CBC's cult of denial: heads should roll for ignoring Ghomeshi improprieties

Yesterday, I clenched my jaw and fumed as I listened to former Q chase producer Roberto Veri tell CanadaLand’s Jesse Brown about the time he watched Jian Ghomeshi dry-hump a Q staffer.

Jian Ghomeshi by Jess Baumung
Jian Ghomeshi in a photograph by Jess Baumung. Used with permission. See Baumung's website jessbaumung.com for more great photography.

I can’t quite identify what’s bubbling inside me. What is this feeling? Betrayal? Anger? Disappointment? All of the above?

Yesterday, I clenched my jaw and fumed as I listened to former Q chase producer Roberto Veri tell CanadaLand’s Jesse Brown about the time he watched Jian Ghomeshi dry-hump a Q staffer. He told Brown:

 “I FB messaged her to tell her that I was sorry that I didn't do anything, that I saw it first of all because I turned my head away when he went up behind her. She was leaning over her desk between the corridor of the executive producer's office and her desk. So she was leaned over contrary to where she sat. And she's bending over working on some papers. And he came up behind her, grabbed her by the waist and humped her four or five times. He drove his pelvis into her buttocks and a big smile on his face. So I looked over at that and just sort of put my head down again. I didn't know what the nature of the relationship was or if she was okay.”

Judging by the news flow, it’s safe to say we’re moving past the “if Ghomeshi did it” phase, because the conjecture amassing is staggering. Are all these people out there with an axe to grind? How could they all be lying? It seems like the new questions need to be who at the CBC knew, and for how long?

CBC and Its Link to Our Land

When I was just 21, I moved to the Yukon for a year. When you’re a West-Coast rain-soaked girl through and through, the North is a jarring new land to call home, especially in the endless cold and snow of winter spent in a shag-carpeted basement suite.

It would be nearly spring before I’d made new friends. Until then, CBC North radio became my best friend and confidante. It was my tie to the land, my bond with people across the nation. I remained informed, engaged, and entertained.

These days, I listen to more silence than radios, but that year helped me understand the emotional connection many compatriots feel for the CBC. I hold the same wistful, nostalgic sense that the CBC is an old pal.

But no pal of mine ever watched a woman getting dehumanized, mocked, harassed, or beaten, and then just looked away.

When Interns Speak Up

Today, the CBC is expected to name an outside investigator to dig through the dirt upturned in the wake of Jian Ghomeshi. They will be tasked with learning how far the alleged misogyny went, and whether it’s epidemic elsewhere in the CBC.

We already know the account of the woman who accuses Ghomeshi of cupping her buttocks and saying he wanted to “hatef*ck” her. This was in 2010. She claims she went to the show’s executive producer -- which suggests Arif Noorani -- who dismissed her complaints. Noorani has been with Q since its creation in 2007.

As the Post reports, the producer replied, “He’s never going to change, you’re a malleable person, let’s talk about how you can make this a less toxic work environment for you,” the woman recalled. “No one was going to talk to Jian, he was too big. The show was a f—-ing juggernaut at that point. His face and name were inextricably linked with the brand of Q.”

Flash forward to yesterday, when CBC Head of Public Affairs Chuck Thompson told the media that Noorani had chosen to take time off in the face of the abuse allegations.

Forget the abuse, let’s focus on just the overt sexism that’s alleged. All reports indicate that Noorani and Ghomeshi worked close together a lot. If a mere chase producer witnessed such blatant behaviour by Ghomeshi, and show producers are alleged to have heard complaints as far back as 2010, I’m thinking Noorani’s earned a little “time off.”

Let’s not kid ourselves, though. If Noorani had indeed ignored reports of misogyny and harassment, he certainly wouldn’t be the first broadcast executive ever to have done so.

A Tale of Two CBC Stars

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