Monday, February 02, 2009

A curse upon the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Rarely have I felt such rage against Mother Corpse. Their major news broadcast, "The National", ran an almost twenty minute segment, Feb. 2, demonstrating, amazingly, that the Canadian Forces are actually engaged in combat in Afghanistan. And that combat is not nice. And that our soldiers are in "not engaged peacekeeping".

The video was in fact shot over two years ago, in July 2006, though one would be hard pressed to know that from the CBC story (17:32 into the, er, "report"--see here). News? Or an agenda? How is it that the CBC just now discovered the video?

The piece was broadcast on February 2, a winter's day in most of Canada (though relatively mild in Ottawa). But at 13:21 into the video they have an interview, clearly done in an earlier, much warmer season, with Eugene Lang, a Liberal chief of staff to two national defence ministers, who says: "...if we don't have the stomach for the bad news then we shouldn't be there, in my view..."

Yet the Liberals sent the Canadian Forces to Kandahar. And even, to their then credit, tried to warn us that we would be in a war. And now the Corpse finds time, amazingly, to find a Liberal who wonders that we are in fact at war?

Upchuck to the max. Be Boy Scouts. Be prepared. Except to fight. Not that things are necessarily developing as one might wish--though fighting a war usually is not exactly a simple matter.

Update: A comment at that well puts why I was so upset:

The video is great - too bad for the CBC and the photojournalist Mr. Scott (as if we need to do this lastname shtick) are so inept with their anti-war insights. Get a writer for your anti war diatribe - what ever you do you should be excellent in it - unfortunately it sits on the fence and falls off.

When I watched this, I absolutely noticed the spin that the CBC reporter put on it. I did not however pick up any anti-war drivel from Mr. Kesterson. So as the responses came on here, I had to go back to listen to it again. Still picked up on the disgusting amount of an agenda that the reporter put into it (I'm not convinced that it was the CBC as much as Mark Kelly individually), but I still didn't pick up much of an anti-war feel from Kesterson. He had words put into his mouth by the narrator non-stop, but when you listen to what he said personally, not what Mark Kelly said he thinks, or wants, or believes... he's just talking.

"This is an individual who is coming towards them with a knife. He's a threat, there is a fear that he may be a suicide bomber. They have an interpreter telling the man to 'Stop, put the knife down.' And the man keeps coming. Another warning shot is fired. " - Scott Kesterson

When talking about the same incident, here's how the reporter put it.

But is he the enemy? In Afghanistan, it's not always clear whose on your side. ... The Afghan did die. There. Where he was shot, and in the end there was no evidence that he was a suicide bomber, or that he understood the interpreter.

Really, the only thing that Kesterson said that bothered me at all, was when he was telling Mark Kelly that Canadians don't know that it's a war, and that we think it is peacekeeping. Aside from that, I found he was very balanced.

I found the amount of a personal agenda put into this by Kelly to be nothing short of shameful. Even compared to what the CBC usually spits out towards Afghanistan.

Asking the veteran if he 'killed a Taliban?'

Good God, buddy. All I can picture is a mountie going to a Kintergarden class and being asked umpteen million questions along the lines of "Have you ever shot anyone? Have you ever used your beater-uper stick?"



Blogger said...

There's no hidden agenda in this piece. The "money sound bite" at ~8:35 into the piece, from the reporter, makes it pretty clear: "Images can change opinions. If Canadians think their soldiers are still peacekeepers, Kesterson's footage will change that too."

11:32 p.m., February 02, 2009  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Indeed, hardly hidden in reality. So now they use video from two and half years ago. Fie on them.


11:44 p.m., February 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have not watched CBC for probably 15 years maybe more for the exact reason you are reporting. They would not know truth if it kicked them in the ass with a frozen boot.

2:07 a.m., February 03, 2009  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I'm afraid I'm with Mark on this one: the war Kesterton shot with his video camera isn't the same war we're fighting now. Not even close.

That's one of the reasons a general officer cited to me for keeping rotations to six months for the Battle Group guys: it's easy to get locked into a mindset, and the mission changes fast. Better to have new eyes on it than to try to have tired people keep up.

Orion, Medusa, that's long done.

7:52 a.m., February 03, 2009  
Blogger Mrs. MeZ said...

does anyone know the release date of the film?
Even if the war we're fighting today isn't the same as the one Scott filmed in 2006, we are still in Afghanistan, and images can still change opinions.

If one person who watched the National that day takes it upon themselves to learn more about the mission- and in turn about the people, then I think this piece works.

8:38 p.m., February 03, 2009  
Blogger Mrs. MeZ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:40 p.m., February 03, 2009  
Blogger Kirstin said...

The report was flawed, but on the whole, I think the CBC has done more good than harm for the CF.

How was it flawed?

- the footage was too old, without them mentioning a sufficient number of times and close enough to the beginning of how old it was

- the voice-over narration during the stand-off with the man with the knife was leading. It would have been better with no VON

- Kesterson has some obvious biases, and the CBC (since this was a one-side featre) didn't present enough clarifying/counteracting points of view to combat/correct this.

I may be a flaming leftist, but seeing Canadian troops shooting back against Taliban only strengthened my belief in the mission.

And the parts where Kesterson talked with the individual soldiers really played to my bleeding heart. My only regret is that my fellow socialists might want to mother these boys and tell them to come home before they should.

Still, given the sad lack of reporting on the CF on other networks, I'm glad the CBC is talking in a largely positive way about the Forces.

1:21 p.m., February 05, 2009  
Blogger Kirstin said...

Additionally, I'll add a couple of points I glossed over but shouldn't have.

I don't believe that Kesterson has any maliciousness or duplicity to his inherent bias, and I believe that everyone has bias to some extent. I do think he assumes certain things about the Canadian population and what we know and don't know. But Canada is not just one big homogeneous lump. We're pretty diverse, with people who are informed and educated and understand and those who don't.

He says we don't know it's a war. He treats us like we're ignorant and like we're willing, as a democratic nation, to blithely send young men and women into harm's way. Maybe I think too much of Canada, but I firmly believe most of us take this very seriously and appreciate the sacrifices and the importance of this mission.

I also didn't mention anything about Mark Kelley's possibly biased choices in the VON. Seemingly neutral questions can be loaded. My only three complaints with him are:

1. That he inserted meaning into the scene with the detention of the older man

2. His choice of iconic images Kesterson might be trying to replicate in level of cultural importance may have been an inappropriate comparison

3. The voice-over in the scene with the knife-wielding man. I didn't have a problem with it. However, I compare it to if the same scene had played out on civvie street. I think we would ask the same questions of a police officer in that situation and that we would come to the same answers. Ignoring the possibility of a suicide bomber, imagine a man with a knife is coming towards you; if he doesn't stop, at some point you have to shoot him. I think it's sad, but I don't think that scene or the narration cast Canadians in a bad light at all. It just added a little humanity to the situation. Still, he should have left it out.

Also, this entire piece was about questioning the mission. Asking if this will change our opinion of the mission isn't necessarily saying it will turn people against it, but that's the assumption I think a lot of people are making.

The problem is that the people with the least knowledge will be the most shocked when they see this footage. And the least informed have the least informed opinions. I do think we have to worry about the ill-informed forming foreign policy; that's one of the problems with democracy, and one of the many we've chosen to live with. All we here can do is try to educate people about the good Canada is doing in Afghanistan and about the reason why this mission is important.

On the Mother Corp, I know CBC has done great wrongs to the Forces in the past. I just don't think that this is one of those great wrongs. It goes a little off track here and there, but I don't think the CBC is out to screw the soldier.

3:43 a.m., February 06, 2009  

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