In more than six years of existence, they’ve thrown the spotlight on those who purposefully and consistently mislead the public about political matters and, most especially, liberalism. Whether we’re talking about political conservatives, pundits or journalists, anyone who screws up gets written up. Bill O’Reilly, Don Imus and Laura Schlessinger are just three of the many media personalities whose reputations have deservedly taken hits thanks to the singling out of their very public mistakes.
You can now add Ezra Levant to the list.
On September 5th, The Toronto Sun published a column of his they probably wish they hadn’t. Repeating a false story that numerous conservatives have recited over the years, Levant erroneously claimed that when Hungarian billionaire George Soros was a teenager he “collaborated with the Nazis” in order to spare his own life during World War II. It’s a dastardly canard that Ann Coulter, among others, have asserted with zero proof in recent years. (The real story about that period of his life can be read here. It’s quite chilling.) Not only that, Levant wrongly asserted other nasty falsehoods which are thoroughly debunked here.
Eight days later, the paper received a “letter of complaint” from Soros’ attorney. Unsurprisingly, the column has since been removed from torontosun.com as well as ezralevant.com.
On Sept 17th, The Globe & Mail reported Soros’ plans to sue Levant and the tabloid for defamation. That same day, The Sun noted in a four-paragraph piece published in the Comment section that despite “always intend[ing] to publish a retraction and apology for this column”, both parties couldn’t agree “on the content of a retraction.”. Nevertheless, the paper unreservedly retracted Levant’s false claims and apologized “for the distress and harm this column may have caused to him.”. Translation: please don’t sue us, George. We admit it. We fucked up. Now leave us be.
Three days later, Media Matters For America picked up the story. The non-profit liberal organization, long dedicated to exposing conservative misinformation about liberals and various other subjects related to politics, finally highlighted a Canadian newspaper and a columnist long worthy of their scrutiny. May it not be the last time they do so.
This whole embarrassing episode reminds me of an idea I’ve wanted to express in this space for years, so here goes. We need a Media Matters For Canada, a Great White North offshoot of the American non-profit that is as equally dedicated to calling out bullshit in our media as the original group is south of the border. We need people with strong stomachs and excellent journalistic credentials to keep a close eye on publications like The National Post and The Toronto Sun (while they still exist). Put it this way: As long as Ezra Levant has a job in the media and continues to appear on TV, the need for an organization like this remains high.
Meanwhile, despite the removal of the libellous column and the offering of a retraction and apology, there’s still the business of Levant’s Twitter account. If you dig deep into his archives, you’ll notice that many of the false claims he asserted in his column can still be found on numerous entries dating September 7th.
Presenting the debunked smears from his infamous column as questions, he nevertheless stubbornly insists that “every word of it [is] true” and that “U may disagree with my commentary but u can’t dispute my facts (Soros doesn’t)”. (What is he, Prince?) Judging from the letter of complaint and the public retraction by The Sun, the billionaire actually does dispute his “facts”. Strongly, in fact.
Never one to shut up when he fucks up, Levant keeps piling on dangerously. Soros is “morally hollow” and “dead inside”, he lamely asserts. “He could have resisted evil. Or even stayed neutral. But he joined evil and helped it,” he dishonestly claims. When fellow twitterer Rob Helms (rjhelms) asks, “So was your piece about SunTV and the Avaaz petition, or was your main point Soros is a Nazi?” Levant’s reply: “Both I guess. They’re related.”
There’s more but you get the idea. Interestingly, as of this writing, Levant has not acknowledged the removal of his column nor offered any personal remorse for his unprofessional conduct on Twitter. Despite a succession of entries in the last two weeks, he’s stopped writing about Soros altogether. Considering how Levant attached his name to The Sun’s apology and retraction, is it really that smart to keep these libellous tweets on his account a second longer, especially when his employer no longer supports what he wrote in the paper?
Mr. Soros, you’ve got more ammunition for your lawsuit. Follow this twit’s tweets.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 22, 2010