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CBC News Isn’t Playing Fair – revised

September 11th, 2015

NOTE SUNDAY EVENING SEPT 13TH: This post was originally put up on Friday night Sept. 11th, soon after Elizabeth May’s interview on The National. This Sunday evening, the 13th, I was made aware of an article posted on CBC.ca on Monday Sept 7th. Please read my original post (following here)  and then an additional note added this evening, Sunday 13th (below.)

ORGINAL posted Sept 11th:       CBC News … Play fair, for crying out loud!

The National just broke its own promise to viewers – and voters – about this week’s series of feature leaders’ interviews .. the one that promised that no party leader would/could see what the others had said before their interview was recorded.

Moments ago, (Friday night, 42:30 minutes into the on-air show (9:42 p.m. EDT on CBC News Network, checked again at 10:42 EDT on CBC main network, ) Peter Mansbridge directly asked Green Party leader Elizabeth May: “You watched the interviews with the other 3 leaders .. is there anything they said that …… etc., etc. …. ” (transcript, roughly 3/4s through)

Are folks in the National’s newsroom deliberately sitting around trying to find ways to undermine public confidence in the CBC’s news tradition of journalistic impartiality? Anytime, let alone in a national election?

Which option as an explanation works for the show?

1. Elizabeth May isn’t a serious player in the election and so wasn’t bound by the promise given to the other “major” party leaders? (Did I miss that exculpatory bit of introductory information? )

2 . Peter mispoke himself?

3. ___________ (fill in the blank)

Bad form ….. and barring an explanation that makes sense … bad journalism.


This evening I was made aware of an article about the “Leaders Interview Series” this past week which was posted on CBC.ca on Monday 7th, the day the series started.  In the article, you will see the following paragraph.

“Logistically it took us across the country, three cities in four days — from a park in Gatineau, Que. across from Parliament Hill, to a quiet ranch house in Delta, B.C., to the Laurentians outside Montreal and the tiny town of Ste.-Anne-Des-Lacs. The Elizabeth May interview, because of Green Party scheduling issues, won’t be done until later this week and will air on Friday night.”

A few comments on this.

1. This is apparently CBC’s explanation as to why Elizabeth May was not held to/offered the same  conditions of exclusion that bound the other leaders. I don’t think it does that at all, starting with the fact that no where does it suggest that Ms. May will not be bound by the same rules as the others.  This web post does state very clearly that “All sessions would be completed before any was aired, ensuring that no leader would have the advantage of knowing the others’ answers.”

2. I rewatched the shows  available online on CBC.ca and, while it is possible that I may have missed where/when this information (exempting Ms/ May’s interview) was noted, the general tone of all the repeated interview promo spots and introductions was that NONE of  the individual 4 political party leaders saw the comments of any of the others before they were interviewed.

Note first, the wording of the web page title I was alerted to this evening, noted above:

“Behind CBC The National’s interview with Canada’s federal leaders: CBC News Chief Correspondent Peter Mansbridge sits down for 1-on-1 interviews with the 4 leaders.”   (emphasis added. i.e.  4, not 3 leaders and then another 1. )

Note as well the wording of the paragraph below the one cited  above: “Starting Monday, CBC’s The National is airing a series of exclusive interviews with the leaders of Canada’s major political parties: Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper on Monday, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, NDP Party Leader Tom Mulcair on Wednesday and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May on Friday. The interviews will air on CBC’s The National at 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and at 10 p.m./10:30 NT on CBC-TV.

3. The above paragraph does not specifically say that due to the scheduling issues, Ms. May was NOT being held to the same conditions as the other. Nor does it cite any other reason why.

4. While Ms. May’s interview was on a Friday night – with a one day break after the first three (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) – the overall impression given by the texture and tone of the interview introductions and the promo material during the week on CBC everywhere was that these were a unique group of interviews with Canada’s four political leaders battling for election. There was no sense that Ms. May’s interview was a different animal.

5. Many people commented to me – personally and in email – that their ears perked up when Peter Mansbridge said to Ms. May “You’ve seen the other leaders interviews …”

I will leave it there.







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