I tend to contact the CBC on a regular basis as their reporting is so scewed to the left that it leaves me breathless.
I contacted the CBC regarding their reporting on Steve Bannon a member of President's Trump's team.
First is my response to the Ombudsman report. Then her report.
Thank you for your report. I was especially taken by this paragraph
"Breitbart News has a reputation for its inflammatory headlines and support of white nationalist and anti-feminist positions. The positions taken and language used is well documented, and has led the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Centre to accuse Mr. Bannon of racism and anti-Semitism. Perhaps they were persuaded by the headline “Hoist it High and Proud: the Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage” published on Breitbart less than two weeks after Dylann Roof, who killed 9 Black people at a prayer meeting in a church, had posed with that flag. The anti-Semitism charge comes from the tone and tenor of the news site as well as allegations of an ex-wife.
The tenor of the news site? What do you use to discover a "tenor"? What graph do you employ? Or is a "feeling" graph?
I am a Jewish advocate for Israel and the Jewish people and find the CBC offensive in its statement that Breitbart and in particular Mr. Bannon is an anti-semite particularly based on the statements of an ex-wife. An ex-wife Mme Ombudsman? Is this part of the CBC narrative that no woman ever lies-ever, especially after a divorce?
May I point out to you that in the Jewish world, The ADL and Southern Poverty Law Centre are no longer considered spokespeople for the JEWISH COMMUNITY. Someone at the CBC has been remiss in not pointing this out to you. The JEWISH COMMUNITY is not one group. You have constantly and consistently chosen to take the point of view of the left wing Jewish organizations who do not represent the majority of Jewish people in this country. Please take note of, and do your due diligence and find the other organizations who represent the JEWISH PEOPLE.
If this is ethical journalism then Canadians will continue to be short changed on fact and truth. Needless to say I cannot wait for all of the Trump coverage. I was especially intrigued with the coverage of the CBC today on the "news" that came out from BuzzFeed and CNN. Would that the CBC spent as much time looking into what is going on in our country as you do in America.
When is the CBC going to report on the motion regarding petition e-411 that could potentially make criticizing Islam an offence? Why is Canada elevating comments about Islam above comments about any other religion or ideology? What makes Islam so special that it deserves special protection in Canada, the home of diversity?
I await those reports. I won't hold my breath.
Office of the Ombudsman
P.O. Box 500, Station A
Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6
Tel. (416) 205-2978
January 11, 2017
Dear Ms. Weber Bederman:
Here is my review of your complaint about an hourly news item regarding Stephen Bannon.
You challenged the reporting of a statement from United States Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, calling on President-elect Trump to rescind the appointment of Stephen Bannon as Chief White House Strategist. You said CBC News was “spreading lies” by repeating Reid’s accusations of racism and anti-Semitism without any verification.
This is not journalism. This is biased reporting based on fear mongering. It is reporting based on statements you accepted without verifying…If you want to announce in Canada that Stephen Bannon is a racist and anti-Semite, I suggest that you provide facts for these statement.
You asked that CBC News staff provide proof, by citing actions and statements by Mr. Bannon that would indicate he is a racist and anti-Semite.
Paul Hambleton, the Managing Editor of CBC Radio and Television News, replied to your complaint. He informed you the item you referred to was a “24 second comment from Mr. Reid which aired on an hourly newscast”. He explained these newscasts are “our brief headline service, which is a quick check-in on the latest news.” He added this was not a definitive examination of the story. The clip from Reid was broadcast as an example of some of the reaction to that day’s announcement that Donald Trump’s campaign chair Stephen Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, was named chief White House Strategist.
He mentioned that there were other more comprehensive stories across all CBC platforms which presented other perspectives and opinions about Mr. Bannon’s appointment. He provided you a link to two different articles which included “plenty of comments made by people supporting Mr. Bannon’s appointment and his character.” One was “‘Anti Semitism of a virulent kind came roaring back’ during election, Jewish civil rights leaders say.” You rejected this article as proof because the head of the Anti-Defamation League had worked for Obama and was therefore tainted. You were equally unconvinced by a second article provided by Mr. Hambleton – http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/stephen-bannon-trump-larry-reid-1.3852402.
Your complaint is that CBC News has not fact-checked the allegations about Mr. Bannon, and did not provide proof. You assert there is no basis for the criticism of him, and in the absence of proof as you define it, these criticisms and allegations should not be reported. While it is true that news must be more than stenography, there is always judgment brought to bear about what is reported and how it is attributed. The radio story you objected to phrased it this way:
Bannon is the former editor of Breitbart news, a website that has been accused of racism and anti-feminism.
Breitbart News has a reputation for its inflammatory headlines and support of white nationalist and anti-feminist positions. The positions taken and language used is well documented, and has led the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Centre to accuse Mr. Bannon of racism and anti-Semitism. Perhaps they were persuaded by the headline “Hoist it High and Proud: the Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage” published on Breitbart less than two weeks after Dylann Roof, who killed 9 Black people at a prayer meeting in a church, had posed with that flag. The anti-Semitism charge comes from the tone and tenor of the news site as well as allegations of an ex-wife.
The story you objected to was a brief one broadcast in an hourly newscast. It is not reasonable to expect a brief news roundup to present a multitude of positions and perspectives – that is not its function. Its purpose is to highlight that which is newsworthy. One of the elements that makes something newsworthy is comments from prominent people on matters of public interest. When the Senate Minority Leader weighs in on a matter of controversy, it is sound and appropriate news judgment to report what he said. Reporters highlight statements made by politicians daily.
Not every instance presents a great deal of context or alternate positions. I note there was a longer piece about the possible impact of the new administration on mortgage rates. It was followed by this:
Senator Harry Reid is joining the chorus condemning Trump’s choice of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist. Bannon is the former editor of Breitbart news, a website that has been accused of racism and anti-feminism. Reid says court documents also show Bannon has a history of making anti-Semitic remarks. One of the people supporting his appointment is Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke:
By placing a champion of White Supremacists a step away from the oval office, what message is Trump sending to the young girl who woke up Wednesday morning in Rhode Island to be a woman of color in America. It’s not a message of healing. If Trump is serious about seeking unity, the first thing he should personally do is rescind the appointment of Stephen Bannon. Rescind it. Don’t do it.
Reid is also raising the alarm about a series of incidents of racism and hate around the country , and he’s blaming Trump for modelling that behaviour during the election campaign.
News is an iterative process. There is value in reporting the known facts. Journalistic truth, as Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel point out in “The Elements of Journalism”, is an ongoing conversation. It is sorted out “by stripping information of any attached misinformation, disinformation, or self-promoting bias and then by letting the community react, in the sorting-out process that ensues (p.58). One of the ways of signalling the value and context of information is letting people know who is saying it. The radio news story was clear that the call for Bannon’s removal was coming from a Democrat
In other, more detailed coverage of Stephen Bannon, there were various perspectives represented. You dismiss the words of those you see as inherently biased. That is your judgement, but it does not invalidate the role and purpose of quoting from the head of the AntiDefamation League as well as other thinkers and critics. The person reading the article can draw his or her own conclusions about the weight and value of the criticism. That is the journalistic purpose. In the cbc.ca news piece about Reid’s condemnation, there is biographical detail about Mr. Bannon, some of the accusations against him, as well as his own defense and the support of others:
In interviews, Bannon has acknowledged that the alt-right may attract some racists, homophobes and anti-Semites, but said that he does not share those opinions — and that the left harbours undesirable elements as well…
Colleagues defend him:
"I've known and worked with Stephen Bannon, and he has traditional conservative non-racist, non-prejudiced views about the world," said Joel Pollak, a senior editor at large at Breitbart, who called The Associated Press in response to a request for comment from Bannon on this story. "Lately, media conventions have determined that some of the traditional views of most of Western civilization are offensive." Bannon has publicly disavowed tolerance for prejudice. But allegations of anti-Semitism have also followed Bannon into his personal life as well. In 2007, his ex-wife alleged in court documents from their divorce that Bannon expressed open anti-Semitism, declaring that he didn't want their two daughters "going to school with Jews." Bannon disputed saying this.
There is controversy around Stephen Bannon and his appointment raised strong concerns and accusations. The role of CBC News is appropriate and correct in documenting and explaining them. Both the radio news piece and other coverage do so.
Sincerely, Esther Enkin CBC Ombudsman
cc: Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief, CBC News Paul Hambleton, Managing Editor, CBC Radio and Television News