I am sharing a reply from the CBC, but I'll have to dissect it later. My IHTG (In House Tech Guy) just got back from a six week sojourn in Germany, so we are celebrating tonight!
As you may recall this had to do with Stephen Taylor's excellent exposure of media manipulation.
Please feel free to leave your comments about the response. Thanks!
UPDATE: As you will see from the comment section, this turns out to be nothing more than a form letter. Read the comments on this post by Stephen Taylor! Also check out this at Officially Screwed.
Reply as received:
Thank you for your email to CBC regarding a report aired on The
National. Jonathan Whitten, executive producer of The National asked me
to forward the following to you:
Thank you for your e-mail of August 8th addressed to Vince Carlin, CBC
Ombudsman. As you know, Mr. Carlin asked me to reply.
You wrote to draw our attention to a report on the August 4 editions of
THE NATIONAL that you feel is inaccurate and misleading. Specifically,
you wrote that by juxtaposing a comment by a protestor with what you
feel is an unrelated statement made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in
a news conference, the report misrepresented the Prime Minister’s views,
and made him appear insensitive.
The report on THE NATIONAL Friday night concerned the Prime Minister’s
reaction to questions he was facing about the Middle East. The report
began with protestors outside the Conservative caucus meeting in
Cornwall, one of whom was seen saying that both sides killing innocent
children is wrong and has to stop.
The Prime Minister, meeting behind closed doors, did not hear her
message (although, as we reported, she was invited to meet with the
Minister of Foreign Affairs), but reporters did ask him about civilian
deaths in a news conference held after the caucus meeting. He did not
reply to the question directly, but he told reporters including the
CBC’s Christina Lawand that his policy on the Middle East remained the
same and would not change because of public opinion surveys or protests.
He said that Canadians are not neutral on terrorism and that he would
not call for a cease-fire until the right conditions were in place. And,
he said, when properly understood, his views represent the views of most
Canadians. Ms. Lawand clearly stated those views in her report.
She also included a statement from the news conference the one to
which you referred where the Prime Minister said he is "not
preoccupied in any way with reaction within individual communities."
This statement was in response to a reporter who asked specifically how
he felt about what seemed to be growing support in the Jewish community
for his government and ended his question by asking whether he was
concerned about the negative response among some in the Arab
community. Mr. Harper replied that he agreed the Middle East conflict
had a pretty strong resonance in some cultural communities, but that the
government “can’t take positions based on polls, we can’t take decisions
based on reactions within certain domestic communities.”
In the bulk of his answer, however, he explained that the issues were
far larger than the concerns of some communities. These are “serious
international issues, he said, “there are not only many lives at stake,
there are a lot of long term strategic interests of this country and of
the world.…” He talked about two major elements of the Canadian policy,
about terrorist groups, both in Canada and abroad. He talked about
humanitarian concerns, including evacuation and re-construction as being
among the “focuses of our activity.”
Then he returned to where he had started his answer and repeated: “I’m
not concerned or preoccupied in any way with reaction within individual
communities. I think that reaction is very predictable.” That was the
clip included in the report following the protestor. It is logical to
conclude here that the reaction he is “not concerned” with, is the kind
of reaction personified by the protestor seen at the beginning of the
report. Mr. Harper was talking about predictable reactions in general
of which the protestor was a specific example. Some have argued that he
was talking about polling within the Arab and Jewish communities, and
while that's possible, he was also discussing, in addition to polling,
"reactions within certain domestic communities." Far from being
unrelated, as you suggest, the two are directly related.
Later in the news conference, the Prime Minister was specifically asked
about the protestors outside the meeting. While he did say that it is
important to listen to members of the various communities (as we
reported, his Ministers met with two of the protestors) he also said
“they can’t guide all of our decisions at the same time.” Far from
being contradictory to his response to the earlier question, this was
restating the government position that we faithfully reported throughout
I do, however, agree with your concern about the structure of the
report. The construction of the piece did make it appear the Prime
Minister was responding directly to the woman protester, and that was
not the case. We should have taken the time to make it clear that the
Prime Minister was responding to a general question, and not a specific
question about the woman's concerns, and I regret that. While this does
not constitute a misrepresentation of Mr. Harper's position, or the
position of his Government, the program could have, and should have,
taken the time to be clear about what prompted the response.
It is also my responsibility to inform you that if you are not satisfied
with this response, you may wish to submit the matter for review by the
CBC Ombudsman, Mr. Vince Carlin. The Office of the Ombudsman, an
independent and impartial body reporting directly to the President, is
responsible for evaluating program compliance with the CBC's
journalistic policies. Mr. Carlin may be reached by mail at the address
shown below, or by fax at (416) 205-2825, or by e-mail at
Box 500, Station “A”,
I hope this information is helpful to you, and thank you again for
CBC Audience Relations