Cruikshank apologizes for Mallick column, recognizes CBC’s left-wing editorial bias

A mea culpa from CBC News publisher John Cruikshank concerning this column by Heather Mallick published on the CBC website.

In the column, Mallick calls American voters “white trash”, Republican men “sexual inadequates” and Sarah Palin a “hillbilly” among other slurs.

Here is Cruikshank’s letter (emphasis mine):

More than 300 people have taken the trouble this month to complain to the CBC ombudsman about a column we ran on CBCNews.ca about Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Sept. 5.

The column, by award-winning freelance writer Heather Mallick, was also pilloried by the National Post in Canada and by Fox News in the U.S. Despite its age — it is three weeks old, several lifetimes in web years — this posting remains a subject of fascination in the blogosphere.

Vince Carlin, the CBC ombudsman, has now issued his assessment of the Mallick column. He doesn’t fault her for riling readers by either the caustic nature of her tone or the polarizing nature of her opinion.

But he objects that many of her most savage assertions lack a basis in fact. And he is certainly correct.

Mallick’s column is a classic piece of political invective. It is viciously personal, grossly hyperbolic and intensely partisan.

And because it is all those things, this column should not have appeared on the CBCNews.ca site.

Healthy restraint
On the whole, the CBC News policy handbook takes a very anxious view of any mixing of opinion in with the news business. It sees the two as nitro and glycerin, innocuous on their own but explosive together. This is a very healthy restraint for a public broadcaster.

But every news organization needs to have an opinion dimension. Access to different viewpoints helps readers, listeners and viewers make reasoned choices, especially during an election campaign.

As a public broadcaster we have an added responsibility to provide an array of opinions and voices to complement our journalism. But we must do so carefully. And you should be able to trust us to provide you with work that’s based on solid reporting and free from the passionate excesses of partisanship.

We failed you in this case. And as a result we have put new editing procedures in place to ensure that in the future, work that is not appropriate for our platforms, will not appear. We are open to contentious reasoned argument but not to partisan attack. It’s a fine line.

Ombudsman Carlin makes another significant observation in his response to complainants: when it does choose to print opinion, CBCNews.ca displays a very narrow range on its pages.

In this, Carlin is also correct.

This, too, is being immediately addressed. CBCNews.ca will soon expand the diversity of voices and opinions and be home to a diverse group of writers with many perspectives. In this, we will better reflect the depth and texture of this country.

We erred in our editorial judgment. You told us in no uncertain terms. And we have learned from it.

Here was CBC ombudsman Vince Carlin’s assessment of the complaints that followed Mallick’s column,

Comments

comments

  • Liz J

    Speaking of Nanos, Pollsters should quit daily polling and should be banned from polling the last week before the election. They're getting far too much air time. All the “experts” are coming out talking about what strategies are needed for the Liberals and NDP, they're constantly fixated around the polls and how to prevent a Conservative Majority, never a mention of what is best for the country at this time. It's certainly not best to have a Minority and return to the bickering, threats to bring down the government and playing gotcha games.

  • East of Eden

    A preacher preaches to a small audience within four walls and a specific faith community. The CBC is broadcast from coast to coast and is financed by people like myself. But you knew that. Anon, you are just trying to stir up trouble. As I said, you have some deeply-seated issues with sex and religion. This blog is not the place for you to deal with those issues.

  • East of Eden

    His arguments are extremely juvenile. His ENTIRE life, women have discussed their boring sex lives with him, he actively questioned women about their sex lives…I wonder how many harassments suits have been filed against him. What kind of a guy goes actively pursuing answers from women about their sex lives? Oh boy, we are either dealing with a pubescent or we are dealing with a very sick adult male. This is just too sick for me to even contemplate.

    As for talking about sex – doesn't embarrass me at all. However, I would never, in a million years, actively pursue answers from other people (no matter the gender) about their sexual experiences. Oh, and about all these women who are too sympathetic to tell their partners that they are sexually boring – what in God's name is that? Actually, this sounds like a pubescent girl writing this.

  • Margaret

    Well you cry and cry about not being treated like a real journalist and about media bias and then look at your blog…you can’t say it is not biased. In fact you admit your bias.

    So you won’t be treated like a journalist. You have no legitimacy.

  • T J Harrison

    I am person who listens to CBC radio at least 3 hours daily. I can't watch CBC TV because I don't own one. I will believe that the CBC will and can be anything but a lft biased organization when I see it.

  • http://idoccorp.com/ data backup

    I read the whole conversation and I am laughing so hard with the, this entry was a fire starter and it seems like comments has boomeranged and broaden the conversation.. anyway I really enjoyed this..

    hey Stephen you really had a great post over here LOL >.<

    regards
    janice

  • http://idoccorp.com/ data backup

    I read the whole conversation and I am laughing so hard with the, this entry was a fire starter and it seems like comments has boomeranged and broaden the conversation.. anyway I really enjoyed this..

    hey Stephen you really had a great post over here LOL >.<

    regards
    janice