• By: Dan Donovan

CBC’s Editorial Cleansing of Hamas is The Last Straw

— It’s Time to Defund Them

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) sent an email to its editorial staff and reporters this past weekend that was delivered by George Achi, CBC’s Director of Journalistic Standards and Practices and Public Trust. It stated, “Do not refer to militants, soldiers, or anyone else as ‘terrorists.’ The notion of terrorism remains heavily politicized and is part of the story.”

Achi then warned journalists to be careful when quoting politicians who are calling Hamas terrorists. “Even when quoting/clipping a government or a source referring to fighters as ‘terrorists,’ we should add context to ensure the audience understands this is an opinion, not fact. That includes statements from the Canadian government and Canadian politicians,” Achi said.

In doing so, CBC openly showed that they have completely lost the ability to provide credible and reliable news coverage that Canadians can trust and, worse, have betrayed the public trust in the crassest way.

Canada designated Hamas as a terrorist organization in 2002, and they have remained so under successive governments, including the Trudeau government. On the weekend, Hamas terrorists attacked and murdered over 900 innocent people and injured over 2,000 and counting. The murders were heinous, brutal, and included Canadians. The killings led to a declaration of war by Israel that will lead to many more deaths and much destruction.

Yet, in this brutal moment, CBC’s standards director and his ideologically driven colleagues chose to ignore objective truth and Canadian laws that clearly state that Hamas is a terrorist entity. Instead, they chose to pander to Hamas and give them a crucible of credibility on the Canadian taxpayers’ dime by referring to these murderous thugs as ‘militants’ in all their broadcasts.

Achi and his colleagues will try to dress this shameful decision up in a rationale that talks about the complexities involved in labelling groups like Hamas as terrorists. The problem for him and his ilk is that our country, government, and Parliament designated Hamas a terrorist organization twenty-one years ago. That should have been their North Star on this matter. As journalists, they are required to operate at a standard called objective truth. Instead, they chose to inject their own twisted and bent ideology and personal views into this horrendous story.

To understand the real agenda of Achi and others at the CBC, it is important to understand the nuanced distinctions between ‘militants’ and ‘terrorists’ in the context of news reporting. The term ‘militants’ is often used to describe individuals or groups engaged in armed conflict, resistance, or armed struggle. It is a relatively neutral term that does not inherently convey a negative or positive judgment. On the other hand, “terrorists” is a term that carries a strong negative connotation. It is used to describe individuals or groups that intentionally engage in violence, often targeting civilians, to create fear and intimidate populations or governments for political, ideological, or religious purposes.

By ordering their journalists to use the term ‘militants’ for Hamas, especially on the weekend when the group attacked and slaughtered hundreds of innocent people, Achi and the CBC have deliberately made a value judgment about Hamas that is not based on objective truth. For whatever reason, they decided to ignore the violent history of Hamas, its designation as a terror group by Canada, Israel, the United States, the EU, United Kingdom (Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades), Australia, Egypt (Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades), Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and many other countries.

In recent years, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has found itself at the centre of a heated debate over its funding. A growing number of Canadians, including the Official Opposition Conservative Party, are calling for its defunding because of farcical decisions like the one regarding how to describe Hamas. Their word soup decision to unilaterally declare Hamas as ‘militants’ instead of ‘terrorists’ is a gift to people calling for defunding.

One of the primary arguments for defunding the CBC is the longstanding and growing perception of political bias in its reporting. Critics argue that the CBC tends to lean left in its coverage, potentially influencing public opinion and undermining its commitment to impartial journalism. The Hamas ‘descriptive’ absurdity follows CBC’s mishandling of the 2019 federal election, where many credible observers alleged biased coverage by CBC reporters. Incredulously, The CBC launched a lawsuit against the Conservative Party of Canada in the final days of that federal election, accusing the party of copyright infringement for using the broadcaster’s footage in an online ad and tweets. CBC’s Rosemary Barton — then co-host of The National — and parliamentary bureau reporter John Paul Tasker were the applicants in the filing, along with the CBC.

In his written decision, Federal Court Justice Michael Phelan found that the use of such material fell under “fair dealing,” and there was “no objective evidence of the likelihood of any reputational damage” to the CBC. “There was no evidence presented that a broadcaster’s segment disclosed in a partisan setting reflected adversely on the broadcaster,” Phelan wrote.

The real question after the terse and rather blunt decision by the court was about the judgment of CBC executives (including the president) and the CBC legal counsel who somehow deemed it appropriate to use taxpayers’ dollars to frivolously sue the Official Opposition in Canada during an election. They did so knowing it would cost millions in court fees paid for by taxpayers via the CBC budget, which they had to pay when they lost. Well . . . the taxpayers paid them, but I digress.

The poor judgement at CBC management was on display again last spring when CBC  falsely alleged and then reported that someone in Premier Danielle Smith’s office emailed Crown prosecutors to question and challenge the handling of cases involving COVID-19 protests in Alberta that blocked traffic at a U.S. border crossing for more than two weeks. The damning story came prior to a highly controversial election in  Alberta. CBC only apologized after the election, under the threat of a defamation lawsuit by Premier Smith.

Besides this charade, critics have pointed to the increased taxpayer funding CBC has received under the Trudeau government, which currently stands at $1.4 billion annually. This largesse provides CBC with an unfair advantage over private media companies in Canada and has hindered fair competition and limited the growth of independent media outlets in Canada.  Despite the $ 1.4 billion annual subsidy, the CBC has been allowed to chase advertising dollars in digital news, competing directly with privately-owned news websites and apps.

All this comes on top of cost overruns and mismanagement at the CBC, including poor stewardship of public funds, exceptionally high salaries for CBC executives and managers, and overspending on projects like the CBC’s new headquarters in Montreal, which far exceeded its initial budget. An ongoing problem at CBC has been a serious lack of transparency in how public funds are allocated and used.

The calls for defunding the CBC continue to grow and persist due to concerns about political bias, competition with private media, cost management, changing media consumption habits and collapsing ratings as viewers turn away from their coverage in droves. Canadians will have to grapple with the balance between preserving a once cherished cultural institution and addressing legitimate concerns about its role, its leadership, the continuing decline in its editorial credibility, and funding in the 21st-century media landscape.

The depraved decision by CBC editorial executives this weekend to extend what appears to be an olive branch to Hamas may mark a significant tipping point. CBC will eventually need to account for their decision as to why they deliberately chose to describe murderers responsible for the deaths of more than 800 people, including women and children, as ‘militants’ on Canada’s publicly funded broadcasting platform.

Their perplexing attempt to cleanse a designated terrorist group and give them credibility is one that won’t go unanswered. Defunding them is now clearly on the horizon.

Photos: via cbc.ca/montage by OLM Staff