BY JAMES DI FIORE
If someone says the name ‘Mike Bullard,’ two things normally come to mind: he’s a famous Canadian comedian, and a stalker. Five years after being accused by veteran broadcaster, Cynthia Mulligan, of stalking and harassment, five years after Toronto Star reporter Kevin Donovan printed false information that made readers walk away thinking Bullard was dangerous, and five years after the biggest media companies in the country worked to destroy him, Bullard is through hiding. Over the past few months, I have interviewed Bullard, spoken to him over the phone, and marvelled at how technologically inept he is.
I texted him last week and he responded via Facebook, so I shrugged and replied to him via Facebook, and he sent his next reply via Twitter. But behind those somewhat endearing characteristics is a broken man, swept up in dragnet-like efficiency as he became an example of collateral damage of the #metoo era. If you bristled at the idea that a cultural shift as important as #metoo could have negative ancillary qualities, then you haven’t been paying attention.
The movement was something to behold, holding countless men accountable for their heinous behaviours, and offering justice for women who finally found a voice instead of suffering in silence. But critics of the movement, people who could balance cheering for justice with not creating a different type of victim were seen as evil outliers, misogynists who were attempting to hijack the movement and stifle the progress being made. Of course, that was nonsense. Whenever you are in the midst of a cultural revolution, adhering to the script becomes sacrosanct with not hating women, even if #metoo was creating a subset of new victims.
Bullard broke his five-year silence on the Dean Blundell podcast, of which I am a co-host. The 62 year old, once a household name after becoming the only late night talk show host in Canadian history, didn’t hold back as he described the circumstances which led to stalking and bail breach charges in 2017, the fallout from his on again off again relationship with Mulligan. That relationship ultimately ended with Bullard facing criminal charges after Mulligan filed a complaint with police.
So what did Bullard do exactly? Why was he facing multiple charges? That’s a great question, because after listening to Bullard talk for three hours, not including my conversations with him before and after the podcast, you walk away thinking he was smitten towards Mulligan who destroyed him as an insurance policy just in case he tried to destroy her first. He recalled their relationship with a full gauntlet of emotions; bitterness, contempt, anger, and here and there a quiet glimpse that told me he fell pretty hard for her. Their on-again off-again fling was accompanied by dramatics like Mulligan’s gal pal, who temporarily stole Bullard’s truck for an ill-advised, drunken joy ride in downtown Toronto. Bullard believed it was those types of antics that made Mulligan fearful, rational or not, that Bullard would use his show on 1010 Radio to disparage her.
And so, Mulligan pre-emptively struck, levelling accusations against Bullard that Donovan put in his initial, story-breaking article. At the time it was a big Toronto story where Bullard was cast as stalker who would park outside Mulligan’s residence in the Beaches. The public reacted they way they had been trained in the #metoo era; if a man is accused, the woman is automatically a survivor, due process be damned. A malicious, axe-grinding prosecutor doesn’t help. Assistant Crown Attorney Meaghan Scott, with her reputation of prioritizing convictions over evidence, played a key role in Bullard’s dismantling. Scott undertook the prosecution of Bullard so aggressively that she repeatedly charged him with breach of bail and obstruction of justice when a drunken friend of Mulligan’s told her that Bullard had asked her to tell Mulligan to drop the charges.
According to Criminal Defence Lawyer Robert Kivlichan, “The Judge in Mr. Bullard’s case unequivocally stated there was no evidence of obstruction of justice and refused to allow that particular charge to proceed. It is clear the case was pursued by the Crown Attorney with an unnatural vigor and a concerted effort to make an example of Mr. Bullard.” That’s a common theme in the destruction of Bullard’s reputation.
When Donovan wrote the initial piece, including the most frightening detail – that Bullard was stalking Mulligan by parking close to her house – it was a complete fabrication. Donovan still hasn’t apologized for his role in the destruction of an innocent person, and to add one other important detail, sources within Mulligan’s social circle say she has a personal friendship with Donovan. For all those keeping score at home, if the two media figures do have a friendship, this means Donovan betrayed the simplest rule of ethical, objective journalism; never get involved in a story if the subject is somebody you know. Bullard became a sacrificial lamb.
He was also a Canadian staple for many and watching him traverse the road back to where he once was is maddening. It’s one thing for an outlet to get caught up in a cultural shift, but it is quite another to see them cower in the shadow of their own failure, unable or unwilling to right the wrong they are responsible for inflicting. I called Bullard just before I published this piece, just to see if he had anything else to say about his ordeal. In true Bullard form, he offered the following just before hanging up. “I couldn’t have been parked in front of Mulligan’s house any of those nights because I was parked in front of Lisa Laflamme’s place.
I only stalk national, never local. After all, I have standards.” We often use humour to mask our contempt, and I suspect Bullard is no different. Since his return to the land of the living, the silence of legacy media outlets has been deafening. These are the same outlets who were all too giddy to tear him down without evidence, a symptom of the modern day weakness that has seduced the media into believing that landing a story about a public figure that can’t be proven is more valuable than telling the truth, especially if that truth collides with the public relations strategy of never, ever publishing something that could be interpreted as making a professional woman look bad.
The Star printed a retraction, but buried it in the basement of their publication so that a minimal amount of eyes could see it, their way of saying, “we’d rather not repair the damage that we did, so let’s go through the motions of a retraction but make sure it does not help Bullard take his life back.” A bunch of weak, sniveling cowards. All of them. I know the left-leaning media are afraid to death of optics, but where are the Postmedia scribes who always like to remind us that they are the only sane legacy outlets not beholden to rabid, far left lunacy?
The answer; they have all buried their heads, and with it their integrity. Bullard was destroyed by a lie. He did not deserve to be another persona non grata inside the #metoo movement. The media is now emblematic of a fraudulent idea; that they report the news accurately, fairly, and in the public interest. In reality, they cower in fear over the hard truths, panicking like frightened little kids who stayed up late watching a scary movie in the dark. If it bleeds it leads, they say, but if some shrapnel bounces back they won’t lick their wounds like grownups. Rather, they just sit there with their tiny little flesh wounds and pretend that if the public sees them with a band-aid it will damage their reputations. Newsflash; their reputations are already in tatters. Their collective cowardice of being seen as an enemy of the cultural consensus is the reason they are so timid, so quick to crucify Bullard that when the truth came out they were too self absorbed to pull the nails out. All of them are shook.
They painted themselves into a corner, and the only way out is to leave footprints. Instead they want to wait until the paint dries, and then stroll towards the next crucifixion.
Shame on all of them.
The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Asia Metro News Magazine are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.