CBC's Neil Macdonald has written a biting response to comments made by Linden MacIntyre criticizing the broadcaster and its work environment.
The CBC's senior Washington correspondent wrote that MacIntyre "is acting like a self-righteous horse's ass" in a post to his Facebook account on Sunday. MacIntyre, who recently retired, delivered a lecture at U of T earlier this week highlighting what he believes are serious challenges to the future of the CBC.
MacIntyre tackled issues including the CBC's "celebration of celebrity," dwindling public funding, the lack of opportunity for young journalists and the way the network's management handled the unfolding Jian Ghomeshi scandal.
"But when an institution is in trouble -- with diminished job security in a workforce that is often young and vulnerable -- celebrity, infected as it often is by egotism and narcissism, creates a workplace atmosphere that is toxic for the many people who feel they must put up with it," MacIntyre said in his speech, published by HuffPost.
"This is a fellow whose starchy self-regard once, weirdly, compelled him to threaten me with a 'punch in the nose' if I denied that CBC journalists are 'public servants'," he wrote.
"Yes, Linden, some people are more important and better-paid than others, even you, but I've never felt a 'toxic' atmosphere, and I've never heard anyone at CBC News make any such complaint."
MacIntyre's remarks and Macdonald's response set off debate on Twitter, from journalists and non-journalists alike.
Earlier this week, senior CBC management reversed an internal memo barring MacIntyre from appearing on CBC News Network.
The memo said the move came about because of MacIntyre's reported comments to The Globe and Mail comparing the workplace behaviour of "The National" host Peter Mansbridge to that of ousted "Q" host Jian Ghomeshi.
Jennifer Harwood, managing editor of CBC News Network, sent a memo to some staff late Wednesday stating that interviews with MacIntyre on the network this week had been cancelled. CBC News editor-in-chief Jennifer McGuire said in an interview that Harwood did not consult with her before sending the memo and that it is not consistent with CBC's editorial practices.
MacIntyre later told the Globe he apologized to Mansbridge because he did not intend to include him "in the same frame as someone who is being investigated by the police for such extraordinary abuse that it is, certainly in my experience, unusual."
“[I was] trying to make a larger point in a spontaneous conversation, and I was careless and maybe even thoughtless. But I’m really bothered that the focus on what I believe to be a small detail seems to be obscuring the larger point I’m trying to make, which is that institutions like the CBC really have to be more careful about looking after vulnerable employees," MacIntyre told the Globe.
Asked for her response to MacIntyre's broader point that CBC stars are often given more latitude in their behaviour than more vulnerable lower-level employees, McGuire told the Canadian Press there's no evidence to support that claim.
"Is it true that stars at CBC have incredible profiles and incredible strength? Absolutely. But if we're suggesting that somehow, at every show across the country, that they're making all the calls about everything, that is just not accurate or supportable," she said.
Ghomeshi was fired by the public broadcaster last month amid allegations of "abusive behaviour" from numerous women, including at least one former CBC employee. Police are investigating complaints by at least three of them.
The former "Q" radio host has said in Facebook postings that he engaged in "rough sex" with women but it was always consensual and that he plans to "meet these allegations directly."
With files from the Canadian Press
Full text of Neil Macdonald's Facebook post:
All right, spare me. Really. Linden MacIntyre is acting like a self-righteous horse's ass. His humblebrag (I was once fired for my integrity, I could have been rich and famous if I'd gone to the States, but I opted to remain and dutifully serve Canada and just be "prominent") his stupid comparison of Peter Mansbridge to Jian Ghomeshi, (he then called Mansbridge to apologize), his snarky verdict that a thousand CBCers should quit and take pensions to make room for young talent (He selflessly stepped aside at age 70), is insufferable nonsense. This is a fellow whose starchy self-regard once, weirdly, compelled him to threaten me with a "punch in the nose" if I denied that CBC journalists are "public servants." (We aren't). And now he's begun his reflections-of-a-national-treasure tour, hinting that CBC - now that he's gone - is more obsessed with celebrity than journalism. Well, I suppose I should applaud him for enduring the place as long as he did. The fact is, CBC does what it can with the money it has, and sometimes does a dull job, and sometimes does a great job. I arrived as an ambitious young fellow, and nobody ever asked me to do anything but what I'm paid to do. I've had yelling matches with bosses and anchors, including Peter Mansbridge, but I still had a job the next day, and we were all still colleagues. Yes, Linden, some people are more important and better-paid than others, even you, but I've never felt a "toxic" atmosphere, and I've never heard anyone at CBC News make any such complaint. And say what you will about CBC, the head of news and current affairs did reverse a more junior manager, and announced after your latest boneheaded remark that you're still welcome on CBC airwaves. I can pretty easily imagine how one of those American networks, the ones that would have made you so rich and famous, would have reacted.
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