Mission Statement for “What Was Wrong With The National”:
During the last federal election campaign, Justin Trudeau promised to give the CBC additional funding if he became PM. This clearly affected the CBC’s election coverage, where the so-called impartial public broadcaster actively promoted Trudeau as Harper’s replacement. After winning the election, Trudeau rewarded CBC for it’s assistance in the federal election by awarding the state broadcaster with an additional $675 million in early 2016 to be spread out until the end of 2021. This renewal of funding added to the annual $1.1 billion (it’s unclear if this is the true amount the CBC receives, some argue it’s closer to $1.5 billion) the federal government already gives the CBC courtesy of Canadian taxpayers. Trudeau’s gift to the CBC has been returned in kind. Who can forget Peter Mansbridge grossly fawning over Trudeau when he was sworn-in? Or when CBC did a special reality-TV-like special called “Face-to-Face with the PM” for Trudeau, which Hillary Clinton’s campaign wanted to emulate? Or when CBC let the PM do the opening monologue for it’s Canada 150 history special? But the CBC bias goes far beyond creating propaganda for Trudeau and the Liberals. The broadcaster is run by Canadian elites on both sides of the aisle, and for that reason, the broadcaster doesn’t have much teeth in going after high-profile Canadians abusing power in general, and usually ends up doing PR-style damage control for them instead. Exacerbating the situation is how CBC goes beyond its mandate of providing only what private broadcasters won’t, instead actively scavenging the Canadian media landscape, all with the unfair advantage of billions pouring in from Ottawa. To top it all off, with this massive financial advantage CBC is able to dominate the conversation and control the narrative in Canada. This needs to stop. That’s why I’ve begun deconstructing CBC’s flagship program, The National, which is emblematic of everything wrong with the CBC’s biased coverage. If you like what I’m doing, please make sure to share these posts on Facebook and Twitter. Eventually we’ll work on sending some polite but pointed letters to the CBC ombudsman for the most egregious coverage on The National, letting them know a large group of Canadians are not pleased with the so-called public broadcaster.
Here’s another double-header deconstruction of CBC’s The National‘s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday’s episodes.
First, here is the time allotment for stories on those two nights.
Before I begin, I’d first like to highlight what coverage has been most fascinating from my critiquing of The National thus far. It amazes me how little coverage has been given to Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s scandalous conflicts of interest that have been pouring out in the last week. The media had been left under the impression for years that Morneau had put his vast fortune in a blind trust when he became Finance Minister. He suggested as much in a CBC interview back in 2015 and also led employees at his family company Morneau Shepell into believing the same thing. But then it turned out he still owned millions of shares, using an ethics loophole to avoid putting his assets into a blind trust. This revelation was especially ironic because Morneau is in the middle of cracking down on small businesses for so-called “tax loopholes”, yet the loopholes for the extravagantly wealthy like himself and the PM are being left untouched and being taken advantage of in full. On top of this, it turns out that Morneau has most likely worked on pension legislation that positively affected his shares in his family business, pension company Morneau Shepell. Adding to this absurd conflicts of interest, Morneau’s proposed tax changes would also likely benefit Morneau Shepell and his millions of shares. And it doesn’t end there, Morneau Shepell also has many contracts with the government. And then there is the tone-deaf response from Morneau to the feeding frenzy over these egregious conflicts of interest. He’s tried to pretend like everything was above board and told reporters off. Yet, as you’ll see by The National‘s coverage, there is no appetite by these so-called journalists in an extremely newsworthy story. Instead, it’s an “unusual scandal” or “stir” because he followed the letter of the law. (I’ll address the latest developments from Thursday, including Morneau announcing he’ll donate the profits from his shares to charity and his inability to admit he did anything wrong in the next post.)
With all that in mind, let’s see what was wrong with CBC’s The National‘s coverage Tuesday night:
- The opening of the show led with Quebec’s face-covering law yet again, only showing one side of the debate.
- CBC continues to do damage control for the Finance Minister by leading with Morneau’s fall fiscal update. Mesley said at the beginning of the program, “The government announces a windfall and parents of young children will benefit.” It’s not really a windfall if you have added revenue coming in but are still spending billions more than you take in overall.
- The story on two Ontario Liberals being acquitted on charges of bribery portrayed Wynne as being exonerated and a “huge weight” lifted off her back. The story made it appear as if the bribery trial is a main reason why she is historically unpopular (the report mentioned she’s the most unpopular premier in Canada, not her record low approval ratings). The report also trumpeted Wynne’s new minimum wage and other social welfare spending, spending the province can’t really afford.
- The CBC’s deeper look into the context of Quebec’s face-covering law apparently is “prompting accusations of racism outside Quebec.” Whenever the CBC believes in something if just says what it believes as if it’s generally thought by everyone. Also, not sure how this is a racist bill. If someone cannot be idetntified by public officials that’s a problem, it has nothing do with one’s race. Mesley would then repeat the charge, saying many people are saying this is racist.
- The CBC decided to do a feature on hospice patients in their last days of life that lasted a whopping 17 minutes and 45 seconds. It’s inexplicable why this is news, but remember, the CBC likes stories about the dead and the dying, you don’t speak ill of them.
Finally, CBC’s coverage of Finance Minister Bill Morneau is worth going over in detail. The fall fiscal update started off with Mesley saying, “…and to some, it’s a crowd-pleaser. As we first reported last night, the Finance Minister announced a boost to the Canada Child Benefit, as well as help for the working poor and shrinking federal deficits. All thanks to a windfall in unexpected growth. David Cochrane has the details from Ottawa.”
[Scene change to Morneau receiving roaring applause from his fellow Liberal MPs in the House of Commons]
Cochrane: The Finance Minister hasn’t had a day like this in a while. A chance to talk about the country’s finances instead of his own.
Morneau: I came to office knowing growing the middle class is how we grow the economy. Today, we’re doubling down on that strategy becuase it’s a strategy that’s working.
Cochrane: Morneau announced billions in new spending to enrich old programs. Pumping up Canada CHild Benefit checks that parents get every month by indexing them to the cost of living. He also boosted a tax benefit to help low-income workers.
Morneau: When Canadians succeed, they grow our economy, they create jobs, and together we build a better future.
[Scene changes to cute kid playing with a pumpkin]
(I’m starting to see why Cochrane is the PMO’s (Prime Minister’s Office) favourite parrot to give government “leaks”. The deficits better be shrinking, they’re already three-times what they were supposed to be, and reducing from those high levels is no feat worth mentioning. As for the supposed windfall, that is largely because the government is stimulating the economy by pouring billions into it while racking up debt. Another thing not to be proud of.)
Cochrane: Morneau argues that programs like the Child Benefit are driving economic growth by putting money in the hands of people who need it and will spend it. As proof, he says, growth and jobs are up while the deficit is down by more than $8 billion, but it’s not gone.
(Why not say how much it’s at still, Cochrane?)
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre: There’s literally not a single year into the distant future when this government–ever–projects eliminating the deficit.
Cochrane: Morneau is projecting that the federal deficit will shrink, but it never gets to zero.
(Finally a graph shows this year’s $19.9 billion deficit.)
Cochrane: Instead he is planning to borrow money for the new spending.
Former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page: Where’s the risk? I think the risk that inflation will be higher, the risk that interest rates will be higher. You know and the risk the government will be able to control program spending growth.
(Finally, some belated truth.)
NDP MP Guy Caron: So it’s obviously a way for the Liberal government to deflect attention away from the problems the minister is experiencing right now.
Cochrane: Today may not deflect from the problems Morneau has had over how he’s handled his personal fortune, but tomorrow he is set to meet with the Ethics Commissioner and seek advice on how to sell his assets and setup his blind trust and trying to put all of this behind him. David Cochrane, CBC News, Ottawa.
Wendy Mesley [back in studio]: Today’s update was a chance for Bill Morneau to change the channel. The Finance Minister has been at the center of a conflict-of-interest controversy. Chris Hall joins me now. So these updates–they’re always political–but this one in particular, tell us about that.
Hall: Well that’s right. The Liberals have really been off message in recent weeks. Whether it was Morneau’s continued ownership of millions of shares in his family company or a plan to tax employee discounts, they were looking anything but like a party of the middle class.
(So CBC just assumes because Trudeau says it endlessly that the Liberals are actually a party of the middle class?)
Hall: And that was the political imperative of today. To remind middle class voters that the Liberals are still on their side. To credit some of the measures, like the Canada Child Benefit and the Working Income Benefit for the great growth in the economy in the past two years. And that was the entire purpose here, to try and remind those middle class voters that they will be better off, that they can look into their pockets and see more money. And they’re betting that they’re more concerned about that then, for example, the size of the deficit.
(Reiterating the Liberals’ talking points just like Cochrane did.)
Mesley: So, will the tactic work?
(Looks like it, already working on you guys. Although you’re complicit in changing the channel.)
Hall: Well it’s an interesting question. It didn’t work in Question Period. The opposition was still asking Bill Morneau about his perceived conflict of interest.
(“Perceived,” right. Because the Finance Minister not recusing himself from working on pension legislation while still holding on to millions of shares in Morneau Shepell, all while convincing the media he’d put his assets into a blind trust, was not a conflict of interest at all.)
Hall: And there are a lot of risks here with this political reward that they are trying to get. first is, the NAFTA talks are not going well, so economic growth is not guaranteed in the future. And there’s also the concern with consumer debt at almost historic highs there is not a lot of wiggle room for Bill Morneau to have here if it doesn’t go as he plans. Again, the betting, though, politically, is that out there in the real world where Canadians are far more concerned about their own economic well-being and far less concerned with any appearance of conflict of interest here in Ottawa.
Pfffffft. CBC couldn’t stop talking over Mike Duffy for over a year, over $90,000 in phony housing allowances claimed. But now when a sitting Finance makes millions off of decisions he makes as a legislator through his private assets is just an appearance of conflict of interest. Just like Cochrane would probably deny any appearance of conflict of interest between him and the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) in him getting the leaks first.
Now, moving on to Wednesday’s episode.
- CBC led with new census numbers released that day. The main story from the census was the increase in people identifying as aboriginal. “A growth spurt that is largely due to growing pride,” claimed Susan Ormiston. I don’t know how she came up with that theory, but as the following report pointed out, the Indigenous community in Canada has a much higher birth rate and more people decided to claim Indian status. The latter reason may be more out of self-interest in getting the benefits of Indian status, like government settlements and tax exemption, than necessarily out of pride. But CBC won’t let that get in the way of their own unfounded narrative.
The only other story worth mentioning is the long feature on the Russian Magnitsky story. This was actually a fascinating feature, and I highly recommend readers watch it. However, this story is old news, and it is very strange, but also telling, that The National has made no mention of new stories about how Hillary and Bill Clinton are linked to a Russian uranium deal involving Canadian mining companies, as well as friend and Clinton Foundation partner Canadian Billionaire Frank Giustra. The Clintons have long been beneficiaries of millions from Canada’s corporate elite, so perhaps that’s why the latest two investigations opened by House Republicans got no coverage by The National. And there was also the bombshell story from the Washington Post revealing Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for the fake Russian dossier on Trump that led to the FBI investigating his campaign during the election, suggesting possible collusion between Clinton, Obama, the FBI and Russia. Better to report on the murdered than the possibly corrupt living, unless it’s President Trump that is. Don’t get me wrong, by all means report on the antics of Trump, but this turning a blind eye by CBC’s The National to Democrats’ corruption is mind-boggling.
If you’re bothered by The National‘s coverage, please click on the links below and give them both a thumb down.