What Was Wrong With CBC’s ‘The National’ Last Night (October 18, 2017)

Well the first installment was a bit of a hit with readers–nearly a thousand of you visited Raving Canuck in its first 24 hours. I guess I’m committed to suffering through 45 minutes of spin and irrelevant stories each night for the foreseeable future. We’ll see how long I can take it. Meanwhile, the least you can do to repay me for my selfless suffering and wasted time is to share the damn critiques on Twitter and Facebook. We’re trying to make a movement here, people. I’m tired of hearing bitching and moaning online about how “I’m forced to pay for the CBC, but I never watch it because it’s Liberal propaganda!!!!!” Calling the CBC Liberal propagana, taking directives straight from the  Prime Minister’s Office, might be a bit of a stretch, but I’ll make records of all the biased coverage on CBC’s flagship show so we can see just how close to the truth your hyperbolic rhetoric might actually be. Perhaps you’ll be exonerated with irrefutable proof that you’re not just “a raving right-wing nut.” When some family, friends and acquaintances dismiss the few examples you can remember off the top of your head–since you avoid the CBC like the plague because you don’t want to be brainwashed by Laurentian Elite BS pablum–you can come to this blog and have all the receipts. There, a weight off your mind–you’re welcome. You no longer have to remember that last blatant omission, equivocation, or lie you unfortunately heard from the state broadcaster. You’ll sleep better at night and stop grinding you teeth.

Finally, instead of griping about it for more years on end, you can do something about it. By promoting my work we can spread the message that the CBC’s antics are now being closely monitored by a large subsection of the public–everyday citizens–who are not being represented by the supposed public broadcaster, and are fed up with its lack of teeth in keeping the powerful accountable.

One of these days I’ll get around to passing the virtual tin cup around for all my troubles (not just for this work alone, mind you), but until then, the least you can do is promote “brilliant” and “great!!!” commentary many of you say is so lacking elsewhere throughout our provincial little nation.

Okay, so with that out of the way, yesterday’s The National had a lot wrong with it as always. Confession here: I used to think The National was a trustworthy news source, and at one point tuned in semi-regularly, until a few years ago when I took the blue pill and realized the left-wing elite in Canada run everything and are the ones mostly–but definitely by no means exclusively–pigging out on government graft. The CBC, instead of exposing these people, largely enables it. To rebel against the oft-corrupt establishment and fight for centrism in Canada one must uphold Western values and traditional liberal principles to help try and steady a very left-leaning ship in disrepair. That being said, as a journalist, I’d like to make it clear I am not involved with any political party and report on anything I find newsworthy enough to cover. Some of the publications and subjects I’ve written about are a testament to that. But unlike many other journalists, I’m upfront where I’m coming from.

Alright, I told myself I was going to start making these short and sweet, but there were some introductory things that needed addressing in these first couple of pieces to this unfortunate venture I’ve set upon.

Anyway, on to the second deconstruction of CBC’s The National.

First and foremost, what was wrong on CBC’s The National last night was that Gord Downie had passed away yesterday, leaving us far too early.

(But he left us with a majestic song catalogue that will fill the northern airways and express the joy and melancholy of many Canadians for many generations to come. America and Britain both have countless authors that express the quintessential traits that make up the typical characters of those two nations. Hemingway, Faulkner, Melville and Poe. Shakespeare, Dickens, Pope, Blake, Byron, etc. Unlike these other two great nations, Canada doesn’t really have any great authors whose stories are well-known or remembered by the zeitgeist to this day. My favourite two Canadian authors–Stephen Leacock and Mordecai Richler–were two satirists who flourished in ridiculing the quaintness of the Canadian elite. However, none of their work really stands out at this point in time. And, sure, there’s Atwood–if dreariness is your thing–and her Handmaid’s Tale, but that is an alternate world having very little to do with the Canada of today. Although it might turn out to be unwittingly accurate speculative fiction in decades to come–you never know in these times we live. Instead, if you want a wordsmith that best expresses the Canadian landscape, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than thoughtful and poetic Gord Downie. I remember when I first moved to South Korea and was feeling a bit homesick I would binge listen to The Tragically Hip‘s albums. My American girlfriend at the time of course didn’t get it.)

So, with that in mind, I respected the CBC’s The Nationals decision to pay tribute to Gord Downie and the music he gave us all. That being said, and this may sound slightly callous, but I know many Canadians don’t even really know who he was, or cared for his music, so The National‘s show director’s decision to spend the first 24-minutes-and-28-seconds –without any preview of the day’s other substantial news, like Trudeau getting eviscerated over his Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s conflict-of-interest scandal–was a bit odd for a national news show. And they weren’t done there, after 13 minutes and 17 seconds, the CBC returned the cursed Peter Mansbridge in highlights of his last interview with Downie.  As nice as it was to have a eulogy for Gord, the world doesn’t stop turning no matter who leaves it. Adding in commercial breaks, the other news wasn’t presented until the 30:47 mark. Any viewer with only a casual interest in the Canadian rock legend would likely have changed the channel, giving up on getting the news, by the ten-minute mark. If not then by the 20-minute mark all patience I’m sure would be lost. Below is a chart of the share of the show’s divvying up of its time on different subject.

canvas

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, being his father’s son, stole the some of the spotlight today placed on Downie’s death and was featured in the opening previews crying about Gord’s passing. Footage of Trudeau attending Downie’s last concert and a longer 33-second segment on his comments about Downie were also featured early on in the broadcast. Now I saw people on Twitter lashing out about Trudeau speaking last morning about Gord’s passing, and whether or not it was political theater to distract from his government getting hammered over questions of ethical impropriety or genuine mourning, one cannot judge from the video his sincerity and it’s not really the time or the place to start ranting and raving about the PM’s response. Nevertheless, The National‘s choice to feature a long segment on Trudeau and to pepper him in throughout the tribute to Downie seems in poor taste and a little Dear Leader-ish à la Pyongyang, especially with how little of his pathetic responses in question period were played much later in the broadcast.

Finally, after doing a full-length documentary on Downie’s life, essentially burying the news of the day, The National got to the affairs of the day. As the story of Morneau being ethically-challenged dominated the Twittersphere, The National staff thought it would be better to help continue to douse the finance minister’s ethical dumpster-fire one more time by leading the news of the day with a story on some wildfires in Alberta instead.

Then, at long last, at the 37:48-minute mark of the hour-long show, came the story on Morneau. Oddly enough, though, CBC’s Senior Reporter on Parliament Hill Catherine Cullen really spun, spun, spun for Trudeau and Morneau.

The report started off by making sure the viewer knows how hard Morneau is working to sell his tax changes.

Host Wendy Mesley introducing the segment saying: “So far this week Trudeau’s Finance Minister has been at a pizzeria, a cafe and a factory pitching the government’s tax changes to small businesses, but it’s Bill Morneau’s own financial affairs causing a stir on Parliament Hill… And now it has the Prime Minister doing damage control.”

Right, “a stir.” There’s another s-word that will be used soon enough by other more honest media outlets: scandal. Never mind the first-rate hypocrisy of the Finance Minister telling the public and his old company Morneau Shepell he was putting his millions of stock in the company in a blind trust, which would have divested him from the company that turned out to make substantial gains on its stock price since he took office. As has been pointed out by the opposition, the finance minister makes decisions that conveniently affect the stock price of Morneau Shepell. Compounding this disgraceful behaviour is that at the same time Morneau and Trudeau are going after small business owners for supposed tax loopholes at the same timeMorneau has been using an ethics loophole so he can keep control of his assets, putting him in a clear conflict of interest when making legislative decisions he’ll likely financially benefit from, never mind what the compromised Ethics Commissioner says in clearing his behaviour. Very little of this is made clear in The National‘s weak two-minutes-and-17-seconds report.

Cullen: “Toronto, Montreal, Hampton, New Brunswick [footage of Morneau gladhanding wit smiling Canadians]–the Finance Minister has become a traveling salesman for his newly-tweaked, hopefully-less-problematic tax changes.”

(Great, start him off on the right foot. No need to get to the real story right away.)

Morneau: “We’re still going to listen to chambers of commerce and others to make sure we get it exactly right.” [At a press conference giving spin talking points.]

Then Cullen introduces question period and how opposition MPs were questioning Morneau’s “behaviour.” Oddly the video shows the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer, NDP MP Nathan Cullen, and Conservative MP Candice Bergen asking questions without showing any response from Trudeau’s widely panned performance at question period today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Trudeau has a Freudian slip where he reveals that the1984-style euphemism “Ethics Commissioner” actually means she is an apparent patsy for when he or his Finance Minister get in trouble ethically, or have “a conflict of ethics” as the PM put it, and need someone to let them off the hook. Believe me folks, had Harper misspoke like that it would lead The National that night, not matter who passed away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead of showing one of the above embarrassing, but also revealing, gaffes, Cullen moved on to say, “He owned tens-of-millions of dollars in his company Morneau Shepell.”

Then, to give CBC a little bit of credit here, it did show pretty damaging old footage of Morneau saying, “I expect that all of my assets will go into a blind trust” while on Power and Politics.

Cullen: “A blind trust where Morneau would not control his shares would likely have been sold off over time. But instead Morneau kept the in a numbered company because Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson told him a blind trust wasn’t necessary.”

Dawson: “I told him that it wasn’t required.”

Cullen: But the arrangement meant Morneau could potentially make decisions as finance minister that he himself might profit from. Since Morneau was following the rules the Prime Minister says the attacks are just mean.”

Nice paraphrasing that the “attacks” are “just mean.” No, the questions are more than legitimate. Finally a moment from question period.  Notice Cullen placing doubt with “could”, “potentially” and “likely” to minimize the accusations leveled against the finance minister, instead of citing some of the legislation he’s involved in that would affect his namesake’s company’s stock price.

Trudeau: “The gutter politics that the members opposite are involved in right now… I’m happy to talk about the behaviour of the Prime Minist– the finance minster.”

Cullen: “Morneau has asked to speak with the Ethics Commissioner again to see if there is anything else he can do to put a stop to this discussion.”

Fini. The National then did an eight minute report on the Rohingya massacre taking place in Burma/Myanmar (where I incidentally spent a month traveling last year) and then finished with another nine minutes on Downie. I was going to include the Morneau segment for the reader to judge for him/herself, but for some strange reason the CBC only cut the clips of Downie and the Rohngya feature into their own separate YouTube videos from last night’s episode. The latest Morneau story on the scandal is back from Monday, so apparently CBC’s The National is already trying to move on. CBC’s Aaron Wherry, who apparently left Twitter recently–likely from being mobbed by people disgusted with his one-sided puff pieces, is always good for an “analysis” that mitigates Liberal scandal.

Screenshot-2017-10-19 (63) The National - YouTube - YouTube

Skip to the 37:50 mark if you’d like to see it for yourself.

Finally, one more IMPORTANT thing. Most of the breaks of the online livestream were of boring old CBC footage, like Toronto in the 1980s, but the first break advertised for The National‘s Thursday panel that will be discussing Trudeau, asking viewers to leave comments on Facebook or the hashtag #askatissue with their questions for the panel on Trudeau. Readers should flood them with questions about their biased Trudeau coverage or their toughest questions about Trudeau, then I’ll see what questions they cherry-picked to discuss for tomorrow’s report. Perhaps it will be similarly hilarious as this Ontario Proud video ruining a Wynne press stunt.

 

 

2 thoughts on “What Was Wrong With CBC’s ‘The National’ Last Night (October 18, 2017)

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