Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dear Amy MacPherson

I'd like to thank you for making me part of your deranged story defending Jian Ghomeshi. Now that you have, I consider you obligated to answer my very-specific criticisms of your *ahem* "work" on this story.

I'm amused to see you finally see that you've felt some embarrassment at taking the side of someone who seems to get his jollies by beating up women in the bedroom. This suggests to me that perhaps you actually do have some shame, even if you're too proud to acknowledge it publicly.

As with previous updates to your story, I'll dispense will the most banal and meaningless portions of it. You may recall that after Lucy DeCoutere came forward -- and you suggested she was essentially acting as a lacky for the government. I believe your exact words were "civilians won't substantiate for the Star's claims, but the army will." I asked if you would attempt the same hitjob on Reva Seth.

While I'm surprised to see that you actually did, I'm actually quite amused to see that in doing so you've managed to lose your own plot:

"A day after publishing, her article was edited without identifying the changes and the Huffington Post declined to reveal her ties to the executive of the federal Liberal party."

Uh, what?

Amy, this whole time you've been screeching about l'affaire Ghomeshi being the centerpiece of some sort of Conservative Party conspiracy to undermine the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You haven't been able to demonstrate the involvement of even a single CPC figure in the story, but you've alleged this nonetheless. So now your complaint is that the Huffington Post -- you know, that online publication that hasn't carried any of your work in more than a year -- didn't disclose Reva Seth's links to the Liberal Party?

I hate to break this to you, but this doesn't support what your argument has been. It in fact undermines it. You must realize this... don't you?

What amuses me even more is the precise means by which you draw the connection between Reva Seth and the Liberal Party:

"Three months later in August 2014 and two months before the Ghomeshi scandal, the identity of Seth’s husband that was carefully concealed from all other sources was finally mentioned in the Globe and Mail. It turns out that Reva Seth is married to Rana Sarkar and the latter is a close friend of Gerald Butts, who is widely known as Justin Trudeau’s top advisor and longtime pal since childhood.

Recently Sarkar lost his nomination in Don Valley North and it was an unexpected turn of events. The party executive agreed to change the nomination date and this led to accusations of impropriety, as well as complaints about the open nomination process. When Sarkar lost by a margin of 3:1, accusations were levelled against Ontario cabinet minster, Michael Chan, for interfering. Ethnic tensions were also stoked regarding manipulation of the Chinese community to achieve this result."

Huh. So Seth's husband is a failed Liberal nominee. Amy, you seem to have no notion that it's unreasonable to cast aspersions on Seth's motivations by citing the political affiliations of her husband. You don't think that Seth is her own person or something?

Beyond that, Amy, I feel that you must answer the following extremely-important question: why, exactly, would the detail that Seth's husband is a Liberal and a friend of Gerald Butts be disclosed in a column in which Seth explains why she made the mistake of not going to the police with her experience being abused by Jian Ghomeshi?

I imagine that your pal Andrew Mitrovica has never bothered to explain this to you, but whether or not disclosure is ethically required as part of a story or a column is whether or not it's relevant to the subject matter of the story or column.

You don't have to be Inspector freaking Poirot to figure out that the detail that Seth's husband is a Liberal is not relevant to Seth's story of abuse at the hands of Jian Ghomeshi. Amy, if you wish to make the case that it is, then that case is up to you to try to make. But considering that your tactic to date has been to allege that Ghomeshi has been the victim of a CPC conspiracy theory, the detail that the only person whose political involvements you've been able to demonstrate is Seth's husband does not work in your favour.

Previously, I made a half-joke -- because I was only half-joking -- that you've been trying to draw these partisan associations in a badly-contrived game of "six degrees of Kevin Bacon." It's a fun game to play when you're at a party, but the methodology of this game is not a sound journalistic process.

To explain this to you most simply, Amy, drawing a connection of two or more Kevin Bacons during the game does not actually mean that the people being associated actually know or have ever even met Kevin Bacon. It's a game of remote association. Most people understand this.

So while it's more impressive that, in adapting this game as your "journalistic method," you can draw a connection between Reva Seth and Gerald Butts in just two Gerald Buttses than drawing a connection between Lucy DeCoutere and Stephen Harper in three Stephen Harpers, that remains entirely illusory. It doesn't in itself mean that Seth has ever actually met Butts (although I would personally expect that she probably has) and even if she has it doesn't mean that Seth or Butts have any involvement in this conspiracy you bizarrely theorize about.

Before I close out here, I'm going to take note of one more means by which you've attempted to sweep Seth away:

"I inquired about Seth’s credentials. At the Law Society of Upper Canada I found that Reva Seth surrendered her licence and is no longer permitted to practice law in this country. Although she did obtain her degree at Western University, it’s been a number of years since she’s been licenced in this discipline and the degree was a foundation for the next leg of her education.

In journalism it’s expressly important to describe personalities correctly. An example is consensus that a PhD can’t be addressed with the title 'doctor', or it would confuse the public too much about the authority of medical practitioners. If Ms. Seth and the Huffington Post had been forthcoming, they would have identified the complainant as a former lawyer, or someone who holds a law degree but doesn’t update skills as required to maintain a practice, with the authority to advise clients or the public at large."

Well, first off Black's Law Dictionary defines a lawyer as "a person learned in the law." Seth may not practice as a lawyer now, but she has in the past. It's not outrageous that she or others continue to describe her as a lawyer. I'm sure that if she described herself as practicing, or tried to practice, the LSUC will take issue with that. Until such a time as they do you're just grasping at straws, and you already were doing so the instant you contacted the LSUC. Whether or not Reva Seth is a practicing lawyer now is not especially relevant to why she did or didn't come forward then.

But I'd love to make use of this passage to drive home a point I've been making about your professional status as a journalist:

You describe yourself as a journalist in your Twitter profile, and you try to tell the rest of us what is or isn't important in journalism. You promote yourself as a journalist. Yet according to your own profile page on the Huffington Post, that publication hasn't carried any of your work in more than a year now.

Apparently you were, for a short time, a blogger with the CBC. They no longer carry your work either. In fact, I've searched around trying to find even a single publication, online or otherwise, that carries your work. The only one that seems to do so is your own blog.

I don't think it's at all unreasonable to take these facts together and conclude that you are not now really a journalist, you're just some deranged and deluded crank who publishes to her own blog because no one else will have her. Even hasn't picked up any of your bile, and their standards are almost non-existent.

I think there's a reason for that.

But I'll tell you what, Amy: I'll conclude this blogpost with my personal challenge to you. We'll see how your work measures up ethically, seeing as how you like to talk as if you're all about the ethics.

I challenge you to at least attempt to register your blog as a news organization with the Ontario Press Council. That would make you subject to their judgements regarding the ethical standing of your work. Once you've done this, I'll submit an ethical complaint regarding your take on the Jian Ghomeshi story, specifically about your treatment of those who have complained against Ghomeshi.

If the OPC gives you a pass, you can consider yourself vindicated. I'll then withdraw any and all objections to the ethical standing of your work.

If the OPC rules against you, however, you stop referring to yourself as a journalist and apologize directly to Jian Ghomeshi's victims.

Don't get me wrong, though: I honestly don't expect you to accept this very-generous deal. Because not only are you well and truly fucked in the head, but I think you know it.


  1. Thank you for the sanity check.
    Amy MacPherson has the rational logic of Glen Beck, the plausibility of L. Ron Hubbard, the credibility of the National Enquirer, and less integrity than TMZ .

    1. I'm still waiting to hear her accept my challenge. Do you think I should hold my breath?

  2. No, she won't accept your challenge but it's not her fault. Amy has never heard of the Ontario Press Council.
    Perhaps you could explain the concept to her?