What Was Wrong With CBC’s ‘The National’ Sunday Night (October 29, 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.

As always, the time allotment for stories on Sunday’s The National first.

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CBC’s The National on Sunday was awestruck by The Amazing Kreskin gracing Ontario. The lead story for Sunday’s episode was about Bernie Sanders schmoozing Canadians, stroking our egos by telling us how great our health care system is. CBC loves this kind of story about social welfare being great, without ever questioning its drawbacks. Coincidentally, Josh Lieblein and I co-wrote a piece (which will hopefully be published any day now) last month on the benefits of the American private system compared to our socialist system that Bernie Sanders and his sidekick Dr. Danielle Martin constantly laud. It turns out Toronto Sun columnist Candice Malcolm beat us to the punch though, writing a piece for National Review back in April, which she brought to my attention yesterday on Twitter after Sanders claimed Canadians have a health care system that is apparently the envy of the world. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for our system and how it mostly works for those most in need, but let’s not act holier than thou towards Americans or assume our system would work as well in the U.S.)

Sadly, however, Canada’s health care system is falling behind the pack of socialized health care systems of the Western world.

Of course, none of the above stole any thunder from The National‘s mostly undeserved self-congratulatory lead report.

Host Susan Ormiston: Ask Canadians what differentiates this country from the U.S. and inevitably the conversation turns to health care. This weekend former U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was in Canada touring hospitals, asking questions, and today talking about our system to a packed house.

(Except it wasn’t a packed house.)

Lorenda Reddekopp: Bernie Sanders is still a hot ticket on campus. Popular with this crowd in Toronto, just as he was with U.S. students during his presidential run.

Sanders: Real change always happens from the bottom on up.

Reddekopp: He calls this visit a fact-finding mission to learn more about Canada’s health system. He toured three different hospitals, meeting patients fully covered by medicare, including one recovering from heart surgery.

Sanders: The issue that has got to be studied is how does it happen that here in Canada they provide quality health care to all people. And I don’t think there is any debate that they quality of care is as good or better than in the States.

(Tell that to the roughly 63,000 Canadians that headed down South last year to get treated.)

Sanders: And they do it for half the cost.

(Again, the U.S. subsidizes medical innovations for the rest of the world through its free market system. I have two family members in pharmaceuticals and they both cite America as the main driver for R&D because that is where drug companies will get rewarded for taking the incredible risk of pouring millions into such risky gambles. The rest of the Western world regulates drug prices so that companies cannot reap the profits, if America did this as well, drug innovation would likely grind to a halt. Furthermore, I’m curious what statistics Sanders is citing, and whether or not those numbers factor in the many Canadians spending their own money to get treated in the U.S., which would undoubtedly artificially lower the cost burden on the Canadian system.)

Reddekopp: Dr. Danielle Martin played tour guide for the senator and his team. She’s a found of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and a fierce proponent of public health care. Her back-and-forth with a U.S. senator in 2014 went viral, [replayed the video].

(Josh and I will be addressing some of Dr. Martin’s assertions in our soon-to-be-published piece.)

Reddekopp: Martin acknowledges the system has its flaws. Bernie Sanders wants to address some of them for his health care plan in the U.S. It includes free prescriptions, dental and eye care. Sanders ideas resonate with this audience. Premiere Kathleen Wynne introduced him. Her government is bringing in prescription drug coverage for everyone under 25.

Wynne: The senator encourages us to think bold. He pushes us to think about bold steps that we can take to build the kind of world that we want to live in.

Reddekopp: New federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was also there. Like Sanders he’ll also be pushing for prescription drugs to be fully funded by the government.

(Again, the CBC reports all of this as if it’s unquestionably a good thing and somehow affordable in a province in Ontario that is the most indebted sub-sovereign nation in North America. This is the fourth positive story for Wynne in the last week, despite the recent news from the Ontario Auditor General releasing a scathing report recently about the OLP blowing billions in additional interest payments in order to keep the Fair Hydro Plan off the so-called balanced budget. Going by CBC’s coverage, you’d never know how unprecedentedly unpopular the premier is in her own province, except for the brief mention of her being the least popular premier in the report on the Sudbury bribery trial being thrown out, which largely suggested Wynne is on the comeback trail and failed to mention the still ongoing mass email deletion trial involving two other Liberal operatives. I’m starting to get the distinct impression The National has a pro-Wynne bias. Ditto that for Rachel Notley.)

Reddekopp: But sometimes across the border the Canadian system is sometimes mocked.

Mike Pence: We don’t want the socialized health care they have in Canada. We want American solutions.

Donald Trump [back in a presidential debate agaisnt Hillary Clinton]: Did you ever notice the Canadians–when they need a big operation, when something happens–they come to the United States in many cases because their system is so slow, it’s catastrophic in certain ways.

(There’s actually a lot of truth to that, but the CBC viewer is supposed to infer that these two evil Republicans don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. A recurring theme in CBC coverage is Republicans are villainous and Democrats are do-gooders. It’s a pathetically simple-minded worldview.)

Reddekopp: President Trump got elected on a platform to get rid of what little medicare there is in the U.S. And that’s still the goal for his administration. So for all of Bernie Sanders’ popularity here in Toronto this weekend, his dream of fully-funded health care still seems unlikely in today’s political reality.

Well, Reddekopp either just completely lied or misstated Trump’s campaign promises to not cut American medicare, which is largely coverage for seniors in the U.S., and also his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with another universal health care system for all. He was the only Republican candidate to run on this, but most CBC reporters have an overly-simplistic view of Trump and Republicans and the American health care system that they just assume Trump is against universal health care coverage. This last bit of reporting was embarrassingly wrong.

The CBC then did another segment talking about Sanders taking constituents up to Canada to buy cheaper drugs here, completely missing the fact that those drugs creation had been subsidized by the American free market system, and would likely not exist otherwise. At least Ormiston finished this second report by admitting drug costs in Canada have “since risen to some of the highest in the world.”

Then the CBC moved on to one of its favourite stories, the ongoing opioid crisis. I know this is an important story, but there really isn’t any new development so it isn’t really news at this point. But again, the CBC likes to report on the dead more than the living because you don’t have to speak ill of the dead.

The National then did a report on the upcoming Robert Mueller charges in the Russian investigation, suggesting many Americans wouldn’t believe the charges because President Trump is dismissing them. However, the report failed to show that their are legitimate concerns about the Mueller’s connections to the Democrats and how previous investigations of Hillary Clinton and others were considered to have let her off the hook. Many investigations in U.S. are indeed partisan by nature. That’s not to say Americans shouldn’t necessarily take Mueller’s charges seriously, but the context of why Americans are wary of the special prosecutor and his perhaps selective targets is completely missing in CBC’s coverage. This report finally mentioned Hillary’s campaign paying for the phony dossier and her connection to the sale of uranium to Russia, but only in passing and as if to say they’re spurious accusations from Republicans trying to change the channel. It’s highly unlikely the CBC will dig into the dirt of the Democrats.

The next story worth mentioning was David Cochrane’s spinning of former prime minister Stephen Harper’s leaked memo blasting the Liberals handling of NAFTA. Somehow the thrust of the story became how this puts Conservative leader Andrew Scheer in a tough spot politically, instead of taking any look at what Harper’s specific criticisms of the Liberals’ NAFTA negotiating tactics. Instead they let Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland sole characterization of the memo as “capitulation”.

Jason Kenney’s monumental feat of winning the leadership of the UCP in Alberta only got a passing reference when The National mentioned he wants to run in a byelection. Kenney was able to win the leadership contest of the former Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, then merge the two conservative parties in Alberta, then win another leadership contest, but all The National gives the culmination of these politically historic moments in a resurgence of Canadian conservatism is a 25-second report on how Kenney wants to run in a byelection as soon as possible. Are you kidding me? Kenney’s win should’ve been top Canadian news. Instead it was buried midway through the show, and a socialist American politician showing up here somehow is the top story. The National devoted way more time on the anniversary of Premier Rachel Notley’s father dying in a plane crash just last week.

CBC’s The National then spent over ten minutes on both the opioid crisis, again, and Turkey devolving into a theocratic dictatorship. After that there was a two-and-a-half-minute report on Nunavut’s upcoming election. I’m pretty sure there were more voters in the UCP vote than the 35,944 citizens living in all of Nunavut, but of course never underestimate CBC’s ability to highlight the less relevant and completely overlook the relevant in its reporting to what matters to the average Canadian.

The National then did a recap of Sanders visit to close out the program. Basically CBC sees American socialists as good, so give them lots of coverage, but Canadian conservatives are bad, so only give them passing mention. CBC News even published on YouTube Bernie Sanders giving a 33-minute speech about “what the U.S. can learn from Canadian health care.”

If you’re sick of the CBC’s general biases and don’t feel the so-called public broadcaster is covering the stories that matter to everyday Canadians, make sure you click on the link below and give a thumb down. This week I’m also going to write the first letter of complaint to the CBC ombudsman for readers to jointly send.

The National (October 30, 2017)