The Ontario government just launched its own news channel
For someone who aligns himself with the whole "fake news!" crowd, Doug Ford seems to be putting a lot of time and money into the production of news that is in no way actual news.
A recently-launched Twitter account called "Ontario News Now" published a video this week in which Ford's former executive assistant and current deputy director of communications, Lyndsey Vanstone, recaps the premier's first month in office.
"Since his inauguration on June 29, Premier Ford has been off to the races — literally," says Vanstone as the picture cuts to Ford meeting voters at Woodbine Racetrack.
At just over one minute long, the video is presented in the same style as a typical TV news segment — in fact, you might even mistake it for one if you didn't know better.
It's got chryons, a sign-off, fast-moving clips and an interview with Ford himself. Vanstone, a former broadcast journalist, also looks and sounds just like any other reporter you might see with a microphone at Queen's Park.
What sets her apart is that she's being paid by the Ontario government to produce content about the Ontario government — and there's a big difference between "content" and "news."
Ontario News Now is only "news" in the same way that almost every corporation has a news section on its website to announce product launches and aggregate quotes from VPs.
When Ford released similar TV-news-style videos in the run up to June's provincial election, they could most generously be classified as "campaign materials."
THIS SHOULD BE ILLEGAL! If it isn’t already. My tax dollars should not be allowed to go to alt right, Pro Ford propaganda I don’t support. I hope the CRTC shuts this down. Nobody wants this rebadged Ford Nation crap. SHUT IT DOWN!— Chris Whitfield (@RealCWhitfield) August 1, 2018
Many in the province were upset to learn that the Ontario News Now page is being paid for with tax dollars.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that, just like during his election campaign, Ford is getting cagier by the day when it comes to answering questions from actual reporters.
"The launch of the social media account comes on the same day journalists questioned Ford government communications staff over behaviour during news conferences," wrote Global News on Tuesday.
"The behaviour, which appears to be designed to limit questions, was something journalists observed throughout the Ford campaign. It has also been apparent at press conferences since the premier took office last month."
After answering a handful of questions @MacLeodLisa staffers and other PC staff clap on cue to drown out reporters...something we have seen at most @fordnation news conferences. Caught tail end, press gallery colleague @ColinDMello stands up for media & tells them to stop #ONPoli pic.twitter.com/EX5DppxzN6— Travis Dhanraj (@Travisdhanraj) July 31, 2018
The Ontario News Network promises in its Twitter bio to serve up "timely exclusive content on the PC government's priorities for the people of Ontario."
"You cut social programs because 'it costs too much', but it's totally okay to spend money on your own feel good propaganda media?" wrote one voter on Twitter this morning. "Go f*ck yourself Douche Ford."
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