Monday, September 29, 2008

CBC Gutless, Cowers Before Freepers

I can't begin to express how disappointed I am with the CBC. As Publisher, Mr Cruickshank should have some notion of journalistic responsibility. Popping a troublesome piece down the memory hole is a cowardly and foolish move. The fact is the piece was published, it crossed someone's desk and made it into pixels. If the powers that be feel that the 300 freepers had a legitimate point to make, they should have done what a dead tree paper would do, print an apology, a retraction or a counter piece from the other side. The simple fact is that the people that got together on the right and kept this thing alive had a mission and they have succeeded. They pulled off some after the fact censorship. They have their little victory and CBC publisher Cruickshank and Ombudsman Carlin both bent over and took it from behind. As a publisher, I feel especially ashamed for and contemptuous of Mr Cruickshank. If he gave more than 3 seconds of attention to the whining and hissing from Fox News and the execrable National Post, then he doesn't deserve a position in a news organization beyond delivery of caffeinated bevies. I wrote the following to both Mr Cruickshank and Mr Carlin:

Dear Mr Cruickshank and Mr Carlin,

I am writing to express my deep disappointment in your decision to pull Heather Mallick's opinion piece from your site. Perhaps it is simple ignorance of the nature of online politics as played in the blogosphere by right wing pressure groups and their media enablers. To read that you are even remotely concerned by attention from Fox News, America's most stilted and partisan, far right cable network and the deplorable National Post almost makes this a piece for comedy. If either of these "news" outlets practiced even a fraction of the policing they demand of you, they would perhaps approach a credible position. However, this is simply not the case. The partisanship you allude to is at its most strident at these two organizations. The fact is that in this case, the CBC has been "freeped".

Freeping ( is a term coined to acknowledge the efforts of right wing groups to bully and pressure organizations and to falsely skew polling data and information gathering online. Freeping is named for the extreme right wing website, which refined this practice to an art. Hence more than 300 people "taking the trouble" to contact you. 300 organized, encouraged and enabled by proven pressure tactics intended to cow any legitimate organization or media outlet from expressing a contrary opinion. There is no little irony in that most of these characters are the very same folks who have railed at length against human rights commissions "stifling" their god given right to defame and abuse ethnic, religious, social and sexual minorities.

Gentlemen, you have been played like suckers. Congratulations, you have, at the behest of this online cadre of vocal extremists, silenced a voice from one of Canada's better writers. To think that you have done so under pressure from such laughable hacks as the Kay family makes me ashamed for you. By removing the article, you have not practiced self correction, you have knuckled under. These people may be socially retrograde bottom feeders but you have shown that you can be bullied. You have rolled over and they smell the blood in the water. You have compromised your integrity, you have shown weakness and there is nothing they love better.

I implore you to re-post the Mallick piece. Yes it makes controversial statements but throwing it down the memory hole is not the answer, it is not responsible journalistic practice and it is certainly not "healthy restraint". It is a knee jerk and cowardly reaction to organized pressure. The correct response would have been to offer up space to accompany the piece with a counter argument from an appropriate voice from the other side of the ideological gulf. If Mallick's claims are baseless, allow an argument to be made to refute them.

For the first time in my life, I am ashamed of the CBC and gentlemen, I am ashamed for you.

I encourage everyone that has a modicum of common sense to express themselves in kind. Let there be no doubt that these pressure tactics will not only continue but will increase in virulence.


Ombudsman's statement
Publisher's Statement


Alison at Creekside1

Doc Dawg

RossK at Gazetteer


Unknown said...

Good one. Could you please post a link to the CBC apology and contact information? I may be particularly slow today but I couldn't find it this morning.

Since they are in apology mode I hope that they will take this opportunity to apologize for that bilious windbag Rex Murphy while they are at it, in the name of fairness and balance and all.

thwap said...

I'm inspired to write my own letter.

Lindsay Stewart said...

updated with links.

Ti-Guy said...

Wrote mine this morning. But I tell you, there's something rotten happening over at CBC. Remember when all the correspondents were re-assigned just after Harper came to power?

It's not that the CBC is becoming conservative so much as it's becoming...Sarah Palin-ised. Trivial and fatuous.

Mike said...

Shouldn't Ezra being setting up a defense fund for Mallick about now? I mean, this kind of caving into special interests is exactly what he rails against when he published the Mohammed cartoons, right?


Conservative Hypocrites.

RossK said...

I agree responding to the ombudsman of the CBC is important.

As is the pushback in general.

But I think we in the progressive bloggodome need to remember that we have something we never had before, which is.....

A syndication network.

And if we were to publish the wordsmithing of Ms. Mallick ourselves, all at the same time, once a week, I would humbly suggest that we could easily match, and probably outstrip the readership of a backwater for smart people that is soon to be Fauxified.

Details at my place for anybody interested (as cited by psa in the original post)


JJ said...

Outstanding post & letter, psa.

I wrote a shorter missive to them on their website contact thing (via TGB), but this has inspired me to write a real (ie. snail mail) letter.

Well done!

sooey said...

On the up side, the piece got more play thanks to all the complaints AND on the other up side it won't be such a disappointment when Stephen Harper guts the CBC.

Just call me Pollyanna Sunshine!

Lindsay Stewart said...

that's why we love ya sooey.