The Lethbridge Herald questioned if Canadian Broadcasting Corp. has a conflict of interest when it reports on the accusations of sexual assault against now-fired host Jian Ghomeshi and Ghomeshi’s lawsuit against CBC for that firing.
Tthe Herald, a newspaper in Alberta, Canada, asked if by covering Ghomeshi, the CBC is defending itself in the court of public opinion and justifying its firing.
Listeners and readers might think there was “the appearance of an ulterior motive in CBC’s reporting, whether one exists or not,” the Herald argued. By promoting reports on allegations against Ghomeshi, CBC is backing its dog in the fight against Ghomeshi’s lawsuit before even hitting court.
“Certainly, as a news agency, the CBC wants to keep up with the competition in the race for the top stories of the day,” the Herald wrote. “But in this case, with the CBC is so closely tied to the story, journalistic ethics would suggest the corporation might want to recuse itself from coverage of the story.”
iMediaEthics asked the CBC and its ombudsman for comment about the possibility of a conflict of interest. The CBC didn’t respond to our inquiry. Ombudsman Esther Enkin told iMediaEthics she doesn’t comment on cases she may review.
As iMediaEthics has reported, Ghomeshi was fired Oct. 26 after three women accused him of violence during or before sex. Now nine women have accused him of assault or abuse, the Toronto Star reported.
Ghomeshi is suing CBC for defamation and breach of trust. He said he didn’t think the CBC would fire him for showing the CBC information including photos and videos, the Star reported. In a statement Ghomeshi posted on Facebook, he wrote: “I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.”
He went on, “I voluntarily showed evidence that everything I have done has been consensual. I did this in good faith and because I know, as I have always known, that I have nothing to hide. This when the CBC decided to fire me”
The CBC said in an internal memo that they fired him after seeing those images. “After viewing this graphic evidence we determined that Jian’s conduct was a fundamental breach of CBC’s standard of acceptable conduct for any employee,” the CBC wrote.
He said the CBC defamed him when it said “Information came to our attention recently, that in CBC’s judgment precludes us from continuing our relationship with Jian Ghomeshi.”
Further, the Financial Post noted that Ghomeshi is unionized, so he can’t actually sue for being fired. Instead, Financial Post suggested Ghomeshi filed the lawsuit so he can make statements that will be reported.
“It’s about Ghomeshi being able to say whatever he wants in legal documents with total protection from being sued for libel himself, while intimidating women from going public with allegations of assault at Ghomeshi’s hands, the Post wrote.
Likewise, the Toronto Star reported other “legal experts” think Ghomeshi’s suit was for public relations.
“Legal experts quoted in the media have suggested Ghomeshi’s lawsuit was a PR move, an idea reiterated in the CBC’s statement.
“The claim was issued for the collateral purpose of addressing the public in an effort to influence media and the public,” it says, characterizing the claim as ‘scandalous, frivolous or vexatious.'”