In 2006, I witnessed close-up one of the most shameful events in Canadian journalism. The conservative National Post had received a column by Iranian-born writer Amir Taheri stating that Iran’s parliament had passed a law requiring distinctive clothing (possibly colored badges or stripes) for each of the country’s religious minorities. The Post ran the story, along with its own incendiary commentary, atop Page 1. And illustrated it with photos of Jews wearing stars of David in Nazi death camps.
The story went viral; other right-wing rags and blogs elaborated on it. The next day, the Post retracted and apologized, after receiving a point-by-point rebuttal from Iran’s lone Jewish legislator (the community has been guaranteed one constitutionally for more than a century). No such law had been proposed, much less passed. And it turned out one of the sources Taheri cited didn’t exist. He claimed his words had been taken out of context. They hadn’t. Taheri’s credibility was ruined, or so I assumed.