When he appeared on The John Oakley Show Tuesday afternoon, Lou Schizas was emphatic and apparently unambiguous: the children held in detention centres due to the Trump administration’s family-separation policy were “child actors in a drama engineered by somebody” and the 2015 photo depicting the body of Syrian migrant Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach was “the most staged picture I’ve ever seen.”
But when he appeared on the same program the next afternoon, the business correspondent for Global News Radio 640 Toronto was rather less sure.
“To be clear, I do not believe the children who have been separated from their parents are actors, nor do I believe those children are undeserving of sympathy,” he stated with relatively little enthusiasm. “Further, I do not believe the picture of a Syrian boy on a Turkish beach in 2015 was staged, as I said yesterday.” He said he regretted the words he’d used and that “a handful of people were offended” by them.
We’ve transcribed extended excerpts from the segments at bottom.
Neither Schizas nor Oakley responded to requests for comment, and Nathan Smith, the station’s brand director, referred CANADALAND to Schizas’s Wednesday statement.
Schizas appears several times daily on 640 Toronto, with his “Happy Capitalism” segments airing on both the morning and afternoon drive shows. On one segment with Oakley in 2013, he referred to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath as a “whore.” A longtime business broadcaster for TV and radio, he was also a columnist for The Globe and Mail as recently as 2016.
During the 4:55 p.m. spot with Oakley on Tuesday, his update on Bitcoin markets veered into a discussion of U.S. immigration policy, with Schizas extolling the virtues of a Mexico border wall because “people can’t get over a wall.”
“Give [President Trump] a wall,” he said, and “you won’t have these problems” of children being separated from their families.
When Oakley drew attention to “the optics of using children as leverage,” Schizas complained, “Oh, get over it. Get over it, you know? They’re child actors in a drama engineered by somebody.” To explain, he referred to the “staged photograph” of Kurdi.
Oakley agreed that photo “had its desired effect, in so far as it informed immigration policy in the West” but that “Angela Merkel’s having to answer for that now.”
Schizas offered a solution to undocumented migration in North America: “Put up the barbed wire, get out the military. Defend your borders, you’ve got an invasion happening.”
By Wednesday afternoon, 640 Toronto had pulled the recording of the segment offline. CANADALAND has posted it below:
The station, however, did not remove the audio of Schizas’s 6:55 p.m. appearance, in which he doubled down on the remarks.
“Look at me: I’m stickin’ a pin in my kid so he cries,” he said. “I’m putting him in a cage with other kids. Come on. I got an email from a listener, who showed me the composition of the picture, the little kid crying? Yeah, if you pull back about 10 feet, you can see it was all staged.” (It was not clear whether he was referring to Getty photographer John Moore’s picture of a young Honduran girl crying at the U.S.-Mexico border, or a separate photograph of a boy taken at a June 10 protest in Dallas that had indeed been taken out of its original context.)
When Oakley expressed surprise at this claim, Schizas again turned the conversation to Kurdi. “And just like that poor little boy that drowned in the ocean and they took a picture?”
“Yes,” said Oakley.
“That was the most staged picture I’ve ever seen,” said Schizas.
On his next appearance with Oakley, at 4:55 on Wednesday, Schizas acknowledged that “some listeners took offence to what I said, as I failed to explain a complex issue in simple terms.” He then walked back his earlier statements concerning a conspiracy to falsify sympathetic images of migrant children to push a political agenda.
“Again, I regret the words used yesterday during my analysis of this complex situation.”
Oakley, for his part, conceded that “maybe I should’ve excoriated you for suggesting that that picture of Alan Kurdi on the beach was staged. I didn’t know where you were comin’ from with that. Because I’d never even considered that to be the case. Unless you’d heard something elsewhere otherwise, it seemed to me legitimate.”
“But,” Oakley said, “it did inform a lot of the Western nations’ immigration and refugee policies, that one picture had that kind of emotional wallop.”
“Yeah,” Schizas replied, with apparent bitterness in his voice. “And I guess that’s what ruled the day.”
He then signed off with his catchphrase: “Happy capitalism!”
Transcribed excerpt from Lou Schizas’s 4:55 p.m. “Happy Capitalism” segment on 640 Toronto’s The John Oakley Show, Tuesday, June 19, 2018:
Lou Schizas: …for Bitcoin, today’s action driven by continuing tension between the U.S. and China on trade. And then we had President Trump saying that he’ll cut off aid to countries that send people that are not their best to the United States, so I think he’s lookin’ south on that one. I see the entire, uh, Trump and, uh, illegal immigrant coming to the United States, being separated from their children, this is just a ploy to get a wall. Give the guy a wall, you won’t have these problems.
John Oakley: (chuckling) Right.
Schizas: You won’t! People can’t get over a wall!
Schizas: “You’re on that side! Sorry! You stay home!”
Oakley: So, I mean, the optics of using children as leverage, though, Lou, may cost—
Schizas: Oh, get over it. Get over it, you know? They’re child actors in a drama engineered by somebody.
Schizas: Nothing happens in politics by accident. Do you remember that kid, the Syrian kid, that drowned?
Oakley: I referenced that earlier, that was Alan Kurdi, yes.
Schizas: Right! And you tell me that that wasn’t a staged photograph?
Schizas: It was, John.
Oakley: It’s certainly…
Schizas: It is too perfect.
Oakley: Well, alright, it certainly had its desired effect, in so far as it informed immigration policy in the West for, well, the immediate. And we saw Angela Merkel’s having to answer for that now.
Schizas: Well, for all the princesses, you know, going out there and wanting to save the world with unicorns and rainbows. It ain’t gonna happen. And the fact that people are trying to get in to the United States, or even in this country, without vetting, without documentation, just showing up? Put up the barbed wire, get out the military. Defend your borders, you’ve got an invasion happening.
From the 6:55 p.m. “Happy Capitalism” segment on Tuesday, June 19:
Schizas, segueing from a discussion of the minimum wage: Yeah, well, let’s make sure we go to that emotional side, just like this manipulation with the separating of the kids and the illegal — let’s make sure we know — these are illegal immigrants. They’re just walking across the border. An unprotected border, and that’s why Trump wants a wall. I agree with him. You put up a wall, hey, you’re not comin’ in. Go back where you came from!
Oakley: It’s the kids, Lou, it’s the kids, it’s the optics. You know, when you see the kids and they’re screaming and they’re being held apart from the—
Schizas: So if you stick a pin in ‘em? That makes you morally superior? Is that what it’s about? Oh, you’re virtue signalling? Look at me: I’m stickin’ a pin in my kid so he cries. I’m putting him in a cage with other kids. Come on. I got an email from a listener, who showed me the composition of the picture, the little kid crying? Yeah, if you pull back about 10 feet, you can see it was all staged.
Schizas: And just like that poor little boy that drowned in the ocean and they took a picture?
Schizas: That was the most staged picture I’ve ever seen.
Oakley: Alan Kurdi, Alan Kurdi. Well, you know what it did, it moved people to put up the hue and the cry for refugees to be allowed, you know, kind of willy-nilly into countries, and Canada accepted, and then the assimilation became a problem, and jobs and things like that, but nobody ever follows up on that aspect.
Schizas: Well, we have here on your show, John. Years ongoing. You know, just pointing to the fact that, you know, Prime Minister Socks, you know, he’s just not the kind of leader we need in this country.
From the 4:55 p.m. “Happy Capitalism” segment on Wednesday, June 20:
Schizas: And, John, yesterday on your show, I made some comments about the illegal immigrants and their children.
Schizas: And, um, some of those comments, uh, took, some listeners took offence to what I said, as I failed to explain a complex issue in simple terms. To be clear, I do not believe the children who have been separated from their parents are actors, nor do I believe those children are undeserving of sympathy. Further, I do not believe the picture of a Syrian boy on a Turkish beach in 2015 was staged, as I said yesterday. Again, I regret the words used yesterday during my analysis of this complex situation.
Oakley: It is a complex situation, and it’s very emotional. You know, I mean, Rachel Maddow, I got it; she’s crying. But look: there have been heinous acts committed, you know, mass shooting and things like that. Every anchor seems to keep it together. I worry that this has also become very politicized. And that’s where we lose things, in the heated rhetoric of what is actually going on, what’s the thinking behind the policy. I kept saying, and I did repeat it to you, Lou: you’re never gonna win politically where children are involved. So we stand down on that one immediately. But there’s, it’s a complex issue. That’s I guess the takeaway, is what you’re saying.
Schizas: Yeah, it is, John. And again, you know, a handful of people were offended. I regret that.
Oakley: Well, and I appreciate that. Because, you know, maybe I should’ve excoriated you for suggesting that that picture of Alan Kurdi on the beach was staged. I didn’t know where you were comin’ from with that. Because I’d never even considered that to be the case. Unless you’d heard something elsewhere otherwise, it seemed to me legitimate. But it did inform a lot of the Western nations’ immigration and refugee policies, that one picture had that kind of emotional wallop.
Schizas: Yeah. And I guess that’s what ruled the day.
Oakley: Alright. We’ll let you go, Lou, and look forward to talking to you again next hour.
Schizas: Okay. Happy capitalism!
Oakley: 640 Toronto business analyst Lou Schizas.
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