February 4, 2022

A Feb. 2 Instagram post claims that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “pays mainstream media $600 million to report in favor of him.”

The evidence? A clip of Trudeau saying just that.

“You sometimes hear about liberal bias in the media these days, how they’re constantly letting our government off the hook for no good reason,” he says in a video in the post. “Frankly, I think that’s insulting. It’s clear that they let us off the hook for a very good reason. Because we pay them $600 million.”

The video in the post then cuts to an image of Trudeau with text appearing that says “Mainstream media? I just bought it.” Meanwhile, he can still be heard saying: “You don’t get stellar headlines like these without greasing the wheels a bit.”

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The video comes from the 2019 Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner, an annual event at which attending politicians give speeches with plenty of jokes, much like the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

About 39 minutes into this video of the dinner, posted on YouTube by Global News, Trudeau makes the comment that appears in the post. It was an allusion to a Canadian government program to help struggling news outlets.

But while the post cuts away from the actual speech and shows a still image of Trudeau, footage from the dinner shows unflattering headlines projected behind the prime minister such as “Justin Trudeau is tampering with Canada’s brand” and “Trudeau has lost the moral mandate to govern.”

Later that year, a misleadingly edited video like the one that appears in this Facebook post started to appear online.

“It’s a small tweak that distorts the video’s meaning without sophisticated editing,” the CBC reported at the time, “but it’s effective because it plays on very real concerns and criticisms of the government’s so-called media bailout program.”

The Canadian government had then earmarked $600 million for tax credits and other incentives to help struggling news outlets, according to the CBC.

But Trudeau was making a joke during the dinner. He wasn’t claiming that he had bribed the media.

We rate this post False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Ciara O'Rourke is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, Ciara covered local government and public safety for the Austin American-Statesman and fact-checked elected officials and…
Ciara O'Rourke

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