I am pleased to see that Brent Stafford, shill for the Postmedia Group and Resource Works and their unqualified support for Woodfibre LNG, has chosen to respond in the social media to articles of mine written in this publication.
Stafford defends the notion that you can interview with one interviewer then have that interview voiced over by different interviewer and published as if the result was fair, ethical and accurate. He could not have made my point better than by producing the interview by a male and then showing it re-done by the very attractive Meena Mann, whom the subject, Dr. Michael Hightower – a globally-recognized expert on LNG tanker safety – had never heard of.
It must be noted that the viewer is not told about this switch and has every reason to believe that the interview was done in person throughout by Ms. Mann.
This isn’t doctoring an interview?
Stafford believes that this is good journalism – I am in no position to argue the moral precepts of modern journalism but say that it is a highly deceptive practice and done deliberately. I invite you to listen to both interviews and consider the inflection in the voice from Ms.Mann and her body language, including nodding, smiles and so on.
This is not what Dr. Hightower heard when he was being interviewed and lest you think that is minor, consider how much the inflection in the voice and the body language matters in normal social intercourse. Anyone who has pled cases in the courts knows how many ways you can ask a question and how many ways you can look, gesticulate, and visually work with words as you do, and the difference that can make even though the words are precisely the same.
If this were not so, why wouldn’t Resource Works and Mr. Stafford use the male interviewer, his face, and his gesticulations? Without seeing the guy, I think we can assume that he is not as nice looking as Ms. Mann nor as charming and pleasant to watch. Surely that’s done in order to make the interview itself more convincing and watchable.
It was this practice I condemned by article here and do so again now. It is a shabby deceptive practice intended to deceive and, rather than alleviate that conclusion, Stafford emphasizes and enforces it.
What is interesting are the recommended distances that LNG tankers must maintain from shore according to Dr. Hightower and his Sandia Laboratories. The on-the-water research of Commander Roger Sweeny, RCN, Ret. and the academic work of Dr. Eoin Finn is anathema to Woodfibre LNG and its shady owners.
There’s a reason that Stafford and his clients and partners, Resource Works and Postmedia, avoid this question like it was Ebola. The Sandia recommendations, as you might imagine, are most unhelpful to Woodfibre LNG. In fact, they have spent the time since this was exposed in The Common Sense Canadian, to remain studiously silent on the subject.
Speaking of Dr. Finn – a Howe Sound resident, retired KPMG partner and chemistry PhD – Stafford did a number on him that made me feel ill. It looked like an interview but was anything but. Stafford displayed Dr. Finn making a number of statements elsewhere at different times as if he knew he was in a debate with Captain Stephen Brown, spokesman for the LNG tanker industry. Captain Brown then gave his lengthy industry-biased replies. Needless to say, it would have spoiled everything if Stafford had given Dr. Finn a chance to respond.
In response to a series of tweets Stafford has levelled at me, I have raised this pseudo-interview but in spite my urging that he come clean, he won’t deal with this.
I have repeatedly asked him to explain how a newspaper chain Postmedia (which publishes his video blog) can take an official partnership position on one side of a very public issue when basic journalism ethics require that they remain neutral? How can they pretend to present fair coverage of the LNG and the Woodfibre application issue to the public when they are financially involved supporting them? Stafford refuses to answer.
I’ve asked him about his playacting as a journalist in his gig with the Province and he replies that since he explains what he’s doing its quite OK to fake evenhanded journalism.
I allege no lawbreaking – only misleading make-believe journalism. I can only imagine what Jack Webster, the toughest but always fair journalist, would say if he were alive.
Let me end this part of my response to Stafford by saying that any legitimate enterprise, which is telling the truth about what it intends to do and the consequences, doesn’t need to resort to deceptive practices and glib pseudo journalism to make their case. Furthermore, legitimate enterprises are prepared to meet the questions and criticisms raised and to do so honestly and forthrightly.
My recommendation is that if you want to hear the results of Woodfibre LNG’s propaganda machine, totally unaffected by the truth, that the place to go is Resource Works, the Postmedia Press and Mr. Stafford.
All others – stay tuned.