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Resigning staff member writes open letter saying CBC has abandoned “journalistic integrity.”

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As 2021 wrapped up, so did the CBC chapter for journalist Tara Henley.  After 8 years with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Henley left to step out on her own. Here’s her open letter explaining why.

Click here to see this on Substack or read below to see her open letter.

Speaking Freely

Why I resigned from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

For months now, I’ve been getting complaints about the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where I’ve worked as a TV and radio producer, and occasional on-air columnist, for much of the past decade.

People want to know why, for example, non-binary Filipinos concerned about a lack of LGBT terms in Tagalog is an editorial priority for the CBC, when local issues of broad concern go unreported. Or why our pop culture radio show’s coverage of the Dave Chappelle Netflix special failed to include any of the legions of fans, or comics, that did not find it offensive. Or why, exactly, taxpayers should be funding articles that scold Canadians for using words such as “brainstorm” and “lame.”

Everyone asks the same thing: What is going on at the CBC?

When I started at the national public broadcaster in 2013, the network produced some of the best journalism in the country. By the time I resigned last month, it embodied some of the worst trends in mainstream media. In a short period of time, the CBC went from being a trusted source of news to churning out clickbait that reads like a parody of the student press.

Those of us on the inside know just how swiftly — and how dramatically — the politics of the public broadcaster have shifted.

It used to be that I was the one furthest to the left in any newsroom, occasionally causing strain in story meetings with my views on issues like the housing crisis. I am now easily the most conservative, frequently sparking tension by questioning identity politics. This happened in the span of about 18 months. My own politics did not change.

To work at the CBC in the current climate is to embrace cognitive dissonance and to abandon journalistic integrity.

It is to sign on, enthusiastically, to a radical political agenda that originated on Ivy League campuses in the United States and spread through American social media platforms that monetize outrage and stoke societal divisions. It is to pretend that the “woke” worldview is near universal — even if it is far from popular with those you know, and speak to, and interview, and read.

To work at the CBC now is to accept the idea that race is the most significant thing about a person, and that some races are more relevant to the public conversation than others. It is, in my newsroom, to fill out racial profile forms for every guest you book; to actively book more people of some races and less of others.

To work at the CBC is to submit to job interviews that are not about qualifications or experience — but instead demand the parroting of orthodoxies, the demonstration of fealty to dogma.

It is to become less adversarial to government and corporations and more hostile to ordinary people with ideas that Twitter doesn’t like.

It is to endlessly document microaggressions but pay little attention to evictions; to spotlight company’s political platitudes but have little interest in wages or working conditions. It is to allow sweeping societal changes like lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and school closures to roll out — with little debate. To see billionaires amass extraordinary wealth and bureaucrats amass enormous power — with little scrutiny. And to watch the most vulnerable among us die of drug overdoses — with little comment.

It is to consent to the idea that a growing list of subjects are off the table, that dialogue itself can be harmful. That the big issues of our time are all already settled.

It is to capitulate to certainty, to shut down critical thinking, to stamp out curiosity. To keep one’s mouth shut, to not ask questions, to not rock the boat.

This, while the world burns.

How could good journalism possibly be done under such conditions? How could any of this possibly be healthy for society?

All of this raises larger questions about the direction that North America is headed. Questions about this new moment we are living through — and its impact on the body politic. On class divisions, and economic inequality. On education. On mental health. On literature, and comedy. On science. On liberalism, and democracy.

These questions keep me up at night.

I can no longer push them down. I will no longer hold them back. This Substack is an attempt to find some answers.

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I have been a journalist for 20 years, covering everything from hip-hop to news, food to current affairs. The through line has always been books, which I’ve engaged with at every stage of my career and at every outlet I’ve worked for. In 2020, I published my own book, Lean Out: A Meditation on the Madness of Modern Life, which was an instant bestseller in Canada.

Books have always opened new worlds for me, introduced me to new perspectives, and helped me to make sense of humanity. I need books now more than ever.

During lockdown, when I wasn’t covering COVID-19, I spent a lot of time interviewing authors for a new book I’m working on. Their boldness and insight and humour saved me from despair. These writers gave me ideas on how to move forward, and how to maintain hope. Most of all, they gave me the courage to stand up — and to speak out.

Here at Substack, I will continue the work of thinking through the current moment, focusing on non-fiction writing from around the world. I will post an essay on a books related topic every Monday, and a podcast conversation with a heterodox author every Wednesday. This will be free to all. A third post on Fridays will round up the most contrarian, controversial or overlooked new books and essays, and will be available to paid subscribers.

This work is entirely independent and entirely free from editorial control, allowing me to say the things that are not being said, and ask the questions that are not being asked. Lean Out is solely supported by subscribers. If you care about the world of ideas and value open inquiry, as I do, please consider a paid subscription.

And stay tuned for the first episode of the Lean Out podcast this Wednesday, featuring my conversation with Newsweek’s Batya Ungar-Sargon, author of Bad News: How Woke Media is Undermining Democracy.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

The Californication Of Toronto: Urban Nowhere

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Last weekend I talked on the phone with my broadcasting friend Andrew Krystal about the state of Toronto— including his beloved Maple Leafs. Little did I know it was to be our final conversation; Andrew died just a few minutes after as he walked home in Yorkville.

In his inimitable way Andrew had been giving me the gears for criticizing Toronto after I’d spent so many years there. “You made your name here. You are a product of Toronto,” he pointed out above the din in a local Toronto bar.

Indeed I was a product of the Toronto I left behind in 1998. As I told him, that Toronto— the Little City That Could—is long gone. Replaced by something… else. As we shouted to make ourselves heard I told him that Toronto now reminds me of the California nightmare described in a recent Matt Taibbi piece on Substack. “California is what happens when new money becomes old money.”

Taibbi quoted Swedish writer Malcom Keune: “California shifted mid century from being the US’s fastest-growing state — 50% population growth between 1950 and 1960 — to a state that is somehow, improbably, shrinking… mostly because of the regulations the state’s inhabitants put in place that block the housing that’s required to support California’s economic success. As a result, California has lost the “technology” of being able to affordably house its inhabitants… 

To use a California literary reference, that meant no more living off the “fat of the land,” for with the well of plenty drying, even elites are now forced to feed off each other. In such a society, he wrote, “belligerence is not a choice,” and “you need to dispossess others” to get ahead, because “not doing so means losing your own way of life.”

The Diaspora of middle-class Californians to Texas, Montana, Florida, Tennessee, Colorado and elsewhere has been mirrored by the thousands of successful businesses such as Tesla, Oracle, Hewlitt-Packard and many more also leaving the state, taking with them tens of thousands of excellent jobs. Leaving behind a titled elite and a serving class— many just arrived in the state.

The desire to make California a morally pure progressive paradise has turned into open drug use on streets, collapsing infrastructure and sclerotic one-party rule.  “California announced a high-speed train in 1996 and the current plan is for service on the L.A-San Francisco line to begin in 2033. One executive I spoke with described the state’s development as “frozen in aspic.”

One reason is strangulation by bureaucracy. “Institutions everywhere are filling up with employees bearing skills “orthogonal” to the bureaucratic mission,” Kyeyune writes, “part of what’s been packaged as progress but feels more like a vast jobs program for otherwise unemployable pseudo-intellectuals. “Hire us, pay us, give us and our clients sinecures at your expense, “or we will make life difficult for you.”

As I told Andrew, “It doesn’t take a great leap to see these descriptions applying to Toronto as it came into its new status as a progressive cosmopolitan haven.” The Toronto of today, like California, is moving forward and backward at the same time. A champion in its day for fighting apartheid in South Africa, the same city now proudly celebrates segregated commencement sessions .

The source of Toronto’s entitlement was the stopping of the Spadina Expressway in the 1970s, the singular NIMBY resistance to growing the city at the expense of leafy neighbourhoods. Since then attempts to move newcomers around the heart of privilege have produced gridlock.

The result? Stratospheric housing prices in a city that resisted growth even as it imported hundreds of thousands to serve as its worker drones. The basic roof-over-one’s-head now is exclusive to aging Boomers squatting on their cashboxes while their children and newcomers move two hours away (if lucky) or mortgage themselves to the real-estate lottery.

Like Hollywood, Toronto’s hip class is besotted by Woke culture. Instead of Hollywood, Toronto is an IT factory married to media elites. But this success a two-edged sword for liberals— as California discovered. The Golden State “began to worry about how to balance the proceeds of its mastery of lowbrow markets with the desire of its most influential inhabitants to maintain reputations for the latest in progressive attitudes”.

Toronto’s IT culture has opinions; they’re just all virtually the same. None may say a negative word for fear of being banished to Barrie or London or (gasp) Alberta to find a living. It is a self-imposed gag order.

Exit strategies? Like California, Toronto’s business Diaspora to its suburbs and beyond has been replaced by a tax base resting on rapacious condo construction and gentrification. Its attempts to replace cars with rapid transit, such as the Eglinton subway project, mirror California’s rapid-rail project. No one in office wants to make hard decisions about the Gardiner Expressway, so they put off the inevitable.

Once a bastion of security, Toronto’s street crime is blighting the city. No wonder the middle class is cashing out its homes and heading to Northern Ontario, PEI, Alberta and the U.S.

Like the California elite in Silicon Valley, Toronto’s Family Compact has shown its survival skills in the Trudeau years, returning Captain Blackface to power on three occasions in a Faustian bargain to preserve its status. With the reality sleeping on homeless sidewalks, Toronto’s nomenklatura moved “to dispossess others” to get ahead, because not doing so meant losing their own way of life.

The accelerator for decline has been the gelding of its media. With government now pumping billions into media based in the city, there is a homogeneity of thought in coverage. Reporters who were once independent and cranky now see their best interests served in building echo chambers for the government/ corporate crowd. In California there are at least some people such as Taibbi defying the Media Party directives. For how long not one knows.

I will miss Andrew but in many respects. I’m just glad he won’t be around to see what will  happen to the city where he was raised and where he revelled in the last days of old Toronto.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Big Can Be Beautiful. It Can Also Take Your Life

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When we go to our local swimming pool there is ample evidence of the fat of the land (including your correspondent). The display of plus-sized pork among our fellow swimmers (most 50+) is breathtaking. The Parnassus of lard has to be the 60-ish gentleman who wears a Speedo on his 375-pound-plus body as he swims laps. We assume there’s a Speedo in there somewhere, captured by rolling mounds of cellulite on his glutes.

While alarming to see so many who’ve lost the battle to fat, at least these souls are making the attempt to stay healthy. God bless them. When we see them lower themselves into the pool we have to wonder at those who’ve completely given up on the concept of a healthy figure. How do they live?

The notion of what constitutes a beautiful body is in the news again as Sports Illustrated featured plus-sized model Yumi Nu on the cover of its annual swimsuit edition. The swimsuit edition is the annual display of beautiful female bodies that traditionally sent nuns and librarians into a censorship fury worthy of Twitter. (And found its way between the mattresses of teenaged boys.)

In what is clearly Woke symbolism, Time Warner’s magazine is attempting to placate another stigmatized group— plus-sized women— by displaying Nu in all her rounded beauty. “See, it’s normal to be wearing XXX-sized clothing” is the message. (The magazine also features Elon Musk’s mother and four NBA models in the edition).

This comes at a time when plus-sized rapper Cardi B has made highly sexualized twerking a thing in her graphic videos. It seems to now be hip to placate people who’ve lost the battle against Cheetos in a masturbatory celebration of a blubbery freedom.

Canadian author/ psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson spoke for those not amused by SI’s project. “Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that. It’s a conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty, reliant on the idiot philosophy that such preferences are learned and properly changed by those who know better.”

But there was a cascade of approval for SI’s choice, recognizing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many found Nu stunning and sexy. Feminists applauded her acceptance of bodaciousness.  Fair enough.

Two quibbles. One small and the other massive. First— this will be lost on feminists— the SI Swimsuit edition was created in the 1960s to defeat a stereotype that fit sportswomen were tomboys, unattractive and vaguely butch. In their own way, the early SI models destroyed those stereotypes while pleasuring hetero men. They convinced women that muscles aren’t a bringdown.

The more significant point— lost on SI and Time Warner— is that the time of Covid, with its choked hospitals and healthcare system, is hardly the moment to celebrate people who exceed their body-fat index. In fact it might be described as a reckless message that allows people with hereditary or cultural vulnerability to diabetes, stroke and heart attacks to put off weight reduction.

As we wrote last October, obesity is the silent killer of millions infected with the virus. But one buried by governments, media and health authorities who decided to make vaccine-resisters the real villain of the piece.

“Friends and neighbours we have thought otherwise sane are now seriously demanding that unvaccinated people be sent to the back of the line for health care till all the vaccinated people are satisfied. This triage is equal measures of fear, spite and blithering ignorance of the facts of single-payer health. 

Take this example: one of the factors established very early in the pandemic was the vulnerability of obese and morbidly obese— especially in the elderly. The AMA reports, “The vast majority—78%—of U.S. patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were overweight or had obesity. The numbers for intensive care, invasive mechanical ventilation and death were nearly the same.”

According to the CDC, 42.4 percent of U.S. adults have obesity.  While some are obese for genetic or disease-related reasons, the vast proportion of the obesity is lifestyle induced. The World Obesity Federation has shown that death rates from COVID-19 have been 10 times higher in countries where more than half of the population is overweight.

Yet there is no call from the media and its acolytes to punish the obese for clogging the healthcare system. No demand they be put to the back of the line. Why? Because it doesn’t suit the narrative of right-wing extremism the way that non-vaxxers do. Too many allies of Woke land— in and out of politics— would be shoved down the line if fat were targeted.

University of Oxford researchers found, ”Excess weight is a modifiable risk factor, and investment in the treatment of overweight and obesity and long-term preventive strategies could help reduce the severity of COVID-19 disease.” 

Yet when was the last time you heard Justin Trudeau or president Joe Biden suggest dropping weight to lessen the burden on healthcare? The last time would be the first time, as they have been mute on lifestyle adaptions to clear the ICUs. 

It goes the same for smokers, drinkers, drug abusers and more who— under Canada’s healthcare rulers— receive the same treatment in emergency rooms as do those who live clean. According to the howler monkeys of vaccine enforcement only non-vaxxers should be culled from the herd for flooding ICUs.”

It’s not the first time that Wokedom has stifled information contrary to their societal control. It won’t be the last. In the battle of the bulge it’s not a fashion statement. It’s a matter of life and death. It’s also a matter of saving the healthcare system.

 

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

 

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