Doug Ford has hired reporters to cover his election campaign
With Ontario's general election fast approaching, PC Party leader Doug Ford is taking precautions against the threat of fake news by creating news of his own—with fake reporters, fake information and a fake network.
A series of videos posted to the Ontario PC Party Facebook page in past weeks feature a woman with a microphone interviewing voters about everything from how much they love Ford to how much they hate Kathleen Wynne.
The format of these clips is much like any local TV story—it's got stand-ups, voice-overs, b-roll, chyrons and a clear-voiced, energetic reporter.
Except the woman isn't a reporter; she's Doug Ford's executive assistant—a position that no journalist would ever even think about coming close to holding if they ever wanted to work in news again.
"For Ford Nation Live, I'm Lyndsey Vanstone," says the woman, who once entered a contest to become Charlie Sheen's assistant, at the end of each Facebook video.
A 3D-animated "Ford Nation Live" graphic then spins into frame, lending the videos further resemblance to actual news.
A total of 11 videos styled this way have gone up since April 19. The first, named "Doug Ford Calls on the Millionaires Club Running Hydro One to Resign," has racked up the most of any so far—over 1 million in just two weeks.
In it, Vanstone refers to Ford as "the soon to be premier."
Sharp viewers will be quick to recognize that the "Ford Nation Live" videos are not professional newscasts, but what about those who aren't as media savvy?
It's not a stretch to expect that some voters will take everything in the Ford campaign's videos as unbiased truth.
Of course, Ford isn't the only politician to have done something like this.
In an interview with CBC News, Ford's communications director Melissa Lantsman pointed out that former news anchor Ben Chin did a series of partisan "Liberal TV" YouTube videos for the Ontario Liberal party back in 2007.
"It's a form of message control. All parties do this," said Carleton University journalism school director Josh Greenberg to the National Post this week.
"It's the way in which they’re choosing to do it that is unique," he continued, referring to the Ford Campaign's recent videos. "The use of a legacy-media aesthetic — the look and feel of a traditional news broadcast."
Ford will face off against Ontario Liberal leader (and current premier) Kathleen Wynne in this year's provincial election on June 7.
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