CBC Executive Producer Ann MacKeigan Defends Publishing Fake News About Overwatch, #GamerGate
Overwatch Gamergate

On January 29th, 2019 the CBC ‘Q’ radio program ran a segment about the Ellie controversy that took place within the Overwatch e-sports community. The near 11 minute piece took digs at #GamerGate and pushed the typical sexism-in-gaming propaganda that the media has been pushing unabashedly since 2012. When called out on the falsehoods presented in the episode, the executive producer for the show, Ann MacKeigan, offered a rebuttal to the criticisms levied at the show and proceeded to defend the fake news that CBC has published against #GamerGate since 2014.

Lunar Archivist has been chronicling the CBC’s reportage of #GamerGate since 2014. He has also been sharing information with One Angry Gamer in relation to the CBC Ombudsman and production staff who have published content pertaining to #GamerGate. Recently Lunar Archivist forwarded a letter from executive producer Ann MacKeigan, who responded to the Archivist’s 11-page breakdown of what the CBC segment got wrong about #GamerGate and the Overwatch community.

If you’re not familiar with the particular radio program in question, you can listen to a backup of the segment involving host Tom Power talking to Kotaku’s Kate Gray about the Overwatch Ellie controversy.

Host Tom Power namedropped #GamerGate in association with harassment and doxing just 40 seconds into the piece. This was just one of the many issues Lunar Archivist reproached in his response to the ‘Q’ episode.

After multiple delays in addressing Lunar Archivist’s missive, MacKeigan finally issued a response on May 28th, 2019 on behalf of CBC Ombudsman Jack Nagler. She wrote…

“Since I am the Executive Producer of q, Mr. Nagler asked me to respond to your concerns. It’s an opportunity I welcome, although I will begin by offering my apologies for the delay in doing so.

 

“Obviously, you are a strong supporter of the gamer community and I sincerely regret that you are disappointed in CBC in this instance. However, I must tell you – and I do so with respect – that your view of the story we carried that morning is not one I share. Allow me to explain why I say that.

 

“Your detailed complaint is divided into two parts, the first concerns GamerGate and what you see as CBC’s “five-year campaign of libel and defamation”. Yes, GamerGate has an “unsavory aspect” you, wrote. It’s not the only one, but it’s the only one “CBC ever wants to discuss”.

 

“Of course, I can only speak for q, not all CBC programs. But I want to emphasize at the outset that the story we broadcast is about Overwatch, an imposter named “Ellie” and a recent scandal that swept the gaming world. It’s not about GamerGate, but it does mention that five-year-old online controversy to provide some context for the discussion the Overwatch affair.”

MacKeigan proceeded to quote Tom Power’s description of #GamerGate, as it was verbally mentioned by the host in the clip above. MacKeigan also summarized Lunar Archivist’s issues with Power’s description of the consumer revolt, and then went on to make her own assessment of #GamerGate, writing…

“More than anything else GamerGate has now come to symbolize anti-feminist, misogynistic behavior in the gamer community. As you know, it began on social media five years ago with a blog disparaging a female game developer and quickly developed into a broader campaign of harassment and threats aimed at female gamers and women in the video game industry. Women who found themselves the targets of that harassment have repeatedly and publicly detailed their unsettling experience. So at this point, five years later, GamerGate is a term that is widely seen as standing for the harassment of women and the misogynistic behavior of those responsible for it. It is in light of that predominant understanding of the term that we referred to GamerGate in this story.

 

“But we also referred to it as a “controversy”, and it is. On a broader level, the one you referenced, supporters argue that GamerGate was a consumer movement intended to improve the ethics of game developers and the media that covers the video game industry. Although the movement was said to be without prominent leaders and vague in its goals, supporters have regularly denied harassment took place and questioned the integrity of those who claim to be its targets. Overall, GamerGate has been described as a conservative reaction to feminism.

 

“That broader controversy, far more topical a few years ago, is well beyond the scope of this story which, as I said, chiefly focusses on the Overwatch affair. In this story, we referenced what for most people GamerGate has now come to symbolize.”

Citations needed.

MacKeigan’s recount of #GamerGate as a “broader campaign of harassment and threats” has no veritable foothold in truth, nor any facts or evidence to back up this claim.

What we do have is an FBI report that recounts a near year-long investigation into #GamerGate where the only harassers that were uncovered were a handful of trolls, two of which had no affiliation with #GamerGate and they turned out to be young teens who decided to harass Brianna Wu because the news media claimed #GamerGate was a harassment campaign. Another troll allegedly had ties to the SomethingAwful forums. Basically the only few people found out to be harassers were trolls.

In summary, the FBI concluded that there was no actionable evidence to support the claims that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign.

The FBI’s report basically corroborated what was found in the WAM! Media report, which also lacked data to support the claims that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign.

We also have multiple counts of citations and facts referencing #GamerGate’s efforts to reform media outlets by campaigning to have their ethical policies updated. For example, IGN updated their ethics policy, Kotaku and Polygon updated their ethics policies, Destructoid updated their ethics policy, and even the Federal Trade Commission updating their disclosure policies following a #GamerGate campaign.

So then where is the basis for which people like Tom Power are drawing their statements about threats and doxing if there is no factual basis that coincides with the claim that #GamerGate was ever a harassment campaign? And why is Ann MacKeigan defending spurious claims that have no foundation in facts?

Simply put, if you are a media outlet making claims that are not based on fact and are provably false, then you are publishing fake news. Defending fake news is practically the equivalent of admitting to publishing propaganda.

MacKeigan doesn’t provide any citations for Power’s claims, nor offers any sort of justification for why Power would continue to purport falsehoods for something that hasn’t been true since 2014.

Instead, MacKeigan moves on to the second part of Lunar Archivist’s complaints regarding Overwatch, writing in the letter…

“In the second part of your complaint, you wrote that you feel Ms. Gray and Kotaku had “misrepresented” and “falsely condemned” the Overwatch community for being “rife with sexism and misogyny”. You wrote that you were not part of the community or spoke for it, but cited the views of two commentators who you feel have a better understanding of the “Ellie” affair.

 

“To be sure, Ms. Gray’s is one point of view on a complex and, seemingly for some, an emotionally charged issue. It is not the only one. It is CBC’s mandate, part of its obligation under the federal Broadcasting Act, to carry different points of view on controversial matters such as this one. It is a concept that lies at the heart of the notion of fairness in journalism. Of course, not everyone will agree with the views expressed, as clearly you and those you cited do not in this instance. I understand that.

 

“It’s likely that different points of view and additional information have been included in stories on other CBC programs or may well be picked up in future stories, including on this program. It is not always possible or even desirable to include all relevant points of view in the short time available in one story. Indeed, achieving a balance of views is a more sophisticated concept that can be achieved over a series of programs or over a period time. In matters such as this it is our responsibility to ensure that Canadians are given the opportunity and the information they need to make up their own minds and I believe we are doing that. “

This is provably false.

Lunar Archivist has been keeping track of the coverage that the CBC has been producing since 2014 related to #GamerGate, and it’s all been produced along the exact same lines as the ‘Q’ content: negative towards #GamerGate.

In a Reddit thread published on August 11th, 2018, there have been nearly two dozen reports published between 2014 and 2017 from the CBC negatively describing #GamerGate either as a harassment campaign or being responsible for doxing or death threats.

There has not been any alternative coverage from the CBC in relation to #GamerGate dealing with media corruption or ethical violations committed by broadcasting stations like the CBC. In fact, there were so many ethical issues uncovered from the games media over the course of the last five years that it was cataloged on a site called DeepFreeze.it.

What’s also interesting is that despite MacKeigan claiming that “additional information” may have been included in stories on “other CBC programs”, there doesn’t appear to be any publicly available coverage positively depicting #GamerGate that the CBC put out, nor any stories regarding the FBI’s report on #GamerGate. Conveniently all of the achievements made by the consumer revolt has managed to escape the CBC’s coverage, including factual evidence that #GamerGate was never a harassment campaign.

Also, as mentioned in our piece published on February 1st, 2019, the CBC didn’t even cover the fact that the media outright fabricated information about the Ellie story in relation to Overwatch, which is what caused the whole thing to blow up in the first place.

MacKeigan essentially defended a piece of media reporting that pushed only one angle using falsehoods and misrepresentation to shape the story both about Overwatch and #GamerGate.

Nevertheless, MacKeigan smugly rounded out the letter by stating…

“Thank you again for your thoughtful letter. I don’t expect I will have changed your mind, but I hope my reply has at least addressed some of the concerns you raised.”

The executive producer’s response is actually quite similar to what CBC Radio program director Lynda Shorten mentioned back in July of 2015, where she stated that balanced reporting didn’t mean including all points of view regarding #GamerGate.

Shorten wrote…

“While CBC’s journalistic policy expects our coverage to balance differing points of view, it also acknowledges that balance does not necessarily mean some sort of mathematical equivalency. Balance does not, for instance, mean that every voice critical of GamerGate must be immediately juxtaposed with an equally strong voice supporting GamerGate. It is not always possible or even desirable to include all relevant points of view in the short time available for one story. Indeed, balance is a more sophisticated concept that can be achieved over a series of programs or a period of time. The important thing is to ensure that differing points of view are treated in an equitable manner.”

But it turns out that the Ombudsman at the time, Esther Enkin, did not agree with Lynda Shorten. In a ethics review of Shorten’s statements and the ‘Q’ episode from July 30th, 2015, Enkin stated that the episode of ‘Q‘, which misrepresented #GamerGate as a harassment campaign, did not live up to the CBC’s standards.

French-Canadian Ombudsman Pierre Tourangeau also held similar views about another program on CBC, where he acknowledged that the CBC made statements repeated in the “English dailies” that turned out to be untrue.

It’s come to a point now where there is irrefutable evidence readily available to easily dispute canards put forward by any member of the media in relation to #GamerGate.

CBC executive producer Ann MacKeigan defending outright falsehoods and fake news regarding this topic —  even after a previous Ombudsman had noted that the CBC fell short of its journalistic integrity in the past due to these exact same claims — not only reflects poorly on the CBC’s ethical standards, but it shows that they have no qualms about standing by fake news so long as they believe there will be no repercussions.

(Thanks for the news tip Lunar Archivist)

(Main image courtesy of Jester5728)

About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!