Freedom Convoy organizer ‘downright disgusted’ by media coverage, American trucker blasts ‘disconnected’ press

Canadian truckers have been labeled everything from a “cult” to a “threat to democracy” for protesting COVID vaccine mandates, but Freedom Convoy organizers and allies are tired of being painted as villains by the liberal media. 

“I’m downright disgusted by the press and the way they have covered the convoy,” Ontario-based trucker Brigitte Belton told Fox News Digital. 

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough bluntly called it “a cult” and other liberal news outlets didn’t bother to pay attention to the story until they reported on sharp words from Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly, who has spoken out against the protestors. CNN’s Paula Newton echoed Sloly, who labeled the convoy a “threat to democracy,” and other reporters have focused on his comment that the convoy is a “nationwide insurrection.”

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The unvaccinated Belton, who helped organize the Freedom Convoy when Canadian vaccine mandates barred her from crossing the border in the United States, said coverage of the protest has been “totally biased” against the truckers. 

“Not only the American media, the Canadian media as well. They’re spinning their own narrative,” Belton said. “This isn’t a cult … The federal government, the city of Ottawa, all those organizations that are out to get us right now, maybe that’s the cult.” 

Brigitte Belton helped organize the Canada Freedom Convoy. 

Brigitte Belton helped organize the Canada Freedom Convoy. 
(Brigitte Belton)

Belton, who drives a 2015 Mack Pinnacle, said convoy protestors are simply hard-working people who want to get back to work. She has said she’s not against the vaccine, but questions the safety and effectiveness of it and feels people should be free to decide for themselves. Belton hopes to get back to work in the near future, but in the meantime, she’s sick of American media outlets like CNN repeating the anti-convoy rhetoric of Ottawa’s police chief.

“I think anybody that uses those statements from [Sloly] are supporting the slandering of good people. That’s what they’re doing. They’re slandering good people,” Belton said. “All we want is our freedom. Why is this a bad thing?” 

American truckers have also dismissed the “out of touch” journalists.

“It seems like everything is a cult or an insurrection or an assault on democracy these days. I don’t understand how people fighting for their freedom can be an assault on democracy. These guys are so disconnected with the average guy,” Maine Expedited Freight group driver Brian Ilsley told Fox News Digital. 

Ilsley’s company does a lot of cross-border traffic, often hauling freshly cut lumber from Canada back to the United States. He says lumber prices will surge if Northern Maine-based truckers have difficulties crossing the border, but the cost of wood isn’t the only reason why he’s been an outspoken defender of the Freedom Convoy. 

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“The guys that I see that come into the dock day in, and day out, they just want to make a living, so they can feed their families and go home,” Ilsley said, adding that rhetoric from CNN and MSNBC has bothered him. 

“People in the liberal media, the guys that have that platform, the Scarboroughs, the CNN anchors, they never have to worry about this stuff because they’re already set and paid, they’re already part of the machine. They don’t have to worry if they’re going to make it to the next day with the paycheck they already have,” Ilsley said. “My guys have to worry, do they get to eat next week?”

Maine Expedited Freight group driver Brian Ilsley supports the Canada Freedom Convoy. 

Maine Expedited Freight group driver Brian Ilsley supports the Canada Freedom Convoy. 
(Brian Ilsley )

The protests began in Vancouver on Jan. 23. Hundreds of big rig trucks traveled to Ottawa where they were joined by thousands of Canadians on Saturday in protest against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s coronavirus policies.

As the convoy grew, more mainstream outlets expressed their disapproval and disgust over the protestors. On Monday, CNN’s John King quoted the Ottawa police chief calling the movement “a nationwide insurrection driven by madness” when Newton chimed in, noting the “insurrection” language was no doubt familiar to Americans, who have seen exhaustive media coverage of last year’s Capitol riot. 

“And just think of the language. I know it sounds familiar to you. A threat to democracy. An insurrection, sedition. I want to be clear things have quieted down a bit, but that does not take away from the basic truck-in, right, the sit-in that’s going on right in front of the national parliament,” Newton added.

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Fox News contributor Joe Concha blasted the CNN correspondent for using “loaded words” to describe the truckers. 

“It really is an exhibit of what CNN became during the Jeff Zucker era, a three-part process … You have a so-called objective journalist taking a partisan opinion and inject his or her opinion into that report and turn it around and present it as straight news,” Concha said Tuesday on “America’s Newsroom.”

“Loaded words in that report, ‘sedition,’ insurrection,’ ‘threat to democracy,’” Concha said. “Over a protest. Did CNN use that kind of ridiculous rhetoric when describing what happened in Seattle during the summer of love in 2020 when literally a police station and several city blocks were taken over by left-wing activists?” 

Concha said CNN’s report on the trucker resembled what he imagines Canadian “state TV” would look like. 

“It might as well be called CGNN, the Canadian Government News Network, at this point,” Concha said. 

CBS and NBC didn’t acknowledge the protest for the first two weeks, according to conservative watchdog NewsBusters, while ABC has only spent 22 seconds on it during that time period. It has since been covered, but largely in a way that dismisses the trucker’s efforts. ABC’s Robin Roberts has called it the “so-called Freedom Convoy,” and other ABC reporters have focused on “frustration” from critics of the convoy. 

Meanwhile, the Washington Post published a piece calling the convoy a “stunt,” mocking participants as Canada’s version of America’s “extremely angry men wearing camouflage or horned fur hats.” The Post previously published an opinion piece urging that “Canada must confront the toxic ‘Freedom Convoy’ head-on.”

Ilsley agrees with Concha and said members of the corporate media simply can’t relate to everyday struggles of truckers who often live paycheck to paycheck.

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“They don’t get it on a fundamental level. They don’t understand it. They’ll never really understand why these guys are doing it,” he said. “It’s not just our media, the Canadian media, for the most part, is absolutely trashing this thing.”

Ilsley said most Canadian journalists live in a few densely populated, urban areas of the country, much like American national news outlets are concentrated in major cities. As a result, Ilsley feels Canadian journalists trying to relate to the Freedom Convoy is equivalent to a New York-based CNN reporter attempting to understand the heartland of America. 

The last truck blocking the southbound lane moves after a breakthrough resolved the impasse where anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate demonstrators blocked the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alberta, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. (Jeff McIntosh /The Canadian Press via AP)

The last truck blocking the southbound lane moves after a breakthrough resolved the impasse where anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate demonstrators blocked the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alberta, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. (Jeff McIntosh /The Canadian Press via AP)
(Jeff McIntosh /The Canadian Press)

“The vast majority of them don’t get it. They don’t understand the struggles of the guys that are out in the woods that are really driving this thing,” he said. 

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Ilsley doesn’t think the press can force the protestors to abandon their cause anytime soon.

“The media will never stop. They never have, they’ve never shown the ability or the want to stop. They always keep on pushing,” Ilsley said. “The good thing is we’re dealing with drivers and drivers tend to be very solitary, independent guys that don’t really like to be told what to do. They’re very stubborn, they understand what they stand for, and they’re willing to go to the ground for it.” 

Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report. 

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