Ontario Proud falsely claimed the media was 'silent' about the murder of a child and instead focused on an anti-lockdown protest
Claim: A viral meme from the right-wing Facebook page Ontario Proud recently declared that the “media” are in an “uproar” over an Ontario restaurant owner who defied public health rules while simultaneously remaining “silent” over the tragic murder of a 12-year-old boy.
The meme shows Adam Skelly, owner of a Toronto-area barbecue restaurant who defied public health restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 and opened for business last week, resulting in local police placing Skelly under arrest for 13 criminal and non-criminal charges.
The image of Skelly is layered with text that reads: “A Toronto BBQ restaurant owner opens up amid lockdowns. Media uproar.”
That image is juxtaposed next to a photo of Dante Sebastian Andreatta, a 12-year old who was killed after being struck by a stray bullet during a shootout that took place while he was shopping with his mother on November 7.
The bottom image text reads: “An innocent 12 year old murdered in Toronto walking home with his mother. Media silence.”
In a caption of its Facebook post, Ontario Proud asked its followers: “Do you think Canada’s media is more outraged by a BBQ restaurant owner than the murder of an innocent boy?”
Ballingall is a former Conservative staffer, Sun News Network employee as well as a Bay Street lobbyist who served as digital director for Erin O’Toole’s successful campaign for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Ballingall is also a director and part-owner of The Post Millennial, a right-wing news site that has previously published articles written by a fake journalists using false identities with computer-generated images.
How it spread: Ontario Proud shared the meme last Thursday with its 449,000 Facebook followers. To date, the meme has been shared widely and generated more than 7,600 interactions on Facebook.
Ontario Proud’s meme was spread further with the help of one of Balligall’s other right-wing pages, Canada Proud, which cross-posted the meme and generated an additional 1,600 interactions.
The reality: Ontario Proud’s claim that “media” responded to Andreatta’s murder with “silence” is simply not supported by the facts.
In reality, the murder received extensive mainstream news coverage: CBC News, CTV News, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, Toronto Sun, Global News and CP24all ran stories about the shooting between November 12 and 17.
A 12-year-old boy killed by a stray bullet during a shooting in North York donated his organs to nine other people in need, a family friend says. Dante Sebastian Andreatta is being remembered as a loving, enthusiastic and active young boy. Read more: https://t.co/kP3YoOK0f3 pic.twitter.com/yo0QhATcJX
— CBC Toronto (@CBCToronto) November 18, 2020
Toronto police say a 12-year-old boy who was caught up in gunfire that erupted in Toronto over the weekend has died in hospital from his injuries.https://t.co/mDCMEozecE
— Global News Toronto (@globalnewsto) November 12, 2020
The 12-year-old boy fatally shot in North York will go on to save other lives through organ donations.https://t.co/aV7vrTHIJX
— CTV Toronto (@CTVToronto) November 16, 2020
In fact, on November 18, Ontario Proud shared an article from the Post Millennial, the right-wing news site that Balligall co-owns, that explicitly indicates it was based on reporting originally sourced from CP24.
This story is absolutely horrific and this family deserves justice.
Those responsible need to go away for a long, long time.https://t.co/ozQiOERIxi
— Ontario Proud (@ontarioisproud) November 18, 2020
Notably, the photo that Ontario Proud used for the meme was originally published on the victim’s GoFundMe page, and appeared in both CBC’s and CP24’s coverage of the incident.
To date, Andreatta’s GoFundMe has raised just a little over $37,000 whereas Skelly’s GoFundMe has raised nearly $300,000, thanks in large part to sympathetic coverage from right-wing media outlets — including Ballingall’s Post Millennial website:
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) November 27, 2020
Ballingall’s Post Millennial website indicates it has run nine separate stories about Skelly’s barbecue restaurant and only one story about Andreatta.