Doug Ford creates simulated news to counter media that ‘isn’t going to give us a fair shake’
May 3, 2018 7:10 AM EDT
A microphone-toting reporter stands by the side of the road, her hair whipped by the wind, as if breathlessly reporting breaking news. Clips show Doug Ford addressing the media at a press event. There are interviews with “ordinary citizens” at an auto body shop and a pub, shots of concerned voters at a town hall-style meeting.
The report on the Ontario Conservative Leader’s electricity-rates announcement this week looked and felt like an actual TV-news item.
But the video was not produced by a television station or working journalists.
It was one of several generated in recent days by the Ford campaign itself, a seemingly unprecedented way to showcase his message before the June 7 election — and compete with real news coverage that tends not to be so glowingly positive.
Playing the part of the reporter in all of the videos Lyndsey Vanstone, Ford’s executive assistant and, until recently, his press secretary.
The simulated news items, posted on Facebook, have been viewed as many as 732,000 times each, and generated hundreds of shares.
“I think this is a first, or at least a first in Canada,” said Brett James, partner with the Sussex Strategy Group and a veteran Conservative consultant. “Part of me thinks, ‘Wow, what took people so long?’ … I think it’s an effective format.”
Behind it all is a Ford campaign manager with both partisan and television experience. Kory Teneyke was a press secretary to ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and head of the now-defunct conservative Sun TV network.
Doug Ford creates simulated news to counter media that