Wednesday, December 24, 2014

More Conflict-Of-Interest At The CBC

The deterioration of the once highly-respected CBC continues apace. Not only has Peter Mansbridge, as seen recently in his year-end friendly chat with Stephen Harper, abandoned any semblance of journalistic impartiality and integrity, but he also seems to be acting as a bad example to younger colleagues, one of whom is reputed to be a potential successor to the chief correspondent.

Like Peter and Rex Murphy before her, Amanda Lang, CBC News' Senior Business Correspondent, seems to have developed a bad habit that those outside of the cloistered Corporation would label as conflict of interest. Succinctly put, as reported by Canadaland, said correspondent took money from both Manulife and Sunlife and then gave them favourable coverage on the network.

On July 10 and August 7 of this year, Lang was a paid moderator for two Manulife asset management seminars.

Now here is Lang on September 5 – not quite a month later – welcoming Manulife CEO Donald Guloien on her business affairs show The Exchange for a cozy interview about his company’s $4bn acquisition of a competitor’s Canadian assets.

To compound the conflict, Canadaland reports the following:
Manulife Asset Management is the specific part of the company that hired her. Unprompted, Lang says this at 4:54:

“ of the things that Manulife has done is grown its asset management business in a big way in the last few years.”

The entire segment casts Manulife (and its stock) in a positive light, giving Guloien an uncritical platform to boast about his big deal.

CBC News aired Lang’s interview segment with Manulife’s CEO without any disclosure of her financial relationship with the company. The segment can still be streamed on the CBC’s website without any mention of the conflict of interest
Canadaland's reporter, Sean Craig, puts it all in perspective:
To recap: Lang (a contender for Peter Mansbridge's chair as anchor of The National) is CBC News' Senior Business Correspondent, the top business reporter in the organization. She hosts the CBC's flagship business affairs show, which regularly covers the insurance industry. And Manulife is a giant insurance company.

Yet Lang took their money twice, moonlighting at their corporate events. Then she had their CEO on her show. And then she praised, to him, the specific department of his company that had hired her.
And this takes place despite the fact that after the Rex Murphy and Peter Mansbridge conflicts came to light,
CBC News Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire announced that from that point on when journalists asked her permission to speak for cash, she would "reject requests from companies, political parties or other groups which make a significant effort to lobby or otherwise influence public policy."
In November 2014 alone, Manulife held official meetings with two government cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament from each major opposition party.
Lang was also paid for a Sun Life speech in November. Just six weeks before, she conductd this interview with Sun Life CEO Dean Connor:

By the way, neither of the interviews offers any disclaimer about Lang's pecuniary relationship with the companies.

Of course, the CBC 'shirts' have all kinds of inventive justifications for these egregious violations of conflict-of-interests policies, none of which sound valid. If you are interested in reading them, check out the original story.

Needless to say, I and doubtless many others would say those 'explanations' come nowhere close to passing the olfactory tests of most reasonable people.


  1. Progressive bloggers remain tied to corporate entities who use whatever tools at their command to enforce censorship. Maybe they should setup and use a blogging system free from corporate control. I will try, but I will be censored.

    Happy Christmas!

    1. Happy Christmas, Anon. I'm not quite sure what your experience has been, but even though my blog is provided by Google, I have never experienced any form of censorship. I suppose that is an ultimate possibility, but I know of no one that has happened to.

  2. Manulife is also the private for profit company that has had a stranglehold on managing the Canadian Armed Forces ' Vocational Rehabilitation Program (SISIP) for medically released injured soldiers. The very same program that is embroiled in a class action lawsuit with Harper's petty vindictive selfish government, that claims no social contract with Canada's injured troops.

    1. A very interesting piece of information. Thanks, Anon.

  3. I thought fairly highly of Amanda Lang when she first joined the CBC. Since then I have become less and less impressed. She's a competent presenter but shows no real insight. She seems to be most motivated by being able to mingle and make nice with the big money movers and shakers and I don't see any indications that she is willing to rock the boat to expose uncomfortable truths. This is further borne out by her willingness to play the "long-suffering-wife" role to O'Leary's ranting husband-troll.

    That she is deep in the pockets of fund companies comes as a disappointment but as no real surprise. I mean, only paired against a lunatic like O'Leary could she be considered anything but very pro-big-business, much left a left-leaning moderate.

    As for Manulife, their insurance arm provided extended health for a previous employer. I had a claim for a device prescribed by a leading orthopedic trauma sugeon initially rejected. When I called to check on this I was told that the phone person "had never heard of" this device before. I had to get a certificate from the provincial government for it. When I got through to them, the guy on the phone said "Let me guess, ... Manulife. I have a form letter for them."

    1. Thanks for your comments, Anon. Given the current timidity of the CBC and its apparent policy of appeasing its political masters, your observation about Lang ("She seems to be most motivated by being able to mingle and make nice with the big money movers and shakers and I don't see any indications that she is willing to rock the boat to expose uncomfortable truths.") makes it sound like she is just the eventual replacement for Peter Mansbridge the Corporation would be comfortable with.

  4. It seems like the Cons don't have to work very hard at dismantling the CBC as the main celebrities paid by the network are doing a great job at ruining it's credibility.

    1. As time goes on, Anon, there seems less and less worth saving of the CBC, doesn't there?