Attila the Hun at CBC
Date: Friday, October 21 2005
Attila the Hun at CBC
This isn’t about Robert Rabinovitch, “lock-out king” at CBC. who bristles when the creative workforce has ideas. Talk? No way. “Lock ‘em out.” I even wrote to ask him if he’s a secret operative for Leonard Asper, private communications “monopoly king” at CanWest Global. No answer. Why should Robert Rabinovitch write to a “prole.” Like, he’s important.
This column isn’t about him, though it could be. It’s about the sacred cow of CBC radio, “As It Happens.”
But first, you must hear the rule about controversial, stimulating, thought-provoking people at the CBC. They’re all Right of Centre Right. It’s a sign of the times. You might think that in a reactionary time, the CBC would have a strong, intelligent, calm, well-informed, person or show on the Left to argue for such things as Crown Corporations, Socialist reforms, Criminal Law reform to catch business thieves who seem to be breeding like flies, new social measures for the sick, aged, and for the young in education, as well as for strong, intelligent ideas for Canadian separation from U.S. policies.
No way. The CBC looks Right of Centre Right for “controversial, stimulating” people. Everyone, of course, thinks immediately of Raging Reactionary Rex Murphy, He unlooses at the slightest provocation his torrent of tedious and truculent trash-bin idea--making on behalf of the Far Right and its U.S. fawners.
We know what he is.
As It Happens, the sacred cow of CBC radio, is different. It pretends to be wide open. It pretends, even, to be a little radical, progressive, caring.
The program is made up, in fact, of two sacred cows: Mary Lou Findlay and Barbara Budd. They are (in disguise) on the far, far Right.
How do they do it? Let’s take As It Happens for October 17 and 18 to explain. On October 17 the striking B.C. teachers held a large rally at the legislative buildings in Victoria, at which time Mary Lou Findlay interviewed B.C. Teachers Federation leader Jinny Sims. The next day Mary Lou Findlay interviewed B.C.s Minister of Labour, Mike de Jong. Perfectly reasonable, you might say.
Except that sequence was effected with every dirty, invisible propaganda device. Why not interview them both on the day of the rally? Or both of them the next day, end to end, or even together? No, no.
As It Happens interviewed Jinny Sims in the middle of the rally, when she could hardly be heard through the noise of the teachers’ supporters. (A mob, of course, and the leader of a mob.) Jinny Sims almost had to shout into the microphone to be heard. What better way to get her. Then, Mary Lou Findlay asked really dumb questions and tried to make Sims say the teachers are really after money,,, and so on.
But Jinny Sims is good. She pushed Mary Lou Findlay’s dumb questions aside. So As It Happens ended the interview. Simple.
Then came the next day’s program. Sweet as honey, Mary Lou Findlay talked to Mike De Jong, B.C.’s Minister of Labour. We heard a calm, clean interview. De Jong was given all the time he wanted to make his full-of-half-truths argument. At no point did the interviewer say: “What about your tearing up of the legal contract in 2001?” “How come a majority of B.C. people polled approve of the strike?” “Why are unions all over B.C. supporting the teachers? No way.
Findlay and Budd aren’t hosts of a Public Affairs program. They’re Attila the Hun at CBC. Their job is to pump the reactionary line and to hell with fairness, balance, or objective presentation.
What best could show that truth than their October 18 handling of the Iraq, Suddam Hussein trial, about to begin. Does As It Happen interview - about the very dubious trial - a pro-Suddam person and an anti-Suddam person? Of course not. As It Happens has no intention of doing fair reporting.
Since, of course, no Canadians pleasing to As It Happens are available, the “show” goes to, of course, a U.S. reactionary “expert.” As It Happens specializes in reactionary U.S. “experts” and retired reactionary U.S. generals.
This one’s an expert lawyer devoted to U.S. propaganda.
But he slipped. His “expertise” slipped. When Mary Lou Findlay asked if the assembled judges might agree to the argument that they don’t have the legal or constitutional jurisdiction to conduct the trial, the US lawyer told all. All you need to know.
“Well,” he said, in effect, “their positions are so lucrative they aren’t going to do themselves out of a job.” Get it. They’re being paid so much they’ll do what they’re told to do.
A breathless audience waited for Mary Lou Findlay to say: “What? You mean they’ll make their judgements according to how much they’re paid?” But she didn’t. She moved (quickly) on, to talk about the quality of the lawyers working on Suddam’s defense.
Oh, said the U.S. propagandist, they’re wonderful, they’re great, even distinguished. He had to say that. If the very, very dubious trial of Saddam Hussein is going to look fair, the reactionaries have to argue the defendant has a great batch of lawyers.
One, said the U.S. propagandist, is even Ramsay Clark.
Ramsay Clark, as we know, was once Attorney General of the USA. He became more and more concerned about brutal US policies and became more and more a principled critic of U.S. actions dealing with the Third World, aboriginal people, interference with sovereign governments, and with the practice of “regime change,” and contempt for international law.
The As It Happens audience is told none of that. Ramsay Clark is, instead, presented as deserving contempt both by the U.S. propagandist and Mary Lou Findlay. Ramsay Clark’s criticism of the Kosovo War and the Iraq invasion are given no context. He’s taking Suddam Hussein’s case we seem to be led to believe because he wants to get revenge because US power wouldn’t listen to him. Obviously a petulant, shaky person.
To admit Ramsay Clark is well informed, acting out of principle and for the sake of justice and fairness in the world would defeat the reactionary propaganda purposes of As It Happens. So the truth is stamped on, kicked, battered, and generally treated like a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.
When callers to As It Happens end their phone-ins by saying: “Love yer ‘show’,” they are speaking a truth about which they may not be aware.
As It Happens isn’t a CBC Public Affairs program. Rather, it’s a “show,” a personality parade, in which Mary Lou Findlay and Barbara Budd skewer anyone Left of Conrad Black, ridicule people of principle whom they dislike or disapprove of, and erase information that may provide criticism of the Canadian Corporate Right.
Run by the two sacred cows of Canadian radio, As It Happens should be re-named “Attila the Hun on CBC Radio.”
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on October 24, 2005]