One of Canada’s most iconic journalists died yesterday. Christie Blatchford, 68, passed away following a short battle with cancer.
I met Christie once while out walking my pug Ozzy. I’ve read a lot about how she loved dogs and there wasn’t a dog in Toronto she didn’t want to say hello too.
At first I felt like it couldn’t possibly be real. Christie Blatchford saying hi to Rehtaeh’s dog!
Then it hit me. This is an ambush. She’s going to come at me and somewhere there’s a guy with a camera zooming in. God! We moved to Toronto to get lost in a big city and now this is happening.
But she just said hi and walked away. She had no idea who I was and left me there trying to catch my breath, my heart pounding in my chest.
Three weeks after Rehtaeh’s death, Blatchford wrote an article that reads like it was written by the cop who fucked her case up. Rehtaeh died under a mountain of victim blaming and slut shaming. Three weeks after we laid her to rest it happened all over again, thanks to Christie Blatchford.
I read an article this morning written by a close friend of Blatchford stating that the “cops trusted her as their go to reporter,” so it kind of makes sense she’d write something they wanted written. They were, after all, under intense media scrutiny and needed to do something.
But I’ll never know why Blatchford didn’t called us or try to reach out prior to publishing her story. We weren’t hard to find.
We had information that came out after Rehtaeh’s death Blatchford obviously didn’t have and the police officer who helped her write that hit piece didn’t have access to or didn’t want to share. I would have been more than happy to share what I had, had she only asked.
The worst part of that article was the claim that there was “…an independent witness” who “…supported the notion that any sex was consensual.” The fallout from that was devastating and it’s something I still have to deal with every time Rehtaeh’s name comes up in the news.
“Did you read this… Rehtaeh was a liar, … she cried rape because she was embarrassed, … your daughter was a slut… good parenting… read this article by Blatchford. Rehtaeh wasn’t raped!”
To this day that shit happens, thanks to Christie Blatchford.
On page 8 of the Independent Review of the Police and Prosecution Response to the Rehtaeh Parsons Case it states that very witness “did not witness the window incident.” The girl Blatchford wrote about wasn’t even in the house when Rehtaeh became to intoxicated to defend herself.
Blatchford also wrote about the photograph that was taken that night, claiming it “shows virtually nothing that would stand up in court.” A few months later two guilty pleas were entered in a Halifax courtroom for the distribution and production of child pornography.
I read a post on Twitter this morning from someone who knew Blatchford. She shares that Blatchford emailed this to her: “We all make mistakes in this business. I do myself, with alarming regularity. But it hurts no one, and engenders immeasurable goodwill in fact, to ‘fess up quickly, apologize and correct.”
Blatchford did neither of those things.
The only follow up I read was an article she wrote following the second sentencing hearing. In it she describes one of Rehtaeh’s rapists as, “such a slight young man, bright, well-spoken and even capable, albeit in that awkward-bordering-on-ghastly way of the young man, of being thoughtful.” Then she called him brave.
I didn’t share with Blatchford some of the filth that very kid wrote to me and Rehtaeh’s mother.
“You probably raped your daughter her whole life no wonder she was so fucked in the head and all I know is she sucked and fucked every guy in the city and she was tight… keep talking shit cuz I know your face your car where u live and what you do so keep getting lippy bud n u might be going to visit your daughter.”
Blatchford presented him to the country like he was the victim in all this. It was an extremely inappropriate and unforgivable thing to do.
I get it, it’s journalism. Every story has two sides and it takes guts to tell the unpopular side. But the thing is, Blatchford didn’t spend a second scrutinizing his story the way she scrutinized Rehtaeh’s. Instead she wrote a fluff piece like it was a Christmas card.
Blatchford wrote that the boys father was aghast: “In my mind, that’s not how we raised him, to have unprotected sex with anybody, …”
Before he was arrested by the military police, that same father posted this comment on my site, “Rehtaeh couldn’t give or decline consent because she had a mouth full of underage cock.”
I wonder sometimes if Blatchford’s stance on Rehtaeh’s death would have changed if I just forwarded all the hate we were subject to, mainly from the family she sat down with for a fireside chat.
Blatchford had an army of supporters, friends, and colleagues. The outpouring of sentiment and fond memories says a lot about her legacy and who she was as a person and as a journalist. But it’s surreal reading some of the comments about her.
The National Post called her a tenacious voice for victims. Others say “she was fearless, with an uncompromising sense of justice. If you had been wronged, you could have no better ally than Christie.”
Bullshit. Blatchford would take your side so long as your side had police officers on it and they knew it. Someone within the Halifax Police Department called her and spoon feed her the story of Rehtaeh they wanted written and she wrote it for them.
She wrote if for them with no thought at all of who this was going to hurt or the lasting damage such a biased story would produce.
I lost my father to prostate cancer in 2006. It’s an awful way to die and I don’t wish cancer on anyone. I am truly sorry Christie died this way and that she died way too young.
We lived in the same neighbourhood in Toronto and I’d often see her out walking her amazingly beautiful dog.
Wherever you are Christie, I wish you and your dog well on your next journey.