CTV’s Marci Ien’s column in the Globe and Mail “The double standard of driving while black – in Canada” has caused a storm — but not in the way it was intended. She recounted being stopped while driving because of her race.
But the Toronto Police used social media — Twitter — to dispute her account, revealing both the video and audio records did not align with her version of event, according to Staff Supt. Mario Di Tommaso:
I have viewed the video footage of your vehicle stop. You were stopped because of your driving behaviour. You failed to stop at a stop sign. It was dark. Your race was not visible on the video and only became apparent when you stepped out of the vehicle in your drive way.
The police chief invited her to watch and listen to what the police had on the incident. They have not released either to the public, but they method of dispute is very uncommon. Once upon a time, a newspaper column’s veracity would not unfold in public in this way. The police completely bypassed traditional media, and all but dared Ien to file an official complaint.
This is not the typical “he said, she said” battle. You have one individual making accusations in the traditional media, while the police using social media to launch a counterattack because the latter is far more effective than the former.
It is an interesting turn at a time when journalism’s clout has been lost, but the Internet’s is still the simplest method to counter a journalist’s claim quickly to change the terms of debate.