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Sunday, September 28, 2008

CBC News publisher: I agree with our ombudsman, we're really biased

On Friday, we reported on CBC Ombudsman Vince Carlin's response to the mountains (300+) of letters of complaint the CBC received for a column by Heather Mallick wherein she calls Sarah Palin "white trash" and Republican men "sexually inadequate." Carlin agreed with many of the complaints that claimed the CBC website had far too many left-of-centre opinions, and nothing on the right of the political spectrum. He also agreed that Mallick's piece was over-the-top and not "factually" based.

Today, CBC News publisher John Cruikshank backed up Vince Carlin by issuing his own statement, entitled "We erred in our judgment."

A few excerpts:

"Vince Carlin, the CBC Ombudsman, has now issued his assessment of the Mallick column. He doesn't fault her for riling readers by either the caustic nature of her tone or the polarizing nature of her opinion.

But he objects that many of her most savage assertions lack a basis in fact. And he is certainly correct.

Mallick's column is a classic piece of political invective. It is viciously personal, grossly hyperbolic and intensely partisan.

And because it is all those things, this column should not have appeared on the CBCNews.ca site."



But every news organization needs to have an opinion dimension. Access to different viewpoints helps readers, listeners and viewers make reasoned choices, especially during an election campaign.

As a public broadcaster we have an added responsibility to provide an array of opinions and voices to complement our journalism. But we must do so carefully. And you should be able to trust us to provide you with work that's based on solid reporting and free from the passionate excesses of partisanship.

We failed you in this case. And as a result we have put new editing procedures in place to insure that in the future, work that is not appropriate for our platforms, will not appear. We are open to contentious reasoned argument but not to partisan attack. It's a fine line.

Ombudsman Carlin makes another significant observation in his response to complainants: when it does choose to print opinion, CBCNews.ca displays a very narrow range on its pages.

In this, Carlin is also correct.

This, too, is being immediately addressed. CBCNews.ca will soon expand the diversity of voices and opinions and be home to a diverse group of writers with many perspectives. In this, we will better reflect the depth and texture of this country."

It's being immediately addressed? I wonder who will provide the other points of view on CBC News dot ca. Will it be some Conservative Party pundit? Or a principled conservative? Will the CBC know the difference between a conservative and a libertarian? And will they have the courage to get somebody like our own Pierre Lemieux up  on their website?

If you want our advice, CBC, we'll give it to you. Our first bit of advice would be to go private, but we're not (entirely) utopian. Maybe the voters of this country will eventually make that decision for you anyway. But, apart from that sincere wish of ours to come true, perhaps you would like us to help you pick a columnist or two?

Go ahead, ask us.

UPDATE: Jonathan Kay has a nice comment on this:

"For those of us who've been trying to hold the CBC to account for years, this is an important and proud day. And we owe it all to none other than Heather Mallick herself. As I wrote in the lead to that very same column earlier this month, "Canadians have a friend in CBC columnist Heather Mallick — even if they don’t know it: Her latest column for the Ceeb’s web site is so appalling that it might finally convince whoever is elected on October 14 to clean house at 25 John Street …"

Good on the CBC for getting on the job first. And thank you, Heather: Without your over-the-top left-wing venom shocking the CBC into corrective action, this moment never would have been possible. On behalf of "white trash" Republican "sexual inadequates" and "porn stars" everywhere, I extend to you my deepest appreciation."

Nicely done.

I'm betting Kay is out of the running for the CBC's new job opening: "Seeking: right-of-centre columnist for left-of-centre news outlet. Competitive salary. Funded by taxpayers."

If I had to put money on who the CBC will try to get, I'd put it on Andrew Coyne. Coyne is solid, in my judgment, and he's already part of the talking heads on The National. So why not have him do double-duty as scribbler for the CBC too? (Colby Cosh would be my second guess. And Cosh is also solid, and not just because he used to write a sports column for the Western Standard.)

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on September 28, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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An apology isn't enough. With any other publication, I can choose to "boycott" it. Unfortuntately I can't choose to stop paying taxes. It's time to pull public funding from the CBC, then they can publish as much pinko trash as they like.

Posted by: Dylan | 2008-09-28 11:32:00 PM

Look for 'Conservative' straw men(older, balding and heavy) on CBC soon - it will be their job to get knocked down by urbane 'experts'.

It's a Hollywood thing, on TV and movies they do this all the time. Quite well done sometimes.

Posted by: philanthropist | 2008-09-28 11:59:33 PM

Glad to see that we have opposing viewpoints in the media.

Conservatives like to trash others, but really rally around one of their own when someone points out their short comings.

Posted by: Ted Bear | 2008-09-29 12:18:51 AM

CON losers can dish it out, but can't take it.


Posted by: jo bleau | 2008-09-29 2:23:19 AM

Remember, conservatives aren't the only voices on the Right. There's libertarians, as well. After all, Sarah Palin is a libertarian Republican. So, it would only be fair that the CBC picks a Palin-ite, after she was so viciously slammed.

Posted by: Eric Dondero | 2008-09-29 4:14:50 AM

Man, that article is funny. And it's an opinion piece, of course it's full of bias. But damn funny bias. CBC is pretty much dead centre. Some people are just so off their rocker they think anything not bordering on extreme right wing is 'liberal media'. Read a freakin poly sci book.

Posted by: Stu | 2008-09-29 9:47:09 AM


If your starting point of reference is a political science book from any of our higher institutions of learning, then ANY media and ALL political parties, by comparison, are extreme right wing.

Posted by: BoomNoZoom | 2008-09-29 10:02:39 AM

If anyone is "white trash" it'd Heather Mallick, she really showed her communistic side that CBC supports so well and many (naive) people follow this garbage journalism.

Posted by: danuska | 2008-09-29 10:35:16 AM

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