CBC should focus on Canadian content, not selling corporate products
Have you ever wanted your taxpayer-subsidized state broadcaster to also become the person selling you corporate goodies?
Well, you’re in for a treat!
For how much longer can the CBC call itself Canada’s public broadcaster if the Canadian public don’t actually watch its broadcasts? I suspect this question may have seemed frivolous even a decade ago—though now, in 2020, it may just be too tantalizing a question to shrug off.
Fewer and fewer Canadians consume the public broadcaster’s programs. The CBC’ supper hour broadcast, for instance, has now faded to a meagre 329,000 viewers (close to the number of newcomers added to Canada’s population every year, yet CBC’s viewership still declines). These figures are starkly revealing: what has happened to our supposed national treasure?
Despite being pressed with the mandate to unbiasedly “”inform, enlighten and entertain” Canadians with Canadian content, the CBC is now pleading with the CRTC to let them broadcast less Canadian programs. As Toronto Sun columnist Brian Lilley mused, “Isn’t that why [the CBC] exists?”
Perhaps the abysmal ratings and their muted Canadian pessimism could be forgiven if the CBC was not so chronically possessed with pro-Liberal bias. It is not unreasonable to suggest that all public broadcasters have some degree of bias: they recruit largely from a university educated, metropolitan demographic—however, the Canadian broadcaster, in particular, seems utterly unapologetic in their support of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Take, for instance, Rosemary Barton who up until last week hosted the CBC’s flagship show, The National. Before Barton’s pyrrhic “promotion,” the presenter gleefully revelled in any opportunity to defend her darling Trudeau. Worst still, Barton then apparently thought it was a brilliant idea to have her name on a CBC lawsuit against the Conservative Party during a federal election.
Despite widespread criticism, the CBC has made no attempt to learn from its mistakes of the last election. This was proven, once again, by the public broadcaster wheeling out Richard Decarie, (a leadership no-hoper from Quebec) to represent the social views of Canadian Conservatives.
Decarie who, rather impressively, managed to embarrass the majority of the party, confirmed the prejudices of Canada’s Laurentian elites by happily suggesting that “LGBTQ” was a “Liberal” term and that being gay was a “choice” on CTV.
Almost instantly, Decarie was quickly condemned by all serious Conservative leadership contenders. And yet, despite this, and despite the fact he has never held elected office, the old reactionary was stirred from bed yet again the following day and given more airtime from CBC than some other minor candidates would hope to achieve in an entire leadership contest. It’s hard to think of another reason CBC decided to have this bigoted man–not even yet fully registered in the race–a platform other than to besmirch the Conservative Party of Canada as a whole.
As a conservative, I often find myself romantically defending dilapidated and tired institutions that have lost all practical purpose in the modern world. Perhaps, for the sake of a free-thinking Canada, conservatives should get serious about dismantling the CBC–an institution so out of touch with modern Canada despite taking billions of dollars in taxpayer money.
Rosemary Barton has finally been demoted by the CBC after the public broadcaster announced last week that it was giving up on the disjointed and ratings-killing four-anchor format for its flagship show.
CBC’s The National was revamped a couple years ago when Peter Mansbridge retired, and it has been losing its small viewership ever since, losing nearly 25 percent (about 124,000 viewers abandoning the program) by the summer of last year, despite the CBC spending a lot in promotional ads to sell Canadians on the new anchors and format. As the viewership has declined, so too has the CBC’s ad revenue.
Rosemary Barton has been scrutinized many times in the past for having bias as a reporter. The Post Millennial takes a look back at the eight times (there are far more examples) Barton showed bias for the Liberals while feigning to be a nonpartisan journalist above reproach.
1. Coming to Justin Trudeau’s defence
In a conversation with colleague Andrew Nichols about the similarities of the personal beliefs on abortion between Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, Barton was quick to dismiss the fact that Trudeau said he was personally against abortion as well.
2. “So do deficits even matter these days? I don’t think so”
Trudeau and the Liberal government have come under fire for their spending and bringing the nation deeper and deeper into debt with massive deficits racking up tens of billions in red ink. While anchoring the nightly news, Barton gave her “objective” opinion that deficits aren’t really a thing Canadians should worry their pretty little heads about.
3. SNC-Lavalin scandal was so early 2019
During the fall 2019 election Rosemary Barton steered an on-air conversation away from the SNC-Lavalin scandal, suggesting that they had already covered it so much, essentially implying it was beating a dead horse.
She also dismissed the RCMP investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s involvement in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, in what could possibly be deemed attempted obstruction of justice, suggesting the RCMP were just “asking a few questions”.
4. Duffy expense scandal was totally Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s fault and deserved to be covered extensively for years
Back before Rosemary Barton was promoted to being the host of CBC’s Power and Politics, which she hosted for a few years before being promoted yet again to anchor The National, she and her fellow Liberal partisan, Katie Simpson, were riveted by Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s expense scandal, both breathlessly reporting from the trial, in which Duffy was found innocent of all charges. But they did their best to try to pin it on Harper in the lead-up to 2015 election, despite the initial scandal breaking in 2012. One would imagine the expense scandal was quite minor in comparison to a sitting PM potentially corrupting the justice system, but not for Barton.
Never mind that Harper’s chief of staff paid the money back, and then resigned when the media found out, it was far more scandalous than the SNC-Lavalin affair!
5. Trudeau’s poor attendance record at Parliament isn’t a big deal “because democracy and stuff”
Rosemary Barton routinely downplays the flaws of PM Justin Trudeau and the Liberals not only on air, but via Twitter. When Trudeau decided campaigning for the Liberal Party of Canada in a by-election was more important than being in Ottawa governing the country she gave her biased “hot take” that by-elections are important.
It’s hard to believe she’d be so charitable to Harper or Andrew Scheer.
6. “It’s literally how the parliamentary system works”
When polls weren’t looking all that rosy for Justin Trudeau, Rosemary Barton claimed that Trudeau would be able to stay on as PM in a minority situation even if the Liberals won less seats than the Conservatives, something that would be essentially unprecedented in Canadian federal Parliament.
“It’s literally how the parliamentary system works,” Barton incorrectly expounded on Twitter.
7. Fan girl selfie and stroll
These ones speak for themselves.
8. Suing the Conservative Party of Canada during the 2019 election
For some reason the CBC thought it was a good idea to sue the Conservative Party of Canada for using clips of the public broadcaster’s footage in an attack ad. Despite all parties doing this, and it being something the CBC itself does regularly (in what is totally legal and called fair dealing), the CBC pulled the trigger on suing the CPC, which ended up spectacularly backfiring.
To top it all off, Rosemary Barton and another CBC journalist were named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, until the CBC eventually had the sense to remove them from the lawsuit. Barton never definitively cleared the air on whether she agreed to be a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
However, during the 2015 election, Peter Mansbridge in a documented email exchange had CBC execs take legal action against the CPC for using a clip of Justin Trudeau giving a very poor answer about the Boston Marathon terrorists. Mansbridge was Barton’s mentor, is it too far-fetched to believe she took a page out of his Liberal partisan playbook?
The CBC, being shamelessly biased, decided it was appropriate to keep Barton on The National, as a debate moderator, and the lead anchor for the election-night coverage despite this very glaring conflict of interest coming to light.
Yet, Rosemary Barton audaciously claims she can’t be partisan, it’s impossible. In an interview with Duncan McCue for CBC’s Cross Country Checkup she was asked about how many people feel she has a bias with her reporting she replied, “I don’t mind criticism of my work. We are the public broadcaster… I think it’s important to hold me to account,” she said. “That said, I really don’t have a horse in the race. I don’t have a partisan bone in my body. It’s not the way I was raised; it’s not who I am.”
With the above examples it’s rather hard to believe that’s not who she is.
You’re allowed to have a personal bias, it’s impossible not to, you just shouldn’t bring it into your work if you’re the lead anchor of the public broadcaster’s flagship news show and you are going to claim you’re fair to all political parties.
Barton being moved to CBC’s chief political correspondent is a far better fit, especially now that the public broadcaster irrevocably branded itself Liberal during the 2019 election cycle.
Sometimes Barton does tell it like it is.
CBC is scrapping its flagship show The National’s new format that had a four-host format and slowed down the program to include long features.
The show was created in the fall of 2017 after Peter Mansbridge retired. The CBC cited negative audience feedback for the decision to scrap the new format, according to the Globe and Mail. The National had been losing tens of thousands of viewers over the past two years, as fewer Canadians have been tuning in.
Rosemary Barton has been moved from an anchor position to the position of chief political correspondent for CBC News. Barton was embroiled in a controversy during the 2019 election after she was named as a plaintiff in a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Conservative Party of Canada after the party used some CBC footage in a campaign attack ad, something all political parties do, which copyright experts said is likely acceptable under fair dealing.
Conservatives have long complained that Barton is partisan for Trudeau’s Liberals, citing her softball interviews of Trudeau, her taking a selfie with him in Washington, and dismissing the Liberal’s large deficit spending as not a problem.
“Television news viewership is driven by consistency, both in format and in presentation. Our audience told us they want to know what they can expect night to night: who will bring them the news and how it will be delivered. We listened. This season we have slowly introduced measures that lead to a more consistent program – including tweaks to our format and sharpened hosting roles,” executive producer of The National Chad Paulin wrote in an internal memo to CBC staff.
Paulin’s memo also addressed Barton’s move.
“Rosemary will bring her unmatched political insight to all of CBC News–including digital, podcasts, radio, and television political specials. She will continue to bring analysis to The National, including contextual reporting, long-form stories and key political interviews. Rosemary will also continue to host At Issue.”
At Issue is a segment included on The National in which political pundits give their opinions on Canadian politics.
Adrienne Arsenault and Andrew Chang, two of the four co-hosts of the scrapped format, will be the two hosts of the program from Monday to Thursday. The other co-host, Ian Hanomansing will be The National’s anchor on Fridays and Sundays.
By the summer of 2019 The National had lost nearly 25 percent (about 124,000 viewers abandoning the program) of its viewership from when the new format was launched, despite the CBC spending a lot in a promotional campaign to sell Canadians on the new anchors and format.
Many Canadians feel the CBC is biased and doesn’t live up to its own standards and practices. Many Canadians have taken action: writing their MP’s, filing complaints, and taking to social media.
But now, with the CBC scheduled to appear before the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to have their licence renewed, an unlikely corner of the internet–#Gamergate–aims to take things to the next level with a co-ordinated campaign to file complaints that they’re calling “#OperationCanadianBaConII”.
They take issue with coverage of gamers on the CBC, stretching all the way back to 2014 when the Canadian public broadcaster first promoted the narrative that #Gamergate was about harassing women (although there were undoubtedly misogynist bad actors within the amorphous internet group), and not about conflicts of interest between video game developers and video game journalists.
They’ve waited until now because the CBC has delayed the date of their consultation period for several years following a “regime change” at the CBC in 2018.
Lead #OperationCanadianBaConII organizer @LunarArchivist hopes that the complaints will prompt an official response from the Canadian government, and lead to the CBC revising their Journalistic Standards and Practices.
“CBC had done several hit pieces on #GamerGate and several supporters, including myself, had filed complaints with the CBC Ombudsman, Esther Enkin, only to have our concerns downplayed and dismissed in her reviews, which were always in favour of the CBC,” he said.
“After speaking with my local Member of Parliament, the idea occurred to me to take a page from the handbook of Operation Disrespectful Nod–a #GamerGate e-mail campaign where supporters were encouraged to inform advertisers of the dubious ethical standards of the websites who had employed smear tactics against us.”
@LunarArchivist says that there are at least a dozen people working together across multiple Discord servers involved with the operation. They’ve got until 8 p.m. EST on February 13 to get their submissions in.
“One hurdle has definitely been trying to convince non-Canadian #GamerGate supporters that they’re allowed to submit interventions despite not being from Canada,” he says.
“The announcement about its start was rather sudden and we’re still working on establishing a distribution network for the archive of all of CBC’s anti-#GamerGate coverage for use as a reference for those who want to concentrate on that aspect of things.”
The #OperationCanadianBacConII crew have been working to transcribe over six hours of audio and video broadcast and prepare a list of specific ways in which the CBC breached their own standards of practice, such as including the false claim that programmer Eron Gjoni accused game developer Zoe Quinn of sleeping with game journalists for good reviews in their reportage.
They’ve also noted when pieces critical of #Gamergate have disappeared from the CBC’s website, and documented how three separate CBC radio interviewers conducted the exact same interview with an anti-#Gamergate “pop-culture expert.”
“We want to raise public awareness of the fact that #GamerGate’s situation isn’t unique and the CBC tends to use the same tactics on others,” @LunarArchivist says.
“First impressions are important, and a bad one can do lasting or permanent damage to your cause or reputation. The longer false information is allowed to marinate in the public consciousness, the more likely it is to get accepted as ‘truth’, regardless of the facts. And the likelihood of this increases if the CBC doesn’t correct the record within a reasonable amount of time.”
This negative impression of gamers as a whole, perpetuated by the CBC is what really bothers the members of #OperationCanadianBaconII.
@LunarArchivists believes that while CBC employees were allowing their anti-gamer biases to seep into their reporting even before #Gamergate started to trend, the real issue is that CBC was just following the leader instead of asking critical questions about the narrative being spread.
“Many CBC journalists just threw due diligence to the wind and ran with the baseless claim advanced by Anita Sarkeesian and other social justice advocates for years that gamers were opposed to mainstream feminism and identity politics and harassing them.”
@LunarArchivist hopes that the operation will not only lead to more balanced coverage of gamers, but will also help other Canadians who are upset with the CBC’s coverage.
“I’m hoping that not just activists, but regular people will start taking a more active role in taking the CBC to task, especially since they get over a billion taxpayer dollars a year.”