Ma phoned last week panicking about her tiny pension, which gets topped up every month with money I earn from these editorials. "Look Bubbie," she commanded, "stop writing tedious shit. The Coast's gonna cancel your ass." Her prescription? "Stir readers up. Tell 'em you were raped by a ghost. No, Duffy's done that already. OK, tell 'em you love the CBC so much you want that fat prick Harper to double its budget. Then complain about all the right-wing crap CBC pumps out. Make 'em mad, son, make 'em mad."
OK, Ma, even though it pumps out right-wing crap, I love CBC. After all, I spent 20 years in its journalistic trenches, the last couple producing Media File, a radio show that critiqued mainstream news, including the CBC's. One time Media File hung As It Happens out to dry for deliberately ignoring the genocide in East Timor. Then we exposed the rampant pro-Israel bias on Peter Gzowski's Morningside. No, I didn't get fired, but there was a definite career-ending chill in the air. "Biting the hand that feeds you," it's called. Not recommended. Sort of like criticizing The Coast for running cigarette ads, which I would avoid because Ma needs the money.
Yes, I must confess, I still love CBC. When I'm not listening, I'm watching. When I'm not watching, I'm listening. (When I'm not doing either I'm sleeping---or reading The Coast.) CBC, the largest news organization in Canada, gives its journalists what it gave me: The freedom to look into things even if it means prodding a few sacred cows. Trouble is, cattle prods cost money and federal Grits and Tories have slashed the CBC budget so relentlessly that it actually has less money today than when I left in 1991. Not only that, but every industrialized country in the world, except the US and New Zealand, allots way more money to public broadcasting. The average is $80 per person while the CBC receives only $33. That's one reason why CBC is facing a budget shortfall this year of $171 million. As a result, it's slashing 800 full-time jobs by the end of September. This at a time when local news coverage is shrinking fast everywhere.
I know I'm tilting at windmills, but I hereby call on the fat pricks in Ottawa to double the CBC's budget. That'll stir up the CBC-haters. Those tiresome right-wing bozos nattering endlessly that CBC is a bleeding-heart, Commie-loving outfit that coddles queers, welfare moms and postal workers. Hey bozos: Prove it! You can't, can you? If CBC is so left-wing, how do you explain its failure to expose Canada's role in overthrowing and suppressing democracy in a desperately poor country like Haiti? Or how about its bloodless coverage of our unpopular war in desperately poor Afghanistan? When George Bush slithered across the border last week to pocket a six-figure speaking fee, CBC ignored Lawyers Against the War, the group that was calling on the federal government to refuse Bush entry under the terms of Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
Bush's visit coincided with the leak of a secret Red Cross report that documented case after case of torture authorized by his administration. "The tales are horrifyingly medieval in nature," the Canadian Press reported, "terror suspects beaten, bound and bleeding, forced into coffin-like boxes, shackled naked to their beds in darkened cells, deprived of food for weeks, forced underwater to the point of near-drowning, ordered to stand for days." Maybe I missed it, but I didn't hear or see much coverage of that grisly report on the good old CBC.
Yet for all her faults we need Mother Corp's excellent programs such as Nature of Things, Marketplace, fifth estate, Ideas and Maritime Noon. We need CBC to tell Canadian stories while the private networks peddle American schlock. There Ma, I've said it. Let the bozos rage. Your cheque's in the mail.
What's your favourite ceeb show? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.