Radio-Canada says there was no ban on watching footage of Hamas terrorist attack on Israel

Paul Hirschson, Israel’s consul general in Montreal, had accused Radio-Canada of banning its journalists from attending a screening

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Radio-Canada has defended its coverage of Hamas’s terrorist attack after the head of Israel’s diplomatic mission in Montreal accused the public broadcaster of refusing to allow journalists to attend screenings of footage from the massacre.

In the weeks following Hamas’s attack on communities near the Gaza border, Israel showed gruesome footage from Oct. 7 to journalists from outlets around the world, including reporters and columnists from Postmedia.

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Paul Hirschson, Israel’s consul general in Montreal, said when the mission reached out to Radio-Canada, the French-language arm of the CBC, he was told reporters were too busy to attend.

“Someone not from Radio Canada, with no knowledge of the mail I had received, told me Radio Canada held some form of executive meeting and decided no-one from Radio Canada would participate in the screening. ‘They want to remain neutral’ he told me,” Hirschson wrote on X.

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In an interview with National Post on Tuesday, Hirschson said he was careful about the wording in his post.

“I don’t know that as a fact. All I know is that somebody told me that,” said Hirschson. “I didn’t say that was a fact, I said, that’s the conclusion I came to.”

Marc Pichette, communications director for Radio-Canada, told National Post in a statement that “we did not direct our reporters to turn down the invitation to screen footage from the October 7 attack in Israel.”

“When the Consul General sent out his initial email, our journalists who are familiar with the region and the geopolitical situation were unavailable,” Pichette wrote. “This has not prevented us from continuing our news reporting of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. On that point, to claim that we wanted to avoid being ‘exposed’ to footage on a story we’ve been covering since day one seems a little peculiar, to say the least.”

Hirschson said he had invited specific journalists, not the organization as a whole, to the screening. He also said he followed up with Radio-Canada, offering alternative times to view the footage, but did not receive responses.

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“I have been contacted by more than one Radio Canada journalist asking whether the rumour is true that Radio Canada ‘boycotted’ the screening and asking whether I could invite them to a future screening,” Hirschson wrote. “The offer remains — should Radio Canada wish to see significant and relevant material on a subject they are giving extensive coverage to, I will arrange a screening for them.”

Asked about the refusal to set up an alternate screening, Pichette said “our journalists on the ground in Israel are well aware of the facts and continue to speak with witnesses and report on this issue.”

“We did not hesitate to show the most appalling images, to transmit the most moving testimonies,” he said.

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Said Hirschson: “I know they’ve been reporting. All I know, is I invited them.”

Hirschson also said he sent an invite to CBC News, the English side of the operation, but, “They simply didn’t respond to the invite.” CBC did send a journalist to a different screening, in Ottawa — Evan Dyer, a senior reporter with the public broadcaster’s parliamentary bureau, attended the briefing and wrote a story.

“Would appreciate a correction to your post,” wrote Brodie Fenlon, CBC’s editor-in-chief, in reply to Hirschson on X.

“I’m happy to hear that (Dyer went) to a different screening in a different place. A person I never invited, was invited and he went and he wrote about it and I was fine with that,” said Hirschson. “Shakespeare wrote, ‘methinks he does protest too much.’”

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