Cohen and Litwin don’t just take on CBC’s news programs. On the CBC, as they tell us (and show us), “even the game shows have a political bias.” On one such show, for example, contestants are asked: “Which city in Palestine is recognized to be a place of pilgrimage for Christians, Jews and Muslims?” Answer: Jerusalem.
Needless to say, a major staple of CBC programming is reflexive anti-Americanism. The CBC regularly provides a forum to people who argue that Islamic violence is the fault of American foreign policy. Republicans get especially disrespectful treatment: in one clip, CBC columnist Heather Mallick makes snide personal remarks about John McCain and calls Sarah Palin a “porn actress” type who appeals to “the white trash vote.”
The CBC is, of course, also hostile to Canada’s own Conservative Party. The documentary showcases a shameless piece of trickery by the network, in which a clip of Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper is taken out of context to make it look as if he’s putting down Canada’s Muslim community. After showing us the CBC version of Harper’s statement, Cohen and Litwin present us with the uncut version, which makes it clear that Harper was making a respectful comment about both Jews and Muslims. On this occasion, too, the CBC was forced to apologize.
The CBC bias against the Conservatives manifests itself on all kinds of shows and in all kinds of ways. In one clip, a weather girl makes snide remarks about Conservative policy. On a comedy show, an actor imitating Harper wishes viewers “a happy gun-toting, anti-abortion, heterosexual new year.” Another “comedy” program actually includes a sketch in which the actors shoot at Harper and George W. Bush. Skits mocking the left are few and far between.
We see a CBC interviewer giving Michael Moore a royal welcome, hailing him as a “right-wing bogeyman” and praising his “memorable Oscar acceptance speech.” (Moore repays the compliment, calling the CBC “a national treasure.”) By contrast, when Ayaan Hirsi Ali expresses her love of America in an interview with Avi Lewis, he laughs at her with breathtaking condescension and accuses her of embracing pro-American clichés. (She responds smoothly: “You grew up in freedom and you can spit on freedom.”)
In another clip, a CBC interviewer calls Hirsi Ali “right-wing,” to which Hirsi Ali, who’s promoting a book, replies: “What is right-wing about anything I have written in that book?” The interviewer doesn’t back off: if she isn’t right-wing, why has she taken a job at the American Enterprise Institute? On the CBC, to be associated with any conservative institution is to be guilty of an offense that requires an explanation.
This Hour Could Have 10,000 Minutes was first shown in Ottawa last November and was followed by a panel discussion among several journalists and media critics. That discussion is included on the DVD. One of the panelists points out that CBC journalists are the upper class of the Canadian news media: for instance, they earn 39% more than their non-CBC colleagues, have larger camera crews, and are accorded a disproportionate amount of space in the parliamentary press gallery. Another panelist notes that even though the CBC’s viewership numbers keep going down, its government subsidies continue to climb.
Canada is an important country – more important than many Americans realize, with an economy bigger than Russia’s and Spain’s – and the fact that Canadian taxpayers are shelling out good money to get slanted news matters. For Canadians, a documentary like this one performs a valuable service, bringing together some of the more outrageous moments in recent CBC history and providing the corporation’s critics with a solid piece of ammunition. For those of us living outside of Canada, the documentary is no less valuable, giving us an instructive dose of the kind of disinformation Canadians are fed every day – and helping us to understand, among other things, just why there’s so much knee-jerk contempt for the U.S. and Israel in America’s neighbor to the north.
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