In Full Damage-Control Mode, CBC Urges: It’s Not Jian Ghomeshi’s Problem—it’s Yours
One of the most shameful things about the Ghomeshi situation is that the CBC, in full damage-control mode, is trying to pretend the story is not really about one of its pampered and lucubrated longtime employees, but rather that Jian, poor Jian, is just a symptom of a much wider societal crisis. In other words—no-one at CBC is or was responsible for Ghomeshi—he’s just a guy who represents 10s of thousands across the country today.
All this may be. #beenraped/neverreported is worthwhile looking at—when would it not be? But conflating it with Ghomeshi to get CBC off the hook for not dealing with a known predator in its midst for years and years is, if anything, reflective of Ghomeshi himself, who conflated in his Facebook post his healthy kink life with vengeful prudes out to get him.
To distance itself from Ghomeshi, and to shield its managers and executives from being associated with him, the CBC is now going all-out on radio and TV and every platform to panelize to death the issue of sexual violence and “why women won’t come forward.” It is citing whopping statistics and fairly hauling people off the streets to sit under the bright lights and furrow their brows and express grim chagrin over how the problem that Ghomeshi merely represents (but isn’t, in and of himself, an especially notable example) just seems so persistent. Some of the CBC’s expert panelists include talk-show hosts (yes, talk-show hosts) or just everyday journalists. The CBC thinks that a media “insider” has more knowledge and insight to bring to bear than actual experts—this is yet one more example of self-satisfying hubristic conflation: have a talk show? Good. You must be qualified to discuss the issues around non-reporting of sexual assaults. All this panelization, presumably, is to show that the CBC really, really cares about this terrible issue that, sure, did affect some guy it hired and kept promoting for a long time, but that really affects THE WHOLE COUNTRY much more than just that one guy.
This is craven in the extreme. If the CBC really wanted to address issues of sexual violence, or non-reporting of assaults, or how the legal and judicial systems prevent abused women from coming forward, then it has tremendous resources at its disposal to do just that. It could get The Passionate Eyeonto it. It could hire a documentarian/commission a documentary. It could put together an Ideasseries. If CBC hasn’t done such things already, yet is now treating the Ghomeshi story as simply one troubling little symptom of a massive mud-spectred (I draw on Jian’s Facebook page for that one) national malaise, then it obviously wasn’t doing much at all in the past to fulfill its journalistic mandates.
Canadahas a fairly robust history of egregious sex criminals—Paul Bernado, Russell Williams, Luca Magnotta.
How many people in B.C. are more than one or two acquaintances away from a woman who was victimized?
Now, I’m not saying that Ghomeshi killed anyone, but where was the CBC on drawing massive social extrapolations from all these earlier cases?
I don’t think it would be difficult for any sentient person not to look at any of these horrific examples and not instantly come up with ways in which to generalize the problem and suggest that the Bernado’s, say, were just symptoms of a much, much more widespread problem.
Karla Homolka, an abused woman, only “came forward” when she got a deal from the justice system.
Perhaps the easiest thing we do, as human beings, is see one example of something and draw a sweeping generalization from it (the legal system is supposed to be about gathering numerous examples, but that doesn’t seem to be working out so well, either).
The CBC, calculatingly, clearly decided: “we’ve gotta make this Ghomeshi thing go away; we’ve gotta make it look like it’s everyone’s problem, not ours.”
I can’t speak for Mansbridge or Mesley or Tremonti or whoever at the CBC, but as they all dutifully led their panels about non-reporting, I really kind of felt that their hearts weren’t in it and that they’d been ordered by their bosses to do this panel now! I just said I could be wrong. Maybe Mesley wrote all her own questions. Who knows? But there was no urgency in any of the panelistic/CBC interviewing responses—this was Operation Ghomeshi Coverup in full flight.
This story isn’tabout the broader story of violence towards women in society. It is about Ghomeshi. As I have already said, any statistics aside, if an average guy serially lured women to his home so as to assault them and secretly videotape them, then that guy woulddo time. If he wouldn’t, then perhaps any lawyer or judge or cop or academic or actual offender or, fine, talk-show host, could write in to say just how and why not. This story is about over 9 women who have now come forward about *1* guy, and to pretend there aren’t more is Pollyannaish. Further, to pretend that this egregious case can simply be blended into some sort of general “violence against women” theme can only militate against ameliorating situations for the general populace. Ghomeshi won’t do time. But his story, and the way CBC has handled it, will make it seem like “oh, yeah, that violence against women stuff–I hear Ghomeshi was into it; worked for him. His bosses protected him. No probs.” The Pollyannaish theory ought to be that not 1 case of assault is ok, but the CBC is saying that, since it’s at least 9 so far, we might as well call it general and not specific and blame “society” instead of an offender. In this way, the CBC is working against women coming forward.
And yes, I know, any and everything is just “alleged.” Nothing is proven. Just alleged. Got it. That’s all it is—alleged.
Very, very, very few people go through life and can look back on it and say that they never experienced any unpleasant sexual or sexually exploitative situations.
But Ghomeshi’s case isn’t everyone’s case—it’s a serial case that was enabled and enabled by the CBC; as the Q
executive producer who fielded a harassment complaint from a young female member of Ghomeshi’s “team” aptly said, there was no way to pursue anything against Ghomeshi because Ghomeshi’s show was “a f—-ing juggernaut” (http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/30/q-journalist-who-alleges-ghomeshi-threatened-to-hate-f-her-says-she-complained-to-boss-in-2010/). In other words, Ghomeshi was too big to fire, and that gave him carte blanche with young women and made him untouchable by CBC brass. He knew it, they knew it, and now he’s trying to say he did nothing wrong, and CBC is trying to say it’s everyone’s problem, not theirs. For shame.
Take the case of Reva Seth, one of Ghomeshi’s late accusers. She is, or became, a lawyer. Not a talk-show host, a lawyer. You might think that someone such as her, a member in good standing in the legal profession, would have a very clear and active desire to support her profession and try to prevent or prosecute the kinds of behaviours of which Ghomeshi now stands accused, and of which she now accuses him. But she didn’t. Ghomeshi was too much of a celebrity, one that CBC carefully groomed and nurtured. If a female lawyer was unwilling to pursue action against him, then who would? No, this story isn’t about some general societal problem, though if it makes us think about and confront one, good. If Reva Seth were assaulted by any old Joe Who, I suspect Joe Who wouldn’t have kept seeing his star rise, as Jian’s did.
An awful lot of CBC people must have held their noses around Jian, and one understands that the public broadcaster was desperate to have a popular show of any kind, even if that never really was its chief mandate. But an awful lot of people at CBC have an awful lot to answer for, and as a supporter of public broadcasting, I am disgusted and ashamed by CBC’s attempts to pretend the Ghomeshi story was a national societal one, and not one that involved one of its most attentively preened employees.
Or, put another way, if the CBC really wants to get to the bottom of why women don’t report assaults, then the first place it could start interviewing would be in its own boardrooms and executive suites. Then it could “Go Public” or “Go (and talk to the) Public” and do the kind of journalism for which it has historically been honoured.