Thanks to George and Bruce and other emailers for this CBC “Ombudsman” response to the numerous complaints lodged against the CBC and its hateful columnist Heather Mallick.
As usual, the CBC and more than just a few folks on our side miss the point. The point is that Mallick was writing for a state-owned media. There shouldn’t be a state-owned media, much less one which competes against citizens in the forum of ideas—particularly politics. And particularly when they are far-left in the extreme, and totally biased as such.
Here’s an excerpt (as any government bureaucratic Soviet-style document, it goes on and on at tiresome length):
…For the Ombudsman, the main issue has to be whether the item met CBC’s standards and whether the service that carried it is meeting its obligations.
Policy calls for opinions to be based on fact. Ms. Mallick’s item generally stays in the opinion column but she does offer some flat statements that appear to offer “facts” without any backup. For instance, there is no factual basis for a broad scale conclusion about the sexual adequacy of Republican men. In fact, that type of comment, applied to any other group, would easily be seen as, at best, puerile. Similarly, the characterization of Palin supporters as white trash lacks a factual basis. I asked Ms. Mallick to explain the basis for these characterizations. In a note she explained her opinions of Ms. Palin, but did not provide a factual justification for the statements.
Ms. Mallick is free to draw her own conclusions about Ms. Palin’s appearance, as irrelevant as that might be to her worth as a public official, but a similar sortie against one of her children is, at best, in poor taste. Had Ms. Mallick’s article been labeled “satire,” there might have been scope for such descriptions and conclusions—they have a certain cartoonish tinge—but even the best and most pointed editorial cartoonists have, at some point, run afoul of sensible editorial authority. There is a significant difference between censorship and appropriate editorial oversight. CBC journalists are required to exercise appropriate oversight over material that appears on CBC outlets. Ms. Mallick is entitled to her opinions, and those opinions should not be censored, but those opinions must also be expressed in a manner that meets our Journalistic Standards and Practices. Liberty is not the same as license.
Ms. Mallick has the liberty to hold whatever views she wishes. And the CBC has both the right, and the obligation, to exercise appropriate editorial supervision. Interestingly, had Ms. Mallick’s column been written in the spirit of her note to me, it would still have been pointed and provocative but, with a broader context, would probably not have failed to meet editorial standards.
But there is another significant aspect to our policy. As mentioned, it calls on CBC outlets to touch on the widest range of views possible. On CBCNews.ca, there does not appear to be a wide range of “pointy” views. For instance, many of those who complained claimed that there is no one of an opposite ideological viewpoint readily apparent on the service. Unfortunately, this appears to be true. As I observed in an earlier review concerning CBC Newsworld programming, the CBC should not necessarily avoid having people of strong views on the air, but we must ensure that people of differing views are given a fair opportunity.
It has been argued by some who have supported Ms. Mallick that the comments that have been carried in the Comments section provide balance on the subject. I disagree. The prominent space and highlighting of columnists implies a different status compared to users who comment on the various stories. Appropriate space should be given to a wider range of views.
It is a truism in legal circles that bad cases make bad law. It would be easy to surrender to an impulse to suppress opinions that cause upset, or to issue a blanket defense of freedom of opinion. However, our policies call for me to be clear and precise about policy matters.
Portions of Ms. Mallick’s column do not meet the standards set out in policy for a point-of-view piece since some of her “facts” are unsupportable. She may, of course, resubmit her column taking account of our editorial standards. The editors are free to, in fact obliged to, exercise appropriate editing standards.
It is not my job to agree or disagree with Ms. Mallick’s opinions or the tone in which they are expressed. She is free to craft them as she chooses.
CBCNews.ca should address its editing standards to ensure that vigorous opinion thrives while ensuring that journalistic and quality standards are met.
Opinion and analysis should be clearly labeled and not lumped together. If an item is meant to be satiric, it should be labeled as such.
CBCNews.ca should have appropriate resources to ensure that a wide range of opinion and analysis is available.
SAY IT WITH ME:
State-owned and state-run media should be BANNED in this country, and that notion enshrined in our constitution.
Also see PTBC blog entries and columns about this here:
• “Why I’ll defend writers who represent everything I hate”
—David Warren column
Related “NEWS” reporting from CBC “NEWS”:
• “CBC’s “reporter” Neil Macdonald on Sarah Palin: Best at “talking about hunting moose”
• Also this, by National Post editor Jonathon Kay: “Another week, another disgrace at the CBC”; and his followup—a reader complaint to the CBC: “Wouldn’t it be great if the CBC were as professionally run and politically impartial as NBC?”. (And please forgive the slightly misguided Mr. Kay for thinking NBC is “impartial” rather than “in the tank” for liberals and particularly Obama—even after their recent firings of Olbermann and Matthews from their anchor desks—read comments here.)
• And this by a blogger at Michelle Malkin’s HotAir.com: “Hatred in Canada alive and well”.