CBC Admits Mistakes in Reporting of Epoch Times Coverage of Beijing’s Virus Coverup

May 6, 2020 Updated: May 17, 2020

CBC News has admitted that it made mistakes in its reporting on The Epoch Times, in a written response to the publication, though Epoch Times Canada’s publisher says the response doesn’t address the publication’s main concerns.

The national public broadcaster recently ran multiple segments on its different platforms, including TV, radio, and website, on a special edition created and distributed by The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
The front page of The Epoch Times special edition that was distributed on April 13, 2020.

The special edition was devoted to the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup of the coronavirus outbreak, which led to the current global pandemic. It included a timeline showing how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) concealed information about the outbreak and reprimanded whistleblowers, and it also covered topics such as the regime’s disinformation campaign.

Paul Hambleton, director of journalistic standards at CBC News, said CBC News admits that The Epoch Times didn’t claim that China made the coronavirus as a “bioweapon,” despite having run this accusation in the headline of the first of two articles published by the CBC targeting the Epoch Times special edition.

CBC’s original headline on its first article stated, “‘Racist and inflammatory’: Canadians upset by Epoch Times claim China behind virus, made it as a bioweapon.”

CBC further admits that the claim by an unnamed individual that the special edition was engaged in spreading “hatred” is purely an opinion that “in no way reflects on The Epoch Times.”

Hambleton also said the CBC erred in using the opinion of one single individual as the basis for a headline alleging that Canadians find The Epoch Times to be racist toward Chinese people.

The Epoch Times was founded by Chinese immigrants who fled communist oppression in their home country.

“The original headline used a quote from one of the people interviewed about the Epoch Times edition who told CBC News that she felt it was ‘racist and inflammatory,’” Hambleton wrote.

“After publishing, we recognized that her comment was not the best choice for a headline quote, since it was only one opinion, and was not further supported in the article by other people we had been in contact with.”

Hambleton added that the initial headline “did not properly capture the thrust of the article” and that “unfortunately there were several other iterations before we got to the one we have now.”

Cindy Gu, publisher of the Canadian editions of The Epoch Times, said the CBC made many mistakes in how it characterized The Epoch Times, and while it has now changed the headline of its article, there are still “serious issues” with the network’s reporting.

“The CBC is admitting that they used an ‘impression’ from an unnamed mail carrier in their sensationalized and erroneous headline, and wrongly used a comment from another person as the voice of all Canadians to call our publication racist,” Gu said.

Putting it into context as an immigrant from mainland China, Gu said she knows what it’s like to live under such a system where criticizing the government will get someone labelled as being “anti-China.”

But this is Canada, and “if even in Canada, journalism that criticizes and questions the CCP is deemed racist against Chinese people, then where is it safe for a Chinese person, or anyone for that matter, to criticize the CCP?” she said.

Gu said CBC’s response fails to address her concerns, as its reporting “was a serious misrepresentation and mischaracterization of our coverage—which is to wholly focus on the wrongdoings of the Chinese Communist Party.”

She added that The Epoch Times has in fact received a great deal of positive feedback about its special edition. Yet the CBC’s article includes no voices supportive of the publication and is based mainly on the impression of two people rather than what the special edition actually covered. Gu said The Epoch Times demands that CBC retract its article and issue an apology.

Hambleton said that apart from the changes that have been made to the article, CBC News stands by its reporting.

“I certainly don’t share [The Epoch Times’] view that the article was ‘rife with internal inconsistencies and factual inaccuracies’ as [The Epoch Times suggests]. It wasn’t, and we stand by the article,” he said.

However, Gu says it’s important that the public understands what The Epoch Times covered in its special edition, instead of seeing it through “wrong and non-fact-based” impressions.

“What the CBC reports essentially are doing is helping the CCP hide behind the ‘racism’ label, evade responsibility, and blame others instead,” she said.

CBC’s coverage of The Epoch Times drew a slew of criticism from readers and was the subject of a front-page article in the May 2 edition of the National Post in a commentary critical of its coverage. The top 400 most-liked comments of the approximately 3,000 comments posted in response to its first article were all critical of the CBC, with a handful being the exception.

The special edition can be downloaded here.

The Epoch Times was founded in 2000 in North America by Chinese immigrants and has been on the forefront of uncensored China news, breaking some of the most important China stories over the past two decades. It was among the first to report on the SARS outbreak in 2003 and won a national award in Canada for this coverage.

Since its launch, the independent news outlet has been the target of multiple attacks and interference from the Chinese communist regime. Last year, its printing press at its Hong Kong office was set on fire by masked intruders during the height of protests in that city. The Epoch Times believes that the Chinese Communist Party was behind the attack in an effort to silence the outlet.

The Epoch Times print newspaper is available via subscription across Canada and the United States. Its online version comes in English, French, Chinese, and more than 20 other languages.

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