On April 17, while I was travelling in Crimea (where I remain), I received an email from National Post weekly columnist Adam Zivo. In his email, Adam requested an interview, stating “I\’m writing about the Green Party\’s Ukraine policy and am interested in learning more about your trip to Russia – how it came about, what your goals are, how you manage the ethics of visiting an autocracy that jails dissidents, etc.. This piece would be for the National Post.”
According to the National Post website:
Adam Zivo is a freelance writer and weekly columnist at National Post. He is best known for his coverage of the war in Ukraine, as well as for founding and directing LoveisLoveisLove, a Canadian LGBTQ advocacy campaign. Zivo’s work has appeared in the Washington Examiner, Jerusalem Post, Ottawa Citizen, The Diplomat, Xtra Magazine, LGBTQ Nation, IN Magazine, Quillette, and the Daily Hive, among other publications.
Ever since 2016, when I was the justice critic in the Green Party of Canada shadow cabinet and advocated for the Green Party to support the BDS movement, the National Post and its affiliated newspapers in the right-wing, pro-Israel, Postmedia empire have published one biased piece after another about my human rights advocacy and my work as an activist.
Accordingly, I responded to Adam’s request as follows:
I’ll be blunt with you Adam. I have zero confidence in the National Post to publish a balanced and objective article about why I came to Russia, but I am willing to do an interview on one condition: you must consent to me recording the entire interview. If you agree to that, then I will do it.
To his credit, Adam agreed in advance that I could record the interview and publish the recording, if I was inclined to do so.
To be clear, under Canadian law, I was not obliged to obtain Adam’s consent to my recording of the interview, but I sought his consent anyways, because I didn’t want him to feel as though I had blind-sided him by secretly making, and then publishing, a recording of our conversation.
Yesterday (April 19), Adam and I spoke via zoom for about 90 minutes. Below I have posted the audio recording of the complete interview. To call it an ‘interview’ is somewhat misleading. It ended up being much more of a debate than an interview.
The way I approached this ‘interview’ was informed by my many unpleasant experiences with the corporate media. Those experiences have taught me a few hard lessons, including:
- Never assume that the interviewer will fairly present your views to the interviewer’s audience;
- Take every opportunity to clarify and reaffirm your position;
- When you are asked a question that is based on a false or misleading premise, always challenge the premise of the question before answering the question; and
- Do not wait for the interviewer to give you an opportunity to challenge a false or misleading premise, because the interviewer might not give you that opportunity, and usually won’t.
Again, to Adam’s credit, he did not prevent me from answering his questions when I insisted that I be afforded an opportunity to explain my position fully.
Whether Adam will write a balanced article about our conversation is, however, an open question.
Nonetheless, Adam and I had a wide-ranging and spirited debate that explored the potential for nuclear war, censorship and disinformation, Neo-Nazism in Ukraine, Western and Russian imperialism, Islamophobia, Canada’s genocide against Indigenous persons, and my current relationship (or lack thereof) with the Green Party of Canada.
Our complete conversation can be listened to here: