What Was Wrong With ‘The National’ Sunday and Monday Night (October 22-23, 2017)

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.

So, lucky for me, The National doesn’t air on Saturdays. I’m trying to catch up with the previous nights’ episodes of the CBC’s flagship so I figured I’d do a doubleheader here.

First off, here were the time allotments for news stories on Sunday and Monday’s episodes of The National respectively.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQGOy8GVa-vLznLkkd1E_babwMeINRPa2AtmXTga7GZDwAae7aEVtX6ah8RnP_g_s777li5Ez9J5gX2/pubchart?oid=1208703580&format=interactive

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQnETa68TcbvLwzv4OwP7I1QlUi6MbKdjpaFAo0Hmz4Mo3Fv7lP99fjzhmU0PvwSq4gc__lP7UIkDsU/pubchart?oid=274361991&format=interactive

On Sunday’s program most of the stories were non-political and aren’t really worth mentioning here. However, the CBC has been reporting on the Fernie tragedy for the past several days and continued to do so on Sunday, even without any new developments and it’s more of a local tragedy. However, the Morneau scandal was building momentum all throughout last week, yet The National didn’t mention it in two of its broadcasts last week and downplayed and buried it two other nights. The Finance Minister was involved in legislation on pensions while holding at least a million shares in his family pension company Morneau Shepell, yet CBC thinks that this is an “unusual” scandal not worth reporting as it develops. Finally, the Quebec face-covering ban was reported on again with almost all the sources for the story being overwhelmingly against the ban (one lone supporter of the ban was included), despite the majority of the province being behind it. (That being said, as Paul Wells points out, the new law is likely to fail a court challenge.)

What is worth looking at on Sunday’s The National was The Insiders segment. The National‘s guest host Susan Ormiston started off the segment by saying, “Well Justin Trudeau’s Liberals campaigned on a lot of big promises and faced high expectations when they swept into office. Two years in, some of those promises remain unfulfilled, and for some momentum has slowed. But there are two years left in their mandate.

Really? No broken ones? Just some unfulfilled ones, eh? And another two years to get it done. If you want to see the real record you can go to Trudeau Meter, many promises have not been kept. Now, back to the spin show.

Ormiston then introduced The Insiders: (NDP strategist) Kathleen Monk (Conservative strategist) Jamie Watt and (Liberal strategist) David Herle in Toronto. First question was about how they’ve done with the middle class. They basically all said the same thing, the Liberals’ have a good economy (which doesn’t necessarily mean anything for the general public) and their tax breaks are helping. The whole thing was a bit of a snoozer and there was no mention of the Finance Minister. Most of the conversation was also positive for the PM. David Herle got the last word, “Justin Trudeau because of his name recognition around the world is the most important and influential Canadian prime minister globally in history. In all the big issues confronting the planet: climate change, migration of peoples, making globalization work. He’s perceived as the exemplar of small-l liberalism and the anti-Trump. This is an opportunity for Canada to exercise influence like it never has.”

That remains to be seen, but that sure is some obscene obsequiousness from Wynne’s campaign manager for the 2018 election.

After the break, Ormiston spent over ten minutes interviewing American conservative Andrew Sullivan about his hatred of Donald Trump. To be fair, Ormiston did do a good job of playing devil’s advocate. After that break, Ormiston spent another three-and-a-half minutes with Sullivan discussing pot. The rest of the show isn’t really worth mentioning, except the brief report on how Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale is asking his U.S. counterpart for help from the Americans in deterring people from illegally crossing into Canada. No mention was made of Trudeau’s virtue-signalling Tweets earlier in the year that has falsely advertised anyone can come to Canada, which I pointed out was reckless in a wildly popular CBC opinion piece–ironically enough–back at the time. (It was the top article for the day on CBC’s website and was shared over 18,000 times.) Suddenly The National didn’t want to include Trudeau in a report.

Now, moving on to Monday’s episode. Wendy Mesley was back at the helm. The show opened with a big scoop, “A boost to the Child Benefit Plan.” The other lead stories were the remains found on a farm in an area in B.C. where multiple women are missing, who gets to keep the ships of the doomed Franklin expedition and a feature story on a new northern highway.

Mesley: The government’s Canada Child Benefit has been touted as a Liberal success story and CBC has learned the government intends to double-down on that success. In tomorrow’s fall fiscal update the Finance Minister will announce plans to boost the benefit. David Cochrane broke the story for us and he joins us now from Ottawa.

So the PMO fed Cochrane this information so it could lead The National on Monday night. How disingenuous is it for CBC to claim Cochrane broke the story, when he was fed the story by the government. If the government has you as one of your favourites to feed stories to it’s probably because they like and trust you to give them favourable coverage. And boy was Finance Minister Bill Morneau in need of some good news. (The same quid pro quo happens in other jurisdictions between certain journalists and governments, but I’ll refrain from naming names.) What’s kind of funny is that National Post‘s John Ivison used to be a government favourite for leaking information to, but perhaps with the Post‘s waning influence the PMO has decided Cochrane and CBC are a better way to control the news cycle by leaking them the announcements now. Ivison doesn’t seem too happy with the government’s decision to snub him of “scoops” he can then “break.”

As one person in Ottawa told me:  “For the last couple of years Finance has fed “stories” to the Globe; Bill Currie, Steve Chase. These are basically day-before news releases. Now it’s the CBC, like David Cochrane’s excellent “scoop” yesterday about an announcement beefing up child benefit. He appears to be the number one stooge. Makes sense. Government isn’t subsidizing publishers but plumping up the CBC. Listen to Cochrane line by line for your National updates.

Yes, let’s listen to Cochrane line by line.

Cochrane: Well Wendy, what we’ve learned–CBC news has learned–that a boost to the Canada Child Benefit would be the centerpiece of a series of new spending measures aimed at helping working class and middle class Canadians that will be announced Tuesday as part of the fiscal update. Now the specific details of the boost won’t be rolled out until later in the week.

You don’t give the trained seal the fish right away you see. You dangle the fish throughout the week so they keep their eye on the prize instead of the scandal that has been plaguing you for a week.

Cochrane: It’s not clear at this point if it’s a straight bump in the size of the checks that parents get each month or whether this is a move to index these benefits to inflation a few years earlier than promised. But what is clear is this is a signature policy of this government, one that they are quite proud of, and on that people like the Governor of the Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz has praised as really helping to boost the economy, and also for giving a base level of income to families to help people, especially women, pay for things like child care or get a second car so they can transition back into the workforce. So expect the Liberals to seize on that message and also reinforce on this and the other measures that they are going to announce are designed to ensure that Canadians are sharing in the country’s solid economic performance.

Wait, I’m confused. Is the economy doing well because of the Canada Child Benefit and other government-borrowed money being poured into the economy or is the Canada Child Benefit et al. being given to Canadians because the economy is doing so well? When the Liberals run deficit budgets three-times what they promised and pour a lot of money into the economy by racking up the debt it’s not really fair to just report that the economy is doing well. A lot of our “solid economic performance” might have something to do with the boogeyman down South.  And also, if the economy were really doing so well why would the government need to step in to help the working and middle classes, and why would the Bank of Canada not want to raise such a low interest rate if the economy were so bullish? These are all complicated details though, easier to just parrot the talking points of your tight connection within the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) I guess.

Mesley: It’s been a very challenging few weeks for the government, Finance Minister in particular…

Even though CBC wasn’t particularly interested in the particulars of that story.

Mesley: …so David is this announcement enough to change track?

Cochrane: Well you know, no one needs a good news day quite as much as Bill Morneau…

And by God, we’re going to give it to him. Hell, why not a whole week’s worth!

Cochrane: …and he should have the chance to get that tomorrow. The fiscal update should be good news for him. The economy is up, jobs are up, revenue is up, the deficit is down.

Right, the deficit is down but still way higher than it was ever promised, so is that really an accomplishment Cochrane?

Cochrane: The challenge is the deficit isn’t gone and the fiscal update may not show exactly when it will disappear.

Increasing the Child Benefit Plan will surely make it grow, Cochrane.

Cochrane: …and boosting child benefits will cost at least several billion dollars. So this is something that the opposition, especially the Conservatives, will seize on. It’s been weeks of attacks over Morneau’s personal fortune, his villa in France, his big retreat on his controversial tax reforms, and you know to borrow a line from the Liberals…

I think you meant “to borrow another line from the Liberals.”

Cochrane: …there are governments with balanced budgets and those working hard to join them. We know the Liberals don’t fall into that first group, we’ll find out with the fiscal update whether they fit into that second group. If they do not, expect the opposition Conservatives to pounce if Bill Morneau does not balance the books while he’s got a hot economy.

Yeah, watch out for those nasty Conservatives attacking a government over breaking their promises on the amount of debt they would accumulate. And again, so hot the Bank of Canada won’t raise the interest rate?

I won’t bore you with too much details on the rest of the program. A story bashing President Trump for his dealing with an African American widow of a soldier that died in Niger recently got a couple minutes. I’ll be interested to see if the bombshells about Hillary Clinton’s campaign paying for the phony dossier or the uranium scandal involving Russia and a Canadian billionaire get any coverage. The remains found in B.C. were reported on again. Despite their being nothing new to really report, the CBC devoted nearly 13 minutes to it. Remember, CBC likes to report on the dead more than the living because you don’t have to speak ill of the dead. The CBC also spent an exorbitant amount of time on the Myanmar ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, spending nearly 13 minutes speaking to Trudeau’s special envoy and former Liberal leader Bob Rae. The Liberals and CBC both love to pretend Canada “exercises influence” that it never really has.And in regards to the conflict in Myanmar, it is only one of many massacres going on in the world, but CBC and the Liberals likes to latch onto one and make it their pet project, meanwhile largely ignoring the rest. This isn’t to say what is going on in Myanmar shouldn’t be reported, but the great amount of coverage devoted to it seems questionable with everything else going on domestically and globally. The National also included a short interview between Rosemary Barton and the new U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft. You could see the underlying contempt Barton has for Trump and policies throughout the short exchange.

For instance, Finance Minister Morneau’s scandal continues to blow up and on Friday he told off reporters. You would think that would get covered on Sunday or Monday? But no, The National has no interest in covering the developments of the scandal. We’ll see if that changes in another double-header of Tuesday and Wednesday’s The National episodes.

If you’re unhappy with CBC’s The National‘s coverage please click on the links below and put the thumb down. It takes only a moment, but if enough readers start getting in the habit of doing it we can let the CBC know our dissatisfaction with their product.

The National (October 22, 2017)

The National (October 23, 2017)

 

 
 

 

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