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article imageOp-Ed: Getting Ghomeshi — As Star finds more dirt, CBC shares more blame

By Marcus Hondro     Dec 4, 2014 in Entertainment
The Toronto Star continues to do its job, or a job, on Jian Ghomeshi. Their latest scoop is that the embattled former-CBC man was booking guests on 'Q' — without revealing a conflict of interest.
Conflict of interest on Q
Reporter Kevin Donovan writes in the Star that Ghomeshi frequently had on guests who had the same agent (Toronto agent Jack Ross) and same lawyer (an entertainment lawyer, who also manages entertainers, named Chris Taylor).
Donovan and others at the Star went through Q shows and traced which acts were, like the show's host, represented by Ross and Taylor. Along the way, they could not find one instance where the connection, and there often was a connection, was told to listeners
"What Ghomeshi did not share with his listeners was the fact he, too, was a client of agent Jack Ross and lawyer Chris Taylor," Donovan writes. "This pattern was replicated many times over the seven years Ghomeshi hosted Q, according to a Star review of Q shows and the client lists of Taylor and Ross."
This is, of course, not illegal, but the response from CBC's Chuck Thompson, when Donovan asked him about it, wasn't forthright. He noted that Q is an entertainment program — he's got a firm grasp of the obvious there — and said that "it’s not bound by the same standards and practices we have in place with our news and current affairs programs."
CBC gives Ghomeshi wide berth
That may be so but failing to reveal a conflict of interest remains an ethical breach. The Star, by the way, published a list of acts that appeared on the show who had the same reps as Ghomeshi and it's lengthy. It's hard to draw a conclusion without knowing those who did not get on (and their talent level) but failure to disclose is not something I'd have thought the CBC would allow.
Donovan got a telling comment from one irate manager. “We have just given up trying to get on Q,” he quoted an unnamed manager of an unnamed band. “To us it is a clear conflict of interest.” The manager did not wish her or his name to be used for fear it would have a negative impact on getting the band on the Q in the future, Donovan said.
Here's this: it should never have happened that Ghomeshi became so much the man that he did the booking and was permitted to simply omit his connection to the acts he booked. The most salient thing about it is that, as with other aspects of Ghomeshi's fall/pitch from grace, it leaves the CBC looking as if they helped to create a cult of personality around Ghomeshi, or at the least turned a blind eye while he did so himself.
Kathryn Borel: told to cope better
The CBC is looking increasingly like a bad guy in all of this and in case you're unsure of that here's a precis of some of the broadcaster's missteps:
A young producer of the show, Kathryn Borel, cried in the office of then-Q executive producer Arif Noorani more than once over Ghomeshi's crude manner of being around her, his chronic sexual harassing of her, and she said his response was to tell her that Jian was just being Jian, and that she needed to find a way to cope with him.
Q was allowed to develop what CBC head of English language programming Heather Conway has called a dysfunctional atmosphere to surround the show. It was, she acknowledges, created and sustained by Ghomeshi, and permitted to continue by CBC brass.
There is more, such as the deception practiced by never revealing that he in fact wrote few if any of the Q opening essays, which many were shocked to discover; most were written by the talented Sean Foley and Matt Tunnacliffe. Who would have advocated for that deception? Ghomeshi by chance? And how could the CBC have allowed that to happen?
And now we can add that they gave Ghomeshi the power to book acts onto the show and did not oversee him in such a manner that he did so in an ethical and fair manner. They allowed Ghomeshi to do what they surely would not have allowed a host with less of a brand than he to do.
On the one hand the Toronto Star seems to have developed an odd obsession with Jian Ghomeshi, while on the other they are thankfully exposing practices down at our public broadcaster that leave one wondering.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about jian ghomeshi, kevin donovan, the star and ghomeshi, jack ross chris taylor, CBC Radio
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