On Wednesday the CBC Radio show “This is That” ran a segment about a Montreal city councilor named Benoit LaDouce who said the city needed a law to ensure dogs using public dog parks could understand commands in both French and English.
“This is That” is a comedy program, or as its CBC Web page puts it, “a current affairs program that doesn’t just talk about the issues, it fabricates them.”
The broadcast segment, though, was a masterpiece of plausible parody.
“The current situation in Montreal dog parks is untenable chaos,” the faux LaDouce told CBC Radio in awkward English. “Half the dogs are being — getting their commands in French, the other are getting their commands in English, and the various dog commands are incomprehensible to each other.”
“I was in the park with my own dog and a large Angl0 dog, he leaped yup onto my shoulder, and begin[s] to lick and kiss,” he complained in the comedy skit. “So I look him in the eye, and I said, ‘Va-t’en, bon homme! Allez!’ Which means, roughly translated, ‘Hey, you know, go out of this place, uh, fun guy. Go!’
“And the dog looked back at me — total incomprehension — I mean, our alienation from each other was absolute.”
“We’re not saying you’re gonna go and turn your dog into a super-dog to go on the David Letterson [sic] show and do the stupid trick program. We’re saying basic stuff: 80 to 90 commands that they would speak in both French and in English. ‘Lay down,’ ‘Roll over,’ ‘Do you want to go for a walk.'”
A New York magazine reader caught on to the joke about an hour after the story appeared on the magazine’s website. New York hastily issued a correction. “Apparently this is a fake news story produced by a fake news show,” blogger Dan Amira wrote. “So, never mind.”
Raw Story’s mea culpa was less unequivocal. In addition to changing its article’s headline to include the word “satire” and noting that the “proposed bilingual dog bylaw was from a CBC satire radio show and is fictional,” Raw Story justified its mistake by linking to a news story about “This is That” from The Globe and Mail newspaper.
The newspaper wrote — and Raw Story quoted — that “the original interview on the topic linked back to a CBC Radio Web page – and sounded very much like a CBC Radio interview.” That analysis, however, referred to a June 2011 “This is That” skit about a fictional proposal to lower Canada’s drinking age to 14.