My complaint filed with the CBC Ombudsman over Keith Boag’s Maxime Waters omission

CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin:

On June 26th, the CBC’s Washington Correspondent Keith Boag wrote an opinion piece on President Donald Trump’s press secretary being asked to leave a Lexington, Virginia restaurant titled “Sarah Sanders’s experience in the Red Hen becomes political bunfight” where he omitted pertinent information.

The omission occurs due to Boag’s last line:

Her defence of civility came just a couple of hours after her boss described Congresswoman Maxine Waters as “an extraordinarily low IQ person.”

This leaves readers with the impression that Trump was attacking Waters even though there were calls for civility from both political sides and that he was being a hypocrite for doing so. What Boag omits is that after the restaurant incident, Waters had encouraged people to harass Trump administration officials in public. It was widely reported in both the American and Canadian media and there is no way Boag could be unaware.

Context matters even in opinion pieces and Boag should immediately issue a correction with an attached CBC editor’s footnote explaining the initial omission.

Thank you
Dean Skoreyko

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CBC responds to my complaints filed with the CBC Ombudsman over coverage of Roxham Road border protests

Below is the response I received to the complaints I filed with the CBC Ombudsman which you can read here and here

Dear Mr. Skoreyko

As the person responsible for CBC News coverage in Quebec, Editor in Chief and General Manager Jennifer McGuire has asked me to address the concerns about our article titled “Far-right groups, counter-protesters rally over asylum seekers at Canada-U.S. border,” as outlined in your emails dated May 21, 2018. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so.

In your first email, you ask why the author ‘described the anti-illegal border crossing group as “far-right” while describing the pro-illegal border crossing group as “counter-protesters.”

The events of May 19 were initially organised by several groups that, according to the views expressed on their social media pages, oppose immigration in Canada and express anti-Muslim views, two of the main criteria for defining groups as “far-right.”

As we outline in our article, another group of people were also at the border that day: quite literally counter-protesters who gathered to express opposition to the protest organisers. This is why we refer to the group that way.

You’ll notice that in the article in question, the first quotes come from protesters who explain their points of view in their own words. The idea was to profile individuals who are protesting, and not the groups.

There is also a quote from a counter protester, and from a group who held an event earlier in the day and apart from the events at the border protests.

The journalist, Jonathan Montpetit, strives for a balanced view of how the events unfolded, and why.

You ask why our journalist identifies Jaggi Singh as an “activist”, and not as a member of the “far-left.” Jaggi Singh is a well-known activist who has spoken out for many causes, and has been allied with the far-left. There is nothing inaccurate about describing Singh as an activist. It is true, though, that he could have been identified as a far-left activist.

In the same vein, you ask “how can one side be “far-right” yet the other is not “far-left”. Again, in the article, Montpetit strives to quote individual protesters, and not group leaders and organisers. Some of the groups who appear at the counter-protest, though not all of them, have far-left views, as defined by the tactics they use in protest (wearing masks, vandalism of property, etc.) Undoubtedly some of the protesters at the demo organised by far-right groups were not members of those groups.

In your second email, you ask why the journalist “omitted mentioning in his story that a female journalist was repeatedly assaulted by pro-illegal border supporters even though it was clearly done in front of the media and police.” There was, as you’ve said, a confrontation between Faith Goldy and the counter-protesters. All journalism demands the selection of pertinent information. We are always making decisions around the details to include in a story, and in this case we didn’t include the confrontation because no charges were laid. We have since checked with Quebec’s police force, the Surete du Quebec, who say that based on the video, there is no evidence that would support assault charges.

In your second email, you also say that our journalist “gleefully mocked” Faith Goldy on Twitter.

While I respect your view, that is not a description I share. Jonathan Montpetit did tweet that the “highlight” of the demo was watching Goldy be “scolded by an SQ officer for using her cell phone while driving.”  And that is accurate. The SQ did warn Goldy not to use her phone while at the wheel. To describe the incident as the “highlight” of the afternoon was an obvious exaggeration intended to be understood as humour. While social media is an important, if informal way for journalists to communicate information, CBC’s same journalistic standards apply. And while the use of humour is not banned, when it is used, there is always a risk that it can be misunderstood. I have reminded Mr. Monpetit of that risk.

But you are wrong to assume Mr. Monpetit sent the tweet aware of what you described as the repeated assaults on Goldy. At the time he sent the tweet, he was not aware of the incident(s).

Finally, it is also my responsibility to tell you that if you are dissatisfied with this response, you may wish to submit the matter for review by the CBC Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman, an independent and impartial body reporting directly to the President, is responsible for evaluating program compliance with the CBC’s journalistic policies. The Ombudsman may be reached by mail at Box 500, Terminal A, Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6, or by fax at 416-205-2825 or by email ombudsman@cbc.ca.

Helen Evans
Managing Editor, CBC Quebec

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on CBC responds to my complaints filed with the CBC Ombudsman over coverage of Roxham Road border protests

My 2nd complaint filed with the CBC Ombudsman over coverage of Roxham Road border protests

CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin:

Further to my complaint on the report filed by Jonathan Montpetit titled “Far-right groups, counter-protesters rally over asylum seekers at Canada-U.S. border”, I would like an investigation done by the Ombudsman into why Montpetit omitted mentioning in his story that a female journalist was repeatedly assaulted by pro-illegal border supporters even though it was clearly done in front of the media and police in attendance as videos making the rounds on social media show.

And not only did Montpetit omit mentioning these assaults, he gleefully mocked the person (Faith Goldy) on Twitter afterwards of which I have a screen shot. Montpetit’s profile is Verifed by Twitter and directly linked to his employer, the CBC, which means he is representing the CBC on his Twitter account.

I would like to know what the CBC employment policy is for reporters intentionally omitting story details that would greatly influence their audience’s reaction and also the CBC’s social media policy for when a reporter uses it to mock a victim of an assault due to personal bias or dislike.

Thank you
Dean Skoreyko

My complaint filed with the CBC Ombudsman over coverage of Roxham Road border protests

CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin:

On May 19, CBC reporter Jonathan Montpetit filed a report titled “Far-right groups, counter-protesters rally over asylum seekers at Canada-U.S. border” in which he repeatedly described the anti-illegal border crossing group as “far-right” while describing the pro-illegal border crossing group as “counter-protesters”. By doing so Monpetit is associating one group politically while downplaying any political affiliations of the other even though one “counter-protester” named in the article (Jaggi Singh) is well-known for advancing extreme political causes. Montpetit just calls Singh an “activist”. How can one side be “far-right” yet the other is not “far-left”?

I would like an explanation of CBC’s policy in regard to labelling people or groups as “far-right” regardless of any known politically leanings and also an explanation why Monpetit singled out one group in his story for being politically associated while using non-political terms for the other.

Thank you
Dean Skoreyko

CBC responds to my complaint on panellist calling Lindsay Shepherd a “young crying white girl”

Below is the response I received to my complaint filed (see here) with the CBC Ombudsman

Dear Dean Skoreyko:

I am writing in reply to your e-mail of December 19, addressed to Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman, drawing our attention to what you see as a “racist term” used by a panelist on the December 17 edition of The Sunday Scrum on CBC News Network.

As an Executive Producer of CBC News Network, I am responsible for programming that day. Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News, has asked me to reply to you directly, which I am pleased to do.

Naturally, I regret you are disappointed in CBC, but your view here is not one I share, although I think the comment might have been more clearly expressed. Let me explain why I say that.

As part of our programming, CBC News Network includes segments such as The Sunday Scrum, which are specifically designed to include a range of views on the controversial stories and issues affecting Canadians.

On this edition were two regular contributors, Susan Riley, a veteran Ottawa writer and columnist, and John Ibbitson, a columnist at The Globe and Mail. Joining them on that edition was Vicky Mochama, the national columnist for Metro News.

The Sunday Scrum had a year-end theme that week – the “People of the Year” edition – and the panelists were asked for their views on a number of issues, including the stories they thought picked up too much coverage, and those given too little; people who dominated the headlines, and those who had an influence, but didn’t get the attention they should have.

In that last category, John Ibbitson led off the discussion by pointing to Lindsay Shepherd, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier University teaching assistant. It was a recording of her disciplinary hearing at the university that went viral, he said, and “exploded the whole issue of the debate within the social sciences and humanities on the right of freedom of expression versus the right of protection; the right to safe spaces; the right not to be subject to aggression”. “No matter where you are in the debate”, he added, “it was Ms. Shepherd and that tape that blew the entire issue open … for which she deserves great credit”.

Ms. Mochama said she disagreed. She said “I think a lot of people responded to her for the same reason they tend to respond to things because she’s a young crying white girl”. She went on to say that there were “lots of moments when [a conversation about] academic freedom could have been had and [they] have been skipped over serially”.

Yes, Ms. Mochama used a provocative phrase. But it was not “racist”, as you suggested. In fact, she was not even commenting on the substance of what has become a polarizing political debate. Rather, she was alleging that racism was a factor in the attention paid to Ms. Shepherd’s story – or more accurately, her treatment by the university. From Ms. Mochama’s perspective, similar issues on Canadian campuses have been raised by students of diverse backgrounds without receiving the kind of traction that Ms. Shepherd’s case did – and that was problematic.We expect commentators to be insightful, to express their views clearly, succinctly and, yes, sometimes provocatively, which Ms. Mochama did. In this instance her point would have been clearer had she offered more context in explanation. But it was not inherently racist or sexist.

Moreover, you wrote that Ms. Mochama “dismissed [Ms. Shepherd’s] fight for university freedom because she [said] she ‘leans hard right’ politically”.  After suggesting why she thought Ms.Shepherd got attention, Ms. Mochama went on to say that she thought Ms. Shepherd was also an “inappropriate person to launch this conversation because it turns out she leans hard right in some of her [choices]”. Once again, that is Ms. Mochama’s view. Others, including Mr. Ibbitson, appear to feel that she is an appropriate person.

I should also be clear that it is CBC’s mandate, part of its obligation under the federal Broadcasting Act, to carry different points of view on controversial matters such as this one. It is a concept that lies at the heart of the notion of fairness in journalism. Of course, not everyone will agree with all the views expressed, as you do not in this instance. I understand that. But it is the CBC’s responsibility to ensure that Canadians are given the opportunity and the information they need to make up their own minds.Thank you again for your email. I appreciate hearing your views, which I will consider in the
preparation and planning of future programs.

Sincerely,
Aubrey Silverberg
Executive Producer, Daily News
CBC News

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