CBC boosts ‘alt-right’

How Peter Mansbridge helped normalize hate and bigotry

The National giving Ann Coulter a 10-minute infomercial was a disgrace
Photo: Gage Skidmore

Of all the news joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walked into CBC’s The National.

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The she in question is not, of course, the honey-brown haired, incandescent beauty of Ingrid Bergman, but the blond-haired, pencil-thin visage of the Miss America of hate, Ann Coulter.

To be precise, wearing a cross instead of a sash, Coulter was invited to spend almost ten minutes on what is referred to, quaintly, as the CBC’s “flagship” news program to share her malevolent musings with the program’s ever dwindling audience.

The long-time captain of that rusted, sinking ship, Peter Mansbridge, invited Coulter onto Canada’s public broadcaster to smirk while the CBC’s “chief correspondent” treated the made in America misanthrope with the kind of cloying deference he usually reserves for Andrew Coyne and company.

Coulter’s appearance is, in a way, a fitting denouement to Mansbridge’s career at the helm of The National.

For instructive evidence of this, I urge you to fast forward to the 3:52 mark of this excrement and watch and listen as Mansbridge shares a little chuckle with Coulter over her ability to deftly “work in” her always temperate views on immigration.

There Mansbridge was, wearing his Order of Canada pin and a poppy, while he turned to a telegenic hate merchant to help explain to Canadians how it was possible that another telegenic hate merchant had become President-elect.

Clearly, the irony of the question and the moment eluded Mansbridge. That’s not particularly surprising. But what may be a touch surprising to CBC supporters was how a once venerable program had been reduced to attracting a jolt of attention and viewers by providing a forum for Aryan celebrity clickbait.

Other CBC journalists involved in Coulter’s lengthy infomercial on November 9 are, no doubt, still feeling a mixture of incredulity and contempt that comes from comforting a racist while abandoning their principles in the service of ephemeral ratings. What a memorable, career-defining moment it must have been.

Still, Coulter’s appearance is, in a way, a fitting denouement to Mansbridge’s career at the helm of The National.

As I noted in an earlier column, the program remains stuck in 1950s Canada. That is to say, Kellie Leitch’s vision of Canada. Most of its reporters are white. Most of its “anchors” are white. Most of its resident pundits and commentators are white.

That a white nationalist who pines for those happy days when homosexuals remained hidden in the closet, when blacks rode in the back of the bus, when Jews and Muslims weren’t too far behind, and when “wetbacks” were deported en masse to Mexico, was recently featured on The National to reflect on the ascendency of a white nationalist into the White House is all too predictable.

This is what the so-called “normalization” of hate looks and sounds like on high-definition Canadian TV.

Also predictable was the CBC’s and Mansbridge’s collective amnesia and whitewashing of Coulter’s long, malicious history. To suggest that Coulter enjoyed a patina of credibility, CBC News referred to her throughout the interview as an “author.” My goodness.

Apparently, Mansbridge and the CBC weren’t inclined to describe Coulter more accurately as the “author” of racist screeds. But that would have meant telling the truth about their marquee guest and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Oh, and before the uber sensitive, anti-political correctness crowd starts wailing about the “c” word, I’m not advocating censorship, you hysterics. I'm advocating not having rancid, career bigots spew their not so thinly disguised venom on publicly-owned TV.

And spew her not so thinly disguised racist venom on The Nazional she did, while Mansbridge played traffic cop, guiding the “discussion” with his signature complaisance.

Coulter told Mansbridge that she was confident that Trump would not back away from his “Mexican rapist speech.” “He’s been rock solid,” Coulter said. Mansbridge didn’t even wince. Instead, he just nodded.

Then, Mansbridge asked Coulter the following “question.” This is a verbatim quote: “What about Muslims? He’s [Trump] kinda been all over the map on that one. What has to happen on Muslims entering the country? Anything?”

Coulter’s response was, well, all Coulter: “Let’s take people who are good for this country…and not likely to go on welfare and [who] aren’t likely to commit terrorist acts against us. It’s common sense.”

Look, the sooner Mansbridge exits the CBC, the better it will be for everyone at the public broadcaster.

What was the chief correspondent’s response to this hate speech wrapped in the imprimatur of “common sense”? Please proceed, Anne. “So you don’t think that he should rule out all Muslims, all together?” he asked.

Mansbridge ended his “chat” with Coulter with a cheery salutation: “I’m glad we had this opportunity to chat with you for a bit.”

He’s “glad,” everyone. Look, the sooner Mansbridge exits the CBC, the better it will be for everyone at the public broadcaster.

Evan Solomon, the younger white guy who was once touted to replace the older white guy on the CBC before he got canned by the CBC, has interviewed Coulter often.

Several weeks before Mansbridge’s chat, Solomon had Coulter on CTV’s Question Period ostensibly to discuss Trump’s “success.” (You can now see why he was slated to take over Mansbridge’s chair: the sound editorial judgment.)

Unlike Mansbridge, Solomon at least felt compelled to say this about Coulter before the interview. “She’s been called a racist. A bigot. She’s been dismissed as a fringe member of the so-called Alt-right…”

You’ll note Solomon’s use of anchorman weasel words like “called” and “dismissed.” The intent of these weasel words is to signal to the viewer Solomon’s laudable neutrality. (Remember, this guy got the boot after he reportedly brokered art deals with guests on Power and Politics. Oh, never mind.)

Stripped of the weasel words, here’s what Solomon actually said: Hey, I’m not saying she’s a bigot and racist. Other people, who shall conveniently remain anonymous, say she’s a bigot and a racist because she is a bigot and a racist. But they’re not on the show today. Coulter is. So, please don’t change the channel. Watch me interview the alleged racist and bigot on my new Punch and Judy act.

They’re not “controversial ideas,” mate. They’re racist and bigoted “ideas.”

Not done, Solomon parroted the CBC’s “author” line to give him, and the news network he now works for, pseudo-editorial cover to parade a bigot and a racist on national TV.

This time, Solomon told viewers that Coulter was the “author” of not only best-selling books, but also of Trump’s “controversial ideas” on immigration.

Weasel word alert! Weasel word alert! They’re not “controversial ideas,” mate. They’re racist and bigoted “ideas.” But I guess I’m just one of those touchy, politically-correct types that calls out racists and bigots, rather than chatting with them on national TV.

And so it went for eight, hard-to-endure minutes. Coulter recycled her racist tripe, while Solomon stared into a camera with that faux anchorman solemnity while asking questions couched in, you guessed it, a host of weasel words.

This is what the so-called “normalization” of hate looks and sounds like on high-definition Canadian TV.

Mansbridge, Solomon, and the dim mainstream news executives who promote and defend these smug television hosts won’t admit their culpability. They will continue, I’m sure, to reject and deflect any responsibility for giving valuable airtime to avowed racists as a responsible act of journalism.

No. It isn’t.

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