Aug 30/95: Gustafsen Lake-RCMP angry at media reports


Vancouver Sun
Wednesday, August 30, 1995, Page A3
Mike Crawley - Staff Reporter

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. It may contain biased and distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context.]

GUSTAFSEN LAKE -- The RCMP slammed the news media Tuesday, claiming coverage of the armed standoff with native Indians here had potentially jeopardized police efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation.

Sgt. Peter Montague criticized "some of the reports that came out this morning," but would not be specific about which media outlets he was talking about.

Reporters have been listening-in on the radio-phone conversations between police negotiators and the native Indians encamped on private ranch land 35 kilometres west of 100 Mile House. Late Monday, Montague had an off-the-record meeting with accredited media only to discuss concerns about what was being reported.

At a news conference Tuesday, Montague said: "The RCMP is appalled with respect to the nature of some of today's media reports. They were inaccurate, they were misleading, they were confusing and possibly unlawful. In this extreme situation, the stakes are too high for irresponsible reporting." Montague would not answer when asked how any further reporting of Tuesday's negotiations would affect the police plan.

"We're going to preserve the integrity of this investigation at all costs," he said. "The public doesn't approve of media reporting that puts police investigations in jeopardy and possibly putting lives at stake."

He would not answer when asked if police would pursue charges against The Vancouver Sun.

The Sun reported the substance of the negotiations -- the native Indians wanted tobacco and canned goods and a chance to speak to their lawyer Bruce Clark, while the police asked that anybody who wanted to leave the camp be allowed to do so.

All media outlets monitored the talks. Some reported the substance of the talks, then pulled the reports later in the evening. Others did not go with the information at all.

CBC Radio News reported the substance of the talks at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., but not at 10 p.m.

"I got a call after midnight Toronto time raising the question of the legality of using the information," said Bob Bishop, senior assignment editor with CBC national radio news. "I think it's quite clear we don't have the right to run that. It's illegal."

However, he says he doesn't blame reporters for the fact the information went to air, citing "the tension and difficulty of the moment."

"The reporters at the scene have been working very hard, working very long hours," Bishop said. "They're under a lot of stress and pressure because of the nature of the story and the place where they've had to work."

CKNW radio reporters George Garrett and Ted Field did not report the information.

"Both Ted Field and I discussed it and both recognized it could be considered use of intercepted communications," Garrett said.

The Province ran the information in its first edition but removed it for the second edition.

The Sun also revealed some of the substance of the police tactical plan Monday using information from sources close to the situation. It reported that the police have brought in a psychologist to do personality profiles of the people in the camp and that police plan to use a helicopter to get a landline into the camp for communication.

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