News Brief

Sun Covers Wrong Butts

Postmedia falls for parody account that was barely even trying

If you got your news this morning from a Sun paper in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, or Edmonton, you might be under the impression that Gerald Butts, Justin Trudeau’s most trusted and senior advisor, has shockingly broken ranks with the PM over the SNC-Lavalin case, thrown his support behind former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and publicly denounced his boss for “a lack of integrity, transparency, and respect.”

Of course, Gerald Butts has said no such thing. A fake twitter account with the handle @GeraldButtts (note the three “T”s) is responsible for that quote.

Photo of page 7 of Thursday’s Toronto Sun.

Any casual observer of Ottawa politics is familiar with @gmbutts, the verified account of the real Gerald Butts. Whoever wrote Postmedia’s copy — the piece ran without a byline, credited only to “Postmedia Network” — was evidently not.

In Toronto, Ottawa, and Edmonton, the misquote ran under the headline “Liberals in turmoil? MPs break ranks,” along with a picture of Butts. In Calgary, it was simply “Liberals break ranks.”

The error also appeared in online versions of the story published by other Postmedia papers, including the Melfort Journal, Vermilion Standard, and North Bay Nugget, but has since been scrubbed chain-wide, without any correction notice.

On Twitter early Thursday, Lorrie Goldstein, an editor and columnist for the Sun chain, acknowledged the parody account:

We’ve reached out to Goldstein and Toronto Sun editor Adrienne Batra and look forward to updating this post if we hear back.

Update (Friday, February 15, 2019, at 11:59 a.m. EST): The four Sun papers that ran the erroneous story published corrections in their Friday editions. There remains no online acknowledgement of the error.

A black box with rounded corners at the top. Inside is white text: "CORRECTION: A Feb. 14 story on support given to Jody Wilson-Raybould in the wake of her resignation from cabinet incorrectly attributed a tweet to Gerald Butts. The Sun regrets the error."
The version of the notice that ran on page 2 of the Toronto, Ottawa, and Edmonton papers.

The @GeraldButtts account, meanwhile, has been suspended by Twitter.

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