FAKE NEWS: CBC, CTV falsely claim Stephen Harper called for ‘regime change’ in Iran
CBC, our national state broadcaster, falsely claimed that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for “regime change.” CTV made a similar claim, stating the Harper was calling for “Iranian regime change.”
The National Post’s Chris Selley was quick to call out the two establishment broadcasters, tweeting “Regime change” has a specific meaning that Harper doesn’t even remotely allude to in the passages quoted here. He went on to say that the headline was “pathetic.”
CBC is scrapping its flagship show The National’s new format that had a four-host format that 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 less and less 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.”
The CBC’s TV ad dollars have plummeted by 37 percent as fewer than 1 percent of Canadians tune in to watch local newscasts, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
In the latest annual report, the CBC asked whether it could remain sustainable without the help of more Canadian tax dollars. In 2016, the Federal budget allocated $675 million to the state broadcaster, however, it seems this is not enough to keep the CBC above water.
In their annual report, the CBC blamed the atrophy of the media industry for their ills. They further stated that the crown corporation would likely have to reduce their services.
The CBC’s English-language programs ad revenues fell 37 percent and the French-langauge programs’ revenues fell by three percent, spelling unaccounted, million dollar losses.
Despite these losses, the CBC has no intention to reform into a profit-earning organization. CEO, Catherine Tait, said that the CBC existed “not to compete, we exist to serve.” This serving, however, is costing the taxpayer millions of tax dollars.
The CBC’s largest source of funding derives from a $1.2 billion government grant. Nevertheless, they will continue to seek more from the government. The sheer cost of the broadcaster alongside allegations of political bias towards the Liberal Party in the 2019 election will make this appeal for further funding controversial.
Iran has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds these past few days, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Iran only became important to the media when they could find a reason to blame U.S. President Donald Trump for everything, and when Canadian citizens became part of the death toll.
The sharp contrast between the perspective of the North American media and the reality of the Iranian situation is perhaps best summed up by Iranian-American human rights activist Erica Kasraie, who recorded her thoughts on the situation in a January 6 YouTube video called “Truth from an Iranian” that has since gone viral:
“I feel like we’re living in the Twilight Zone … I’m completely outraged by this notion that the propaganda machine that is the media is glorifying Qasem Soleimani. This man has not only the blood of Americans on his hands, but the blood of Iranians, Iraqis, Yemenis, Afghanis … The people in Iran are happy that this man who is responsible for the slaughter of so many people is gone. Where was your outrage last month when the regime slaughtered 1600 kids for peaceful protests?” said Kasraie.
Back in Canada, a Toronto candlelight vigil held in memoriam of Qasem Soleimani on January 4 made headlines around the world, while another vigil held a short drive north in the quiet council chambers of the North York Civic Centre for the 1500+ victims of November’s bloody uprisings in Iran was barely noticed. The media had been conspicuously mute on reporting the mass protests where Iranian citizens were brutally killed by the Iranian regime, orchestrated by Soleimani and other high-end officials.
While mourners at the vigil for Soleimani waved Hezbollah flags and chanted “Down with USA! Down with Israel!,” the North York gathering had Canadian and pre-regime Iranian flags respectfully displayed side-by side while a series of speakers spoke about the importance of peace and the cost of war.
It’s frustrating to see the brutal reality of the Iranian regime ignored as the Canadian and American establishment media portrays the regime as legitimate and Soleimani as a respected leader while suggesting our closest ally targeted an innocent man.
The media considered the beard Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought back from his vacation far more important than discussing the 300% fuel hike that sparked November’s protests. The hike was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back, with increasing unrest being indicative of the growing divide between the authoritarian regime and the people living under it.
When the media did spare a few seconds to cover the protests, they didn’t talk about the way the regime shut down the country’s internet in an effort to sever communication between protestors and prevent imagery from making its way to the outside world. They didn’t talk about the deaths of 14-year-old Nikta Esfandani, or show 27-year-old Pouya Bakhtiari’s grandmother’s heartfelt plea for the regime to release her family from prison so she would not have to grieve her grandson’s death alone.
Instead, core causes were misrepresented according to the outlet’s political preferences. While CBC reported that the Iranian people were protesting sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, many of the Iranians I spoke to at a recent demonstration in support of the protestors actually view those sanctions as delegitimizing a corrupt government, and support them on those grounds regardless of however else they feel about Trump.
Truth be told, most so-called “experts” on the Iran situation that you will encounter online or in the establishment media are either using spin to serve an anti-U.S. agenda, or simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Many can’t even locate Iran on a map.
Simply put, the protestors in Iran are fighting for what many of us in the West take for granted: freedom of expression, democracy, and peace. They are fighting with their lives to get it. While westerners share imagery stating that “hijab means freedom,” women in Iran are imprisoned and flogged for actively protesting mandatory hijab and demanding the freedom to choose whether or not to wear it.
So, the next time you are looking for context or opinion on the volatile situation in Iran, look beyond media spin and woke celebrity opinions, and instead seek out those who know the situation best: the Iranian people themselves. You might just discover the truth.