Politics

Incorrect Fox News tweet on Quebec City mosque attack earns scorn of PMO

The director of communications for the Prime Minister’s Office has written to Fox News, asking it to remove a tweet that she says is “dishonouring” the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting.

PMO spokesperson writes letter to U.S. outlet, saying 'tweet dishonours the memory of the 6 victims'

Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau place flowers at a makeshift memorial during a vigil in Quebec City on Monday night. A shooting Sunday at a mosque in the city left six people dead and eight others injured. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The director of communications for the Prime Minister's Office has written to Fox News, asking it to remove a tweet that she says is "dishonouring" the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting.

Kate Purchase sent the letter to Bill Shine, co-president of Fox News Channel, asking the organization to remove a tweet that incorrectly reported the suspect in the shooting was of "Moroccan origin."

Fox News responded by saying it regretted the error and would delete the tweet.

Amid the chaos that characterized the initial hours after the shooting, the incorrect information was also reported by a number of Canadian news organizations, including CBC News.  

The Fox tweet only mentioned one possible shooter, while other organizations reported that there were two possible shooters, including one that was of Moroccan origin. Fox 's tweet contained text across an image of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying "We condemn this terror attack on Muslims."

While two men were initially arrested, police have only charged 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette. The second man, 19-year-old Mohamed Belkhadir, was not involved in the shooting but rather was a witness to the attack that left six dead.

A link contained in the Fox News tweet leads readers to a story about the shooting in which Fox explains that its initial reporting on the incident later proved to be incorrect.

But Purchase wanted that tweet updated to reflect the most recent information.

"Sadly, this misleading information has been left to stand on the Fox News Channel's Twitter account and continues to circulate online even now," Purchase wrote.

"These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities."

A screengrab of the tweet by Fox News, which went out Monday. (@FoxNews/CBC)

Purchase goes on to say that Canada is an "open, welcoming" country and a "nation of millions of immigrants and refugees."

Moving beyond the tweet, Purchase says that "we need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united, instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities.

"If we allow individuals and organizations to succeed by scaring people, we do not actually end up any safer. Fear does not make us safer," she says. "It makes us weaker. Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution. It distracts from the real issues that affect people's day to day life.

"For all of these reasons, we ask that Fox News either retract or update the tweet to reflect the suspect's actual identity."

Late Tuesday, FoxNews.com managing director Refet Kaplan issued a statement saying the organization regretted the error and had made moves to correct it.

"FoxNews.com initially corrected the misreported information with a tweet and an update to the story on Monday," Kaplan said in the statement. "The earlier tweets have now been deleted. We regret the error."

Purchase went on Twitter late Tuesday to thank Fox for deleting the tweet.

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