One of the first reviews that French-Canadian Ombudsman Pierre Tourangeau from the CBC did on #GamerGate has been machine-translated. While it reflects a lot of equivocation and defense of CBC practices and standards in regards to their coverage of #GamerGate, the undeniable comments made by one of the journalists had the Ombudsman admitting that multiple ethics standards were breached. This occurred when a journalist publicly shamed and attacked a viewer over his stance on the #GamerGate media scandal.
The review was for a program that ran on March 7th, 2015 on ICI’s Radio-Canada called La sphère. It’s hosted by a certain Matthieu Dugal and his guest was Carl Therrien, a video game specialist and assistant professor at the University of Montreal.
The complaints about the program centered around Dugal and Therrien unfairly characterizing #GamerGate as being about misogyny and sexism, and that the two dismissed or misrepresented information regarding the scandal. Furthermore, both Dugal and Therrien attempted to attack the complainant through social media services after they found out he was filing a complaint with the CBC Ombudsman.
Things started off rocky at first because according to Tourangeau, he states in the review…
“GamerGate is not a organization with a hierarchical management structure and goals – as defined by a charter or manifesto, for example – so it is not possible to determine precisely what the movement is supporting. It is also not possible to know exactly how the movement was born – some believe that it is a wholly fabricated publicity campaign designed to oppose the idea of gamers being misogynists”
There is not a single catalyst that accounts for the anguish that gamers have toward the media. #GamerGate is a coalescence of distrust formed from multiple instances of the appearance of impropriety by the media over the course of many years. The nascent escalation of this distrust is attributed to what’s now known as “Gerstmanngate”, which included the firing of beloved game journalist Jeff Gerstmann from Gamespot for giving a game a mediocre review score back in 2007. Unfortunately, detractors of the hashtag have done little to no research when it comes to understanding this.
Moving away from that tangent… according to the CBC Ombudsman review, the host of La sphère, Matthew Dugal, called the complainant a “Holocaust denier” and Carl Thierren called the complainant a “senile troll”. ICI Radio-Canada’s head of community relations and diversity information officer, Luc Simard addressed the actions, stating…
“Now let us deal with the message published by the host Matthew Dugal on Facebook on the day before the show. You believe that the supporters of GamerGate were presented as misogynists and proponents of conspiracy theories. We admit that this message is fiery, but we must also understand the objective of it: it is about arousing the curiosity of listeners in order to get them to tune in to the show the next day. This message, made up of short phrases and meant to induce a shock effect, is on par with a(n) (advertising) teaser rather than reporting.”
Anyone who uses misinformation to promote an interview is basically partaking in click-bait. To have the diversity information officer defend click-bait as a form of luring in listeners, even when it isn’t true, is a disturbing revelation.
Nevertheless, Luc Simard goes on to state…
“However, we share your unease about the other message written on Facebook by Mr. Dugal. He wrote that you were playing the part of a “Holocaust denier”. This choice of words was unfortunate, as the host clearly does not believe that you are denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers. It should have read “intransigent” and Mr. Dugal apologizes for his choice of words.”
The Facebook statement from Dugal aimed at the complainant was printed in full within the CBC review and it reads as follows…
“Can you tell me how your masculinity is diminished by admitting that there’re systematic problems with sexism in many areas of society, particularly in the world of technology? What would doing that take from you, man? If you like claiming that it doesn’t exist, well then, you can continue living in your own parallel world, but plz stop coming here to play the part of a Holocaust denier. Damn, join the XXI century.”
The Ombudsman cited that Dugal broke several ethical standards with those statements, making it known that the host and journalist was in clear violation of the JSP code that CBC journalists are supposed to adhere to…
“Whatever the platform used for the dissemination of information, we stick to our standards. We do not distribute on social networking information that we do not broadcast on air or on our website.
“In short, it is understood that the remarks which Mr. Dugal made during his exchange with [redacted] on Facebook were inappropriate. Mr. Dugal, with whom I spoke to for the purposes of this review, has readily acknowledged this. He apologized through Mr. Luc Simard in the latter’s response to the complainant. I would like to add that he did so again when I talked to him and that his apologies are now public as a result of my having published this review on my website.”
Thierran’s statements attacking the complainant are not addressed in the review since he isn’t a journalist with the CBC. Ombudsman Tourangeau dismisses the need to address those issues, but does make it known that the CBC can elect to exercise discretion when bringing guests on who attack viewers.
Tourangeau also proceeds to explain the dangers of social media and how journalists should adhere to the professional standards of the JSP even when using Facebook, Twitter and other social networking services.
“We should also remember that the younger generation of journalists, quite familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and others, are not always aware of the risks that come with using them in their professional lives the same way that they use them in their private lives.”
In light of all this, Ombudsman Tourangeau admitted to having very little knowledge of the subject matter. He also referred to reviews made by CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin about the conduct of the reporting. He made a conclusion on what he felt #GamerGate was, stating…
“I must first conclude that GamerGate is both one thing and its opposite: yes, it is a community movement of video gamer consumers interested in ethics who question the links and the cronyism, the corruption and the collusion between the journalists and the media who follow the sector and the industry; but it is also, with all due respect to the complainant because it is easily verifiable, a window on a very dark aspect of the gaming community comprising misogyny, sexism, bullying, and harassment.”
While Tourangeau excuses the comments made by the individual being interviewed, he does at least state that Dugal did breach various ethical standards in his alt with the complainant. Still jumping to the bandwagon that #GamerGate is a “window” into the dark aspect of gaming dealing with the topic of misogyny and harassment still reeks of someone misinformed about the intricacies of what’s really going on, especially since the media has failed to report on the people labeled as “Pro-GamerGate” who are being harassed.
For those who have been following these events regularly, Ombudsman Tourangeau won’t be doing anymore reviews of #GamerGate cases in relation to the complainant best known to many internet denizens as Mug33k.
Nevertheless, progress has been made already because now this is another case where a journalist was called out for breaking the code of ethics following a review by CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin who also nailed another journalist at the CBC for breaching their ethical codes.
In light of all of this, the CRTC is still investigating multiple cases regarding the CBC and their ethical breaches covering #GamerGate.
[Update: User Mug33k offers a more comprehensive timeline of events via Reddit post]