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Dan Lett flubs a fake news scoop

When it comes to Fake News, nobody can match Dan Lett, the "political columnist" for the Winnipeg Free Press.

But he surpassed himself last Friday when he concocted a story accusing Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister of hiring a private investigator to "dig up dirt on NDP leader Wab Kinew" prior to the 2019 provincial election.

The story was based on those apocryphal anonymous "sources" who, of course, "have asked not to be named for fear of reprisal." Given that Lett has been a shill for the NDP for months (more on that soon), coordinating his anti-Pallister columns with NDP political attacks, its not hard to figure out who his "sources" are.

The Page One news story, carried under Lett's name with no mention of being 'opinion', continued on the jump page where, if one read that far, in paragraph 20 of the 28 paragraph story Lett conceded that the PI was actually a researcher hired to pour through the legal records of Kinew's lengthy criminal run-ins with the justice system.

Calling a researcher a private eye is so much sexier, leaving the implication of clandestine surveillance, parking garage meetings with sleazy informants, grainy photos snapped from cars parked in the shadows.  

You can't get much mileage out of a researcher with a Tim Horton's coffee and a laptop sitting in an brightly lit office reading court documents.

Lett was aware of how flimsy his story was, so he did the Fake News shuffle and padded it with extraneous angles.

People working for cabinet ministers in the Legislature knew about the PI, he said.


Paul Thomas, a polical science professor retired for 20 years, was quoted to give the story some gravitas. But he only demonstrated how out of touch with the 21st century he is when he declared that it would be wrong for anyone to tell the Premier what was in those court files.

On what planet?

Kinew was convicted of punching a taxi driver after refusing to pay for a ride and directing "racial comments" to the victim. The Winnipeg Free Press and CBC, both of which have run interference for Kinew, have shown no interest in exactly that those racial comments were.

Other convictions were for drunk driving, failing to report for bail supervision, breaching a court-ordered curfew, and an assault in Kenora. Kinew addressed some of these incidents on his autobiography, but he hid the fact that he was charged with two counts of domestic violence against his girlfriend in 2003.

An anonymous source revealed the existence of these charges but the Free Press and CBC attacked the leaker without asking Kinew for details, only quoting Kinew as saying they had been investigated and dismissed, leaving the impression that they were unfounded.

It was only after The Black Rod discussed the vague charges and asked why none of the "professional" reporters had bothered to get the woman's side of the story that a reporter from the Globe and Mail interviewed her and the shocking details were revealed.

Why won't the NDP listen to the woman who accused Wab Kinew of domestic abuse?

She said Kinew had pushed her roughly to her knees, pulled her around by her hair and left her afraid for her life and fearing he would push her off the balcony of their apartment. She wanted to go to court, she said,  and she was never told by court officials that the case was being stayed (a legal term meaning postponed for a year and then dropped.)

Lett peppered his story with direct quotes from his unnamed sources, a violation of the ethics of using anonymous sources as cited by AP and the Globe and Mail. Editors at the Winnipeg Free Press had to be told who the sources were, according to these ethical standards, so they knew the political bias of the people Lett was relying on for his "news" story, but allowed it to be published without disclaimers, thereby condoning the fake news.


It's been 35 days since a mob tore down two historical statues on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature in the worst case of vandalism and anarchy in Winnipeg in living memory. The wanton destruction  took place as dozens of police watched and did nothing. 

The number of arrests made so far by the Fearless Fosdicks on the Winnipeg police force under the leadership of Chief Danny Smyth: zero.

However police issued video of a man who spraypainted graffitti on Pembina Highway last week. Smyth has thrown all the resources of the police hate crimes investigators into tracking this man down whereever he may be and making him pay.  Justice will be done.

Published since 2005 on territory ceded, released, surrendered and yielded up to Her Majesty the Queen and successors forever by the aboriginal signatories to treaties in 1871.

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