the original TJ story, the priest allegedly told a reporter that his parishioner claimed that this was what occured; he did not claim to have seen it himself. That definitely should have been reworded to make it clear this was an allegation, not a statement of fact.

          • Reworded?
            The article would not have made it to print WITHOUT the fabrications and being poorly worded (meant to deceive) , and all the faux scandal lovin media would have had to at least pretend to cover PMSH at the G8 meeting.

  3. After that, I'll never subscribe to the Telegraph-Journal.

    • The Irvings will be shattered.

      • Who?

        • The Irvings own the paper.

          • Thanks CR and ST (below).

            I was aware….I suppose I should have added an emoticon or (rolls eyes) to clarify….live and learn.

            But I did have to refresh my memory about Paul Zed (below); I recognized the name but not the link. In-laws, almost impossible to control who you inherit as an in-law.

            And is the TJ actaully making money? The Irvings never struck me as a family to hold onto money loosers.

        • The Irving family own all the main newspapers in NB.

          As an added distraction, Paul Zed is an Irving son-in-law.

          • Sisyphus, the Irving family has long been identified with the Liberal Party both federally and provincially, correct?

          • I think it's more fair to say they support the party in power.

            More often than not that has meant the Liberals, federally and provincially.

            They have had their elbows up with the Harper gummint over some decisions
            concerning their ship-building concerns.
            But as Bermuda tax exiles the family itself leaves a lighter footprint these days.

  4. For the record here is Aaron's 3 post titles. But who's counting?

    ‘We never throw Jesus out'
    Can I get a witness?
    ‘He consumed it'

    Inadvertently Aaron nailed it.

    • 4th, Enough Said
      He posted 4 times on wafergate

  5. http://www.regrettheerror.com/newspapers/new-brun

    Regret the Error (one of my favourite sites to visit now and then) is following this closely, particularly since the same paper recently fired an intern for a far lesser breach of journalistic ethics It sounds like the editor's and publisher's names were absent from the masthead today, which suggests heads may have rolled.

  6. A little late for a retraction now that the damage – such as it is – has been done, isn't it?

      • The staffing screw-up was not that the PM (might have, in somebody's fevered imagination) pocketed the host, it was that he took communion in the first place. The level of incompetence in allowing that to happen is rather mind-blowing.

        • Mind-blowingly incompetent, or mind-numbingly trivial?

          • Both.

          • agreed.

            let's play a fun game: where does PM need to make inroads? Quebec.

            what is the religion of choice of a lot of folk in Quebec? Catholic.

            whose 'trivial' doctines did the PM or his staff not bother to 'respect'? Catholics….

            …..hmmmmm…. trvial, maybe; mind-blowingly incompetent, without question.

          • It's a good thing that most Catholics couldn't care less about this utterly trivial "protocol breach".

          • I don't think it's trivial that a Prime Minister of Canada is totally unfamiliar with Catholicism.

          • Trivial.

            I look for perfection in my MP and in my PM; a perfect PM, with a pefect staff wouldn't have let this occur.

            But I recognize that I might / will have to settle for less than perfection, so I start to assess the significance and magnitude of the gaps between perfection and reality, and in this case I have a very difficult time getting worked up about this story.

            Did I mention that this is trivial?

        • The staffing screw-up was not that the PM (might have, in somebody's fevered imagination) pocketed the host, it was that he took communion in the first place. The level of incompetence in allowing that to happen is rather mind-blowing.

          Or perhaps, completely acceptable. From the Canadian Press story covering the TJ apology:

          The Roman Catholic archbishop who administered communion has said the prime minister did nothing wrong by consuming it, even though he is a Protestant.

          I don't think you could get it on much higher authority than that…I doubt the pope will weigh in. Care to retract? Or at least renounce your statement that the PM "is totally unfamiliar with Catholicism"?

          • Either I'm totally unfamiliar with Catholicism, or the PM is, or the archbishop is, or some combination of the three. It is news to me that anybody can waltz into Mass and take communion. I expect it would be news to the rest of the world too. My guess is that the archbishop meant that it's not a sin to accidentally take communion, i.e. if there is no intent to transgress. So the PM didn't sin (whew!) but it's still the case that communion at Mass is meant for people who are "in communion" with Rome, i.e. who are Catholics and who are not "excommunicated."

      • Jack Mitchell stole my reply — the staffing/advance issue was, of course, related to the PM being in a position where he felt he had to take communion anyway, so as far as I'm concerned, my criticism stands. I'm — rather puzzled by this apology, you can be sure, and am trying to determine *exactly what is being retracted*. I have to admit that I am stunned by the idea that a newspaper would fabricate quotes from a priest, which is why I'm trying to find out whether that is exactly what happened here. My apologies for the delay — I've been covering Oliphant, and haven't been able to sit down and go a-googlin' until now.

        • Kady, do you honestly take the mistaken act of taking communion as anything more than a minor thing, something that could easily escape the anticipation of most any political staff?

          Maybe I'm missing something here.

      • Facts – Harper is not a Catholic, took the host, was shown on camera not immediately consuming it, when confronted with this reality, his spokesperson said it had been immediately consumed. Why not simply say, he consumed it after sitting down or consumed it a short while later, if that is, in fact, what he did. He certainly did not consume it immediately like the people before and after him did.

        Soudas said earlier at the summit that Harper consumed the consecrated host immediately, within seconds of taking it from the priest, despite a video that suggests he did not. [from Toronto Star, which, as far as I know, has not yet apologized for printing this.]

        Not only do they lie, but they don't even lie very well. I'd call that some kind of problem, although I suspect it has more to do with Harper than with his staff.

    • What damage? The only people who would have been offended would be conservative catholics (who wouldn't vote for anyone else anyway, if and when they voted) or evangelical protestants (who ditto). The whole rest of us thought the whole thing, true or not, was a hoot. PM going for a "pocketful of miracles". Let us know how that works out, PM.

      • Harper's never come across as overly steeped in an appreciation for, or experience with, other cultures/nations/ways of thinking/arts/literature — that sort of thing. This incident (as fabricated and disseminated)cemented that parochial image to some extent, in addition to making his staff look incompetent. While the false incident was never a big deal to any thoughtful person, it's fair to say it was more than a distraction for the PM, and probably did some damage to his cause.

    • isn't that the crux o thef CPC election-related advertising MO?

  7. <a href="http://www.regrettheerror.com/newspapers/new-brun…” target=”_blank”>http://www.regrettheerror.com/newspapers/new-brun

    Regret the Error (one of my favourite sites to visit now and then) is following this closely, particularly since the same paper recently fired an intern for a far lesser breach of journalistic ethics. It sounds like the editor's and publisher's names were absent from the masthead today, which suggests heads may have rolled.

    • The intern didn't even breach ethics so much as make some dumb mistakes, including the wrong spelling of a surname.

    • Great link, Sean.

      • Thanks! Silverman does a great job of rounding up even mundane corrections – some merely funny, others controversial – and often provides good critical assessment of the media in the process.

  8. I wonder if Elizabeth May will now apologize for her windy screed: "Stephen Harper bashes religious and political protocol"

    But as (I think it is safe to assume) the only federal leader who recently finished a course in “The Eucharist,” I thought it would be worth at least explaining why what the Prime Minister did at the funeral was sacrilegious.
    (…)
    But Stephen Harper did not do that. He clearly accepted the host, his hand dropping to his side, where the fate of the host was obscured by the programme of the mass. Senator Kinsella says he saw him eat it later. No matter. By not receiving in that moment, his behaviour was sacrilege.

  9. I wonder if Elizabeth May will now apologize for her windy screed, entitled: "Stephen Harper bashes religious and political protocol".

    But as (I think it is safe to assume) the only federal leader who recently finished a course in “The Eucharist,” I thought it would be worth at least explaining why what the Prime Minister did at the funeral was sacrilegious.
    (…)
    But Stephen Harper did not do that. He clearly accepted the host, his hand dropping to his side, where the fate of the host was obscured by the programme of the mass. Senator Kinsella says he saw him eat it later. No matter. By not receiving in that moment, his behaviour was sacrilege.

    • mind-numbingly trivial.

      • Elizabeth who?

    • CR he still broke protocl by taking communion in the first.

      not that I want to keep this story going, but nowhere in the article do i see any new information that suggests Harper did not actually pocket the host the mea culpa acknowledges they could not prove he did.

      • Sure, it was a (possible) protocol breach, but it doesn't quite rise to the level of "sacrilege", as Ms. May claimed.

    • I read that meandering rant by Elizabeth May and I have to say it has to go down as the bizarrest piece of drivel ever penned by a party leader. This wasn't an off-the-cuff diatribe in an open mike, it was actually written down. I have to say that something about Harper sends her over the deep end. What a pathetic display and not worthy of a political leader or a supposed Christian. Hopefully Iggy will have the good sense to keep her at a safe distance.

  10. At first I thought this might be a non sequitur, but upon reflection you have my thanks for showing me what this story is really all about. Let's keep our fingers crossed that jarrid doesn't show up and hopelessly confuse me with some alternate – yet equally compelling – guidance.

  11. Irving Gerstein's next fundraising letter almost writes itself:
    Gotta level the playing field against that Liberal-friendly MSM. Send money so we can get our message out.

    The last (known) tag-team effort by Pablo Rodriguez and Krista Erickson netted the Tories a record amount in donations.

  12. At a state funeral? No, actually, I don't — it's not a major, career-ending move, unlike, some might argue, that ghastly mixup with the quotes at the closing press conference of the G20 — but attending a state funeral as a prime minister is a pretty big deal I would assume that advance would have briefed the church as to the fact that the PM wouldn't be taking communion, and brief the PM on what he should do if he should find himself in that situation.

    • Can't get enough crow I guess. Or is it your hat or maybe some dirt?

      I vote to keep the story alive.

      I can't wait for your next wafer Blog.

      • Dakota, I'm not sure why you're pointing the finger of blame at Kady. You should blame me, instead. I even took credit for coining the name "Wafergate".

        • And well deserved that credit was.

          • Thanks! I think I was responding to you when I coined it, shortly after the story broke. Scott Tribe then used the term in his blog, writing: "I can't take credit for the Wafergate moniker. Someone over at Macleans penned it.. which is why I put it in quotations when I used it." From there it spread to other Liberal blogs, and "Wafergate" was born.

            Obviously "-gate" names are the lowest form of political wit, and any fool can coin one, but I'm still happy to take credit for naming the stupidest scandal of them all.

          • Ah, but this one was perfect! Captured the absurdity of the whole thing in a nutshell.

  13. I believe you must be mistaking me for someone else, Dakota. Check the archives — I posted about it exactly twice: Once, as one of a number of then-recent incidents of staffing incompetence at PMO, and once as a copyright issue. That's all. Please feel free to once again retract your claim, as you quite graciously did over your previous misunderstandings on Abelrazik's marital status.

    • Watch it Kady. Next thing you know, Dakota will also be accusing you of polygamy…

    • Fact is, you, along with the other Lib-left media, took this story and swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker.

      Frankly, this "story" about the communion wafer was as newsworthy as reporting what the PM throws away in his trash. Nothing but tabloid journalism and the people involved in reporting anything other than the man who passed away should be ashamed.

      • Is it that the Lib-left media "took this story and swallowed it", or did they just put it in their pockets?

  14. Yikes — I usually do, but forgot in that case. I'll fix it right away. Sorry about that.

  15. I wait breathlessly Mr. Harper's apology on blaming the media for starting
    a war between the Anabaptists and the Calvinists

  16. Do we know who the Editor in question is? Does he/she still have a job?

    I wonder how often this happens. They could have at least done a Jane Taber and claimed that a senior-well-placed-most-trusted-insider-knowItAll gave them the information.

    I'm embarrassed for them.

  17. If anyone reading this is a practicing/active Catholic of any sort, I'd sure be interested to hear any observations about how (if at all) the whole communion thing has been received by yourself and/or fellow members.

    I know communion is serious business, but I'm unsure as to how breaching the rules around it is perceived.

    • I am not currently a practicing Catholic, but I was raised as a Catholic, I went to Catholic high school, and I have many Catholic friends, including a priest who was interviewed by G&M about this story. I have yet to find a Catholic who was seriously offended by the Wafergate™ allegations. Most think that the media furore was incredibly stupid.

    • i am lapsed but when i visited home last month it was raised by my mother who lives in a currently Tory riding and still not quite a casual Catholic but not exactly devout ("how stupid could he be to not know he wasn;t supposed to take it? And he does not even know what to do with it!") and my god parents (who were dismissive of the PM for what they saw as him being ignorant). the breaching of the rules is a pretty big deal in that world.

    • Catholic ( non-practicing skeptical and sneering variety ) and live in a predominantly Catholic area.
      The few Catholics that I've actually heard talk about the contraversy have been bemused, partly that
      the PM, as a non-Catholic would put himself in the position of taking communion at all when it
      wouldn't be expected of him

      Then, the only time I attend church these days is for weddings and funerals, which always include
      attendance , to some degree , by non-Catholics. And almost invariably they ask "what should I be
      doing ?". Did anybody on the PM's staff ask ? Did anybody answer ? Did anybody listen ?

    • Thanks to all!

    • Yes, Communion is "serious business" and so much more. And this is precisely the reason Christians are NOT reacting the way some partisans hoped.

      Any Catholic will tell you the only thing worse than consuming the Eucharist in an unworthy manner (i.e. wolfing it down for public appearances and without a sincere heart) might be to somehow cheapen the Lord's Supper into something that divides the Body of Christ for the lowest of all purposes: politics.

      This whole affair is sad indeed.

  18. Word on the street is that an editor's name has been removed from the Telegraph Journal's masthead.

    I'm simply dumbfounded. If the reporters who wrote the story and submitted it to the editors knew that the quote/source didn't come from them, wouldn't they have noticed it right away?

    And if they did, wouldn't they have told the powers that be of this?

    So why wait 3 weeks? How could this editor think that he/she would get away with it?

    • Your questions seem trivial. Of course they noticed it right away. But that does not mean they could do anything about it. Clearly, their attempts to remedy the situation were blocked until they threatened a lawsuit against their own editors. It takes time to pursue one course of action, determine legal assistance is required, seek legal advice, and then threaten a lawsuit.

    • In light of this, I will be keeping a close eye on the reaction from the PMO. After all, the "liberal media" has just been caught in flagrant deli, yes?

    • Complete and utter garbage, the type of thing not uncommon for BCL.

    • The Irving ShipYard interests have a court action against the gummint on
      an upgrade contract, I believe.
      And in this part of the world, any anger over it is directed at L'il MacKay.

  19. take a look at who owns the paper folks. Think about shipbuilding folks. Just saying……..

  20. The apology appears to be for saying that Harper put the wafer in his pocket. That seems to be something of a red herring. It is still not clear what he did do with it. It is evident from the film clip that he did not place it in his mouth upon receiving it, which is what one would normally do.

    • You are incorrect. It is clear from the apology that the camera cut away from Harper just before he ate it.

  21. Quite right. And why they are apologizing for the monsignor's quotes is beyond me. Unless he complained, but there is no sign of that.

  22. Irving – shipyards
    Irving – newspaper
    Irving on Flaherty's blue ribbon panel…..hmmmm…….

    boy, such close knit circles

    • You're on to something here…. it's all a giant shipbuilding conspiracy. Everyone's involved – Harper, the Catholic Church, the Irvings, the Irving-owned media, the unions, the Monsignor, Power Corporation, and even Canada Steamship Lines. And here we are babbling about wafers, completely unable to see the forest for the trees.

      • To be fair, the Irvings own the forests there too.

        • LOL.

        • And the government just offered $1billion to the forest industry! My god! Where are the aliens hiding?!?!

          • where's muldaur when you need him – don't forget the recent lights !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • There's no doubt Bush and Haliburton are involved.

  23. CTV's Bob Fife is reporting that Shawna Richer is no longer the paper's editor, and publisher Jamie Irving was also temporarily suspended.

  24. Keep digging, you're sinking deeper. He's not just anyone – he's the Prime Minister. He embarrassed us all by his lack of tact. His lack of sensitivity to other people's customs is deeply, deeply offensive.

    • Sinking deeper into what?

      • Who knows. I agree, the story is more of an indictment of the media than it is of the PMO or the PM.

    • Mulletaur, you're joking, right? I assume your statement was a parody of those partisan non-Catholics who pretended to be "offended" by this discredited pseudo-scandal.

    • You're joking, right? Otherwise you've joined Elizabeth Day who's completely unhinged on this topic. This always was about gutter, gotcha politics.

      Is it any wonder Harper keeps the media at bay, he'd be loco not to.

    • Ignorance is not the same as insensitivity.

  25. I wasn't embarassed – in point of fact after talking with quite a few friends regarding this the only embarassment with this pitiful excuse of a story is if any visitoris were here form somewhere else the media emabarassed us then and again now with the apology!

  26. not sure that is true CR…. but will take your word or it… it, unto itself, def not going to change the outcome of the election, but the CPC seems to continue its self-destruction by a thousand paper cuts in Quebec approach..

  27. And we have the media who gleefully jumped on this story with zeal in another attempt to "get" Stephen Harper and detract from his G8 appearances, now "excusing" the fabrication by their peers in short blurbs at the end of newscasts or small paragraphs attached to the back end of another article.

    Shame on Canada's media – all of you. No wonder you are ranked among the least trusted professions.

  28. What's with all the hand-wringing over whether or not Harper defied Catholic custom by accpeting Communion? The authoritative statement on this has already been made by the archbishop who presided over the service and gave the host to Harper. Unless you all think you know your religion better than an arch-bishop?

    From the Canadian Press story covering the TJ apology:

    The Roman Catholic archbishop who administered communion has said the prime minister did nothing wrong by consuming it, even though he is a Protestant.

  29. Not sure how many of y'all are still checking this thread, but I figure we may as well keep the discussion here rather than start a new one. Anyway, here's a question that just occurred to me: If, as suggested by some based on their interpretation of the apology, the paper fabricated at least one, and possibly more quotes from Henneberry, why doesn't the apology extend to him, as well?

    • That's a very good question.

      I really really really hope this gets cleared up. The rest of the media are focusing more on the "wafer in the pocket" part of the story, but the part to me that is really galling is the other part of the story that they admit had no basis in fact; that the priest demanded the PMO to explain what happened to the wafer. So far the only conclusion that I can draw is that the quote they ran was never spoken, since the quote itself is basically the demand for explanation; but I have to say that conclusion is disturbing.

      Kady, if the paper won't comment, can you get a comment from the priest?

      • I will do my best, although when I was going through older stories today, it seems that the diocese went no comment midway through the second day of coverage, and I'm not sure if that's still the policy. Never hurts to call, though, right? I agree with you — *if* — and I'm leaving it as an "if" for now for reasons outlined as well — it turns out that someone at the paper made up fake quotes from a real priest in order to push this story forward, that goes far, far beyond sloppy editing, and that person — and everyone involved — should be drummed out of the profession for life. I'd have to think it would also be grounds for a pretty hefty lawsuit as well. But until there's some clarification, I'm not willing to accuse any journalist, or editor, of such an egregious, unforgiveable breach of ethics, journalistic and, well, just in general.

        • I'm going to cancel my subscription to the Telegraph-Journal as soon as I can figure where it is located and how to subscribe to it.

          Look at the wording of the retractionm would you all. "There was no credible support for these statements of fact"

          In Watergate terms, it means they cannot be verified, and the original sources, which could on fact have been the individuals quoted, have been found to not be credible – therefore not warranting an apology.

          This is not to say, however, that the event they described never occured, although it is interesting how the PPG is using this previously unknown paper to try and place the blame on them for their similar coverage.

          Sad, really.

          • Maybe it was previously unknown to you, but I've known the last three Ottawa correspondents to the TJ — including Rob Linke, who works out of the Hot Room as well. As for your interpretation, that's a very interesting analysis, and raises the question of whether a journalist can be held solely responsible — ethically, that is, not legally — for including quotes from a named individual who, by virtue of his position, could be argued would almost certainly hold a position of considerable trust and respect within the community. Honestly, this apology seems to raise at least as many questions as it answers, which is why I'm not prepared to cast judgment until I know the facts. I don't feel that I have anything to apologize for as far as my coverage of the story, however.

          • Here's a possibility as well KOM which may be beyond your HotRoom peers.

            The Publisher/editor was threatened with legal action once it appeared that the video evidence was inconclusive, and they cratered.

          • Well Kady, if Rob Linke works with you, there seems an obvious solution to your queary: ask him what Msgr Henneberry said in his interview with the paper. You might also want to ask him how long the interview was: 5 mins, 10 mins, 1 hr? And ask whether the salacious quotes came as part of a single sentence, or were they cribbed together from different parts of a rather long interview. I'm not acually suggesting that Mr. Linke did this, but I seem to recall a certain tape recorder with a 5 hr long file that another friend of yours mined to pull out two somewhat salacious quotes not that long ago. You never know what you might find if you don't ask.

    • Good question. One would have to assume (I suppose, although my knowledge of all this from a profession standpoint is obviously nil) that if the quote was made up, or even a matter of "a friend of a friend told me the priest said.." that an apology should be forthcoming to the Priest as well. So was there something off about what Henneberry said? (hopefully Henneberry is the Priest their citing in their story or else I'll look like a dolt here with my spec). Did said Priest have a direct quote in the initial article? Maybe there's something in there that would explain part of this – I'm assuming TJ has taken the initial article off the web.

      • The priest is quoted extensively, and directly, in the original article, which is still available — for the moment, at least — here. He also gave at least one subsequent interview to CanWest, in which he responded to the statement from PMO that the wafer was consumed, saying that, "if they said that, that's fine" — which is not exactly what I would expect him to say if he was misquoted or misrepresented in the original story, what with the kerfuffle that had already resulted.

        This is why I find the portion of the apology dealing with the first statement so confusing; as I've already noted upthread, as far as the second statement, it was, indeed, very sloppy editing to state that the PM had slipped the wafer into his pocket as fact, and not as an allegation allegedly made by the still unnamed parishioner to the priest. Allegedly. That was clarified in subsequent articles, and the priest himself makes it clear to the TJ that he didn't see what the PM did with the host.

        • There's definitely something amiss here. I agree, why cite what the Priest said as relevant to the apology? If he was commenting under the assumption that PMSH didn't consume the wafer, I don't see why he'd be part of any apology. It's not like they were relying on said Priest as a source – they do cite the video we've all seen, so they would have watched that as well. There's nothing particularly damning about what the Priest said – at least in any sort of legal context – the only time he cites any sort of opinion outside commenting on the initial story was when he cites the conversation he had with a fellow Catholic (as well as the other "official" who suggested the group watching on the pool feed had a particular opinion on something).

          • No, but certain individuals — including a few posting in this thread — are taking the first statement to imply that the paper *fabricated a quote or quotes* from the priest, which – in my book, at least – would be far more outrageous than running a story based on those quotes, and the inconclusive video. What concerns me is, as noted by Dot above, that most of the coverage is focusing on the second statement, when really, the implications of the first would be far more damning if that interpretation proved to be correct.

          • Well Kady, National Newswatch is now speculating that they fabricated the entire interview.

          • Fabricating the quotes seems like something that would take a lot quicker than 3 weeks to fall apart, unless there are legal reasons why things like this were kept hush-hush. I do understand what you're saying – and agree – particularly from your own perspective as a journalist. However, again I wonder aloud – why the statements are considered pertinent to anything related to the apology, unless I'm just reading too much into it and the paper is just being fully descriptive in terms of acknowledging which article they're citing.

          • ?? The whole point is that they mischaracterized what he said. Therefore they harmed the reporter's reputation and they defamed the priest. But the priest did not threaten them with a lawsuit.

          • Where, exactly, does the apology acknowledge having defamed, or specifically misquoting the priest? I think you're reading a lot into a very terse and lawyerly statement that aren't necessarily there, and you'll forgive me, I'm sure, if I'm not willing to do the same without knowing more of the facts behind the story.

          • Where, exactly, does the apology acknowledge having defamed, or specifically misquoting the priest? I think you're reading a lot into a very terse and lawyerly statement that isn't necessarily there, and you'll forgive me, I'm sure, if I'm not willing to do the same without knowing more of the facts behind the story.

          • I'm not sure defamed is the correct word. Perhaps "intentionally misquoted".

            "The story stated that a senior Roman Catholic priest in New Brunswick had demanded that the Prime Minister's Office explain what happened to the communion wafer "

            "There was no credible support for these statements of fact at the time this article was published, nor is the Telegraph-Journal aware of any credible support for these statements now"

            It is clearly stating that there is evidence the priest said what they reported he said. In other words, he was misrepresented. Credible support would include either:
            -someone heard him say it or
            -he confirms he said it

            If nobody heard him say it, and he will not confirm he said it, then to conclude that he actually might have said it anyway is not what I'd call ethical behaviour.

          • Have you read the original story? It included direct quotes from the priest to the reporter, including one in which he does, indeed, demand an explanation from the prime minister. Either the priest never said what was quoted, in which case he would indeed deserve an apology — possibly even more grovelling than that given to the reporters and the prime minister — or he did, and you're misinterpreting the apology. Maybe he isn't a "senior" priest, and that is what was inaccurate about the statement.

          • I am certainly not disputing that he deserves an apology. I just have no particular surprise, given the circumstances, that he did not get one, because I don't think that the individuals offering the apology have a high standard of journalistic ethics.

          • Well, you've also questioned *my* journalistic ethics on this story, as well as every single other media outlet that reported on the controversy, for not "verifying" the quotes from the priest, when, in fact, the vicarage ceased providing commentary midway through the second day of the scandal, and – in fact – in one of the few post-TJ interviews, the priest *did not inform the reporter in question* that he had been misquoted.

            Look, if what you seem to be alleging is true — that the paper *fabricated a quote from a priest* — that would mean that we are *all* owed an apology as well – and an explanation, and a full detailing of exactly which quotes were not, in fact, accurate. I get the impression that you think we — journalists, that is — don't, as a rule, see fabricating quotes as a big deal, and I think I can speak on behalf of the vast majority of my colleagues when I say that that is absolutely, positively not the case *at all*.

    • The answer is obvious – the priest did not threaten them with a lawsuit. The apology only happened, 3 weeks later, because of potential legal action, so there is nothing truly contrite about it.
      You appear to be wondering why a group of people with no scruples are acting like they have no scruples.

  30. That would also seem to be a possibility, yes. I don't know why you're being so hostile towards me; I'm not actually disagreeing with you, or anyone. I'm just explaining my reaction to this story, which is one that, for obvious reasons, strikes very close to home for anyone involved in this business – as well as those outside, of course.

    • Well, you're reading my hostility wrong. I just saw it on the National, and frankly, in addition to here, I find its a non story, non story that is getting far too much play. A bit of unfair piling on the folks of the Telegraph-Journal, whomever they are.

  31. This media story shows the lengths the media will go to paint Stephen Harper in a bad light.

    The left/lib establisment has a stranglehold on the media and the double standard that they apply to non left/lib politicians compared to their left/lib brethren is truly and utterly appalling. It's gutter reporting.

    • Among the many things about which you know nothing we can now include the
      New Brunswick media.

      • Do they have really have independent media in NB? J.C. thought otherwise.

  32. With all due respect, I have seen no confirmation that there was legal action threatened by, or against, any party; given the context in which we are having this discussion, I'm somewhat surprised that you would take an anonymously sourced claim as fact, and rely on that to form a conclusion on what happened here.

    • Well, not that it has any bearing, but I'd like to point out that it's clear that you and other media sources such as the CBC took a dishonestly-sourced claim, by repeating a false story that was reported elsewhere without doing any verification of your own.

      Anyway, regarding the possibility that there was possibly legal activity threatened, what other reason would there be for a 3 week delay? There is no other rational explanation for the fact that this error was suddenly discovered 3 weeks later. It was not discovered 3 weeks later! It was reported 3 weeks later. There was nobody going over old stories looking for possible inaccuracies. The falsehoods were known all along, but it took some additional "prodding" for a correction to be reported.

    • '' I'm somewhat surprised that you would take an anonymously sourced claim as fact, and rely on that to form a conclusion on what happened here.''

      How many articles are written with ''anonymous sources, insiders close to …'' and presented as truths….
      Too many.
      At least this fabricated story came to light. How many don't…too many.

      • But this wasn't one of those stories. That's the point. The source for the allegation was the priest, and he was named in the article, and quoted extensively under his own name.

  33. No, I don't believe that's what NNW is speculating at all; it appears to be asking the same question that I did earlier today, namely, why did the priest do a second interview, in which he said nothing about having been misquoted by the Telegraph Journal. We already discussed that second article upthread, remember?

  34. No, I don't believe that's what NNW is speculating at all; it appears to be asking the same question that I did earlier today, namely, why did the priest do a second interview, in which he said nothing about having been misquoted by the Telegraph Journal? We already discussed that second article upthread, remember? (That link has been on the front page for hours now.)

    • Ah, reading it closer you are correct…seems like they intended it as a rhetorical. My bad…

    • Maybe he had no idea at the time he had been misquoted. Maybe he doesn't care (which also helps explain why he was not referenced in the apology). Maybe he would rather not inflame the situation by claiming to be misquoted. Maybe he just wanted to end the whole thing one way or another.

      • None of those explanations seem all that plausible, to be honest. If he had no idea at the time, he soon would afterwards — like, as soon as the story appeared, and the phone at the vicarage began ringing with other media outlets seeking interviews. It's hard to see how anyone wouldn't care about a local newspaper making up quotes, ostensibly from you, that call into question the actions of the prime minister of the country, which subsequently turn into a nation-wide mini cause celebre for the next few days. It's just not a believable scenario. What seems more likely to me is that he wasn't misquoted, and that those who are reading the apology to mean that there were fabrications, and not sloppy editing that asserted fact — that the prime minister *had* slipped the wafer into his pocket — rather than allegation — that a local priest claims that a parishioner told him she *saw* the prime minister do so — are deliberately exaggerating the conclusion to back up their hatred for the media.

        • OK, I take offense to this. I don't think I'm deliberately exaggerating anything. To me, the only conclusion that fits the facts of the apology and the initial story is that the TJ is backing away from the quote. If they were comfortable with that quote, there would be no reason at all to state that the "fact" that a priest wanted an explanation from the PMO was not supportable. Your suggestion that maybe he isn't a "senior" priest is risible; I hope you meant that as a joke.

          Maybe they screwed up issuing the apology, but that's not for me to decide. From what has been published so far, no other scenario fits the facts, and I take umbrage at the suggesting that I am "exaggerating" the apology; rather, it seems I am the only one willing to point out the rather shocking implication of what has been published. Certainly the rest of the media don't want to go there.

          • I definitely wasn't thinking of you when I used the words "deliberately exaggerated" — in fact, as far as I can see, we agree that there is still some ambiguity over exactly what the paper is apologizing for having done. But if, as you suggest, the TJ is "backing away from the quote", there would be absolutely no excuse for not stating, explicitly, that it was fabricated, and that the interview either never took place, or the priest did not say what the paper reported that he had. The lack of clarity on the point is *extremely* disturbing to me, as a journalist, because – and I apologize if I'm repeating myself, but it's worth stressing — inventing quotes, and putting them in the mouths of real people, with real reputations, is a) legally actionable and b) probably the most egregious lapse of journalistic ethics possible, although it may be tied with plagiarism. In my opinion, it's even worse than making up a person and pretending to interview them, even, and that's pretty damn bad as well. If that's what happened here, the TJ should say so, and owes the priest, its readers and everyone else an even more abject apology. If it isn't, however, they shouldn't be accused of having done so.

            And no, I wasn't actually kidding when I suggested that it could be that this wasn't, in fact, a "senior" priest, and I've seen another possible explanation given, which is that his words do not actually rise to the level of "demanding" a statement. You may not agree with those interpretations, but as it stands, the apology simply doesn't make it clear which part(s) of the sentence were without "credible support" and contains about as much information to support your contention as any other. Without more information, it's infuriatingly cryptic, and leaves anyone with no alternative but to come to their own conclusions about exactly what the paper is acknowledging having done wrong.

          • Kady, how common is it for editors to insert substantive bits into a piece?

          • Depends what you mean by "substantive" — a line or two of background? Not that unusual — although almost never done without checking with the reporter first. Changing the wording — which is what seems to be what may have happened with the second statement — even more common, although a good editor will always check to make sure that they aren't inadvertently altering the meaning and rendering the result inaccurate or otherwise misleading. The problem here is that the apology doesn't make it clear which parts were "inserted" after the fact. Was it just those two lines? Was it more? Unfortunately, the paper seems unwilling to provide any further clarification, allowing every flavour of conspiracy theory to flourish. As a journalist, I'd just like to know if I can read the front page of a paper and have some confidence that a direct quote attributed to an individual did, in fact, come from that individual, and wasn't invented out of whole cloth during the editing process.

          • Thanks! That's more or less how I understood things to work.

            As things stand, I suppose we'll have to wait for one of the involved parties to give more detail: the priest, either of the two journalists, the editor, etc. Surely one of those has to open up at some time.

            But while we're left spinning our wheels, I'd also express some curiousity regarding the relatively passive stance taken by the PMO. You'd think they'd be tearing new ones for anyone involved, and demanding an apology that wasn't so obfuscated. (And I don't mean any grand conspiracy or anything, but you've got to admit they are showing uncharacteristic restraint – perhaps because of the Church connection and the unseemly nature of a scandal attached to a state funeral, but nevertheless uncharacteristic .)

          • Fair enough, thank you for clarifying. But those possible explanations are pretty nit-picky details that to me don't rise to the level of being the very first item mentioned as erroneous in a front page apology to the PM and reporters, nor would they require the editor and publisher to be fired. If it was something like that, surely they would have mentioned the part about pocketing the wafer first in the apology?

          • I can certainly understand why this is important to journalists and think you are on to something.

            I can't see the apology being for using the word "senior". This is how the priest was described: Monsignor Brian Henneberry, vicar general and chancellor in the Diocese of Saint John and from his picture he looks reasonably senior in years.

            I also can't see that they simply fabricated the quote and are apologizing only to the Prime Minister and their reporters for that.

            But whether, by including the reference to the priest in the apology they mean to take back something they wrongly attributed to the priest (senior, demanding, somewhat altered quote,…), whether they actually mean to cast doubt on the priest himself (the quote stands but he is not a credible source) or whether they are just using the vague priest part to have the apology be seen as more encompassing than simply whether the wafer definitely went into Harper's pocket or not, is unclear.

            Actually, none of these possibilities seem credible – almost as unlikely as fabricating the quote and not even publicly apologizing to the priest. It is a puzzle as to what the priest is doing in the apology which is directed only at the PM and not at the priest.

  35. No Dot, on the English side there are only two sources, CBC and Irving. It might be better on the French side (L'Acadie Nouvelle was independently run the last I heard) but I can't be sure.

    • Somebody tried to start a paper in Miramichi a couple of years ago but
      couldn't compete with an Irving ad rate attack.

  36. But, of course, CTV's participation in airing Dion flubbed takes days before an election – and jumped on by all the usual media suspects – is not at all evidence of anything.

    • That actually happened. For real.

    • Diane, here's the "outrageous" question that CTV asked Dion to answer:

      "CTV: Mr. Dion, the economy is now the issue on the campaign, and on that issue you've said that today that Harper has done nothing to put Canadians' mind at ease and offers no vision for the country. You have to act now, you say; doing nothing is not an option. If you were prime minister now, what would you have done about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper has not done."

      The question is only difficult to answer if you'd been demagoging the issue as Dion had been doing, and not having a credible answer to offer in return, which he didn't. The interview showed the Liberal's hypocrisy on what had become the central issue in the campaign.

    • I don't think that situation was anything like this one, to be honest. What is being inferred from the apology is that the newspaper fabricated quotes from a priest, which is a whole new level of unethical behaviour, the likes of which I don't believe I can recall ever having seen during my days in this business. You can understand, I'm sure, why I am so interested in finding out whether that is, indeed, what happened.