Dougald Lamont defends time spent working at 'scurrilous' satire magazine

Dougald Lamont defends time spent working at 'scurrilous' satire magazine

Manitoba’s Liberal leader says he doesn’t remember much of the content in the controversial magazine where he worked for more than a year, although he admits some of it was “inappropriate stuff.”

Frank magazine has been on the edge of the Canadian media scene for decades. Liberal leader and St. Boniface candidate Dougald Lamont called the publication his employer from 1997 through to early 1999.

In the era when Lamont wrote for the magazine, it skewered politicians, media figures and business people. It also had an edgy tone that has been described as racist, misogynist and homophobic.

Much of the publication’s content was satirical, with articles referred to people of Indian descent as “towelheads” and other pejorative comments about race and homosexuality.

There are lots of places I regret working. It’s the past, right?– Dougald  Lamont on his time at Frank Magazine

Lamont says he never worked on the satire pieces for the magazine and repeatedly told CBC News and Radio-Canada that his interest in working at Frank was as a reporter.

“I did investigative journalism, so most of it was just on the reporting side. Then I did layout,” he said.

The Liberal candidate also said he doesn’t recall much of the satirical side of the magazine and admitted he didn’t always find the content funny.

Lamont said there was a clear line between those who wrote the satire and journalists, but was reluctant to say he regretted working at the magazine.

“There are lots of places I regret working. It’s the past, right? I learned, or tried to learn as many good lessons as I could from working there,” Lamont said.

In the era when Lamont worked there, the magazine’s articles did not have bylines or attribution to who wrote them.

When confronted specifically with items in Frank that disparaged Indian people or remarks of a homophobic or racist nature, Lamont told CBC News/Radio-Canada he didn’t remember much of the content.

“I don’t recall or know, right. I don’t remember everything that was done or said at the time by other people working at the magazine. I was writing my stuff,” Lamont said.

When asked directly if he would disavow remarks in the magazine that were offensive, Lamont said he does.

“Sure, I think I don’t have a problem saying it’s inappropriate stuff. But I still don’t actually know what specifically ran when I was there,” Lamont said.

‘Not a respectable place for journalists’

Carleton University journalism professor Paul Adams remembers Frank magazine of the late 1990s in more vivid detail.

The academic worked for CBC News as a parliamentary correspondent, ultimately becoming the Ottawa bureau chief, and later wrote for the Globe and Mail as its senior correspondent covering federal politics.

“Frank was a scurrilous publication that traded in rumour; innuendo. It had a flavour of homophobia. It joked about racial and ethnic differences. It had a strong streak of misogyny. It was not a respectable place to be as a journalist,” Adams recalls.

Adams admits Frank did scoop mainstream media outlets from time to time and said some of the magazine’s staff went on to significant careers in journalism, citing CTV investigative reporter Glen McGregor as an example.

“I’m not suggesting that having worked with or for Frank means you should be condemned for all time, but it does require an explanation. Why did you keep that company?” Adams said.

The journalism professor said Frank was frequently the target of lawsuits and lost many of them. He likened Frank of the 1990s to current-day blogs and other media platforms that take a particular angle.

“In a sense Frank was a predecessor of the modern racist trolls that you see on social media that when they are called on the racism or the misogyny, say, ‘Can’t you take a joke?'” Adams told CBC News.  

Adams said he believes Lamont’s involvement with Frank magazine is relevant to his political aspirations, describing it as something he would tell his journalism students was a political news story worth pursuing.

“I don’t think anybody should be judged by the company they kept 20 years ago, but it does speak to character and I think it is something you have to answer for … something you have to address,” Adams said.

Lamont said he quit the magazine after his father died, when he realized the stories at Frank weren’t as funny or as pointed as they could have been and was looking for a new phase in his life.

“I’ve always believed in freedom of the press and investigative journalism and that’s what we were doing,” Lamont said. 

Published at Fri, 13 Jul 2018 23:08:53 -0400