We, the Fragile (CBC Warning: The Following Commentary Is Toxic)
by G. Tod Slone (October 2021)
Head of a Man, Frank Auerbach, 1942
We, the Fragile, can only bear laudation ad laudanum. That ought to be the motto of Canadian public broadcaster CBC. “Why CBC is turning off Facebook comments on news posts for a month" is the title of the editorial of Brodie Fenlon, CBC Ed.-in-Chief, who repeats over and again how his fragile journalists are being “attacked” with “vitriol and harassment.”
Whatever happened to the wise old adage: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me”? Let’s add to that adage: If you can’t take the heat, then get the hell out of the limelight! Should journalists like those at the CBC be pushing narratives or facts and truths, even if the latter, for them, appear to constitute “vitriol and harassment”? That is the crux of the journalist problem. Clearly, CBC is not politically or socially neutral at all. That is the crux of its problem, the one it will not address. Instead, it chooses to demonize anyone pointing out that crux as an entity of “vitriol and harassment.” Needless to say, that sadly seems to constitute a convenient and effective modus operandi.
Fenlon notes that “The president of CBC/Radio-Canada, Catherine Tait, has also written about the increased abuse of journalists on social media, especially women and journalists of colour, and the threat such attacks pose to free speech and democracy.” He and she, however, fail to define the precise nature of so-called “abuse,” which can obviously include, for example, any written criticism of the writing of a journalist of color.
Fenlon argues that “It's one thing for our journalists to deal with toxicity on these platforms. It's another for our audience members who try to engage with and discuss our journalism to encounter it on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, where they are almost guaranteed to be confronted by hate, racism and abuse.” Fenlon does not state with precision what might constitute “toxicity,” which can evidently include, for example, any written criticism of a CBC journalist, white or black.
Fenlon complains that “It takes a mental toll on our staff, who must wade into the muck in an effort to keep the conversation healthy for others. It is not sustainable.” But what does “healthy for others” even mean, if not “Warning: Only Pabulum Spoon-Fed PC-Identity Politics Doctrine Permitted”? The spineless are encouraged not to build spine, but rather to remain spineless and demonize anybody daring to stand up and criticize them.
Evidently, Fenlon is a subtle proponent of not-so-subtle censorship: “We want to see if we can use Facebook more selectively over the four-week test. Can we be more intentional? Can we reduce the harm and impact of the conversations? Can we apply what we learn with Facebook to other third-party platforms where comments are an issue, such as Twitter or YouTube?” Yes, how to reduce the “harm and impact of conversations”? Learn from Big Tech censors! CBC could also learn from Pravda, formerly the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, though apparently CBC has been in modus imitatem for a long time now.
Fenlon concludes that “We continue to welcome comments on our website, CBCNews.ca, where we have more moderating tools and can focus our attention better on offering a respectful dialogue about our stories.” Moderating tools? Why not be honest and state, “censoring tools,” for is that not precisely what the tools do? Are CBC journalists incapable of being honest and frank? Journalists should learn to avoid such euphemisms, as well as highly subjective terms like “respectful.” “Dealing with attacks on our people, and the subjects and principles of our stories, however, is something we take seriously,” states Fenlon. “Attacks” or critiques of reason and facts? Journalism is on a steep downhill slide. Why? Evidently because of editors like Fenlon, who canNOT perceive its prime problem: Bias! Biased journalists and biased editors!
As for that, Fenlon seems unaware of it, let alone that it constitutes the prime problem, his prime problem. As an example, Fenlon, in a different article, “Canadian trust in journalism is wavering. Here's what CBC News is doing about it,” states that “In the United States, still reeling from the deadly attack on its Capitol in January, there are millions of people who wrongly believe the presidential election was stolen by widespread fraud—though it's important to note more Americans believe it was a legitimate contest than not.” Bias! The term “deadly attack” underscores bias! After all, only “Five people died either shortly before, during, or after the event: one was shot by Capitol Police, one died of a drug overdose, and three succumbed to natural causes (Wikipedia).” So, in essence, one person, a protester, was shot to death by Capitol Police. The term “deadly attack” would have one believe that a number of people were killed by the protesters! That is wrong and highly misleading! Yet why does Fenlon choose to echo that “fake news” Democrat-Party narrative? Bias! Note Fenlon does not even mention the BLM/antifa summer riots, where 19 or more people died. Bias! Note again the biased language used by Fenlon, as to the presidential election: “wrongly believe.” Election audits are still taking place or not yet even effected! Has Fenlon even bothered to examine the various instances of fraud? Likely not. Why not? Well, it’s far easier to be biased. Is he even aware that the Democrat Party is fighting tooth and nail against all election audits. Why?
Finally, Fenlon evokes Trump: “And, of course, there's Donald Trump. The former U.S. president's persistent efforts to repeatedly delegitimize mainstream press as the ‘enemy of the people’ and ‘fake news’ shaped and hardened public attitudes.” Yet how not to agree with Trump’s assessment? We had Russiagate fake news, then we had the insurrection fake news, and the nothing-to-see-here peaceful BLM/antifa riots, and the nothing-to-see-here election integrity fake news! Fenlon, if he really wanted to improve, needs to focus on his own personal biases. But does he really want to improve? “As always, I trust you will let me know what else we can be doing to earn and keep your trust,” states Fenlon. Well, I sure doubt he gives a damn about earning my trust or that of a plethora of Canadians, which he never had to begin with. Now, how to contact him and send him this critique? Not possible. He is far too high up on the CBC ladder.
Tricia L. Somers
Once again Mr. Slone has written a relevant and entertaining fun article to read. Given the fact that censorship is rearing it’s ugly head in ways that are perhaps not so easily recog- nized as being such. The issue is not whether or not people’s feelings should be hurt in the quest for “truth” regarding something that ultimately is going to be a mere opinion anyway, for the most part. The issue is that seemingly innocuous policy of protecting the feelings of people, is exactly how they get their foot in the door. That door has been swung wide open, the examples of which result in a comment that is much longer than this. Since I do not know the limitations of this forum, I will simply say bravo to Mr. Slone and look forward to his next article. Respectfully, Tricia L. Somers