Suspend Andrew Lawton

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 Aug. 25, 2017

In an article posted by Global News on August 18, 2017 –– about the Charlottesville, Virginia, “Unite the Right” neo-Nazi rally –– columnist Andrew Lawton equivocates the “alt-left” counter-protesters with the alt-right neo-Nazis who organized the armed, torchlit hate march. 

Sure, Mr Lawton calls the neo-Nazis human excrement but his article focuses on the “alt-left” and equivocating counter-protesters with the racist scum they oppose.

Mr Lawton writes, “We can haggle over whether one of the group’s goals is marginally more immoral than the other, but our contempt for one side shouldn’t take away from our ability to criticize the other.” “How are they at all superior to the alt-right types seeking a white ethnostate?”

Well Mr Lawton, first, none of the groups labeled “alt-left” –– Antifa, BLM, or any of the other counter-protesters –– want an ethnostate. And second, several respected news outlets and experts have concluded the “alt-left” doesn’t exist and is a term created by the alt-right.

We believe Mr Lawton has deep conflicts of interest which explain the focus of his writing and his desire to equivocate the alt-right with the “alt-left.”

In Mr Lawton’s column he only mentions one neo-Nazi by name –– Richard Spencer of The Daily Stormer –– yet he doesn’t mention Jason Kessler, the main organizer of the rally. Mr Kessler is reportedly tied to the Canadian alt-right group, Proud Boys. A Canadian chapter of the alt-right group was involved in a Canada Day racial incident with Native Peoples in Halifax. The alt-right group, Proud Boys, was founded by far-right provocateur Gavin McInnes. Mr McInnes is also a Rebel Media contributor. 

Like Mr McInnes –– Mr Lawton also contributes to Rebel Media, Ezra Levant’s far-right website. As of August 25, 2017, Rebel Media’s website lists Mr Lawton as a Rebel Media contributor –– we believe this connection is why Mr Lawton neglected to mention Mr Kessler.

Mr Kessler, a white rights’ activist who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, organized the “Unite the Right” protest –– a protest which included neo-Nazis, numerous KKK chapters, and various white supremacist groups including a Virginia chapter of Proud Boys. Mr Kessler sued the City of Charlottesville to allow the rally to go ahead as planned.

Proud Boys are known for flirting with violence. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Proud Boys’ fourth and final step of initiation is brawling with antifascists at pubic rallies. Now described as a “neo-masculine reactionary,” Mr McInnes calls his Proud Boys a “pro-West fraternal organization.” Others describe them as the military arm of the alt-right.

Mr Lawton’s articles are written for a far-right audience and focus on politics, human rights and civil rights issues. His Rebel Media articles are misleading and only source other Rebel Media articles. For example he equated a non-legally binding motion, M-103, with Sharia Law. M-103 is a motion to condemn Islamophobia; research, report and consolidate data on hate crimes and groups as well as to establish an educational program against racism.

Ryan Scrivens, a PhD candidate in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University, said of Mr Levant’s Rebel Media, “What he’s about is making hatred mainstream,” “He just tries to frame his arguments a bit differently.” Like many other far-right wing publications, Rebel Media has regularly given a platform to racist and xenophobic views by allowing contributors to build their arguments around issues of free speech and immigration. Mr Lawton’s articles are a perfect example of the propagandized message Rebel Media promotes.

Recently, Rebel Media got into hot water for its coverage of the “Unite the Right Rally”. Coverage which many called “sympathetic to white supremacists.” Because of this, the Conservative party of Canada has severed all ties with Rebel Media.

When asked about Rebel Media’s coverage of the Charlottesville protests, Doug Schweitzer, of the Alberta United Conservative Party, told Global News, “they were offering soft support to white nationalists, otherwise known as, the white supremacist movement.” 

Rebel Media has lost much of it’s advertising revenue as more companies continue to sever ties and refuse to advertise on the far-right website. This week CBC reported far-right outlets Rebel Media and Breitbart, as well as the extreme-right website Daily Stormer are on a government maintained "blacklist" to ensure federal government's digital advertisements do not appear on sites promoting hate, porn, gambling and other subjects deemed unacceptable.

Ex-Rebel Media staffers say the operation is fixated on building its email list and subscriber base through increasingly combative and invective campaigns. But also that Rebel Media lives on “mega-donors” who underwrite the operation.

One former Rebel Media contributor said the willingness to cover issues around Muslims was pathological. If facts got in the way? “Facts were ignored,” they said. “As long as they’re willing to say things about Muslims, he’ll put money into it,” another former staffer said. Mr Lawton’s Rebel Media articles are a perfect example of this “spinning of the facts.”

Mr Levant was also recently accused of offering bribes to his former employees. This “hush money” –– as Mr Levant himself called it –– was to stop former employees from discussing Rebel Media in a negative way or to discuss any management, journalistic or ethical practices, or practices involving crowdfunding endeavours.

Mr Lawton –– 1 of only 45 Rebel Media contributors employed internationally –– was personally involved in pushing Rebel Media petitions and promoting these crowdfunding endeavours.

Other Rebel Media contributors include, Tommy Robinson, founder of the anti-Islam group, PEGIDA UK. Mr Robinson is listed on the Rebel Media website as a “Shillman Fellow.” That fellowship, run by tech billionaire Robert Shillman, has put money towards media personalities who push anti-Islam rhetoric. The fellowship is run through the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, named for a man the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement.”

On August 26, 2017, PEGIDA Canada will be holding a hate rally in London, Ontario. On August 22, 2017, London city council unanimously passed a motion condemning the hate rally. The following day Mr Lawton promoted a petition calling on councilors to remove parts of the motion.

1.  As of, August 25, 2017, Mr Lawton has a page on Rebel Media’s website and is listed as a contributor –– what is Mr Lawton's current relationship to Rebel Media?

2. What steps will, AM980, Global News and Corus Entertainment take to ensure Mr Lawton has no ties to Rebel Media or to Ezra Levant and that Mr Lawton has no other conflicts of interest?

Mr Lawton is an important person in our community –– he has interviewed many political figures including two Prime Ministers, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau –– his views are broadcast on our public airwaves. We implore Global News to suspend Mr Lawton until an internal investigation is completed. Mr Lawton must be suspended until Global News can assure the people of London, Ontario, that he no longer has any connections to Rebel Media, Ezra Levant, Gavin McInnes, or to their far-right xenophobic agenda.

Update:
Several days ago we reached out to AM980 for comment, this was their reply:

"Andrew ended his freelancing relationship with The Rebel at the end of April, 2017 after taking on an expanded role with our radio station and company."

This isn't good enough, Mr Lawton still has page on Rebel Media's website and his Global News and AM980 articles are full of the same Rebel Media style xenophobic rhetoric.

With the recent news about Rebel Media and Mr Lawton's equivocating of neo-Nazis with "alt-left" groups –– AM980, Global News, and Corus Entertainment must suspend Mr Lawton.



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