CBC Ombudsman findings on Krista Erickson and those planted questions

Main findings/opinions from Vince Carlin:

“In my reading of policy, both written and unwritten, Ms. Erickson clearly did go “over the line” in allowing the appearance that she was providing “script” for certain sources to use. However, it appears to me that she lacked the experience and sensitivity to realize where the line was. There is absolutely no evidence of any partisan interest on her part—she is an aggressive reporter who will pursue a story no matter whose interests are at stake. But, as I found in a previous conversation with her, she is not fully versed on the CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices. She should not have been placed “in harm’s way” without a better understanding of CBC policy and proper background or training in the difficult business of Parliamentary reporting.

In addition, News management, going back to my time in a position of authority, should have taken steps to elaborate a clear policy and apply it to all CBC personnel who cover legislative bodies. I note that the Globe and Mail policy manual has the simple and direct statement, “No reporter or editor should plant questions with members of any federal, provincial or municipal legislature or council for any purpose without the prior approval of a senior editor.”

To sum up: Ms. Erickson was pursuing a legitimate and newsworthy story. In her desire to expand her “source” base, she unwisely sent questions to a Liberal source who appears to have moved them through the Liberal Research Bureau. They formed the background for the questioning of Mr. Mulroney, as they might have had she broadcast those questions in a report. I should note that Pablo Rodriguez appears to have written his own questions based on material supplied to him by his colleagues. Due to the nature and specificity of the subject matter, it is not surprising that the language would be similar to the original questions shared by Ms. Erickson.

There is no explicit prohibition in CBC policy of the conduct in question, although it has been the practice of the CBC Ottawa Bureau for the last 30 years to avoid such conduct.

According to Carlin:

It is clear, however, that there was no bias at play, no matter how perceived by partisan interests.

What is your opinion? Is Mr. Carlin fair and accurate in his opinions and/or findings?

Comments

comments

  • Charles

    no

  • Dave Tracey

    I would believe that this was a simple misunderstanding if similar activity had taken place “against” the LPC during, say, AdScam hearings. Haven't heard of anything like that…..

  • JosefK

    I think frankly Mr. Carlin was fair, accurate and gracious.
    And yes, I used to be a political journalist. The adrenalin rush is incredible and it's incredibly easy to cross the line from reporting to acting. Hence I decided not to proceed further – I prefer reading UNBIASED news AND biased blogs, thank you.
    I'd go gracious here, folks. Krista just happened to “get caught”, sort of like when a friend of mine got caught and made an example of doing the same abuse as other legislators of the special deal on mail a while back.

  • bob

    Where is the separation from Carlin from the CBC machine?

    His decision in referencing his own “good old days” blurs the reality. Her inexperience to determine a line is no excuse, the political minefield is no excuse, the CBC managerial reaction is no excuse. Carlin makes them for her.

    He is the furthest thing from impartial observer. He remains a CBC insider, uses his CBC insider experience as yardstick and uses them as the foundation for CBC journalistic parisan interference in the day to day running of the country.

    CBC has to get rid of Erikson, but first Carlin. Impartial he is certainly not!

    CBC policy or not, he has laid the foundation for a case before the CRTC in violation of the letter and spirit of the Broadcasting Act:

    (iv) provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern, and

    (n) where any conflict arises between the objectives of the Corporation set out in paragraphs (l) and (m) and the interests of any other broadcasting undertaking of the Canadian broadcasting system, it shall be resolved in the public interest, and where the public interest would be equally served by resolving the conflict in favour of either, it shall be resolved in favour of the objectives set out in paragraphs (l) and (m);

    Act

    The CRTC must rule in the “Public interest” on the FACT that CBC crossed the line politically to curry favour with one party and one party alone.

    Should it not, judicial review over seriously flawed CRTC decisions is an entirely valid follow-up.

    Bob

  • http://vollman.blogspot.com Robert V

    Wait a minute … Carlin is accusing the 66 complainants of being partisan? Classy! That man is all class!

    Also the word “naive” comes to mind. Is he naive enough to think that Erickson is actually unbiased, or is he naive enough to think that we are naive enough to believe it?

    Typical CBC. Hey Flaherty, I know something you can sell to save a little money …

  • Tommyboy

    So, let me get this straight. We hire a “Reporter”. We let her do her “job”. She gets caught with her thong exposed and somehow it is the fault of a) being a woman b) her race c) societal differences d) the normal irrational hatred of anything Conservative (AKA—REALITY).

    I vote ____’D’

  • Tommyboy

    So, let me get this straight. We hire a “Reporter”. We let her do her “job”. She gets caught with her thong exposed and somehow it is the fault of a) being a woman b) her race c) societal differences d) the normal irrational hatred of anything Conservative (AKA—REALITY).

    I vote ____’D’

  • Tommyboy

    So, let me get this straight. We hire a “Reporter”. We let her do her “job”. She gets caught with her thong exposed and somehow it is the fault of a) being a woman b) her race c) societal differences d) the normal irrational hatred of anything Conservative (AKA—REALITY).

    I vote ____’D’

  • Tommyboy

    So, let me get this straight. We hire a “Reporter”. We let her do her “job”. She gets caught with her thong exposed and somehow it is the fault of a) being a woman b) her race c) societal differences d) the normal irrational hatred of anything Conservative (AKA—REALITY).

    I vote ____’D’

  • JosefK

    Not exactly.
    Frankly, as I tried to explain, the heat of the moment can get to young journalists. Krista just happened to get caught – that's all…

  • http://www.telemark.net/randallg randall g

    There is absolutely no evidence of any partisan interest on her part

    That is absurd.

  • Liz J

    Yeah, Krista was doing business as usual and got caught, sounds about right. She was filled in on how to do business as usual as well. If that were not their modus operandi she might have sensed it was not the thing to do.

    CBC, ah, forget it……………..

  • Liz J

    Yeah, Krista was doing business as usual and got caught, sounds about right. She was filled in on how to do business as usual as well. If that were not their modus operandi she might have sensed it was not the thing to do.

    CBC, ah, forget it……………..

  • Liz J

    Yeah, Krista was doing business as usual and got caught, sounds about right. She was filled in on how to do business as usual as well. If that were not their modus operandi she might have sensed it was not the thing to do.

    CBC, ah, forget it……………..

  • Liz J

    Yeah, Krista was doing business as usual and got caught, sounds about right. She was filled in on how to do business as usual as well. If that were not their modus operandi she might have sensed it was not the thing to do.

    CBC, ah, forget it……………..

  • jonny

    After the Gomery inquiry did you really think that the CBC wouldn’t claim that they were too stupid to be held accountable for their actions?

    The AdScam millions are still missing because Sgt Schultz and Col.Klink were trusted with OUR money , why they even told Gomery they were too stupid to be expected to know what was going on in the Liberal party.

    ERGO…….since the CBC has become the Propaganda wing for the Liberals , it’s no shock that after they investigate themselves they find no faults on the grounds of Stupidty.
    BTW
    I tried to report a possible Manslaughter Charge against someone because of a death on the TTC , evryone was supportive until i show the evidence that the TTC Union Members cause the death , then they shut me down and refused to respond to my emails.
    The TTC investigated themselves while the Ontario Government and Police held theirown reviews , well low and behold not one person was to blame .
    But Brad Ross did respond to me that Ontario fined the TTC $200’000.00 with our Money to pay the fine , so basically your life is useless and the Criminal Laws don’t apply to Union workers at the TTC, Police Chief Blair even stated in public that he had 1 year to lay charges which he never did , and once the Union saw that they cause the death i saw Adam Giambrone and Miller making Statement to the Media that it was a tragic accident that shouldn’t have happened .
    But they said this just days after the worker was killed from the action of co-workers that once again neglected Tunnel safety protocols and knew of a drug-abuse issue they stayed mute on , and this is why the TTC should post a warning sign at all points of entry to the Subways system to inform riders that Workers may not face legal action for the death of you or a relative.

    The CBC should run a Disclaimer that alerts us that the news may not be factual other than the perception for the person reporting their version of reality at that point.

  • jonny

    After the Gomery inquiry did you really think that the CBC wouldn’t claim that they were too stupid to be held accountable for their actions?

    The AdScam millions are still missing because Sgt Schultz and Col.Klink were trusted with OUR money , why they even told Gomery they were too stupid to be expected to know what was going on in the Liberal party.

    ERGO…….since the CBC has become the Propaganda wing for the Liberals , it’s no shock that after they investigate themselves they find no faults on the grounds of Stupidty.
    BTW
    I tried to report a possible Manslaughter Charge against someone because of a death on the TTC , evryone was supportive until i show the evidence that the TTC Union Members cause the death , then they shut me down and refused to respond to my emails.
    The TTC investigated themselves while the Ontario Government and Police held theirown reviews , well low and behold not one person was to blame .
    But Brad Ross did respond to me that Ontario fined the TTC $200’000.00 with our Money to pay the fine , so basically your life is useless and the Criminal Laws don’t apply to Union workers at the TTC, Police Chief Blair even stated in public that he had 1 year to lay charges which he never did , and once the Union saw that they cause the death i saw Adam Giambrone and Miller making Statement to the Media that it was a tragic accident that shouldn’t have happened .
    But they said this just days after the worker was killed from the action of co-workers that once again neglected Tunnel safety protocols and knew of a drug-abuse issue they stayed mute on , and this is why the TTC should post a warning sign at all points of entry to the Subways system to inform riders that Workers may not face legal action for the death of you or a relative.

    The CBC should run a Disclaimer that alerts us that the news may not be factual other than the perception for the person reporting their version of reality at that point.

  • jonny

    After the Gomery inquiry did you really think that the CBC wouldn’t claim that they were too stupid to be held accountable for their actions?

    The AdScam millions are still missing because Sgt Schultz and Col.Klink were trusted with OUR money , why they even told Gomery they were too stupid to be expected to know what was going on in the Liberal party.

    ERGO…….since the CBC has become the Propaganda wing for the Liberals , it’s no shock that after they investigate themselves they find no faults on the grounds of Stupidty.
    BTW
    I tried to report a possible Manslaughter Charge against someone because of a death on the TTC , evryone was supportive until i show the evidence that the TTC Union Members cause the death , then they shut me down and refused to respond to my emails.
    The TTC investigated themselves while the Ontario Government and Police held theirown reviews , well low and behold not one person was to blame .
    But Brad Ross did respond to me that Ontario fined the TTC $200’000.00 with our Money to pay the fine , so basically your life is useless and the Criminal Laws don’t apply to Union workers at the TTC, Police Chief Blair even stated in public that he had 1 year to lay charges which he never did , and once the Union saw that they cause the death i saw Adam Giambrone and Miller making Statement to the Media that it was a tragic accident that shouldn’t have happened .
    But they said this just days after the worker was killed from the action of co-workers that once again neglected Tunnel safety protocols and knew of a drug-abuse issue they stayed mute on , and this is why the TTC should post a warning sign at all points of entry to the Subways system to inform riders that Workers may not face legal action for the death of you or a relative.

    The CBC should run a Disclaimer that alerts us that the news may not be factual other than the perception for the person reporting their version of reality at that point.

  • jonny

    After the Gomery inquiry did you really think that the CBC wouldn’t claim that they were too stupid to be held accountable for their actions?

    The AdScam millions are still missing because Sgt Schultz and Col.Klink were trusted with OUR money , why they even told Gomery they were too stupid to be expected to know what was going on in the Liberal party.

    ERGO…….since the CBC has become the Propaganda wing for the Liberals , it’s no shock that after they investigate themselves they find no faults on the grounds of Stupidty.
    BTW
    I tried to report a possible Manslaughter Charge against someone because of a death on the TTC , evryone was supportive until i show the evidence that the TTC Union Members cause the death , then they shut me down and refused to respond to my emails.
    The TTC investigated themselves while the Ontario Government and Police held theirown reviews , well low and behold not one person was to blame .
    But Brad Ross did respond to me that Ontario fined the TTC $200’000.00 with our Money to pay the fine , so basically your life is useless and the Criminal Laws don’t apply to Union workers at the TTC, Police Chief Blair even stated in public that he had 1 year to lay charges which he never did , and once the Union saw that they cause the death i saw Adam Giambrone and Miller making Statement to the Media that it was a tragic accident that shouldn’t have happened .
    But they said this just days after the worker was killed from the action of co-workers that once again neglected Tunnel safety protocols and knew of a drug-abuse issue they stayed mute on , and this is why the TTC should post a warning sign at all points of entry to the Subways system to inform riders that Workers may not face legal action for the death of you or a relative.

    The CBC should run a Disclaimer that alerts us that the news may not be factual other than the perception for the person reporting their version of reality at that point.

  • Honey Pot

    It looks to me like he is saying she is a female, therefore, not very good at her job. Having those two strikes against her grants her impunity from having her arse kicked to the curb.

  • Phil Hauser

    So let me get this straight countless statements that CBC has a higher standard, admissions that the reporter in question is walkign a fine line but an outright proclmation of innocence?

  • batb

    bob, you're absolutely right. Vince Carlin, so-called CBC “Ombudsman,” has got to go.

    I had a conversation with him once, in which he shared with me that he came from NYC, worked at the CBC for years, then in the journalism department at Ryerson, until he was was invited back to the CBC as their ombudsman. No conflict of interest here? Right?

    WRONG.

    There's NO WAY he's not biased or non-partisan. He's worked with most of the people whose work he's asked to make decisions about. The fact that the CBC asked him to be ombudsman afer he'd worked for the Mother Corpse and that he accepted the appointment demonstrates that neither of them get it. An ombudsman is someone who should in no way be connnected to the politics of the institution for which s/he adjudicates–and s/he should not even APPEAR to be in a conflict of interest situation.

    This is so far from the reality of Vince Carlin's position as CBC Ombudsman as to be pathetically laughable. It's business/skulduggery as usual at the CBC.

  • sf

    I think it is cut and dry. There is a difference between reporting the news and influencing the news, or even becoming the news. Krista was not reporting, she was influencing the news. And it was clearly a partisan act, the type of influence. So I think that the Carlin is wrong. It is not such a compicated manner for a reporter to know where the line is. And I really don't think increased documentation or training is required to dictate the line.

  • Iain

    I think the greater wrong is for the elected official to use a media provided script. It is not just a question of why they got elected, but also why they got put on the committee as well.

  • JosefK

    oh please

  • JosefK

    Concur but give her one last chance.

  • bob

    If it was a case of all MP's getting her questions, perhaps. She conspired with only one!

    No second chance for political interference as a “journalist.”

    At the time, the rest of the columnists like Don Martin thought the punishment absurd. “Ottawa is a cozy club” they all said.

    If it is so cozy, it is time to disband it. The press gallery war on the PMO oozed out during the latest round of Us v Him last week. Meanwhile, Canadians still support withdrawing the political party welfare and oppose Dion as PM. CBC barelyeven reported their own poll showing that Canadians support Harper.

    Joseph, letting her off the hook lets them all off the hook. CBC is the problem. Your excuses are purely personal, much like Carlin's, they are not professional!

    If reporters want to be treated like pros, let them and the editors start acting like it!

    bob

  • JosefK

    Bob;
    I hear ya. My argument is once Krista got caught, things throttled back. Also, let me put it this way: I was the political reporter for a college newspaper after the president got a no-confidence vote from the faculty. Had the president of the day not made herself available to me, I would have plotted to have others put the questions to her. I also smooched off of public records requests the teachers made. All in the name of more information, not less for my readers.
    That said, the press gallery strife w/ PMSH is theatre of the absurd. Cooler heads need to prevail, especially in the press gallery. PMSH is a master manipulator, and good for him!
    Respectfully;
    Josef

  • bocanut

    What was Ericson's punishment for feeding Liberals questions?
    A transfer to CBC Toronto where she's allowed to post political stories.

  • slgam

    The following points are, I believe, further evidence of the inherent “genetic” left-wing bias at the CBC. It is so embedded in their psyche that they are honestly unable to see it.

    1. John Cruickshank, the Publisher of CBC News, recently left the employ of the CBC to join, perhaps, the most left-wing mainstream media outlet In Canada, the Toronto Star. He obviously feels very comfortable over there, and they are obviously pleased as punch to have a kindred soulmate.

    2. The CBC has been extremely reluctant to report the post-shenanigans polls showing a very large boost in Stephen Harper's popularity/acceptability and a massive rejection of the so-called “Coalition”, and in particular its leaders. On “The House” on Saturday morning, I don't believe the host mentioned those polls once, and only Grant Devine brought up the fact that Canadians have rejected the coalition massively.

    3. Despite the clear and massive rejection by Canadians of the coalition in at least three major polls, the CBC continues to focus on the “poisoning the well” of Stephen Harper, on his being ” a control freak”, on his being, theoretically, “completely mad” (Michael Enright on “The Sunday Edition”), and on his “ripping the scab off the separatist movement”, rather than on the real issue – the left's outrageous attempt to overthrow the clear will of the people by the Three Stooges, and on the disunity and semi-chaos within the Liberal party following the most self-serving attempt at a power grab in my lifetime.

    His guest, Prof Desmond Morton, was barely able to disguise his complete contempt for Harper, and even brought up (as a “respected historian”) the completely bogus argument that the coalition has the moral right to govern since “they got 62% of the vote” (bogus, since they did not present themselves to voters in the election as a coalition led by Stephane Dion, nor did they expose their half-baked, 3-day “plan” to recklessly throw $30 Billion of our tax dollars at ???). This was the gyst of the entire 2.5 hours devoted to the past week on the CBC's Sunday morning show. Bash Harper. Highlight every negative. Ignore the fallout of this half-baked amateurish comedy of errors.

    4. No mention of those pesky polls that would seem to signal the virtual end of this coalition at this time. Triggering an election any time soon would likely encourage the largest voter turnout in generations, and a majority government for Stephen Harper's government. Unless the Liberals are suicidal, that won't happen unless the whole party is as delusional as Stephane Dion, Bob Rae, and the CBC seem to be.

    Harper's obviously partisan move against the Liberals in the fiscal update was certainly small, ill-advised and self-serving at this time of economic uncertainty, but this stumble was completely over-shadowed by the massively more self-serving response of an illegitmate coalition of sore losers who attempted to take over the government of Canada using constitutional niceties as their justification, completely mis-reading the mood and the will of Canadians in the process. They have been completely exposed for the reckless, irresponsible, small-minded, arrogant and unprincipled self-serving opportunists they truly are. Little has changed from the Sponsorship days when it comes to Liberals' inherent sense fo entitlement. I don't believe Canadians will forget this image any time soon, as long as Harper plays it straight from here on.

    If we do, indeed face another election in the spring, I predict there will be no ambiguity whatsoever in the results, and the NDP-Liberals, along with their cheerleaders over at the CBC will pay a severe price for their hatred-fuelled plot to overthrow the popular will of mainstream Canadians.

  • bob

    If it was a case of all MP's getting her questions, perhaps. She conspired with only one!

    No second chance for political interference as a “journalist.”

    At the time, the rest of the columnists like Don Martin thought the punishment absurd. “Ottawa is a cozy club” they all said.

    If it is so cozy, it is time to disband it. The press gallery war on the PMO oozed out during the latest round of Us v Him last week. Meanwhile, Canadians still support withdrawing the political party welfare and oppose Dion as PM. CBC barelyeven reported their own poll showing that Canadians support Harper.

    Joseph, letting her off the hook lets them all off the hook. CBC is the problem. Your excuses are purely personal, much like Carlin's, they are not professional!

    If reporters want to be treated like pros, let them and the editors start acting like it!

    bob

  • JosefK

    Bob;
    I hear ya. My argument is once Krista got caught, things throttled back. Also, let me put it this way: I was the political reporter for a college newspaper after the president got a no-confidence vote from the faculty. Had the president of the day not made herself available to me, I would have plotted to have others put the questions to her. I also smooched off of public records requests the teachers made. All in the name of more information, not less for my readers.
    That said, the press gallery strife w/ PMSH is theatre of the absurd. Cooler heads need to prevail, especially in the press gallery. PMSH is a master manipulator, and good for him!
    Respectfully;
    Josef

  • bocanut

    What was Ericson's punishment for feeding Liberals questions?
    A transfer to CBC Toronto where she's allowed to post political stories.

  • slgam

    The following points are, I believe, further evidence of the inherent “genetic” left-wing bias at the CBC. It is so embedded in their psyche that they are honestly unable to see it.

    1. John Cruickshank, the Publisher of CBC News, recently left the employ of the CBC to join, perhaps, the most left-wing mainstream media outlet In Canada, the Toronto Star. He obviously feels very comfortable over there, and they are obviously pleased as punch to have a kindred soulmate.

    2. The CBC has been extremely reluctant to report the post-shenanigans polls showing a very large boost in Stephen Harper's popularity/acceptability and a massive rejection of the so-called “Coalition”, and in particular its leaders. On “The House” on Saturday morning, I don't believe the host mentioned those polls once, and only Grant Devine brought up the fact that Canadians have rejected the coalition massively.

    3. Despite the clear and massive rejection by Canadians of the coalition in at least three major polls, the CBC continues to focus on the “poisoning the well” of Stephen Harper, on his being ” a control freak”, on his being, theoretically, “completely mad” (Michael Enright on “The Sunday Edition”), and on his “ripping the scab off the separatist movement”, rather than on the real issue – the left's outrageous attempt to overthrow the clear will of the people by the Three Stooges, and on the disunity and semi-chaos within the Liberal party following the most self-serving attempt at a power grab in my lifetime.

    His guest, Prof Desmond Morton, was barely able to disguise his complete contempt for Harper, and even brought up (as a “respected historian”) the completely bogus argument that the coalition has the moral right to govern since “they got 62% of the vote” (bogus, since they did not present themselves to voters in the election as a coalition led by Stephane Dion, nor did they expose their half-baked, 3-day “plan” to recklessly throw $30 Billion of our tax dollars at ???). This was the gyst of the entire 2.5 hours devoted to the past week on the CBC's Sunday morning show. Bash Harper. Highlight every negative. Ignore the fallout of this half-baked amateurish comedy of errors.

    4. No mention of those pesky polls that would seem to signal the virtual end of this coalition at this time. Triggering an election any time soon would likely encourage the largest voter turnout in generations, and a majority government for Stephen Harper's government. Unless the Liberals are suicidal, that won't happen unless the whole party is as delusional as Stephane Dion, Bob Rae, and the CBC seem to be.

    Harper's obviously partisan move against the Liberals in the fiscal update was certainly small, ill-advised and self-serving at this time of economic uncertainty, but this stumble was completely over-shadowed by the massively more self-serving response of an illegitmate coalition of sore losers who attempted to take over the government of Canada using constitutional niceties as their justification, completely mis-reading the mood and the will of Canadians in the process. They have been completely exposed for the reckless, irresponsible, small-minded, arrogant and unprincipled self-serving opportunists they truly are. Little has changed from the Sponsorship days when it comes to Liberals' inherent sense fo entitlement. I don't believe Canadians will forget this image any time soon, as long as Harper plays it straight from here on.

    If we do, indeed face another election in the spring, I predict there will be no ambiguity whatsoever in the results, and the NDP-Liberals, along with their cheerleaders over at the CBC will pay a severe price for their hatred-fuelled plot to overthrow the popular will of mainstream Canadians.