CBC branded itself Liberal this election

Why would CBC have such a fealty for Trudeau? The state broadcaster’s annual $1.1 billion federal subsidy might have something to do with it.

Graeme Gordon Montreal QC

Several months ago I argued with Quillette editor and National Post contributor Jonathan Kay on Twitter about the inherent bias the CBC has for the “natural governing” Liberal Party of Canada.

Kay dismissed my charge that the employees at the CBC are generally in the tank for Trudeau’s Liberals. He said it was nonsense because many at the public broadcaster are NDP supporters, too.

I countered that more left-wing individuals at the CBC inevitably get in line when push comes to shove. Even Dippers within CBC’s ranks come to the aid of Trudeau in his times of need in order to keep the Conservatives out of power, even if that means sacrificing their own party’s gains.

(It’s the same reason why NDP think tank Broadbent Institute’s Press Progress predominantly attacks Conservatives, despite Liberals being a much greater challenge to the NDP’s success. Furthermore, CBC attacks The Post Millennial for Conservative pamphleteering, the public broadcaster has cited Press Progress‘s work without questioning the source.)

I know this is the case because I can still distinctly remember the election bias from the last campaign in 2015. That was when I first started writing about politics while teaching English overseas. One of the first pieces I ever wrote–and the first to get thousands of visitors to my makeshift website–was entitled “CBC’s Insolent Election Bias,” in which I documented the absurd in-your-face bias the supposed public broadcaster displayed for Trudeau throughout that election.

But the CBC outdid itself this time around.

The little Twitter tiff between Kay and I ended with me saying he would eat his words come election season. And boy was I right.

The CBC’s koolaid drinking for Trudeau started right out of the gate during the leadup to the election being officially called.

When the Toronto Star–now also a beneficiary of millions of taxpayer’s money courtesy of the Liberal government’s $600 million bailout of political journalism, not including the CBC–dropped a so-called exclusive of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s comments in the House of Commons about gay marriage from over a decade ago the CBC ran hard with the story as if it were breaking news.

That, as well as Scheer’s own personal views on abortion, were hot topics of conversation the CBC would belabour about for days on end, despite the CPC leader making it clear these issues were not going to be touched by a Conservative government (they’d be political suicide anyway). All the while CBC ignored Trudeau’s own statements to the CBC in 2011 that he himself is personally pro-life (days later, when some reporter finally got around to trying to show some semblance of balance, Trudeau was asked about it and said he had changed his views).

As the CBC incessantly went on about SoCon issues that would not get any attention in Ottawa if the CPC won, it downplayed real issues like national debt, the SNC-Lavalin scandal and graft.

When Trudeau was found to have worn blackface on three separate occasions because a private citizen decided to provide Time magazine with a copy of a yearbook that Trudeau was in charge of overseeing and that included a picture of him in blackface, the CBC decided it was a good idea to harass the individual who drew the public’s attention to Trudeau’s poor decision when he was 29. CBC essentially was sending a message to anyone else with damaging information on the incumbent PM: Stay quiet.

And why would CBC have such a fealty for Trudeau? His increasing of the state broadcaster’s annual $1.1 billion federal subsidy once assuming power might have something to do with it. Trudeau shamelessly reminded CBC employees who butters their bread by giving its senior political reporter David Cochrane free poutine on the campaign trail in September while saying, “The Liberal Party always supports the CBC.”

Even though Cochrane should’ve followed CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices and declined the poutine in order to avoid a “real or perceived” conflicts of interest, the symbolism of him smilingly while taking the poutine from Trudeau spoke volumes.

Speaking of conflicts of interest, somehow CBC management and journalists John Paul Tasker and Rosemary Barton thought it was perfectly acceptable for them to single out the CPC for a copyright suit, meanwhile ignoring other parties and Liberals’ use of CBC material. All the more obvious it was a political decision to go after CPC was the fact that copyright lawyers and professors were in agreement with the party’s use of CBC material fell well within fair dealing.

As the CBC’s boneheaded decision to file a lawsuit with not just the broadcaster as a plaintiff, but both Barton and Tasker blew up in their faces, the silence and mealy-mouthed non-answers raised more questions than answers.

CBC hired top lawyers, so it’s hard to imagine that they would’ve been negligent enough to not get the permission of Barton and Tasker to include them as applicants in the lawsuit. Neither the two journalists nor the CBC have clarified if the journalists were involved in the lawsuit. But it is noteworthy Barton’s mentor and predecessor Peter Mansbridge requested management get the CBC to sue the CPC during last election for using a clip from one of his interviews with Trudeau in which the party used the Liberal leader’s nonsensical answer about the Boston Bombing. Did Barton take a page out Mansbridge’s playbook? An Access to Information request for the internal communications regarding the latest lawsuit will hopefully get to the bottom of it.

At the very least Barton should’ve been pulled as one of the four hosts of The National while her name was still on the lawsuit, but instead, she continued and was the lead host of their election coverage, where many Conservative observers again noted her bias for the Liberals.

But it wasn’t just the credibility of Barton, Tasker and Cochrane that were put into serious question this election. Other CBC senior reporters covering federal politics also showed favouritism towards the Liberals.

CBC Ottawa reporter Katie Simpson wrote a piece the day before the vote in which her piece—filed under news—claiming a big “momentum shift” for the CPC campaign in which she suggested things were going badly in the last two days of the campaign.  The article had to be corrected because Simpson cut part of a Scheer quote where he said the Liberals would have to raise the GST “or cut completely the Canada Social Transfer to the provinces.” Only after a complaint was filed did CBC clarify that Scheer wasn’t saying necessarily the GST would be raised, but that something would have to give.

CBC journalists, including Barton and Simpson, claimed that Scheer was being dishonest by claiming Trudeau would have to raise the GST at some point because Trudeau said he wouldn’t, as if Trudeau’s word as is good as gold. It’s not like he followed through on his promise to balance the books by 2019 and only run small deficits. What made it all the more hypocritical is these same journalists speculated for days on Scheer’s personal pro-life views even though he said it wouldn’t be an issue touched in office. It’s almost as if these journalists are acting in bad faith.

Simpson’s and her colleagues nitpicking of Scheer while giving Trudeau a pass on much larger issues was commonplace throughout the campaign. But for an apples to apples contrast, Simpson noted on Twitter that Scheer tripped and almost fell at one point near the end of the campaign and thought it was caught on camera. It wasn’t, but Trudeau was caught on camera tripping around the same time and she ignored it.

Similar to Simpson, CBC’s Aaron Wherry wrote multiple opinionated articles under “analysis”. One of his articles falsely claimed the B.C. carbon tax was revenue neutral and remained incorrect for hours, misinforming (disinforming?) Canadians. It’s no secret Wherry’s political views align with the Liberals. He was given unprecedented access to the PM to write a varnished biography (hagiography?) of Trudeau’s first term in office.

What is all the more galling is how CBC seems to have decided to just embrace its overt bias towards the Liberals. Near the tail end of the campaign, after CBC had already severely tarnished its brand, it thought it was a good idea to hire washed up sock puppet Ed the Sock to help “comedy” show 22 Minutes despite even left-wing journalists noticing he is one of the biggest Trudeau apologists on Twitter. It makes sense though when you see that the lead comedian on the show, Mark Critch, is more of Trudeau’s court jester than biting satirist.

Before ending this column, one more anecdote. I wrote several columns for the CBC a few years ago after I challenged the former opinion section editor on his claim the new platform was going to have a diversity opinion. The editor offered me an opportunity to write on a freelance basis and as it was the start of my freelance career I figured it would be stupid to pass up even if I was against the CBC.

My columns were quite successful on the CBC website, with many commenters shocked these opinions were published by the CBC because they went against the left-wing orthodoxy at the broadcaster. But I decided to stop contributing to the CBC when I wrote a column against of the proposal of the Green Party in B.C. and a Liberal MPP in Ontario to lower the voting age to 16 in those jurisdictions (CBC news coverage on the proposal was overwhelmingly positive). I didn’t reach out to any of the politicians promoting lowering the voting age because it was an opinion piece, but somehow while I was revising the piece the Liberal MPP in Ontario randomly liked one of my tweets. After my second set of revisions were made my editor decided to kill the piece.

It was at this point I decided to pack it in and stop being a useful tool for the CBC to claim it actually has a diversity of opinions that accurately reflect the Canadian public.

It’s almost as if Canada needs CBC whistleblowers to expose the political bias and nepotism within the state broadcaster—as just happened to CNN in the U.S.—to reveal just how in the tank its journalists are for the Liberals.


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