The Top 5 Most Disgusting Moments in Sun News’ History
It will come as no surprise to anyone that Sun News, a media network that strategizes about how to elect Conservatives, has a strong right-wing bias. The company’s recent hire of Mark Towhey, Rob Ford’s chief of staff, as the editor-in-chief reflects their perspective.
But the Sun is most infamous for its opinion writers, whose views often go well beyond mainstream conservative thought, veering into conspiracy theories and open bigotry. Below, we look at the five worst racist moments in the history of Sun News and its venerable columnists.
Supporting South Africa’s Apartheid Regime
Until the end of the apartheid rule in the early 1990s, many of the Sun’s editorials were about how South Africa wasn’t “ready” to become desegregated, implying that the black South Africans were too primitive to take power.
Opinion writer Barbara Amiel suggested in an August 1985 piece that South Africa was doomed to “what the rest of the unfortunate people on the African continent have known and are suffering: murder, mayhem and economic disaster.”
Sun columnist McKenzie Porter defended apartheid, arguing that South Africa’s Black population “still consult witch doctors and rely on donkey power” and predicting that “if South Africa gave the vote to every black today it would bring about the destruction of the agriculture, industry, and commerce that are essential to the eventual emancipation of the supposedly oppressed majority”.
These racist editorials led to a backlash from one of Toronto City’s committees on race, who threatened to pull city advertising from the paper.
McKenzie Porter’s Support For Eugenics and Forced Sterilization
McKenzie Porter, who wrote for the Sun from 1962 to 1990, was an avid supporter of eugenics — the practice of sterilizing people deemed to be somehow inferior — as a “solution to society’s ills.”
In an October 1982 column, Porter wrote:
“The only way to rid ourselves of poverty and its related diseases of insanity and crime is by embracing the science of eugenics.”
He went on to suggest that anyone with physical or mental disabilities, and those who have gone to prison more than once, should be sterilized.
Porter supported the eventual forced sterilization of those he deemed inferior, claiming:
“It should not be difficult to persuade genetically unsound indigents to submit them to sterilization if it is pointed out to them that their new condition will permit them unlimited sexual pleasure without bringing upon them the burden of handicapped children. […] Some element of compulsion will have to be accepted once the practice of eugenics is adopted. Boards of control manned by doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists, clergymen and others should be empowered to order certain people be sterilized.”
Sue-Ann Levy False Claims That Refugees Were Slaughtering Goats in Hotel
On September 30th 2018, Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy published an article featuring fake reviews from TripAdvisor of a hotel housing refugees.
These reviews included a range of lies about what was going on in the hotel, including claims that the “lobby was like a 9/11 terrorist training camp.” Levy apparently did not go to the hotel herself to confirm these claims, though she reported them as if they were true. When a reporter checked these claims, the hotel confirmed that they were 100% false and TripAdvisor suspended commenting on the hotel’s page.
The next week, Levy wrote another column on the matter, this time including another fake review about the hotel which claimed people were slaughtering goats in the bathroom. This was denied by the hotel as yet another lie. Ironically, Levy included a disclaimer in her column that she “could not make this stuff up.”
Repeated Attempts to Falsely Blame Muslims for Terrorist Attacks
Sun writers have a nasty habit of falsely blaming Muslims for terrorist attacks.
Mere hours after a shooting on the Danforth that killed two and injured 13 last July, columnist Sue-Ann Levy tweeted about the incident, wondering, “Gang member? Refugee? Terrorist?” As it turned out, the perpetrator was not religious. The ignorant speculation while the city mourned wasn’t out of character for Levy, who has also said she believes the conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama is Muslim.
After the Toronto van attack last year, Sun columnists Tarek Fatah and Candice Malcolm repeated false claims that the perpetrator was of Middle Eastern descent, inciting fear about the incident on social media.
Bigotry Against Gay People
The Sun’s Queen’s Park columnist Claire Hoy had a particular hatred of LGBTQ people. In 1978 he published a column wondering why “more Torontonians don’t let them know they’re not welcome here” and called homosexuality a “creeping, crawling sickness in our society.”
This attitude was reflected elsewhere in the company. Editor Peter Worthington threatened to out those rounded up in the widely-condemned Bathhouse Raids of 1981. Cartoonist Andy Donato frequently published derogatory images of gay people.
The Sun is widely available in most major Canadian cities and presents itself as a legitimate news source. But in reality, it is primarily a vehicle for right-wing opinion and ideology. At its worst, it is also a space for bigots to couch vile and hateful views as mainstream opinion.