Toronto Sun Columnist Claims Secret CBC Committee Overseeing Coverage Of Hamas-Israel War, CBC Disputes Allegation

April 5, 2024

In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ October 7 massacres in southern Israel, HonestReporting Canada exposed how CBC released an internal memorandum to staff, cautioning its journalists to not call Hamas a terrorist organization, and warning them against saying that Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza represented an end of Israel’s presence in the territory.

Since that memorandum was shared, CBC’s coverage of the Hamas-Israel war has been predictably problematic.

Since October 7, coverage of the Hamas-Israel war from CBC has been a combination of an incessant barrage of one-sided hit pieces, anti-Israel commentaries, and a propensity to feature overwhelmingly negative stories about Israel from CBC’s various programs. Our public broadcaster also continues to maintain its morally and factually indefensible position which refuses to characterize Hamas as a terrorist organization, and a number of its public-facing staff have used social media to regularly castigate Israel.

CBC has also repeated Hamas’ casualty propaganda, falsely presenting it as fact when it is unverified misinformation from a designated terrorist organization, and has featured anti-Israel content under its arts coverage too.

New evidence sheds light on CBC’s harshly antagonistic coverage of Israel, and suggests that it has not developed by accident, but by design.

In an eye-opening commentary by Warren Kinsella, a columnist in The Toronto Sun, entitled: “Covert internal group oversees CBC’s coverage of Israel,” Kinsella commented that there is a secretive committee that oversees the CBC’s reporting on Israel, ostensibly to help provide balance.

But as pointed out by Kinsella in a number of interviews with CBC staff, the committee has clearly failed to achieve this goal.

As one unnamed Jewish journalist quoted by Kinsella said, “when ideas are being pitched, it falls on deaf ears. (Our) stories are being ignored.”

Another former senior producer at the public broadcaster, quoted by Kinsella, said they are “deeply disappointed and troubled by the coverage of this war,” adding that “it’s extremely one-sided.”

In his report, Kinsella quoted Kerry Kelly, a spokesperson for CBC, who acknowledged the existence of the committee, saying “We have a longstanding Middle East advisory committee created a few years ago to give CBC leadership recommendations about long-term coverage strategy in the region.”

Kelly is quoted as saying that following the October 7 massacres, CBC compiled a list of “internal contacts (producers with extensive international experience) to provide editorial support,” adding that “they don’t review coverage.”

The identities of those on the committee are not publicly known, and as pointed out in Kinsella’s column, the broadcaster’s spokesperson simultaneously claimed that they don’t have knowledge as to whether there are any Jews on the committee, but that there are Jews on the committee.

Subsequent to the publication of Kinsella’s column in the Toronto Sun, CBC Editor-In-Chief Brodie Fenlon released a statement on April 5 which was obtained by HonestReporting Canada, denying the existence of a secretive committee that “oversee the network’s reporting on Israel.”

He wrote:

Let me start by saying that the column contains many inaccuracies. While Mr. Kinsella was provided several fulsome and factual responses to his questions, he chose not to include them (you can read below the full exchange in its entirety, for full transparency).

For the record:

We have a group of subject-matter experts available to CBC journalists and program teams who can be contacted only if and when our journalists have questions or want advice about their coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. This is entirely voluntary.

The group is NOT “covert” or “secretive” or “shadowy.” They do not “oversee the network’s reporting on Israel.” All of this is blatantly false, as we made clear to Mr. Kinsella. And while we would not share private personal information about individual employees, it is also a false suggestion that there is no Jewish representation among this group.

We stand by our journalism and have worked very hard to live up to our principles of balance, fairness and accuracy in the hundreds of stories we’ve done since this latest round of violence began on Oct. 7, much of which you can find and assess for yourself at this link: www.cbc.ca/israelhamaswar.

Thank you,
Brodie

For the last six months, CBC’s coverage of the Hamas-Israel war has been nothing short of catastrophically poor, repeatedly failing to uphold key journalistic standards of objectivity, accuracy and balance,  and with few exception, has only provided more confusion and less clarity to millions of Canadians as they seek to understand events thousands of kilometres away.

CBC has an obligation, not just as a news outlet, but as a publicly-funded broadcaster, to ensure fairness and accuracy in its coverage of Israel, which it has spectacularly failed to achieve. In light of the news that CBC has an internal committee providing resources to journalists on the Middle East, they must do dramatically better, and soon, if they are to maintain any semblance of credibility.

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