Friday, December 05, 2008

Formal Complaint to the CBC Ombudsman

Here is a copy of the complaint against Don Newman that I've just sent to the CBC Ombudsman, Vince Carlin:

Dear Mr. Carlin:

As you very well know, our great country has gone through the most significant constitutional crisis of our lifetime. To say that it was, and still is, an extremely serious situation would be the understatement of the millennium. The actions of Don Newman throughout all of this have been nothing short of despicable, divisive, and downright dangerous. If he were merely an editorial pundit then I could offer little objection. But a major portion of his role at the taxpayer supported CBC is to be a fair & balanced moderator. In this capacity he earns an 'F'.

His behaviour has been nothing short of highly partisan in support of the Coalition and against the Conservatives. Examples are aplenty. Let me provide you two. On the one hand he was antagonistic, rude, and utterly dismissive of Conservative MP John Baird in the recent interview with him. On the other hand, here's a description of what transpired when he interviewed Liberal MP Derek Lee:

Big Loser: Derek Lee. CBC was desperate to fill air time as they waited for Stephen Harper to finish his chat with Michaelle Jean, so they made the mistake of interviewing Lee, who promptly compared Harper's request to suspend Parliament to the burning of the German Reichstag by the Nazis in 1933. Yeah Derek, they're exactly alike: a party of murderous thugs burning Parliament to the ground is just like the Prime Minister driving to Rideau Hall to request a temporary halt in proceedings while he prepares a budget. How astute of you to spot the similarities.


It is imperative to note that Mr. Newman did not object to this outrageous comment whatsoever. Yet, he seemed to have no problem objecting to most everything said by MP Baird. Would viewers be wrong to conclude that Mr. Newman actually shares a similar view as MP Lee that Stephen Harper's recent actions are comparable to those of Adolf Hitler's Nazis in 1933? I ask this question not flippantly but absolutely literally.

To end this momentous week on a sour note, we get this very one-sided diatribe from Don Newman:

In the realm of Journalistic Ethics at the CBC, is there not a basic requirement for your on-air staff to publicly disclose their clear biases before engaging in an interview? If I'm not mistaken, on every business program it is a mandatory requirement for all involved to fully disclose any stocks they own and/or other company interests they may have related to the discussion at hand. Let me assure you that in Mr. Newman's case, it is a widely held belief of many CBC viewers I've spoken with that he has direct loyalties to the Liberal Party of Canada.

To resolve this complaint to my satisfaction, any of the following would be sufficient:

  • Move Don Newman into a role solely as a pundit and clearly have the words "Liberal Party Strategist" appear underneath his name each time he appears.
  • Require that all interviews he undertakes be done with a conservative-leaning journalist as well, somewhat in the format of "Hannity & Colmes" on Fox News in the U.S.
Finally, please note that my insistence for fair & balanced reporting from Mr. Newman is in no way different from what your past head of CBC News, John Cruickshank, publicly stated a little over two months ago:

I eagerly and respectfully await your response.


Robert W.
Vancouver, BC


md said...

I don't think Newman has an obligation to tell anyone their comments are offensive or outrageous. That would in fact be editorializing on his part; rather, he should let them state their point of view.

Pelalusa said...

He has had no problem objecting to most everything Conservative MPs says.

My entire issue is to do with fairness. There is no fairness at CBC News. Everyone knows this but no one seems prepared to do anything about it.