Sunday, November 09, 2014

Rex Murphy, Jian Ghomeshi, and the CBC Cult of Celebrity

It's hard to imagine a more ghastly thing to watch on a grim, grey, fall day in Harperland, than Rex Murphy on Jian Ghomeshi.

The only thing more depressing would be a Stephen Harper speech, or an ISIS video.

But I watched it anyway eh?

Because I'm really interested in what people who work at the CBC have to say about that scandal, after seeing that its hapless managers are claiming they had no idea that their big star was harassing women and bullying his staff. 

CBC's executive vice-president of English Services Heather Conway is defending management's handling of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, saying it was not the role of the broadcaster to investigate someone's private sex life.

And I have to say that for a Murphy video it wasn't too awful...

Even though, as he always does, he uses a lot of big words to essentially say nothing.

And even though, not surprisingly, he avoids the inconvenient truth. Management's cult of celebrity protected Ghomeshi, as it is protecting Murphy.

From being fired for shilling for Big Oil...

And his fellow climate change deniers in Con regime.

For what else can you call those massive posters of the CBC stars in the lobby of the CBC building but a cult of celebrity?

Which has been promoted by those managers for years, in a pathetic attempt to emulate the celebrity culture south of the border. And has only made the CBC look trashier and more American.

And more ominously, what message do those giant posters send to the people who work there? Does Heather Conway really not understand why they might hesitate to complain?

"We asked people if they had received complaints, we asked people if they had witnessed behaviour that was sexual harassment or violence, nobody said they had. We asked people who had received complaints from even outside of the CBC, nobody had, so we satisfied ourselves that the workplace was safe, that there were no complaints.

When so many CBC employees, especially the younger ones, are on short-term contracts. And even when thousands of Canadians complained about Murphy their complaints went nowhere.

The CBC defended his presence on the network's flagship news show. It claimed that absurd right-wing tea bagger, that homegrown demagogue, was above the basic rules of journalism, because he's on contract. 

And even on the record of speaking engagements they promised to set-up in the wake of that controversy, he apparently rates no mention.

So he is free to preach the Gospel of Big Oil...

On and off the air.

And the disturbing question is, if the CBC treats its "celebrities" like gods, and nobody dares challenge them, what other crimes might that culture be concealing?

i. Will the external investigators limit the scope of their enquiry to complaints related to Jian? What if employees come forward with complaints about other CBC on-air persons? 

ii. Has the CBC entered into contractual arrangements involving financial compensation for employees who have departed the corporation due to workplace harassment or improprieties on the part of high-profile on-air personalities including but not limited to Jian? iii. 

If so, how much money have taxpayers spent on making amends for such workplace improprieties and have any offending employees maintained their positions, if not Jian? 

Because I've heard some stories or rumours from some CBC staffers I know, that are deeply disturbing, and definitely should be investigated.

Yup. The CBC  managers owe us all a better explanation.

Their trashy cult of celebrity may have led the corporation to a very bad place.

And of course it's still not too late to do the right thing.

And fire Rex Murphy...

Please click here to recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers.


  1. Anonymous9:49 AM

    When I, an ordinary mere mortal used to tune in to watch Rex doing one of his Marty Feldmanian wild eyed rants I would,for all intents and purposes,sit dazed and confused by his lengthy wordiness,akin let's say to being carpetbombed by dictionaries and other wordy type books.I cannot speak for all ordinary people without benefit of an English major and I certainly don't have one but that other rantster,Rick Mercer,is more down to earth and more easily understood.
    Here's a word for Rex."Presstitute".

    1. hi I mentioned in my post I thought Murphy's rant was better than most of his boring diatribes. But when you analyze it carefully all those big words amount to nothing. He is a reactionary Con tea bagger, a shameless pimp for Big Oil, and yes as you say an absolute Presstitute....

  2. Nothing about managements response surprises me, nor should you be surprised by that response..
    It isn't as if they are in any position to speculate..what they knew and when they knew it are meaningless unless and until this whole thing goes to trial, which may or may not happen, and the way justice creaks along in this country, in a best-case scenario for Ghomeshi's alleged victims, it probably wouldn't happen for years..
    As you say, no one should play the blame game with employees trying to protect themselves in the face of the culture's intense scrutiny and abuse of anyone having the temerity to complain..
    I was once the victim of prolonged and sometimes vicious harassment in the workplace in a large city workplace, and went through the hell, finally, of trying to deal with it...not by complaining to management, but by standing up to the bullying (one of few women in a practically all-male workplace) and for my efforts, wound up being threatened, going on stress leave and somehow it made the papers.Only then did management attempt to act..this was not sexual harassment, this was bullying and sexist attitudes coming from multiple honestly felt totally helpless about what to do..this huge publicly funded institution had no clue when it came to this sort of issue..but by the end of it all, rules on harassment were finally put in place..
    When they asked me to name names, i refused, pointing out that the list would be shorter if I named those who did treat me with respect. I also told them that attitudes cannot be censured, but acting on those attitudes could carry consequences..and so they responded with rules on what constituted harassment, and penalties for engaging in it...
    Is CBC. or for that matter, Parliament, any different? What else can anyone expect?
    I just watched a program about women coming forward and reporting against their abusers; one woman who came forward about her violent rape said that the assault she had to endure in court was worse than the rape...the defense attorney spent three days cross examining her about every detail of her personal life, as if any of that had any bearing on the case..can anyone possibly not understand why victims don't come forward, for the most part? Who wants to be re-victimized by those who are supposed to be protecting you, getting paid with your tax money, and then forcing you to endure that sort of public humiliation.. ? What sort of judge would allow such a bashing in their courtroom? As long as victim-blaming and shaming are alive and well and living in Canada, nothing will change....

    1. hi mizdarlin....I'm sorry to hear that you once had to put up with harassment at work. And good for you for standing up for your rights. I can only hope that these horrible revelations will encourage other women to come forward and break the silence. What I hold against CBC management is the way they are trying to frame the scandal, by making it sound that they thought it was a matter that concerned only Ghomeshi. When in fact it was a story with many victims, and the CBC should have known better. Bt if I could forgive the way they have tried to frame the story, which I can't, I can never forgive the way they allowed that "star" to bully his staff right under their noses. That's simply unforgivable, and those heartless managers cannot be allowed to get away with it...

  3. Anonymous1:08 PM

    The intellectual left everybody! Not only does Simon have trouble with Rex's sophisticated vocabulary, we have a complete distortion of anything approaching perspective.

    Q. 1 1/2 hours a day, four days a week, 2 hours on Friday. Heavy progressive slant.

    Rex Murphy - 2 hours on Sunday, 3 minutes on The National once per week.

    Q, and Jian Ghomeshi were given a platform a full 4 times greater than Rex Murphy, who isn't even a journalist, or regular employee of the CBC. Vs. a serial abuser with 4 times greater exposure.

    But Rex Murphy is the "real" problem at the CBC.

    You really can't invent such vivid delusion.

    But, when you're on a holy green crusade, the facts are irrelevant aren't they?

    1. hi anon...I've never said that what Murphy does is worse than what Ghomeshi is accused of doing, so don't twist my words. Ghomeshi is a despicable bully and Murphy is a mere demagogue. What I did say is that both of them were protected by the CBC's cult of celebrity. Also the fact that Murphy is on contract, or not a journalist, is irrelevant. He is an editorial voice on the CBC's flagship NEWS show, and supporting the oil industry while being paid by it is totally unacceptable by any standard. And as for defending the planet I make no apologies for that, and I suggest that it is the climate change deniers who treat facts as irrelevant...

    2. Anonymous1:58 PM

      I've never said that what Murphy does is worse than what Ghomeshi is accused of doing, so don't twist my words.

      Yes, yes, I think you did.

      Also the fact that Murphy is on contract, or not a journalist, is irrelevant.

      So, let's pretend for a moment that Ghomeshi wasn't accused etc, and was still hosting Q. His left-wing demagogery is appropriate on the CBC, or no? Consistency would be to ditch both Ghomeshi, AND Rex Murphy. Inconsistency would imply ditching Rex Murphy, but not Ghomeshi. The only alternative would be to argue that Ghomeshi is not a demagogue. That one will blow up in your face, but you're welcome to try.

      As for the planet, it's absurd to try to argue this with a leftist, but I'm going to try anyway. We have very serious environmental problems, things which should be corrected, which do not necessarily involve carbon. Do you care about those things, or has your climate change focus blinded you to the fact that trying to mitigate climate change is proving to be worse than the climate change its self?

      Or do we only care about environmental disaster when it's in our backyard, and not outsourced to China?

  4. Anonymous3:47 PM

    Classic left wing garbage, "climate change" is a joke. The Vikings were in Greenland in the middle of the last millennium it was warmer than it is today, there must have been a lot of "greenhouse gas" being put out in the 1400's by big oil. Climate change has nothing more than a left wing fabrication to control people.

    1. hi anon...I'm sorry but I would call what you are saying right-wing garbage. I find it hard to believe that some still deny the reality of human influenced climate change. But I will point out that polls show that people like you are losing the argument. And that you will soon be in very small company...

    2. It used to be called "Global Warming". Unfortunately (the alarmists were dismayed to discover) virtually every IPCC and Al Gore doom and gloom prediction failed to materialise and the infamous "hockey stick" graph was completely debunked. No worries.....we'll call it "Climate Change" instead! So to polar icecaps continue to GROW and the alarmists continue to scream hysterically that they need big taxes to "invest" in preventing this latest invented catastrophe! If climate activists were not so hysterical and extreme, and if they weren't to eager to control economies and tax us all to death, perhaps they could be consensus builders and achieve their goals through mutual cooperation, not threats and aggression and insults to all who take a more balanced view of things!!

  5. "Classic left wing garbage, "climate change" is a joke. The Vikings were in Greenland in the middle of the last millennium it was warmer than it is today, there must have been a lot of "greenhouse gas" being put out in the 1400's by big oil. Climate change has nothing more than a left wing fabrication to control people."

    Nice try and with all due respect....bullshit. The real culprit of control is obscene runaway neo-liberal thinking that is faster than a Nascar race to oblivion.

  6. …………………………………………………….

    Repost from Mark Whitbread - Stephen Harper appointed the entire board of directors and the President of the CBC. I'm just wondering why Canada's top Conservative would appoint right-biased / right-wing CEOs and Directors to run the CBC.

    Repost from XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX – Re CBC - I don't agree with those who are blaming CBC for getting the Cons elected, etc. I know people who work at a couple of different CBC stations and the inside story - which they can't reveal - is awful. Ever since Steve HarperCON’s guy took over, the pressure on them has been enormous! You've noticed, for example Evan being not only front and centre, but now promoted! Evan?! That's all coming down from HarpCons.

    Every person who works there is absolutely walking on eggs almost all the time - unless they've been appointed by Harper. There have been tons of "unexpected" lay-offs and "disappearances" of staff who tried to buck the system or to report differently. From all the CBC people I know, in fact - under the dreadful circumstances and incredible pressures in which they find themselves for the past few years, increasingly since pre-election - they have managed to keep doing a pretty good job, imo - all things considered. They still are mostly really trying and they still do better than anyone else we have. There are definitely two sides to this story - so I'm just mentioning the other side.

    I remember reading something a couple of months ago, about the employees of CBC having to sign some kind of agreement which affects their ability to criticize the government. not exactly a gag order.

    (first scroll down to accept button, then you’ll be taken to article)

    Harper appointed bunch of CONs 2 CBC as Board of Dir's & Pres #cdnpoli

    #cdnpoli #cdnmedia - @pmHarper Tory government's handpicked CBC board of CONS: The CBC board, including (cont)


    Repost from Mark Whitbread - Stephen Harper appointed the entire board of directors and the President of the CBC. I'm just wondering why Canada's top Conservative would appoint left-biased / right-wing CEOs and Directors to run the CBC.

    The board, including president Hubert Lacroix, were all appointed by the Conservative government. Among the directors are figures with ties to the party or conservative politics — notably Montreal lawyer Brian Mitchell, who once ran for the party presidency and sat on its national council.

    Pierre Gingras, appointed earlier this year, is a former member of Quebec's ADQ party. Director George Cooper is a former Progressive Conservative MP for Halifax.

    Montreal lawyer Remi Racine, appointed to the board in 2007, was once national secretary of the Progressive Conservative party. He told a Montreal newspaper in 2008 that he was still a card-carrying party member and was close with John Baird, now foreign affairs minister, and former minister Jim Prentice.


    Repost from XXXXXX - Plus if you talk of taking funding away the network will be walking on eggs, I talked with CBC reporters off the record and CBC is not a happy place. It's dictatorial by a bunch of good old boys.. Same story as in other institutions.


  7. The primary problem with the entire CBC story is that it is being funded with our hard earned and sacrificed tax dollars. If Jian or Rex or anyone else worked at Global or City TV, for example, I would not be paying it the attention that I am. The CBC is bloated, expensive, redundant, out of touch, and outdated. It carries as much or more advertising as any other channel, actively competes against the private sector and runs self-promoting ads on every channel out there including Fox News! (All paid for by, you guessed it, the Canadian taxpayers!) Jian Ghomeshi the lady puncher and Hubert Laquoix the double dipper were the biggest whiners at any type of whittling down of the monstrous CBC. I hope every cent spent on lawyers and settlements by the CBC comes straight out of their operating budget....don't take one more penny of my money to spin and coverup and buyoff your many misdeeds. I for one hope the old dinosaur is sold off, peice by peice. 1.1 billion tax dollars could be better spent in a thousand ways!

  8. It is easy and convenient to say, "These are persons of weak moral and ethical character, desperate attention seekers, celebrity sleazes, 'Want me. Love me. Shower me with kisses: muah, muah,' "

    There is some serious, disturbing psychosocial pathology at play with these individuals. I am being specific here, Murphy and Ghomeshi. Yet we can make the same conclusion about anyone else who acts in such ways. We can say the same of Couture-Rouleau and Zehaf-Bibeau. All are out of touch. Even though these individuals possess some form of pathology - that is, an internalized disorder - the problem arises from specific societal dominants. The problem is structural. Rather than targeting the character deficits of individuals, we need to be looking at this from a systems perspective. We need to be working to transform society and the conditions that produce injustice and inequality. When we have much less of these, it is easier to call out those who deviate.

    So, yes, a cult of celebrity certainly. But, I think it goes much deeper than that. A cult of corruption might be closer to the mark. Anyway, I like reading your blogs. But you are very focused on Harper, et. al.. I would like you to see you expand your thinking. Harper and his lot are a product of the times. Yes, he has to go. Yes, they are malignant but there is a movement taking place that produced him; much like the Treaty of Versailles gave rise to the Nazis.

  9. Though some local celebrities are only famous to the people who have heard of them, most celebrities enjoy being in events far away and same is with TV.