So long then, Evan Solomon.
The host of Power and Politics the country's most-watched political program—a horrible genre—seems to have been getting a cut of private art sales. The sales were to billionaire Jim Balsillie and Bank of England governor Mark Carney, men he had a journalistic relationship with, according to a Toronto Star report. The CBC swiftly tossed him out on his ear.
The entire Star report is worth your time, but to get at the nut of the thing, Solomon had an arrangement with an art dealer to get a cut of sales made to people Solomon sent his way. The buyers were apparently unaware Solomon was getting a piece.
According to the Star, Solomon got 10 per cent of each sale, totalling, as far as they can figure, at least $300,000.
Solomon was by all accounts a decent gent, but that’s too damned bad. It's hard to shed a tear for someone who would do something so obviously stupid and unethical.
He must have known he was up to no good, because he kept this to himself. I don’t just mean kept from the viewer, but kept from the people he was setting up with the art dealer. According to the Star, Solomon went so far as to use code names for the prospective buyers in emails to the art dealer.
And so, he was doomed from the beginning. The host stood little chance of keeping his job, once the Star’s story went live. Bad as it is, the degree of his offence didn’t make much difference. With the CBC so mired in the ethical garbage of other high-profile “personalities” like Amanda Lang and Rex Murphy, the broadcaster had little choice but to cut ties with the Power and Politics host.
It could be easily argued that what Lang did was worse. As a business reporter and host of the CBC’s flagship business program, she was the embodiment of the broadcaster’s credibility on Bay Street reporting.
She blew that all to hell by accepting speaking fees from events sponsored by major banks, including RBC. Lang followed up critical coverage of the bank by her network with a cottony-soft interview with the bank’s CEO, lopping the shins out of her credibility. You can draw a direct line from where she was getting money on the side to who she was reporting on. (It doesn’t even require a line. It’s more of a dot, labeled Royal Bank of Canada.)
Rex didn’t do himself much better, taking cash for speaking to the oil crowd. (Oil exploitation being one of those, ahem, settled issues in this country.)
Faced with evidence two of its higher-profile talent were CBC decided to close ranks around these folks, and it hurt the broadcaster. There wasn’t much in the way of contrition on the part of Lang or Murphy, and that hurt the broadcaster further.
This time, it looks like they didn’t have enough good will left over to slough off another one of these ethical scandals. So Solomon was shown the door, in many ways to pay for the sins of his colleagues.
It used to seem like a stretch to say CBC had a rotten star culture that let its top-billed talent get away with whatever they felt like, because they were personalities, damn it. That seemed like the usual bullshit from the typical blowhards.
It’s hard to deny that there’s a problem now.
Never mind that these people are journalists for the public broadcaster—an institution of enormous importance, they’ll have you know—these are journalists in an environment where the media world is falling apart all around them. We could really use the public to see us as a trustworthy and, frankly, useful profession. Instead, they’re out there trying to make some extra cash on the side.
The public already thinks we’re political shills on the take, we don’t need some areshole with their face on a banner making it seem true.
I’m sick of these dickweasels dragging the rest of us into their sordid shit-mess. It was about time one of them was shown the door.