CBC television degrades itself

When I was growing up CBC television was the gold standard of Canadian journalism: professional, balanced, tolerant, intelligent discourse. When I first began appearing on CBC radio as a young lawyer discussing constitutional issues of our Charter of Rights I was proud to be part of the discussion. Later when I co-founded our present money management firm I was asked to do recurring segments on the CBC business news with Fred Langan talking about market news and how it impacted real life people. I was happy to contribute to a news program which had long been respected in the tradition of the BBC and PBS. That was then.

A few years ago the CBC, began gasping for ad dollars as the Canadian government pulled back funding. Suddenly the focus of CBC was no longer about professional journalism, the focus shifted to grabbing eyeballs from anywhere. I had several conversations about this new dynamic with some of the producers there at the time who I respected. All of them knew that the changes to their funding would change their journalism a lot, and for the worse. Bringing in Kevin O’Leary from BNN to lead the new business focus was a sad day for CBC.

I have met Kevin a couple of times. I know people who know the facts, rather than the PR spin about his business background. I appeared with him on a panel in Toronto in the fall of 2010 as he was promoting his new mutual fund company and firing off glib comments to an investor audience about why they should be happy that corporations are paying CEO’s 300 times the average worker as this was necessary to attract the best talent. When I pointed out those were the high paid CEO’s that had driven the world economy into the ditch over the past decade he became visibly heated. The exchange went on for about 30 minutes with O’Leary throwing out sound bite comments which were easy to refute with facts and grade-school commonsense. The feedback from audience members was that I made O’Leary look bad and that he did not like me. I replied that I did not make O’Leary look anything, his own comments spoke for himself.

I only appeared on the Lang and O’Leary show once after that panel. Kevin did not speak to me. Recently CBC has come under broad-based backlash regarding an embarrassing exchange that took place between Chris Hedges, a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who was explaining why he sympathizes with the protesters camped on Wall Street. O’Leary tore into Hedges, whom he misidentified as a protest organizer, and denigrated the protesters with oft-repeated criticism that they’re unfocused and leaderless. “You sound like a left-wing nutbar,” O’Leary tells Hedges.

It’s a new low for the ongoing degradation of the CBC’s once respected institution.

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12 Responses to CBC television degrades itself

  1. Christian Haikala says:

    I agree with you completely. Having Kevin O’Leary co-host The Lang & O’Leary Exchange is an embarassment to CBC also and thus I stopped watching it long time ago.

  2. John says:

    If is an embarassment to Canadians.
    And where did Mark Carney work before the Bank of Canada?

  3. CLASSIC! “…It will the last time.”

  4. supa says:

    CBC has so much advertising now I can’t watch it anymore. CBC is at an all time low. I would love to see you debate Mr. Sound-byte!

  5. Barry Pither says:

    Kevin O’Leary’s self indulgence masks very poor fund performance for the “investor”. And he is especially ridiculous when attempting to pigeonhole the very brilliant Chris Hedges.

  6. michael says:

    O’Learly is entertainment…..nothing more…..acidic, mean spirited and often cruel but placed there because that is unfortunately what sells. Like Nancy Grace or Ann Coulter or Bill O’Reilly the more inflamatory the rhetoric the better the ratings….do you really think they actually believe half the crap they pedal? Seems the public has an addiction, a junkie’s appetite for the crap they have been programmed to need.

    As, the heavily subsidized, “public broadcaster” the CBC has clearly lost it’s way.

    Now that Harper has his majority perhaps he will do the right thing, cut the funding and finally put it out of our misery.

  7. Jack from Surrey says:

    Ha ha. So true. I have to admit, I enjoy Mr. O’leary for what he is…and that’s superficially entertaining, especially on Dragon’s Den. But, I am not that naive and realise that the show itself is heavily over-produced. Who in their right mind would need to go to those guys to pitch a great business idea when they can go to any bank, get the funding and marketing expertise if their business proposal is viable. I get that the exposure on national television would most likely be the primary reason for getting on that show.

    Hearing you speak and reading your blog makes it very obvious that this man is intellectually inferior to yourself when it comes to market analysis. I’d pay to watch the debate 🙂

  8. Robert says:

    Statist politicians drove the economy into the ditch not the high paid CEO’s. The US is increasingly operating under a Mussolini style of marxo-fascism in which the government centrally directs the large corportations. This has been going on for close to seventy years. It may be that corportations held undue power and influence in running the government previously but now we have the political commissars running the corporations. If you have the time, listen to this Martin Armstrong interview on the economic illiteracy and ignorance of politicians and a very good explanation of current and future affairs.

  9. peter says:

    Au contraire, I believe that some CEOs of multinationals and financial institutions (let’s call them “oligarchs” for short) are “directing” (lobbying) leaders at all levels using the leverage of the their funding of political campaigns. They have been buying their services! In many countries, we would say that this is corruption. The oligarchs have also learn to control the judicial branches (supreme courts appointee from the very people that are corrupt). . If you can create laws that your company to make more money (by legalizing) then you can de-regulate to the point where labour rights can be minimize to drive up profits, you can avoid paying taxes to gain competitive advntages,… It is not necessary to be a genius, creating a new process, a new stule of management. No! The merchant-class (especially the too big-to-fail type) has corrupted the political and the judicial sides of government. The neo-liberals, Free trade supporters have freed capitalism from government oversight. At this time, the only saving grace is the media that relies on sensational stories of all kinds. Outrageous financial events where people “rob” or organizations “steal” is good business and, sadly, there is likely going to be a lot of those in the near future, although the de-regulation conditions that the oligarchs are trying to create is going to be much tougher to sell as a result. Let’s not forget the baby boomers’s factor too here. BB were sort of lucky to live at the time where women came on the labour market (lowering or stabilizing wages for men) earning in fact the depreciated wages of their husband, but this benefited the oligarchs’ companies that the BB buy shares of to secure their retirement! Now, that’s a vicious circle! Have we been corrupted by the oligarchs too?

  10. Yvon says:

    Criticize CBC all you want, but its money has to come from somewhere. The BBC has a special tax in the UK to fund it, and PBS receives huge amounts from private donors. If the federal government is going to keep cutting its grant, then the CBC has to go with cheaper programming like panel shows, and attract viewers so that advertisers pay.

    If you haven’t contacted your elected officials to ask them to stop cutting CBC, then complaining on a message board that CBC is not as good as it once was is really pointless.

  11. mark malden says:

    Kevin O’Leary is entertainment and it sells very well. I think even he would very readily admit it, and be proud of it. Unfortunately the CBC have chosen to present him as a seriously successful businessman and therein lies the problem.

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