An investigative report into the billionaire Koch brothers’ connections to Canada was pulled from Global’s newsmagazine show 16×9 shortly before broadcast, and an article published on the same topic was scrubbed from GlobalNews.ca, CANADALAND has learned.
Last Thursday at 11:06am, an article titled “The Koch Stake in Canada” ran on GlobalNews.ca. The piece, by veteran investigative reporter Bruce Livesey summarized an upcoming investigative report titled “The Koch Connection,” which, the article promised, was set to air two days later, on Saturday January 31 at 7pm. Global News promoted the item with a post on 16×9’s Facebook page and a tweet from an official account, which was retweeted by Global’s Washington correspondent Jackson Proskow.
By Thursday night, the article had disappeared from GlobalNews.ca, the Facebook post and official tweet were deleted, as was Proskow’s retweet.
On Saturday night, 16×9 went to air without “The Koch Connection”.
The article was preserved by Google Cache and brought to CANADALAND’s attention by a reader. It can be read here.
The videos embedded in the article have disappeared, and no clips from the promised broadcast can be found online.
The article presents a series of verifiable facts about Charles and David Koch, the extraodinarily wealthy American brothers who funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into the U.S. political system, who are the biggest foreign lease-holders in the Canadian Oil Sands, and who fund the climate-change denying Fraser Institute think tank here in Canada.
Global News is owned by Calagry-based Shaw Communications, who advertise their services to the oil & gas industries here.
CANADALAND contacted Ron Waksman, Global News’ Senior Director of Online News, Current Affairs, Editorial Standards & Practices, and conducted the following interview by phone:
Why did The Koch Connection not run?
Look, it wasn’t killed, it was set aside. It was not up to scratch. Had the producer (Bruce Livesey) done better work, then…. It was not cancelled or dropped.
But why was it pulled so late? Didn’t (16×9 Executive Producer) Laurie Few sign off on it?
What do you mean “sign off?”
Had she seen it?
Let’s just say that Laurie acknowledged that due diligence was required on the script. More due diligence should have been done.
So did Laurie pull it or did you?
I read the web story, I had some concerns. It had some holes in it. I went back and watched the piece. It needs more work. Likely we won’t revisit it until next season.
What holes did the web story have in it?
Look, when we have an editorial hypothesis, we need facts to back it up, we didn’t have the facts to back it up. In my opinion it didn’t meet our standards of fairness and balance. It just wasn’t up to scratch.
Ron, you hired Bruce to write that piece and you published it. Now you’re publicly disparaging his journalism but you won’t say why? What holes were in his piece? You won’t substantiate that?
Look, my job is not just to oversee 16×9 but everything. The duty of care may be higher on 16×9. It’s better to look at the work and get it right.
Shaw does business in the oil sands, right?
No-one outside Global News attempted to influence us, it just wasn’t up to editorial scratch.
A report like this takes many people months to produce. I assume it went through some kind of editorial process before being slated for broadcast and promoted. Do you have confidence in the 16×9 team, in Laurie Few?
I have a great deal of confidence in Laurie.
Do you have confidence in Bruce Livesey?
Bruce is a freelance producer. He’s not on staff. I don’t know Bruce all that well. I judge by the work.
Bruce Livesey declined to comment on these events. CANADALAND is told by sources at Global News that Livesey has two pending investigations commissioned by 16×9.
Livesey is well-regarded in the Canadian journalistic community. He has been investigating corporate abuse and corruption in Canada for over 30 years, and has contributed to CBC’s fifth estate and PBS’ Frontline.