CBC The National Cannot Substantiate Claims That Israeli Strike Blew Off Palestinian Girl’s Legs

November 22, 2023

On the November 5 broadcast of CBC The National, reporter Ellen Moreau stated as fact that a young Palestinian girl had her legs blown off due to an Israeli strike. 

Here’s a short transcript:

Moreau: “Layan al-Baz lost both of her legs in an Israeli strike.”

Layan: “I don’t want false legs,” she says, “I want my legs back, my future is over now.”

Click below to play full segment

On November 6, HonestReporting Canada filed a complaint with CBC News asking if our public broadcaster could substantiate this claim with incontrovertible evidence?

As we told the CBC, two possibilities exist: 1) an Israeli strike severely injured the Palestinian girl or 2) an errant Palestinian rocket or bomb struck where she was situated, seriously injuring her.

HRC relayed that if the CBC is unable to confirm the veracity of this matter, we are of the view that an on-air correction must be broadcast to state that the cause of her injuries is unknown and that CBC cannot substantiate its statement that an Israeli strike severely wounded her.

On November 8, Nancy Waugh, Senior Manager of Journalistic Standards at CBC News, claimed in an email to HRC that CBC’s “reports were fact-based,” but failed to provide any supporting evidence to validate CBC’s journalism. Not satisfied by what we felt was an evasive response, HRC pressed on and reiterated our request for CBC to provide supporting evidence. On November 10, Ms. Waugh responded by citing an AFP report which interviewed pediatric amputee patients and parents at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis.

Importantly, the AFP report did not state as fact that an Israeli strike caused this Palestinian girl’s injuries and amputations. We are most certainly not callously indifferent to this Palestinian girl’s suffering which is beyond horrible, but at present, CBC failed to substantiate that it was an Israeli strike that caused her injuries. AFP only reported that a strike caused her injuries and only in attribution, do her relatives claim it was an Israeli strike.

Accordingly, we were of the view, and we reiterated our request, that CBC News broadcast an immediate on-air corrective to acknowledge that CBC cannot substantiate whether it was an Israeli strike or an errant Palestinian rocket or bomb that led to this Palestinian girl’s injuries. Failing which, we conveyed our view that this report violated the CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices.

In a subsequent response to HRC on November 14, CBC conceded that it should have attributed this as a mere claim and not a statement of fact. Ms Waugh wrote: “As to Ms. Mauro’s report, attribution always helps the audience assess the information we provide. In describing the child’s injuries, the script could have noted “the doctor/family/hospital says,” for example. But I disagree with your assertion that there is an error to correct here.”

We beg to differ. The National, CBC’s flagship news program, told Canadians that an Israeli strike severely injured a Palestinian girl to the point that both of her legs were amputated and yet, our public broadcaster cannot substantiate this claim which it reported as a fact. CBC is duty bound to publicly atone for this flagrant journalistic transgression. Accordingly, HRC has called on the CBC’s Ombudsman to arbitrate our concerns. Stay tuned to this page for future updates.

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