Off to a great start: Sun News president explains “Iggy in Iraq” goof
This morning’s papers from the Sun Media chain have a special feature on page 3, and no it’s not an attempt to pick up the Maxim market. Pierre Karl Péladeau, president and CEO of Sun owner Quebecor Media, took to the pages of his papers to explain just why the chain and TV network ran its bizarre story about Michael Ignatieff’s role in planning the Iraq War (which, to be clear, turned out to be non-existent). From Péladeau’s account in the Toronto Sun:
Three weeks ago, our vice-president for Sun News, Kory Teneycke, was contacted by the former deputy chief of staff to Prime Minister Harper, Patrick Muttart. He claimed to be in possession of a report prepared by a “U.S. source” … [which] suggested that rather than being an observer from the sidelines, as he wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece… Ignatieff was in fact on the front lines and on the ground at a forward operating base in Kuwait, assisting U.S. State Department and American military officials in their strategy sessions. Muttart also provided a compelling electronic image of a man very closely resembling Michael Ignatieff in American military fatigues, brandishing a rifle in a picture purported to have been taken in Kuwait in December 2002.
Check out the pretty dubious, low-rez picture the Sun management was snookered into believing was Ignatieff at the source.
Our first reaction to this story? Good on PKP and the Sun papers for being so forthcoming about the process that went into making this pretty serious unforced error. Our second, less charitable, reaction is—seriously? The management of a multi-million-dollar corporation was hoodwinked by a crappy photo and a tale that was debunked within hours of appearing online?
Since the mea culpa went live, the Conservative Party has confirmed to CBC that it did indeed provide the material and has also apparently fired Muttart for the whole fiasco. Strangely, Péladeau seems to think that the Conservatives were trying to discredit QMI and specifically Sun News. But we find that a little hard to swallow—if there was more going on than the simple belief that the Sun would publish what it was fed, we’ll eat tomorrow’s page 3.