Canada’s conservative Sun News Network went dark last month after a four-year run, the victim of a hate campaign by the Canadian and American left which mocked the network as “Fox News north.”
The left despised Sun News for many reasons. It was proudly anti-PC and contrarian. The network was pro-Israel, pro-oil, supported fracking, and questioned global warming. It also was pro-gun rights, pro-life and ran many stories about the persecution of Christians. Sun News reveled in running videos of communist protesters at Canadian May Day demonstrations and far-left environmentalists protesting oil pipelines. Its criticism of the Obama administration was harsh, but more intellectual than many conservative American journalists.
Sun News was best known for its extensive coverage of the threat from radical Islam. Given several violent Islamist plots in Canada over the last 10 years, Sun News treated this as a serious security threat to the country. It went where the country’s mainstream journalists refused to go, devoting hundreds of hours of programming to Islamist radicalization of Canadian youth, violence by Islamists against women and gays, honor killings, and the refusal of Canadian officials and mainstream media to conform the Islamist threat.
For example, below is an outstanding interview by Sun News anchor Ezra Levant on radicalization in Canadian mosques which includes clips of sermons by mainstream Canadian imams.
Here’s another example where Michael Coren discusses shariah law which he describes as “hideous” and “a lie.” Corren also explains how slavery is acceptable under shariah.
For a small news outlet, Sun News attracted a huge amount of sneering criticism from the liberal elites and its media rivals who condemned the network as Islamophobic, divisive, racist, hateful, and propagandistic. Many on the left contended it failed to win viewers because Canadians are more moderate and civil than Americans and thus refused to support a Canadian network that resembled Fox News. A member of the parliament suggested in 2012 that the network did not engage in journalism. Canadian journalist Antonia Zerbisias wrote last month that the death of Sun News was “a victory for intellect.”
Other Canadian journalists went further. Omar Mouallem wrote “everyone at Sun News deserved to be fired” and condemned a Sun News report, “Islam’s war on the world,” as hate speech. Denise Balkissoon tweeted that “Sun News was not ‘centre right,’ or ‘provocative.’ It was histrionic garbage, with a dash of daily racism.”
As harsh as this criticism was, it is worth noting that Sun News was attacked as hateful and extreme even before it went on the air by a campaign launched from the United States by the advocacy group Avaaz.
Such attacks reflect a country where conservative voices struggle to be heard. There are lots of conservatives in Canada, certainly enough to support a conservative news channel, but this was not possible because the liberal elites control the country’s government cable bureaucracy. Sun News failed because its opponents campaigned to keep it out of Canada’s “must carry” cable package. This denied it the funds it needed to survive. The network also never reached more than 40 percent of households and was relegated to the cable “attic” by being assigned high channel numbers.
Sun News went off the air because it told politically incorrect truths about Canadian domestic matters and international issues. But its major sin was providing a kind of aggressive and cerebral analysis of the global jihad movement that could not be found anywhere else in the Canadian or American media. Unlike Canadian TV networks CBC and CTV, Sun News put Charlie Hebdo cartoons critical of Islam on the air. It refused to be bullied by Islamist apologist groups that constantly try to portray any negative coverage of Islam as bigotry.
The demise of the Sun News Network is a setback for the conservative cause and the fight against radical Islam. Fortunately, former Sun News staffers are trying to continue the fight.
Ezra Levant has started The Rebel, an online news outlet which he hopes will continue the work of Sun News. He also founded a website called CanadianJihad.ca which is devoted to exposing radical Muslim leaders preaching violence across Canada.
Although the demise of Sun News is a setback for free speech in Canada, since its reporters are on the right side of history, they likely will succeed in getting their message to the Canadian public through other mediums.
Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, is Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs for the Center for Security Policy. Follow him on Twitter @fredfleitz.