Thursday, September 08, 2005

Lucien Bouchard Gets To Quote Mark Twain

(Hat tip: NealeNews.)

The quotation, of course, is: "The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated." It's not often that a politician gets to see the media eat crow over a blown story, but certainly the former Quebec Premier is entitled to a cackle over this one:

CTV News apologized to Lucien Bouchard and his family Thursday for wrongly announcing that the former Quebec Premier had died.

CTV -- Canada's largest privately-owned TV network -- said it got the information from the CBC's French Language TV news channel, RDI.

Cutting into regular coverage with a Breaking News graphic, CTV's 24-hour news network credited a Radio-Canada report and said Bouchard had died at the age of 66. Calling it dramatic news, political expert Mike Duffy began eulogizing Bouchard, saying he had a "profound impact on Canadian history" before stopping.

Duffy and CTV Newsnet anchor Kate Wheeler then said they were "happy to report Lucien Bouchard is alive and well." "I don't know why Radio-Canada has been reporting that but indeed, now we're glad to report he's still alive," Wheeler said on the air.

RDI News Director Catherine Cano said she and others at the English and French networks of the CBC pored over tapes to see where Newsnet might have gotten the idea. She said nothing even came close to saying Bouchard was dead.

The law firm Davies, Ward, Phillips and Vineberg in Montreal confirmed Bouchard was in his office on Thursday, as his death was being reported on the air. Nicolas Rubbo, head of marketing for the firm, said Bouchard is fine and in good health. "I've just spoken to him and he's in great shape."

So where did CTV get the idea that Bouchard had kicked off? Apparently from a CBC documentary:

Bouchard was included Thursday in special RDI programming dealing with the tenth anniversary of the 1995 Quebec independence referendum. He was a key player in that campaign. The illness that had almost taken his life a few months earlier was mentioned.

If you'll recall, Bouchard had suffered from necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating disease"), which cost him his right leg and earned him a lot of sympathy in the rest of Canada in spite of his separatist credentials.

It would have to be a pretty stupid journalist who'd see a documentary on the '95 referendum and draw the conclusion that one of its subjects had died.

But then again, this is CTV we're talking about here ...