After airing a news report containing unverified and false claims about two mosques, Quebec broadcaster TVA has released a new story fact-checking its previous report and correcting its mistakes as a "gesture of respect."
The new report comes nine days after TVA, Quebec's largest private television network, created a firestorm of controversy by airing an erroneous and false news report. The Dec. 12 report quoted sources who spread unfounded rumours claiming the Montreal mosques had requested a construction company remove its female workers from a nearby site during Friday prayers.
Several prominent politicians reacted with outrage, sharing the story online and denouncing the make-believe demands. The far-right group La Meute promptly organized a protest in front of the mosques.
But many were also skeptical as evidence emerged which contradicted the report by TVA's Marie-Pier Cloutier, including questions about why the network had not included comment from mosque leaders who denied making any request related to the removal of female workers.
The Commission de la construction du Quebec, which held its own investigation into the matter, did not find evidence to support the allegations in the TVA story.
Admist a public outcry, TVA retracted the piece three days later and apologized, while launching an internal investigation into what went wrong. La Meute also cancelled its official protest, but some still showed up to demonstrate.
Nine days later, TVA delivered its follow-up report, once again admitting its mistake, but blaming the error on its sources.
“TVA Nouvelles broadcasted a report which contained wrong testimonies and apologized,” TVA news anchor Pierre Bruneau said before introducing the new report by journalist Félix Seguin. “This is a gesture of respect toward mosque leaders and faithful as well as you, the audience.”
Séguin reported that the false information came from a foreman and an entrepreneur on the site.
He also questioned one of the original sources, Marc-Alexandre Perreault, the president of MAP-signalisation, a company that provides road traffic signs and services in construction zones.
Looking remorseful, Perreault told Séguin that he got mad after hearing one of the rumours and posted a note about it on his personal Facebook page to express his frustration. But Perreault also admitted that he hadn't verified whether the information was true.
The report didn't explain why TVA failed to verify that the sources in its original report were accurate.