The Media Not Able To Legally Tell A Lie…Could It Be So?

Last Updated: February 1, 2024

There are only two things that are certain in this world, death and taxes. The other things that are pretty certain are that you can’t believe everything that you hear or read, especially when it comes to the media. None of us likes to be lied to, but it is just a part of life, and an evil necessity, or is it only in America?

In Canada, it is not only inappropriate to lie as a journalist, but it is also illegal. Is it really possible that the Canadian judiciary would uphold a law that makes it against the law to lie to the Canadian citizens, but who exactly is going to be responsible for leading the charge to go after offenders?

Not having the ability to lie in media is not new to Canadian law. We fashion ourselves much differently than our American cohorts when it comes to the freedom of the press. In Canada, no one is given the right to lie in journalism under the guise “freedom of press”.

So, when Ottawa decided not to revoke our rule of not having the luxury of lying on our broadcast news outlets, no one was very shocked, besides those who were trying to encroach their American ways.

The planned April launch of a new broadcast channel Sun TV is at the heart of the new debate about freedom of journalism and broadcast news media. Sun TV was set to be a satellite to the popular conservative news channel FOX News in American.

Some top executives list the heaviest hitters from the conservative voice such as Stephen Harper’s communication directors and Raegan’s former adviser Roger Ailes. When they told a leading reporter from the Toronto Star that Sun TV’s responsibility was to take on the mainstream media by injecting the same conservative news that is popular in the states, many said, “Not here, not now”.

In stepped the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) who decided not to relax the rules set forth by the prohibited programming content. The law states that broadcasting may not present misleading or false news on any news channel to the Canadian public. Insisting that it in no way runs counter to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it was acknowledged that you can’t say whatever you want and then claim that you have the freedom to present news anyway that you want. That is not the Canadian way.

Many Canadians have been opposed to FOX News North as it is being labeled. A country that prides itself on having more of a slant to the liberal side of politics isn’t very interested in things slanting to the right in misleading ways.

The news should be the news, not a political spin that is fabricated by commentary disguised as news. Most Canadians believe that is one of the things that separates us from the rest of the world. The law that has been on the books for over a decade will stand true without budge.

Those wishing to spread Sun TV to our broadcasting lineup aren’t pleased with what is going on. Insisting that it is the freedom of press rule that keeps the media honest, they say that it is because the government is not allowed to say who is an honest journalist and who isn’t. If the government is allowed to decide who is being truthful, they believe, is just one step away from the government owning the media in the land.

The problem is that the American way is to protect media, both good and bad. With various rulings being brought against media outlets, courts have withheld the right of a journalist to mislead the facts and present falsehoods to the public without any recourse. Because an American court can’t find “malice” in what a rogue journalist reports, they won’t hold them accountable either.

It would probably be a good idea for America to have some basis for journalism, perhaps a license or some checks and balances keeping everyone honest. It may be a much easier system to navigate. Since we see what goes on in Canada as Fox New’s slogan, “fair and balanced” our belief is to keep on doing things the way we always have, with truth and honesty in media the old fashioned way, not misleading or lying.
Author Bio: Kevin Bessant, Detroit Criminal Lawyer.

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