This past Remembrance Day, Diana Swain, a CBC reporter, interviewed a counterfeit soldier, Franck Gervais, in a live TV broadcast. Many soldiers and veterans that witnessed the broadcasted interview noticed that his uniform and grooming standards were improper and instantly picked up that this man was not, in fact, in the military. His beret was too small, his facial hair was not groomed to military standards, and the missing sash were just some of the identifiers that sparked the attention of military personnel. Pictures of this man during the interview were shared all over social media, causing an outrage among both the military community and in the general public.
Swain was not at fault for not being able to identify Gervais as an imposter. Uniform and grooming standards are not well known to the general public, and the majority of people focused more on the actions of this man rather than his time in the spotlight.
But the fact remained that the CBC produced and aired a story that glorified a fake soldier on national news on one of the most meaningful and important days in Canada. However, the CBC did well at maintaining their reputation and avoided being hazed for giving a fraud two minutes of fame on national television.
The reaction from CBC
On November 12, one day after the incident, the CBC released a news story and quickly stated that they did make the mistake of interviewing a fraud. They also informed the public about how impersonating a member of the military is a violation of the Criminal Code of Canada and that it is taken very seriously. The CBC acknowledged their mistake and took responsibility; because of this, all negativity and blame was placed on Franck Gervais, and CBC received little to no backlash because of the incident.
The CBC invited a member of the Airborne Regiment Association of Canada to view the pictures of Gervais and help identify the “red flags” on his uniform that exposed his fraudulence. The fact that they brought a real veteran on television to physically identify the problems with Franck Gervais’s uniform showed that the CBC truly cared about clarifying the issue.
Diana Swain released several tweets the day after she interviewed the fake soldier, stating that they are looking into the case and that she respects what it means to wear a uniform. Her actions of reaching out through social media to share her outrage while commemorating real soldiers displayed that she was aware of the incident and appalled by the actions of Gervais.
On Nov 13, 2014, Swain was interviewed by another CBC reporter, during which she gave insight on the interview that she made on Remembrance Day. She included how Gervais’s wife seemed nervous before and after the interview and suspects that his wife knew he was an imposter.
The CBC kept the public informed for the next week by covering stories including the formal charges that were laid on Franck Gervais on Nov 16, 2014.
I believe that Swain and the CBC did a great job at upholding their reputation by addressing the situation, taking responsibility, and keeping the public informed throughout the week after this distasteful scandal.