Special Report: CBC Issues On-Air Clarification After HRC Complaint (June 26 2009)

June 26, 2009
 Special Report: CBC Issues On-Air Clarification After HRC Complaint  June 26, 2009
  By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director
Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,


Nobody likes watching a talking head read news script for hours on end. With this in mind, broadcasters feature graphics and roll stock footage in the background of a news anchors report to better illustrate what is being said. This footage aims to either reinforce the story’s narrative or to expand on it with the relevant visuals to captivate and inform the viewer. 

But sometimes what you see in the background of a news report is not actually as it should be.

Case in point: a recent CBC Newsworld report on Sunday June 14 discussed Hamas’ 2nd anniversary where it violently wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah. CBC host Danielle Bochove stated the following:

“Whatever the Israeli Prime Minister says today he will have to address the issue of Hamas. The militant Palestinian group is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and today marks the 2nd anniversary of Hamas taking over Gaza. It was a violent power struggle between the radical Hamas and the more centrist political party Fatah. Hamas won legislative elections in the Palestinian territories, but voters also selected rival Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian President. The result is now a split between Gaza and the West Bank, with Gaza remaining under Hamas rule and the West Bank under the rule of Fatah.”

Our concerns did not stem from what Ms. Bochove said, but rather from the background file footage that CBC staff used to illustrate this news story about the Palestinian civil war which began in earnest in 2006. With respect to this report, we would have expected to have seen file footage of either Palestinians at polling stations or stock footage of the intra-Palestinian blood feud between Fatah and Hamas, but instead, for some unknown reason, CBC staff decided to show footage of Israeli tanks, helicopters, armoured personnel carriers, and Israeli homes and citizens during Israel’s war with Hamas in January 2009.These images had nothing to do with Hamas’ “2nd anniversary” and instead painted a picture that could be falsely interpreted as Israel, in some way or another, playing a role in either Hamas’ violent coup or in interfering with the Palestinian domestic legislative elections.

To view the full report please click here or on the image below:


Considering the severity of this error and the implications that it posed, we immediately brought our concerns to the attention of senior editors at CBC who commendably issued a prompt on-air clarification to remedy this error. We are also pleased to inform HRC members that senior CBC editors have reviewed procedures with their writers who we trust are now sensitized to our concerns.

To view the on-air clarification that was aired on Sunday June 21 please click here or on the image below:


Here is the transcript of the 30-second clarification: “Now a clarification about a story we told you about last week. Last Sunday on this program, we told you about the 2nd anniversary of the Hamas takeover of Gaza. In that report, we showed old video of Israeli military videos and aircraft firing missiles – those pictures were shown in error. The video was from another conflict, not the struggle between Hamas and its rival Fatah. Israeli forces were not involved in the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007. We apologize for the mistake.”

While we applaud the CBC for setting the record straight with this clarification and apology as a means of remedying  their original error, notwithstanding, many CBC viewers who saw the original report did not see this clarification and continue to be misled in believing that Israel had played a role in Hamas’ coup d’état. Such is the importance of the media getting it right in the first place. Let this be a lesson for us all – remember to always keep a keen and critical eye on what you are seeing.

How You Can Make a Difference:HonestReporting Canada — the only organization dedicated exclusively to ensuring fair and accurate Canadian media coverage of Israel and the Middle East — needs your support. As you can see for yourself our efforts do make a difference. Through your donations, you can help ensure that Canadian journalists are held to the highest standards of “honest reporting.”



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