CBC Ombudsman’s Response to My Complaint Letter

On November 10, I wrote an open letter to the CBC ombudsman asking why CBC chose to completely ignore the bombshell story about the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign allegedly rigging the Democratic National Committee nomination process against Senator Bernie Sanders. CBC has covered Clinton’s book tour and did a report on how she warned a Canadian audience that democracy is under attack. Now that it has been revealed Clinton herself might be one of the assailants of America’s democracy, you would think CBC would find it newsworthy enough to cover.

Below is the response I received from the CBC Ombudsman on November 14.

Dear Mr. Gordon:

CBC’s Office of the Ombudsman is independent of CBC News management and thus has no say in day-to-day decision-making about which stories are covered. The CBC Ombudsman has a mandate to determine whether information content the CBC has produced fully respects CBC’s journalism policy. However, I have shared your email with Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News, so that she will be aware of your concerns.

Sincerely,

Esther Enkin

General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News Jennifer McGuire was Cc’d in the email so I sent a response the same day to both parties.

Thank you for the quick response and explanation of the ombudsman‘s role, Esther. Also appreciate you getting back to me despite others first submitting my complaint to you on my behalf, which I realized afterwards, when I read your policy, means you wouldn’t have to respond to my duplicate complaint. 
I look forward to hearing from you as well, Jennifer. I think it is a fair question I have raised.
Regards,
Graeme Gordon

 

Upon sending my response I received an automatic reply from McGuire’s email address saying she’d be away from the office until Nov. 20. Per the CBC Ombudsman’s complaint review process:

6. If your complaint warrants a response from CBC management, the Ombudsman forwards it to the appropriate news manager or program executive, who is responsible for handling the initial response to your complaint, in consultation with the journalist or programmer.
7. News and Current Affairs programmers have 20 business days to respond to your complaint. The Ombudsman may also intervene when the programmers faiI to respond to a complaint within a reasonable time.

Although my complaint was not considered under the realm of the ombudsman, thus unlikely falling under the Complaint Review Process, and it still hasn’t been 20 business days since my complaint was forwarded, I still expect an explanation from the Editor in Chief of CBC News as to why there was zero coverage on this important story. Below is another letter I have just sent McGuire (with Enkin Cc’d).

Dear Ms. McGuire,

I am writing a follow-up letter because I am unsure if my complaint will still be considered under the formal Complaint Review Process. My complaint was forwarded to you, but the initial response from Ms. Enkin says it was only so you would be “aware” of my concerns.

If my complaint has not been filed under the Complaint Review Process, should I still expect an explanation from you within 20 business days as to why CBC News thought allegations — from top Democrats no less — that Hillary Clinton rigged the DNC primaries were not important enough to report or cover? I am far from the only one flummoxed by this editorial oversight or conscious choice, and I think an answer from Canada’s public broadcaster is most definitely warranted in this case.

Thank you for your time in this matter and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Graeme Gordon

I will update the reader when I hear a response or after the 20 business days have passed. Below is the initial open letter to the CBC Ombudsman I published on Nov. 10.

Dear CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin,

Last week a sensational story broke. Former Interim National Democratic Committee Chairperson and high-profile Democrat Donna Brazile wrote an explosive piece for Politico claiming Hillary Clinton rigged the DNC against Bernie Sanders that was published on Nov. 2.

In the article, Brazile claims Clinton “resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet”; “Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt [of the DNC]”; the chief financial officer of Clinton’s campaign Gary Gensler “described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp”; “the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse”; and the DNC signed an agreement with Clinton’s camp that would essentially give Hillary “control [over] the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.”

These explosive claims from a high-profile Democrat should’ve been more than enough for the CBC News Network to find this worthy of an in-depth report. On top of this, further adding to the newsworthiness of this story, high-profile Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren would back up Brazile’s incredible claim that the DNC nomination process being rigged–before eventually walking her on-air statement back.

Despite all of these incredible claims, I have yet to see the CBC News Network publish anything covering this story. I have been watching The National nightly up until Nov. 6 and have not seen it reported once. In that same time period CBC’s flagship news program has spent many minutes on U.S. news, including a feature story last Friday on L.A. gentrification–a story that surely could’ve been pushed back for this far more newsworthy and pressing story. I also did a search of “Hillary Clinton” on the CBC News Network’s website and found no reports on these allegations against Hillary Clinton. However, I did notice extensive and largely positive coverage of Hillary Clinton on her book tour and other visits to Canada. Unless there were reports on CBC’s daily news broadcasts or on CBC radio, there appears to be zero reporting on this story by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

One invalid excuse I could see CBC citing–as to why it appears to have completely omitted the story–is that Brazile’s accusations were resoundingly dismissed as spurious by pro-Clinton news outlets and journalists spreading misinformation, supposedly discrediting Brazile and her claims. But ace reporter Glenn Greenwald debunked that bogus reporting. Furthermore, the attempted discrediting of Brazile took time and CBC should’ve reported it in the interim period. Finally, again, Warren initially backing Brazile’s claims made this bombshell story all the more newsworthy.

CBC has long been accused of having a pro-Democrat bias, and all of the above seems to reinforce this claim. Yes, President Trump’s daily antics deserve to get the lion’s share of CBC’s U.S. political coverage these days, but a former presidential nominee–who CBC reported warned Canada “democracy is under attack” back in September–being accused of rigging the democratic process within her own party certainly deserves significant coverage from Canadians’ public news network. I and many Canadians across the country would very much appreciate an answer as to why CBC News Network employees found this story merited no coverage (or very little coverage). We eagerly await your response.

Sincerely from a concerned Canadian citizen,

Graeme Gordon