The CBC's left-wing bias
I see that the CBC is going to investigate itself to determine whether it has a left-wing bias.
My favourite line in the news story is this:
CBC refused to comment on the study’s methodology...
So you've got the CBC investigating the CBC about the CBC's own fairness. But the CBC won't or can't demonstrate that the bias investigation isn't biased.
So maybe we need a bias study of the bias study.
This all sounds about as reliable as shipping lettuce by rabbit.
I wonder if the CBC's crack team would accept that sort of self-investigation by, oh, say, a politician or a business leader who had been caught acting unethically.
Maybe reliable, neutral CBC personalities like David Suzuki and Judy Rebick will lead the investigation into the CBC's balance.
But I actually have a little story to tell about this myself.
After the 2006 election, I was invited by the CBC's chairman to attend their board of directors' retreat in New Brunswick, to give advice on what to make of the new Conservative government.
I took the task seriously, canvassing several cabinet ministers and even the Prime Minister's Office before my visit. It won't surprise you to know that my report was not well received by the president of the CBC at the time, Robert Rabinovitch (I'm not kidding, he physically fell out of his chair). But it might surprise you to learn that a number of board members were very sympathetic to my assessment. (It was clear to me from Rabinovitch's interactions with the board, though, that they were not a true board of directors with actual authority. Rather, they seemed more like a politically correct, demographically correct focus group, and that Rabinovitch was humouring them, not being directed by them). There has since been a complete turnover in directors, and I do not know if they are still treated as window-dressing. But they were then.
I'm not going to disclose my advice to the CBC, but I do feel at liberty to disclose one of the messages that I was asked to convey to the CBC by a cabinet minister.
In the wake of the 2006 federal election, the CBC had been accused of anti-Conservative bias and then, like now, the CBC launched an investigation into itself.
The CBC promised to give this study to the cabinet minister when it was complete. But they didn't. The cabinet minister had asked for it, but it was not sent (nor made public), even months after the election. That minister asked me to request it again.
When I put the minister's request for that study to Rabinovitch, he was clearly uncomfortable, and at least one director pressed him on the subject. (That may have been when he fell out of his chair, I can't recall.)
I do not know if the CBC ever gave that study to the cabinet minister; I did a cursory search of the CBC's own website today and didn't find it published (please correct me if I'm wrong).
What can we learn from this?
Well, a few things.
1. The CBC holds itself to a lower standard than it holds the subjects of its reporting. It would never accept the laughable bias of a politician investigating himself, or an oil company investigating itself. Example: while the CBC is bleating for complete disclosure of unredacted, uncensored national security documents from Afghanistan, they censor comments on their own website critical of their Liberal pollster, Frank Graves.
2. The CBC has a long history of bias -- and they have become expert at explaining it away, shooing away criticism and digging in defiantly. They live by the maxim: never admit anything, never apologize. They have a bunker mentality on the subject of bias, as was evidenced during the Frank Graves fiasco. They are as partisan as any political party, and in fact act like a political party during election campaigns.
3. One of the CBC's favourite tactics when called on their bias is to announce their own review to pre-empt an independent review. They did this in 2006 and they're doing it again now. I'd be surprised if they haven't done it before, too.
4. Once the media interest in their bias dies down, they bury their internal report -- if they ever even conducted it in the first place.
5. You'd think that the CBC's own investigation of itself in 2006 would have been a whitewash, and thus something they would have published, or at least given to the cabinet minister in question. The fact that they had refused to release it suggests that things might have been so bad, even the CBC's own hand-picked investigator couldn't cover it up. Either that, or it was such a complete whitewash it had no credibility. There really isn't a good explanation for not handing it over, is there?
6. The CBC, unlike other media, operates with impunity when it comes to bias. Other media across the world are dying off like dinosaurs. The nominal reason for that is lack of ad revenues, but ad revenues follow eyeballs -- just ask Rupert Murdoch, owner of the biggest newspaper in America (The Wall Street Journal) and the biggest cable news channel in America (Fox News). He doesn't get a billion dollars a year from the government -- but he doesn't need to, since he can attract readers and viewers on his own.
Not the CBC: they can continue to be a hard-left group of activists, participating in a culture war against the West, the North, conservatives, rural Canadians, Christians, etc., etc., and be immune from the desertion of viewers that would be the market's punishment if a private broadcaster conducted itself in the same way.
I really wouldn't care if the CBC was biased, if I wasn't forced to pay for it. The National Post has its biases to the Jewish right, and the Toronto Star has its biases to the anti-Christian left. The more the merrier. But no-one is forced to support either of those newspapers if they don't want to.
If only the same could be said about the billion-dollar Liberal campaign machine called the CBC.