|And a dirty dozen more|
“”I think perhaps the best way to see Ezra is as a sort-of classic P.T. Barnum style grifter. You know, racism has always been a bit of a con game. You tell white people that they're better than other people and they'll give you money. So I think that in some way, that Ezra's future is actually quite bright because you can never get broke underestimating people's intelligence, and there's always another sucker that you can take money from.
Ezra Levant (1972–) is a far right Canadian media personality and has been a central figure in trying (and failing) to manufacture an identical wingnut conservative propaganda platform in Canada similar to Fox News in the United States.
Through his work as a columnist for various conservative rags, his short-lived and little-watched prime time show on the now defunct Sun News Network, and currently with his "angry, hate-filled, unapologetic and surprisingly successful Breitbart North" online hate factory, self-aggrandizingly called The Rebel Media, Levant has been a leading voice in Canada for climate change denial, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, general anti-intellectualism and most bizarrely has lent his platform to anti-semitism despite himself being Jewish.
Levant has spent most of his adult life either suing or being sued by someone or group he defamed.
Levant began his career as a political and communications hack for the now-defunct (like many things Ezra touches) Reform Party of Canada in the 1990s, the socially and more radically conservative alternative to the mainstream Progressive Conservative Party, but his main claim to media whore fame was his popularization of the oxymoronic term Ethical Oil from the publication of his bestselling book by the same name.
The argument, gleefully adopted by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, is an Orwellian defense of the ecological and environmental destruction caused by the extraction of oil from the Alberta tar sands by comparing the human rights record of Canada to other oil-producing states such as Saudi Arabia. By increasing oil production, luring investors and expanding markets for Canadian oil, your conscience can be socially clean that you are at least not underwriting the abuses of an authoritarian regime, so the argument goes.
Levant's arguments for the concept of Ethical Oil rely on whataboutism and a false dilemma. The Ethical Oil campaign portrays the Alberta tar sands as being unfairly targeted and disproportionately critiqued by leftists and environmentalists when other sources of oil come from more unsavory states that deserve more criticism. Thus it is stupid of you to demand better from Canada in its practices and besides, Canada has one of the best environmental standards in the world, Levant and his ideological allies argue. Ironic arguments coming from an individual who believes global warming is a "scam" based on "junk science", and gleefully supported a government that weakened and attacked almost every environmental regulation and protection on the books. See how "ethical" this oil is?
The Ethical Oil chapter came to a glorious "climax" after Ethical Oil "spokesperson" Kathryn Marshall (married to Hamish I. Marshall, currently President of Touch Media, which runs digital strategy for Rebel Media and is also currently running the campaign of Brian Jean for the leadership of Alberta's new United Conservative Party) had a spectacular meltdown on the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corp) in early 2012. She got so flustered by simple counter-questioning that she could barely get a sentence out by the end of the segment. This led to a number of articles and parody videos, one of the most notable being "Ethical Oil: the Puppet Rap", which has 33K views on Youtube.. Levant is still so "stung" by this public rebuke that he actually tweeted about it 5 years later.
Sun News Network
“”Ezra Levant somehow tanks white supremacist website during most racist time in recent memory
In pursuit of his boyhood wet dream of becoming Canada's amorphous amalgamation of every insipid right-wing pundit south of the border, Levant snagged a job as a prime time host of The Source in 2011 on the Sun News Network, the miserably-failed effort by the organization behind the Toronto Sun tabloid at creating a Fox News North.
Chinga tu respect among the public
On a segment in December 2011, Levant went on another lengthy tantrum. The subject: banana corporation Chiquita because it boycotted the Alberta tar sands. During the rant, Ezra targeted the Vice President of the company, Manuel Rodriguez, telling him to "chinga tu madre" ("go fuck your mother"). Sun News Network hilariously defended Levant by claiming the phrase had "many meanings", including "get lost" or "stop bothering me", only for Levant to claim he had used the phrase in the most literal sense. They were again censured by the CBSC and forced to make on-air announcements about the decision.
Jews vs Gypsies
On September 5, 2012, Levant went on a strident rant about Roma on his show which he tastefully titled "The Jew vs. the Gypsies":
But these are Gypsies! A culture synonymous with swindlers. The phrase 'Gypsy' and 'cheater' have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb: 'He gypped me.' Well, the Gypsies have gypped us! Too many have come here as false refugees. And they come here to gyp us again, to rob us blind, as they have done in Europe for centuries.
The rant goes on for around 12 minutes, during which Levant refers to Roma as a "shiftless group of hobos" who are "roving highway gangs that have mocked the law and robbed their way across Europe". Levant screeches about a "gypsy crime wave" while rattling out statistics and individual criminal cases involving Roma, blasts the word "Roma" as being politically correct and a type of "tomato", and says being Roma is a "positive choice" much like being a Blood or a Crip.
Considering that the Sun News Network throughout its existence was in pursuit of "mandatory carriage" on cable and satellite providers from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, having their primary on-air personality engage in a lengthy, inexplicably hysterical racist rant against a minority group most Canadians had never even seen (about 5,000 total Canadians have Roma ancestry), was not good PR and they were forced to apologize.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) ruled Levant was “in violation of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code". The Toronto Police and a crown attorney general both had recommended to the Ontario Attorney General that Levant be charged with a hate crime, but no charges were filed in order to prevent a "media circus".
The Rebel Media
“”This is about more than just the ideological pathologies of one weird Canadian media company. It is about a warped new ideological arena where Zionists and creepy Nazi apologists are willing to overlook their differences in service to a common hateful cause.
The Sun News Network tanked in 2015, with an average daily viewership of 8,000. Not at all deterred by another failure in a long string of career failures, Levant set up The Rebel Media, an online Canadian Breitbart clone. The website has been a haven for alt-right, Neo-Nazi, and white supremacist contributors such as Lauren Southern, Jack Posobiec, Gavin McInnes, Stephen Lennon, Faith Goldy, and various other cranks. The Rebel YouTube channel has over 800,000 subscribers.
It is almost inexplicable how an ardently pro-Israel, Jewish man who is not shy of accusing his critics of anti-semitism has incubated the most anti-semitic media company in Canada. His own employees infamously aired a segment where they referred to the "Jew World Order" and "Jewpapers" and to Levant himself as a "Jewnicorn".
An explanation is shared anti-Muslim bigotry — Levant is a notorious Islamophobe. In one incident, he sent Faith Goldy and Gavin McInnes to Bethlehem, Israel, where they called for a new crusade against Muslims. Levant himself has a prolific history of hate speech and slander against Muslim individuals and against Muslims in general.
Another explanation is financial incentives. After many failed ventures, Levant has managed to tap into a rising far-right militancy and hatred that he couldn't access through traditional Canadian media where there was no market for it. Rebel Media, through imitating Breitbart, has tapped into a global ideology that has more prominence in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. An ex-contributor released an explosive video raising questions about Rebel Media's possible predatory fundraising habits.
Quebec mosque attack: Conspiracy theories and disinformation
“”So excited were they that Levant even registered http://quebecterror.com at 10:06 this morning.
A perfect distillation of Levant's Islamophobic and financial incentives to run a hate website is seen in his response to the Quebec City mosque shooting.
On January 29th, 2017, the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City was the target of a mass shooting that killed 6 people. Almost immediately, Levant sent out a fundraising email to Rebel Media supporters spreading a conspiracy theory that the attacker was a Muslim and begging for donations to help Rebel Media fight the "mainstream media" and uncover the truth.
The Rebel Media reporter Faith Goldy attended the Unite the Right rally in North Carolina and was witness to the vehicular murder of counter-protester Heather Heyer by Neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. Goldy captured one of the cleanest videos of the attack while she was streaming herself via Periscope. While she showed concern after the attack happened, she had spent the last 2 days praising the rally and defending the ideas of American white supremacist Richard Spencer.
Which suddenly raised the question: what the hell was a Rebel Media reporter doing at a white supremacist rally? While Levant's ties to the alt-right and white supremacy individuals and viewpoints was evident to anyone with half a brain, in Canada, there remained a large chunk of the Conservative establishment who still catered to the outlet.
The fallout has been swift and harsh. Faith Goldy was fired, which may have as much to do with Charlottesville as it has to do with it being revealed she went on a podcast for the Daily Stormer and joked about Levant loving free bacon. Their other top contributor, Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, left. Rebel Media co-founder Brian Lilley left over the "harsh" editorial tone of the outlet. Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer said he would not give an interview to The Rebel until they changed their "editorial direction".
Levant released a video recently promising a "reboot" of Rebel Media.
Hush money and unethical fundraising
Amidst the Charlottesville backlash, former British Rebel contributor Caolan Robertson released a 12 minute video "...alleging The Rebel, during its fundraisers, solicited donations for its campaigns beyond the amounts needed, lied about the costs of creating its content and misled its audience about the use of its money." The video includes audio of Levant offering Robertson and former Rebel producer George Llewelyn-John thousands of pounds in what he himself refers to as "hush money".
- Lauren Southern: An equally-insane former reporter for his "news" site, The Rebel Media.
- Faith Goldy: Another equally-insane former reporter for his "news" site, The Rebel Media.
- "Ezra Levant: The Rebel's unrepentant commander", Macleans, January 24, 2017
- "Ezra Levant: The right-wing gadfly who loves to offend", Macleans, January 13, 2013
- Ethical Oil ad campaign, Globe and Mail
- "Stephen Harper: The environment's best friend, Toronto Star, July 31, 2014
- "Defiant Ezra stands by Spanish slur", The Globe and Mail, June 13, 2012
- "Gypsies reference on Ezra Levant's show violated broadcasters' code", The Canadian Journalism Project, September 9, 2013
- "The story behind Ezra Levant's 11th hour apology for Roma rant", The Rabble, March 21, 2013