Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Synchronous Decline of Peter Mansbridge and The CBC

I admit that I stopped being a regular viewer of the CBC years ago; I think the catalyst for my disaffection was its transparent policy of appeasement (under the pretext of balanced reporting) of the Harper regime which, of course, holds its funding strings. Especially evident in its flagship news program, The National, hosted by that one-time icon of journalistic integrity, Peter Mansbridge, the Corporation has become a parody of itself. And as I have written in past posts, Mansbridge himself has to take the bulk of the blame for its sad decline.

On February 8, The Star's Rick Salutin wrote a piece entitled CBC’s Peter Mansbridge coulda bin a contender. Somewhat dirgelike in tone, Salutin asserts that Mansbridge just seems to have given up on doing any substantive journalism, contrasting him with the redoubtable Walter Cronkite, who he describes as ... ready to stand up against the state and the flow and was solid as the bronze statue of the American revolutionary minuteman who stood “by the rude bridge that spanned the flood/ His flag to April’s breeze unfurled.”

Mansbridge, on the other hand, has happily gone with the flow — and the pressure. CBC has become numero uno for crime stories, weather coverage (today’s snow), product launches, celebrities and awards gossip. None of this is new, or news, and CBC itself doesn’t contest the point.

In this morning's Star, the majority of readers appear to agree with Salutin's assessment. I am taking the liberty of reproducing some of them below:

Leave Mansbridge alone. After his last interview with Stephen Harper, it seems obvious he’s angling for a Senate appointment a la Mike Duffy. Calling attention to his soft-shoe journalism will only make his task that much harder.

Mike Sampat, Toronto

I watch CBC’s The National mostly for entertainment. For real news I watch Aljazeera English and BBC World.

Entertainment, news.

Raja Khouri, Toronto

.... How can one explain that in every half-hour broadcast the “weather person” comes on three times. I suppose it is easier to kill time having the weather person on than to go out an find some news. If we want to dwell on weather there is always the Weather Channel. We can surely do better.

Bob Joakim, Oakville

.... Yes, he is rather apolitical and borderline fawning at times, such as his interview with Stephen Harper before the last federal election, but I can forgive him for that. At least he hasn’t pulled a Mike Duffy and obtained a sinecure in the seniors club we call the Senate. He could have gone to New York a few years ago, but decided to stay, to his and our benefit.

Sigmund Roseth, Mississauga

Expect nothing to change in the near future.


  1. I read Salutin's piece, Lorne and I agree with him. Part of the reason for the news division's decline, though, is that Tony Burman left the Mother Corp.

  2. I often read Burman's column in the World Weekly section of the Saturday Star, Owen. His outward focus is sorely absent at the 'new and improved' CBC.