Update: Shortly after this story was published, the National Post published a column by Danielle Smith, in which she said she’s decided to deactivate her Twitter account today instead of on February 19.
A conservative Global News talk radio personality has announced her resignation due to a “mob of political correctness” that she says has infringed on her ability to do her job.
Danielle Smith, host of Calgary-based The Danielle Smith Show on Global News Radio 770 CHQR and former leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party, made the announcement on air and in an op-ed on Global News’ website, stating that she’ll wrap up with the station on February 19, after six years.
On her show Monday, Smith read aloud a message from a listener who accused her of inflaming right-wing radicals. She said he and “the mob he represents” are the reason she’s quitting.
“I haven’t slept through the night in probably for nearly a year because of this question: Did I say anything today that is going to incite the mob?” Smith said.
“Unfortunately over the last few years far too many topics have become unchallengeable and the mob of political correctness thinks nothing of destroying a person’s career and reputation over some perceived slight, real or imagined. I’ve found that as a result there are many topics I simply choose not to cover anymore,” she wrote in her op-ed.
In a subsequent email exchange, she said outlets like VICE, which she described as “irresponsible alt media,” are the reason she’s quitting her job and leaving Twitter on February 19.
“You are part of the mob misrepresenting people’s views and destroying reputations. You are the problem. You incite people. You are the reason I’m leaving media. I hope that clarifies it for you,” she told VICE World News.
She said she gave her bosses notice in November.
News of her resignation comes a month after Global News Radio 640 Toronto host Supriya Dwivedi left her job, alleging her employer allowed her talk radio colleagues to spread “false narratives about refugees, Muslims, Sikhs, and other targeted groups.” As previously reported by VICE World News, Dwivedi said she received hateful messages, including racist rape threats directed at her baby, when she tried to correct the record on her show.
After VICE World News published the story about Dwivedi, Ward Smith, senior vice president of Global News, sent a message to staff saying the outlet already has the “highest editorial standards in the industry,” but can do more.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Corus Entertainment, parent company for Global News, said “Danielle’s decision to leave talk radio at this time was a personal one, and she was very clear in her reasons as she shared publicly. Corus is thankful to Danielle for her contributions, fully respects her decision, and wishes her well in whatever next steps she decides to take in her career.”
Smith has been at the centre of several controversies over the past few years.
During an interview in February 2019, Dr. Kristopher Wells, Canada research chair for the public understanding of sexual and gender minority youth at MacEwan University, told Smith having John Carpay on her show was exposing people to “virulent, hateful rhetoric and discrimination.”
Carpay, a United Conservative Party member and Calgary-based lawyer, compared rainbow flags to swastikas while making a speech at a Rebel Media conference. He later apologized.
Smith told VICE World News she condemned Carpay’s views at the time but said, “I do not give guests veto power over other guests I may have on. John Carpay has always been professional, courteous and moderate on my program.” She said she is “a friend and ally of the LGBTQ+ community.”
In March 2019, Smith hosted former United Conservative Party candidate Caylan Ford on her show. Ford resigned during the provincial election after private comments that discussed the “demographic replacement of white peoples in their homelands” were leaked to the media. Ford has since said her comments were taken out of context and has launched a lawsuit against numerous media outlets and individuals.
After the show, Smith was the subject of a “Say No To White Supremacy” on News Talk 770 CHQR petition , which noted she didn’t ask Ford to explain the specific comments on air.
Smith told VICE World News she acknowledged she “should have focused the interview instead of asking her these questions, and apologized for not doing that.”
In another interview from June 2019, Smith’s guest Tom Quiggin claimed “Islamist front groups” were behind M-103, a non-binding motion in Parliament condeming Islamophobia, and were causing a “chill on free speech in Canada.”
Smith told VICE World News Quiggin “is always very clear to separate Islam from Islamic extremism.”
“They are not the same thing and he always ensures my audience understands he is talking about extreme groups,” she said. “When I have had guests on to express concerns about Islamic extremism or immigration I have strived to use voices from the community such as Raheel Raza, Tarek Fatah, Salim Mansur, and Raj Sharma.”
In a since-deleted tweet from March, Smith posted about a study claiming hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug touted by U.S. President Donald Trump, “cures 100% of coronavirus patients within 6 days of treatment.”
At that time, there was no concrete evidence suggesting the drug was effective in treating COVID-19; the Food and Drug Association later said it “showed no benefit for decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery” in COVID-19 patients.
Smith later apologized for the tweet.
“I admitted my error, deleted the tweets, and apologized for overstating its effectiveness,” she told VICE World News.
Smith said she will be moving to a platform called Locals, which was founded by conservative commentator and free speech advocate Dave Rubin.
“What we’ve learned is the mob is actually more powerful than the U.S. president. You got a few hundred employees who decided to start a letter writing campaign to Jack Dorsey, and that was enough to get the United States president de-platformed,” she said on her show.
She likened her resignation to the ancient practice of seppuku.
“Seppuku was used voluntarily by samurai to die with honour rather than fall into the hands of their enemies so that’s what I’m doing,” she said.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.