A Canadian Broadcasting Corp. program broke the company’s journalistic standards when it aired a host’s opinions about the National Rifle Association, the CBC ombudsman Jack Nagler found.
Nagler reported on a listener’s complaint about a May 2019 CBC Radio episode that looked at the NR and included several of host Michael Enright’s personal views of the NRA and its CEO Wayne LaPierre. For example, Enright said,
“The NRA still stockpiles a lot of political firepower. There are more than a few Senators and Representatives who dance to its grisly tune.
“Sensible gun control will never be achieved until LaPierre is packed off to Davy Crocket theme park and sane people take over.”
The CBC defended the comments, with then-executive producer Susan Mahoney saying Enright wasn’t criticizing gun owners but was referring to NRA’s objections to gun control.
While that may be correct, Nagler noted that didn’t actually respond to the complaint about opinion in the broadcast. Journalists can provide analysis, Nagler wote, but the program in question crossed over from analysis to just straight opinion.
“There are clear sections in which this essay stops being analysis and instead becomes a platform for the opinions of the author. For example, at one moment he describes an action of the NRA as “its latest outrage”. Later comes the excerpt included in the section detailing your complaint: Mr. Enright assigns the group the adjective “grisly” – something that causes horror or disgust. He also laments that sensible gun control will happen in the US only after Mr. LaPierre leaves “and sane people take over.” These are all, unquestionably, expressions of opinion.
iMediaEthics has written to the NRA.
The CBC’s spokesperson Chuck Thompson told iMediaEthics by e-mail,
“We accepted the findings of the report and given it was several months before Jack Nagler’s review was published, we didn’t do anything on air but we did edit the piece with a link to his review. “