Mark Kelley from the Fifth Estate

Like his producer at the Fifth Estate, Harvey Cashore, reporter Mark Kelley has demonstrated a pattern of creating false narratives and trying to coach people he interviews into following his own invented scripts. Both have been sued several times due to their shoddy journalism.

In every step of his reporting on WE Charity, the Fifth Estate’s Mark Kelley and his producer Harvey Cashore pursued a false, preconceived narrative despite clear evidence that it was wrong.

Teachers and donors have gone on the record to flag the duo’s attempts to coach them on how to respond to their questions on camera – urging them to follow their own invented thesis that donors were mislead by WE Charity about how their donations would be spent. 

While in Kenya, Mark Kelley and Harvey Cashore showed up unannounced at schools in villages and began filming while asking questions to students and teachers. This was done without the permission of the Kenyan Ministry of Education – during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic when strict health and safety regulations were still in place.

It is hard to imagine reporters showing up to an elementary school in North America with cameras rolling while they looked in windows and approached children to ask questions about fundraising and donations. They would likely be arrested.

In their final report on the Fifth Estate, Kelley and Harvey pushed a dramatic narrative of WE Charity working with the Kenyan government to chase them out of the country. It was filmed like a spy movie, with embellished footage of Mark Kelley running down the streets and ultimately getting on a plane to “escape”. In reality, Kenyan government officials had simply asked the duo to stop showing up, unannounced, at children’s schools without proper permission or safety protocols. 

The continued misrepresentation of facts, harassment of students and donors, and pushing of false narratives left WE Charity with no choice but to pursue legal action against Kelley, Cashore and the CBC.

What you should know

Mark Kelley consistently misrepresented WE Charity's work in Kenya. He reported that 360 schools were built, when he was provided evidence, multiple times, that WE Charity had built and renovated 852 schoolrooms in Kenya alone. This included classrooms, libraries, science labs, dorms and other structures essential for learning.

CBC’s reporting lacked transparency, notably in showcasing permissions for school visits, explaining their method of counting schools, and describing how
WE Charity used donor funds.

There is a lack of local knowledge and understanding, given the limited experience of their lead producer in developing countries and their reliance on a non-journalist for guidance in Kenya.

CBC's misconduct - see for yourself

CBC lied about the number of schools WE Charity funded (in Kenya)

CBC falsely claimed that WE Charity built only 360 schoolrooms in Kenya. They said the number “360” was WE Charity’s own count. From the outset of its reporting, CBC knew that WE Charity built far more than 360 schoolrooms in Kenya but lied about the figure because the real number contradicted their false story about missing schoolrooms. 

CBC falsely claimed WE Charity counted latrines as schoolrooms

The CBC falsely claimed that WE Charity “inflated” the number of schools it funded in Kenya by including latrines in its count of 852 schoolrooms. From the outset of its reporting, the CBC knew this allegation was false but lied because its entire donor deception story was premised on WE Charity’s full count of 852 schoolrooms being wrong.

CBC lied about WE Charity obstructing their investigation

The CBC falsely claimed that WE Charity was engaged in a cover-up to “block the scrutiny” by the CBC’s investigation. CBC's false claims of obstruction were essential to its preconceived narrative because it gave them an excuse not to visit or verify the 852 schools and schoolrooms WE Charity funded.

A pattern of behaviour

The reporters behind this coverage have a history of misrepresenting facts and publishing preconceived narratives regardless of the facts and the evidence.

Alberta pathologist lawsuit vs. CBC

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KPMG lawsuit vs. CBC

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WE Charity lawsuit vs. CBC

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A Pattern of Behaviour

CBC journalist Mark Kelley has a pattern of behaviour of misrepresenting facts and creating knowingly false narratives. He has been the subject of numerous lawsuits against him for questionable journalism and a clear pattern of repeated unethical behaviour.

Alberta doctor Lawsuit vs. CBC

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KPMG lawsuit vs. CBC

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WE Charity Lawsuit vs. CBC

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What you should know

Natalie Obiko Pearson’s co-author, David Herbing, was caught bribing a source to make negative statements about WE Charity and its projects.

Natalie Obiko Pearson and David Herbling have continually refused to interview any of the dozens of staff, former staff, experts, Board members, local government officials and former students in Kenya, that were offered by WE Charity for on the record interviews.

Natalie Obiko Pearson and co-author David Herbling have a history of cherry picking facts that support their predetermined narrative, and suppressed facts that ran counter to their scripted angle.

What you should know

What you should know David Herbling, a journalist on Natalie Obiko Pearson’s writing team that produced articles about WE Charity, has bribed many sources for their false interviews.  

Natalie Obiko Pearson’s pre-determined, sloppy, error-filled reporting shows a clear pattern in their vendetta against WE Charity. This narrative is supported by David Herbling’s bribed interview commentary.

There is proof of David Herbling texting on a secondary line or ‘burner’ phone asking to not text his primary phone number as he is a journalist and could get in trouble (see below).

What you should know

Acknowledged that he faked content while previously working at the CBC.

See article

Globe and Mail describes him as owning “a track record of playing fast and loose with facts”.

See article

Longstanding obsession with destroying WE Charity and the Kielburgers.

See article

See for yourself: CBC’s own sources contradict its false reporting

CBC falsely claimed there were missing schools.

CBC falsely claimed there were missing funds.

CBC falsely claimed that WE Charity confirmed it only built 360 school rooms in Kenya.

CBC falsely claimed it had permission from the Kenyan government to visit government run primary schools. It did not.

CBC intentionally misrepresented a Kenyan interviewee.

CBC Claims WE Charity docs confirm double-funding of school.

CBC told viewers that WE Charity deceived donors, but what did it actually show?

Suggested reading

Mark Kelley's reckless and harassing methods led him and the CBC to being sued two previous times prior to WE Charity’s legal action against him.

Suggested watching

WE Charity Responds to CBC
Donors Defend WE Charity From CBC Fifth Estate
WE Charity’s Response to CBC’s Fifth Estate
A History of bad behaviours 
2021 David Herbling paying sources
In January, 2021—after the story was published—WE Charity learned from community members in Kenya that David Herbling was calling students at one of WE Charity's high schools and asking them about caning. WE Charity also heard that Herbling had offered students money and tried to pressure them to confirm Bloomberg’s already-published allegations of caning.

One student prepared a sworn declaration (with the guidance of their legal counsel), which WE gave to Bloomberg in 2021.  According to the student’s declaration, Herbling told her in a phone call on January 12, 2021, “I will offer you money if you can give me some information.” Herbling asked the student what happened in 2015 during the examination period when the students were found with a prohibited phone. He did not ask whether this happened, he told her it happened. He asked if her phone had been taken away at that time. The student told Herbling that she did not remember any such incident.

With no further context or segue, Herbling then asked, “Which kind of cane did teachers use in school? Do they use a pipe or a branch to beat you?” The student told the reporter that she was not beaten, but he would not accept her answer. The reporter continued, “If you make any mistake at school, do they chase you home?” The student said that this never happened. In response, the reporter said in Swahili, “Tafadhali ukienda shule, hata kama nitakulipa pesa, mpee mwanafunzi yoye simu. Niongee nao. Nitakutumia pesa.” Translated into English, this means, “Please, when you go to school, even if I give you money, give any student a phone. Let me talk with them. I will send you money.”

The phone number Herbling called from was 0722 ******. We have multiple screenshots and photos of phone call logs and WhatsApp messages from January 2021 from that same phone number. For example, below, Herbling identifies himself as “David from Bloomberg News”.

WE Charity also obtained an audio recording of a phone call on January 14, 2021 in which Herbling called a WE high school student in Kenya and out of the blue asked her, “which punishment incident do you remember”? The student responded, “there was no punishment in Kisaruni.” Herbling abrubtly said, “Thank you” and hung up. The entire conversation was in Swahili except the word “punishment.”

The letter to Bloomberg cited Mr. Herbling’s phone number as 0722 ******. Bloomberg never told WE Charity that this number did not belong to Mr. Herbling.

Over a month later, Bloomberg’s in-house counsel sent the students’ lawyer an email asking questions that strongly implied that the Kenyan lawyer acted improperly, citing no basis. The Kenyan lawyer provided responses and to our knowledge never heard further from Bloomberg.

On March 4, 2021, Bloomberg’s counsel responded to the January 18, 2021 letter regarding
David Herbling’s misconduct. Bloomberg said that David Herbling “did not engage in the inappropriate conduct alleged by your clients.”  

2023 David Herbling paying sources
In April 2023, WE Charity learned that Bloomberg reporters were reporting in Narok County, Kenya where WE Charity funds projects including schools, water, farms and a hospital.

From the second-hand information WE Charity received, we believe that the reporters were investigating:

Allegations of cheating at the high school operated by WE Charity (Kenya’s Ministry of Education confirmed such allegations are false); and

The death of a young man at Baraka Hospital after he was stabbed by his cousin. The family of both cousins praised the care he received at the hospital but several community members in a WhatsApp group blamed the hospital for not saving the deceased victim. 

Baraka Hospital is run by WE Charity. It is the only hospital of its class in the region.

Bloomberg’s David Herbling reached out in April 2023 to a former WE Charity teacher who now teaches at government-run schools, ‘the teacher’ Kipkirui Langat.

In a WhatsApp text message to ‘the teacher’ from 0722 ****** on or about April 17, Herbling wrote, “Good Morning.” The following day, April 18, Herbling asked ‘the teacher’ for the phone number for “Dan,” another former Kisaruni teacher. Our understanding is that ‘the teacher’ did not provide the number.

After this exchange, ‘the teacher’ blocked David’s phone number: 0722 ******.  

The following day, on May 16, 2023, ‘the teacher’ received an SMS text message from Herbling at a new phone number (0797 ******), stating, “our call from 0722 ****** is not coming through. My team wants to have a talk with you when you have a break. We just want you to be part of us, we have organized a token for you. There is a scheduled zoom meeting we’ll have together as a team as we finalize our reporting.” This text message refers to the phone number that David Herbling had been using to communicate with ‘the teacher’ on and prior to April 15, 2023.

‘The teacher’ unblocked Herbling’s main line (0722 ******) and spoke with him on May 18 for 23 minutes. 

Two days after this call took place, on May 20, ‘the teacher’ told Carol Moraa that in this conversation, Herbling said that he will not be using his phone number 0722 ****** because Herbling believes that number is being tracked. Herbling said he would therefore only use the -06 number for WhatsApp voice calls. Herbling also told ‘the teacher’ that he will be using a different number, 0797 ******. He said this number is not his number, but they can use it. Herbling instructed ‘the teacher’ that he should not give the 0797 ****** number to anyone else. David said that this is because he does not want it to be tracked.

On “TruCall”, the 0797 ****** number shows up as registered to “Doreen Mathews fb”.  

Several minutes later, on May 22, 2023, Herbling called ‘the teacher’ on the -06 line in two back-to-back calls totaling approximately 7.5 minutes. 

‘The teacher’ told Carol Moraa later on May 22 about his conversation earlier that day with Herbling. According to Moraa’s contemporaneous email to a colleague regarding her discussion with ‘the teacher’, he reported that Herbling promised to send ‘the teacher’ a financial “token” for his time through airtel money later that day. Herbling explained to ‘the teacher’ that he had sent money via Mpesa back in 2020 and it backfired on him so he didn't want to do that again. So, he said he will do it via Airtel Money.

Later in the same discussion, however, ‘the teacher’ told Herbling that his wife works in Nairobi and that he would be coming to Nairobi that weekend to visit his wife. Herbling said he would give ‘the teacher’ money in person to avoid sending through Airtel Money.

The next day, May 23, ‘the teacher’ sent a message to Herbling’s main line’s WhatsApp (-06 number), continuing their ongoing message chain. Most of ‘the teacher’’s message was in Swahili, other than the word “token”.

Herbling responded to this message, “Who’s this?  Please identify yourself clearly. I’ve never discussed sending any money and that’s not something I’d ever do as a reporter.”

‘The teacher’ told Carol that he sent the message to the -06 line by mistake; he had meant to send it to the -90 line, per Herbling’s instructions.

This message is notable for several reasons.  First, Herbling indisputably knows who is sending the message; he has had many documented phone and WhatsApp messages with ‘the teacher’ on this same -06 account.  Second, he interprets the reference to a “token”—the phrasing he originally proposed to ‘the teacher’ on May 16—as referring to paying money. And third, he expressly acknowledges that sending money as a reporter would be improper.  

Later on May 24, David Herbling writes asks ‘the teacher’ to send him his Airtel number for a money transfer on the condition that he delete all evidence of the transfer.

‘the teacher’ sent Herbling his Airtel number and agrees to Herbling’s demand that he delete all records of the transaction.

The following day, May 25, 2023, ‘the teacher ’received an Airtel money transfer of 1,300 Kenyan schillings. This is equivalent to a bit more than $12 USD, more than one full day’s pay for ‘the teacher’ as a high school teacher.

Rhetoric and Vitriol

Letting bias get in the way of objective reporting

Natalie Obiko Pearson caught hiding her own mistakes while accusing WE Charity of a ‘misinformation campaign’

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Upon publishing Natalie Obiko Pearson's first article on WE Charity, Bloomberg recognized the flaws in her reporting. Natalie Obiko Pearson uses a tactic often described as spaghetti journalism—throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. As a result of drawing attention to the mistakes Natalie Obiko Pearson made, Bloomberg then published, sent across the wire and tweeted an 1100-word retort written by WE Charity documenting the incorrect assertions in her article. WE Charity re-tweeted Bloomberg’s response and Natalie Obiko Pearson accused the charity of launching a "misinformation campaign". When the issue was raised with Bloomberg, Natalie Obiko Pearson deleted this tweet without reference.

Conveniently deciding not to report on an extortion attempt of
WE Charity that she helped to indirectly facilitate

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After Natalie Obiko Pearson’s first false reporting on WE Charity, fellow journalist and former WE Charity donor Reed Cowan reached out to Natalie Obiko Pearson seeking to connect with her. She referred him to Charlie Angus, who invited Reed Cowan to participate in the ethics committee hearing. Reed Cowan made multiple false claims against WE Charity, then sought to extort $20 million from the charity as reported here in the Washington Post. Natalie Obiko Pearson never reported on this extortion attempt because it didn’t suit her narrative including her direct involvement in the engagement of Reed Cowan, even though she was purportedly reporting on the
WE Charity saga.

Combative when confronted with facts

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When donors and supporters of WE Charity would call out Natalie Obiko Pearson for her biased and error-filled reporting, she would regularly become aggressive and combative. In this case, a tweet hypothesized that
Dr. Mark Bourrie, a celebrated Canadian author, lawyer and journalist, would refute her reporting, to which Natalie Obiko Pearson requested Bourrie to "".

Audio clip of Bloomberg reporter pushing false narratives on their sources

Listen to the full conversation here

A student recorded Bloomberg’s reporter, David Herbling, trying to put words in her mouth. When she rejected Herbling's false narrative, he hung up. Bloomberg never reported that any students refuted their allegations.
The only source named in the story was a student named Branice Koshal. Asked by a former teacher where the allegations Bloomberg reported came from, she responded “the reporter.” (meaning David Herbling)

Click here to understand what was said

Rhetoric and Vitriol

Self-published website writer with a vendetta against a children’s charity

Subjecting a child to death threats

a screenshot of a tweet
*WE Charity has protected the identity of Craig Kielburger's son, but the original photo was posted by Brown without protecting the identity of his child*

During the CSSG saga, the Kielburger family became routinely subject to death threats, largely due to the vitriol and false information shared by Pierre Poilievre and Charlie Angus. Jesse Brown subsequently tweeted a picture of Craig Kielburger’s infant son being held by Justin Trudeau. In the tweet, Jesse Brown linked the photo and shared anti-Trudeau rhetoric to his followers. Jesse Brown ignored the issue of death threats towards the Kielburger family and their children. He was asked to remove the tweet for security and safety reasons for the child and family but he refused.

Using the CSSG saga to raise his own profile

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Jesse Brown used the WE Charity issue to create try and legitimacy for himself in the Canadian media landscape, even though he has been widely considered a conspiracy theorist who regularly exaggerates facts. Here, Jesse Brown taweets that he will be a witness at the parliamentary hearings on the CSSG. David Akin, a prominent Canadian journalist, replied, questioning why a journalist would agree to testify at a parliamentary hearing and noting that it sets "a terrible precedent".

See original media

Hypocrisy and mistreatment of his own employees

a twitter post with a twitter message about a woman's job
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Jesse Brown regularly attacked WE Charity and would readily profile anyone on his platform who had something negative to say about the organization, whether legitimate or not. Meanwhile, he would quickly sweep his own human resources challenges under the rug, never acknowledging his own failings. Many of Jesse Brown's former employees have publicly accused him of misogyny, harassment, unequal pay, sexism and even racism. Here is just one example of many.

In What WE Lost, readers are shown how Mark Kelley, abetted by his producer at CBC (Harvey Cashore), pressured WE Charity donors into saying things that weren’t true and coached them to follow the CBC’s invented script.

Listen to Martin Luther King III describe how Mark Kelley pressured donors and tried to coach their answers for cameras from CBC’s The Fifth Estate.

Select a chapter below to read excerpts from What WE Lost

Chapter 16: Mark Kelley – Harvey Cashore – The Fifth Estate

headshot of Jesse Brown