Letters from Green Island

July 4 2007

A question for Peter...

Re: CBC Inside Chat: What is the future of news, with Peter Mansbridge July 3, 2007

Dear Peter et al,

I'm sorry I did not learn about this discussion until after it was done - I would have submitted a question of some sort, something drawn from the following comments.

Something like:

Basically, do you feel the CBC is, in 2007, a fair and balanced provider of news and commentary to Canadians?

(One small initial caveat I should note, I listen only to the radio via the internet from my home in Thailand, but even before moving here I watched very little television, as the radio was always superior, in my opinion, with less 'lcd' pandering (and of course no commercials, possibly the two things were/are related) - from my reading of things in Canada over the last few years since the internet made it here, I have no reason to suppose that the balance has shifted any, although it does appear that a sinking tide has lowered everything.)

As to the question - my answer is that I don't believe the CBC to be a fair and balanced provider of news to Canadians - it seems to me the CBC is very much engaged in promoting the globalist, neocon version of our country and world desired by certain minority but influential sections of our society, even though most Canadians do not really support this view - and in the pursuit of this goal, you continually spin the 'news' in various ways, from things that border on outright falsehoods to sensationalisation of certain things to marginalizing commentary and analysis you do not approve of, regardless of how many Canadians might disagree with your spin. Thus you have become in essence a propagandist, trying to induce people onto a path many or most do not really wish to be taking through an inaccurate portrayal of their country and world. A very clever propagandist, of course, as befits the amount of expertise available for you to draw on and long decades of practice and refinement of your art (this is evident from this Q-A itself, which could easily serve as fodder for several pages of deconstruction, a case example of modern, sophisticated propaganda, presenting the very propagandist itself as an 'honest broker' (this is done several times a year by the CBC, and all Canadian media, letting Canadians know how lucky they are to be 'served' by such great 'journalists')) - but a propagandist nonetheless, as I believe is quite evident from any honest examination of what you do and how you behave.

There are, of course, many examples available. The Afghanistan invasion Canada has been participating in for the last few years comes readily to mind (never, of course, referred to honestly as an 'invasion' of a non-beligerent, independent country, although it very obviously was and is - this 'framing' is of course a central technique of modern propaganda). There was never any national debate about this invasion (a few hours of huffy-puffy in parliament bolstered by a few days of fervent 'motherland and democracy!!!!!' editorials in the Canadian right-wing-dominated 'press' does NOT constitute a 'national debate of the citizens'), and even now most surveys asking any sort of honest questions show that most Canadians do not really support our troops being over there engaging in a militarily-driven 'regime change' operation alongside the Americans who instigated the whole thing. And yet the CBC coverage is highly unbalanced, not in any way reflecting the national feelings, or encouraging any sort of ongoing examination of what exactly we are supposed to be up to half way around the world (we're TOLD a lot about what the government wants us to think they're up to, but being told something does not qualify as debate, any more than does your coverage of various people telling us things). You rarely carry any honest debate about this very important issue, but it's a rare day goes by without some sort of boosterism item, designed to encourage more Canadians one way or another to get onside with 'supporting our troops' - and, of course, you can hardly support the troops without supporting the mission, all dishonest attempts to separate the two (a la the yellow ribbon campaigns and associated commentary as carried on the CBC) aside.

I'm sure, if anyone answers this at all, that you will protest that your coverage is balanced in some way - but wouldn't it be more honest (as this is hardly a trivial issue) to have someone who agrees with me (there's quite a few of us out here, I am sure you could gather from your falling ratings and trust factors etc the last several years) that your coverage is unbalanced right there on one of the major shows sometime, debating this live with one of you who insist you are balanced, and with enough time to do a bit of actual analysis - and including truly in-depth things such as follow-up discussions to talk about things raised earlier that required some further research to shine light on? There is no doubt in my mind that any such analysis would show something like a 90-10% boosterism vs voices of dissent split in your coverage.

Consider, for one point, you have extended coverage of Canadians killed, from circumstances of death through onsite memorial services for them, bodies flown home, funerals at home, interviews with grieving families and friends, etc and etc - but when, for instance, another wedding party or innocent group of civilians is bombed in the country we are invading, it gets only a short acknowledgement on the news, and a comment from some official about how the "alleged" incident is being investigated, we are sorry if it happened, and that's about it - but wouldn't that be an ideal time to get a bit more of a discussion between those who oppose our presence there (probably representing a majority of Canadians) with someone who wants to say right out loud on air that killing civilians is regrettable but they probably had it coming if they were hiding terrorists or not obeying 'lawful' orders from the invader-overlords or something? Just to actually provide truly balanced coverage?

Never happens, of course, although there are many eloquent anti-invasion voices available.

(And it might be another very useful debate to have as well, examining the question of exactly what role the media should play when a country decides to go to war - of course, you would need, if you were being honest, to have the 'backstory' debate about how and why 'the country' actually decided to go to war in this instance - did this thing happen with the approval of the people as a whole, or, did the 'government' decide to go to war, and then carry on a lengthy 'selling' campaign to try to get the people to support their war??? - and given that scenario, where indeed does the media fit into all of this? Is it your job to push the people into supporting a war the government decides to have without any meaningful consultation with the people, or should a media that actually 'serves' the people be a bit more neutral about things, at least until you are certain that there is some war that a strong majority of people have had an informed debate about, and decided they want to get involved with? Ah - I dream in technicolor to expect such a debate on any Canadian mainstream media!!!!)

(A short aside - I am well aware that the truly frothy rightwing media in Canada endlessly accuse the CBC of a 'lefty-liberal' bias - this is easily demonstrable as patent nonsense, but never is, for some reason. Wouldn't it be most enlightening to have a small debate about this on one of your shows? Invite one of the accusers on to the show, and let them have a debate with one from my perspective who feels the CBC is actually well into promoting the 'rightwing - neocon - globalist' perspective in most of its coverage - with, of course, someone of stature from the CBC itself present to answer questions or whatever. Debates like this would be very informative when it comes to getting somewhere near the 'truth' of things - but they are never actually held - it seems everyone in the MSM prefers to maintain the fiction that the CBC is 'lefty-lib' in bias. Puzzling. Unless one is looking at things through a lens that allows one to see propaganda happening, and full spectrum manipulation of the Canadian citizenry, and then the patterns become somewhat more clear. The 'CBC as voice of the lefties' myth is a useful tool for the people pushing Canada into the globalist world in various ways. Any debate about whether or not this alleged CBC bias actually reflects reality would quickly show it for the nonsense it is - but then there would be a few questions to ask about why this myth has been allowed to exist and propagate the way it has - and a lot of liars and propagandists would get exposed. Which is why it is never addressed, but allowed to exist as a myth, a false meme in the public mind, creating confusion and hiding the truth of things))

One could point out a number of other very important issues for which it seems your coverage is equally biased - I think, for instance, of a few interviews, and a number of other related commentaries or news items, I have heard the last couple of weeks with Anne Golden about 'darn old unproductive Canadians really need to get with the program their business leaders are telling them about etc', and some lady who wrote a book called 'they don't drink Molson in Mexico' or something, and something else recently about Canadians not being inventive or innovative enough in the modern world or something - these things may well qualify as news of some sort, and I think it's fine to carry them - but where is the balance? I continually shake my head in wonder and some anger at the unchallenged falsehoods and distortions these and other people are allowed to make time and time again, and the out-of-context statistics they use to try to back up their arguments, again presented as 'fact' by your uncritical coverage, rather than the very controversial things they really are.

There have been zero interviews with someone voicing an opposing point of view to these globalisers, someone who might ask why these people are so insistent that Canadians behave the way the original interviewees want them to, someone who might protest that Canadians have built a fairly nice country and lifestyle over the years and decades, and like it the way it is, and do not wish to give up their leisure and freedom and 'socialistic' social programs to engage in some race to further enrich the investor class of the country at the expense of yet further deterioration of such social programs (noting such things as, for instance, that the profits from the great productivity gains of the last 20 years have gone pretty much exclusively to the investor class and not the people who have actually done the improved work), and why should they since things are pretty good as they are? - someone who might suggest and strongly argue the position that this continuous exhortation of Canadians to 'get with the globalisation program' is actually a 'race to the bottom', as we have been saying for many years now and is ever more demonstrable, and maybe it is NOT actually in the best interests of average Canadians to follow these capitalist propagandists - and etc. And let that debate also carry on for a few weeks, so people can check stats etc for themselves, and those presenting questionable data or arguments can be called to account for their words. Thus would a truly national broadcaster 'serving the people' be behaving, at least in my opinion - being a forum for all relevant voices to be debating important issues, rather than quite obviously pushing one POV, as the CBC seems very much to be doing.

Well, I could go on, but I have doubts about whether anyone at the CBC is actually interested in reading anything like this, as I hear so very little of this kind of honest and open debate on your radio, and letters I write to various people about these things, sparked by things I hear, are rarely answered, and never in any way that indicates anyone is planning on any kind of changes such as I suggest any time soon.

From one who still has some hope for the CBC, small though it is - still the best media in the country, but in a situation where the bar for assessing such things is not that high any more, and moving in the wrong direction -

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