In Canada, we are witnessing the very odd and exceptional spectacle of Canada’s public broadcaster, the CBC, critically investigating itself over CBC’s initial internal investigation of the Ghomeshi affair. Or CBC’s apparent cover-up of the rise and fall of its most prominent radio and television star, Jian Ghomeshi.
Confused about who is zooming who?
(Note that Jian Ghomeshi, the star of CBC “Q”, a very popular radio/ entertainment/music show, was fired by CBC and has been charged with four counts of assault and one count of choking)
I urge you to go on the CBC “Fifth Estate” website and watch and listen to this masterful “Fifth Estate” documentary, “The Unmaking of Jian Ghomeshi”. Here is the link.
This is history in the making, folks. Journalism schools and media types will be studying this Ghomeshi scandal for years to come. The meteoric rise and precipitous fall of this media star. The coddling , promotion and the alleged cover up by CBC of this dangerous guy. The non-existent investigation of Ghomeshi by CBC. The apparent public cover up of Ghomeshi’s known activities by CBC. And the ultimate exposure of Ghomeshi by investigative blogger Jesse Brown, Kevin Donovan of the Toronto Star and the takedown of such CBC honchos as Chris Boyce and Heather Conway by CBC’s very own investigative team, “The Fifth Estate”.
In early spring of 2014, while the “Q” team was on location in Winnipeg, Ghomeshi told Coulton and Foley that he liked rough sex and an ex girlfriend with whom he had rough consensual sex, was threatening to go public with this story.
Ghomeshi was worried he would be tried in the court of public opinion. He also wondered whether CBC would back him up.
In retrospect, this is all BS. Ghomeshi apparently was trying out this story on his fellow employees in order to develop a narrative to insulate him from the real story.
A few weeks later, Ghomeshi told Coulton that there was a Twitter feed, known as @bigearsteddy (refers to Ghomeshi’s live-in to teddy bear by the same name) The existence of the Twitter feed with a reference to his private life had troubled Ghomeshi. As a good journalist, Coulton located this Twitter feed and was shocked to learn that it discussed how Ghomeshi hurt a series of women- ie allegedly physically assaulting them without their consent, including, punching, choking and causing visible bruises.
He made copies of these tweets and showed them to his colleague Foley.
In June, 2004, Coulton received an email from Jesse Brown, the investigative blogger, who had been on the Ghomeshi case for months. This email also disclosed that there were a series of women who also claimed that Ghomeshi had allegedly physically assaulted them without their consent and that Ghomeshi had also engaged in some inappropriate behavior in the CBC workplace.
On the Canada Day week-end, Coulton and Foley met with Chris Boyce, head of CBC Radio and another CBC senior manager. They showed the Brown email and the “big ears teddy bear” tweets. Coulton recalled that Boyce was aware of something, but this was also new information. Boyce promised Coulton/Foley that CBC would do a full investigation.
Now this is where things get real interesting.
According to Heather Conway, in her only TV interview on this matter, with CBC’s Chief Correspondent Peter Mansbridge, (Here is the link to the full Mansbridge/Conway interview )
after receiving the Brown email, CBC launched into an investigation, which was actually quite limited in scope.
According to Conway, HR ( human resources) dived into Ghomeshi’s personal file looking for any allegations of sexual harassment or violence in CBC. CBC allegedly did a cross section survey of Ghomeshi’s bosses and employees in order to determine if any one had been physically abused by Ghomeshi, or were they aware of any incidents at CBC in which Ghomeshi abused anyone, or whether there had been any complaints of sexual harassment in the CBC workplace.
According to Conway on the Mansbridge show, there was nothing in Ghomeshi’s file and none of the people questioned by CBC knew of any problem.
This is the public story that has been put out by Conway, Boyce and Chuck Thompson, head of CBC’s Public Affairs.
However, there are serious holes in this story. The “Fifth Estate” surveyed 17 “Q” employees who were working at “Q” in the summer and none had been approached by CBC Boyce or any one inquiring about Ghomeshi.
When Boyce was asked about this blatant lie, his only response was that the outside investigator Janice Rubin will be looking into this matter.
That is a terrible, non response.
In short, there was no investigation into Ghomeshi.
Accordingly, on the basis of this bald-faced lie told several times to the Canadian people, the perpetrators of this sham: Conway, Thompson and Boyce should be fired from CBC, or at minimum, suspended.
We know from a previous Toronto Globe and Mail article, that in 2012 there was a “Red Sky memo” in Ghomeshi’s file drafted by six then “Q” employees (or there should have been), which detailed what a cruel, insensitive and abusive boss he was.
So for Conway to suggest on national television that there was nothing in his file of concern is another lie.
Conway also lied when she said that until she learned of the video and photos of Ghomeshi physically causing injury to a woman (having a cracked rib) in October, 2014, she thought she was only dealing with Ghomeshi and “rough sex”.
Jesse Brown’s June, 2014 email, (of which Conway acknowledged receiving) clearly spoke of a series of women who had been allegedly abused through choking and punching, in other words, non-consensual physical assault. All which clearly went beyond rough sex and was closer, to allegedly criminal assault.
The short answer is that CBC, led by Conway, Boyce and Thompson, upon receiving the damning information from Coulton and Foley, tried to bury the evidence and allegedly cover up for Ghomeshi, in the hope this matter would blow over.
And Conway et al are still trying to cover up and ride out this scandal as they are hiding behind outside independent legal investigator, Janice Rubin’s so-called investigation. Which is another ruse to try to make this scandal go away.
Gillian Findlay, Coulter, Foley and of course Brown and Donovan are the true journalistic heroes of this story. Conway, Boyce, and Thompson, not so much.