Saturday, July 08, 2006

Scrap the CBC!

Not long ago I would have never thought I'd say something like that as the CBC used to be my preferred broadcaster and I hardly ever watched the news on any other network. But in recent years the quality of the CBC in general and CBC News in particular has been going in one direction only: Down.

Look at the example of the story of an alleged plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel in NYC. I first came across it at the Times website yesterday morning. Reading the article it became immediately clear to me that there was absolutely nothing of substance to it and that it is an outrageous fabrication. My reaction was one of disbelief that terrorists would discuss their plans in an internet chatroom (or even by email) because as everybody knows intelligence services survey these.

The CBC nevertheless had it at the top of its news at noon prominently figuring Mayor Bloomberg of New York and others saying what a wonderful scoop the Intelligence services had landed. It has since continued to proliferate among "news" outlets of the world although many do repeat that "no attack was imminent." Also, it appears that somehow "intelligence" services learned to become mind readers. Mark J. Mershon, the special agent in charge of the FBI's New York office, claimed that "they were about to go to a phase where they would attempt to surveil targets, establish a regimen of attack and acquire the resources necessary to effectuate the attacks, and at that point I think it's entirely appropriate to take it down" to quote the New York Times repeating the non-story a day later.

A scoop?

What codswallop!

It didn't take long for a critical piece to appear on the web. Rolling Stone pointed out at 1:19 pm EST that it was old news and in a later update linking to ABC News that the "ringleader" Assem Hammoud had been in custody for three months.

The CBC nevertheless repeated the same story on Canada Now.

To expect a critical attitude from the CBC is unfortunately like hoping a fish will survive outside water. One can find more critical analysis of the Mid East conflict, for instance, in Israeli sources (often including quite conservative ones) and human rights organisations or Peace Now are just about never mentioned in this context by the CBC. In their glowing reports from Washington they never even intimate that many in the current leadership are apparent war criminals for violations of the UN Charter, Geneva Agreements and the US War Crimes Act. (For those who have not been able to see that for themselves a recently published book reprints a number of articles from quite respectable sources: In The Name Of Democracy edited by Brecher, Jeremy, Cutler, Jill and Smith, Brendan.) With respect to domestic economic and social policies the CBC is much too timid to criticise the government of the day. Now the CBC brass has decided that Canada should be part of the phony US war on terror, it seems. That's the only explanation I can come up with.

The CBC has become little more than an instrument of propaganda rationalising the policies of the day and a promoter of (mainly) professional sports. The Mother Corp's response to the drastic budget cuts under Mulroney, subsequently amplified by Paul Martin when he was Finance Minister, was not to axe some of the numerous positions of Vice President but to gut programming relying increasingly on old episodes of political satire (This Hour; Air Farce) based on old "news", ancient reruns of Frazier and The Simpsons. Now the CBC is acting as if we were already part of the USA and their fear mongering propaganda.

As Rolling Stone pointed out the "leaking" of this story happened on the anniversary of the July 7 bombing in London and there remain only four months until the US mid-term elections. "Karl Rove & Co are once again playing the Fear Card in an election year. Anyone who doubts that simply hasn't been paying attention for the last five years," they wrote.

Or is just diffusing propaganda.

Why bother fighting to save the CBC when it is not worth saving?