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For almost seven months, Palestine solidarity activists in Canada have been engaged in a struggle to hold their national broadcaster, the CBC, to account. On August 18, 2020, CBC’s current affairs program “The Current” carried an interview with Joe Sacco where the host used the word Palestine. This was deleted in the later online version and CBC apologized for Sacco’s language the next day. Following multiple complaints from listeners, it was learnt that CBC’s official language guide promoted this kind of anti-Palestinian bias.
The issue then went to CBC’s Ombudsman who has finally released his review of the case. His lengthy report concluded “that while The Current did not violate journalistic standards, producers made a poor decision in issuing an apology. Even though the original program was at odds with CBC’s usual practice, it would have been better to leave it as is.”
Canada Palestine Association, whose chair was listed as the complainant by the Ombudsman, issued a statement unpacking the review. They noted that:
“The Ombudsman posed 4 questions. Did CBC violate its own journalistic standards. He answered No. Is CBC’s language guide on Palestine reasonable? Yes, it is. Did the on-air apology violate CBC’s standards? No.
But then question number 4: Was the apology reasonable in this instance? The answer was No, despite the CBC staff adhering to the supposedly ‘reasonable’ language guide.
It might appear positive that the Ombudsman conceded that ‘the decision to excise the word Palestine from future editions, and the decision to make the apology, were both unwise.’ But his conclusion is tainted by the fact that this incident is presented as merely an aberration, against a background of otherwise sound CBC policy on language regarding Palestine. As such, this can only be regarded as mere window-dressing.“
Mondoweiss has covered the case extensively. From the original article by David Kattenburg, to the letter campaign by Just Peace Advocates, to the CodePink statement: all of these were documented and all of them contributed to bringing pressure on CBC.