Both Sarah Hagi and Canadaland’s Jesse Brown have delivered pretty decisive blows to new media star Tara Henley’s credibility, but we’re not done yet.

Henley, the former CBC producer who recently resigned over perceived stifling political correctness, declared in an explosive Substack debut column that the public broadcaster’s new fixation with anti-racism emerged from a “radical political agenda that originated on Ivy League campuses in the United States.”

You have to hand it to her.

It takes a laser focus to ignore the slaughter of Muslims at prayer in Quebec City, an incel rampage through the streets of Toronto, violent attacks on Chinese-Canadians in COVID’s wake, the arrest and handcuffing of a Black retired judge in a Vancouver park, Quebec’s removal of an observant Muslim teacher, the arrest and handcuffing of a 12-year-old Indigenous girl and her grandfather who tried to open a bank account, or the revelation of over a thousand unmarked graves of Indigenous children at Canadian residential schools mere months ago. To name just a few.

The suggestion that increased racial sensitivity by Canada’s public broadcaster is the effect of elite American liberal posturing is flatly bizarre.

If anything, it is Henley herself, rather than the CBC, who has been overtaken by American influencers. The entree of an obscure broadcast producer to online self-publishing was heralded by no less than social media giants Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss, among others.

Surely it’s pure coincidence that Henley also had a side gig as a books columnist for the Globe and Mail. And that she profiled these same writers at length in a 2,200-word long-form piece about Substack.

Or that Henley’s first podcast guest, Batya Ungar-Sargon, is by chance the author of Bad News: How Woke Media is Undermining Democracy, also reviewed in her most recent Globe books column.

It’s possible to imagine an entire lineup of American Substack interviewees all culled from Henley’s Globe books column over the last year:

The suggestion that increased racial sensitivity by Canada’s public broadcaster is the effect of elite American liberal posturing is flatly bizarre, writes columnist @Garossino. #CBC #cdnmedia
  • John McWhorter, Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America
  • Ben Burgis, Canceling Comedians While the World Burns: A Critique of the Contemporary Left
  • Catherine Liu, Virtue Hoarders: The Case Against the Professional Managerial Class
  • Michael Lind, The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite
  • Dan Kovalik, Cancel This Book: The Progressive Case Against Cancel Culture

Indeed, since the beginning of 2021, Henley’s Globe and Mail books column has covered books by 54 writers, of whom 34 are Americans — and overwhelmingly white. Of the racialized American writers Henley reviewed in the Globe, most — like McWhorter and Liu — took direct aim at “woke” liberalism.

In a year when Canadians were confronted with the residential school burials, the exhausting challenges of COVID, the two Michaels, China’s crackdown on Hong Kong, the collapse of local media and devastating climate impacts that killed hundreds of British Columbians, Henley’s Globe book reviews blissfully ignored it all.

Well, except for COVID, where she strikes a curious note, given everything that’s been written and what is known about the virus.

Last July, as Canada’s vaccine rollout was in full swing, Henley reviewed The War Against Viruses: How the Science of Optimal Nutrition Can Help You Win, an Aileen Burford-Mason book on using nutrition to combat COVID. Then last week, as Omicron ravaged populations everywhere, she reviewed Laura Dodsworth’s A State of Fear, about how the U.K. government overpowered the British public with fear over the pandemic.

Dodsworth is a professional photographer turned right-wing media darling. She gained fame through a previous project documenting male and female genitalia, and has now emerged as a vocal opponent of mask and vaccine mandates.

Dodsworth can now be seen on Twitter retweeting the infamous extremist Paul Joseph Watson and Jack Posobiec, as well as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Dodsworth may seem like a nut, but it’s the Globe and Mail that amplified her book through Henley’s column.

The CBC can, of course, always use improvement. In many ways, what’s been lacking in this country is a media voice that can truly speak to all of us across the divides of personal experience.

That’s not going to be the same old CBC we’ve long been familiar with. Increasing racial sensitivity is important, but it’s also just part of the story and the beginning of an evolution.

As local media collapses, all our communities need news and coverage of the issues that matter in their own lives, as well as big-picture stories.

What we don’t need is second-rate analysis handed down from American observers who know nothing and care less about this country.

And that, in a nutshell, is what Tara Henley is selling.

Keep reading

Much of this piece seems to be personal attack meant to distract us from what Henley is saying, which is that the CBC doesn't permit discussion of various topics that are often called woke. I listen regularly to the CBC and have never heard balanced discussions of various topics often considered woke. These topics include the blurring of the meaning of the words sex and gender and the consequent loss of sex-based rights for women, the medicalization of children in the rush to affirm declarations of gender, any criticism of BLM, the extent of racism in Canada, or whether it's a good idea to highlight one's race as the most important characteristic we have. Maybe the prevailing views presented by the CBC as the truth are actually the truth, but if you listen to the CBC you'd never know there was any debate to be had, even though lots of people, both on the left and right have concerns.
Henley mentioned the Dave Chappelle incident as an example of implicit censorship, and I agree with her on this. Whenever I heard any discussion of the special, Chappelle's supposed transphobia was presented as a given. No opposing views were asked for though I did hear one of his critics asked to characterize those who support him, which was done dismissively, sort of like asking Erin O'Toole to critique Trudeau.
I suppose if you agree with the CBC's editorial stance on these various issues, then you see no problem with what the CBC is doing, but from my point of view, as a life-long left-leaning citizen who has listened to CBC for almost 50 years, the CBC has increasingly become home for biased advocacy rather than a place where Canadians can hear a discussion of differing views based on informed opinion.

It's interesting to note that we can see this bias in this article as well. Garossino dismisses Henley's critique entirely, as if Henley were saying that the Earth is flat or climate change doesn't exist. A credible argument would try to look at both sides of an issue.

Not every story needs or deserves equal consideration. This is one of those stories.

Somehow, you seem to have entirely missed the drastic change that has taken place in politics here and elsewhere, because you're spouting the same "bothsidesism" that assumes how things used to be. The left is definitely too preoccupied with "wokeness" but it may be partly a "deer in the headlights" reaction to the fact that the right wing has lost its mind. So crazy are they that they are easy to pick out now, and Tara Henley definitely fits the mold. She works for the esteemed Globe and Mail is the thing, but that paper has consistently endorsed conservatives in power federally. They and many others with influence are currently faced with the real quandary of either reconsidering their affiliations, or defending the suite of stupidity that conservatism has become. So the story is entirely relevant.

I agree with your assessment. This opinion piece appears intended to 'cancel' Henley. There is a huge difference between addressing a persons views in the context of 'open debate' and what Garossino's attack represents. I have read Henley's critique of the CBC and listened to the podcast in question and I found her views to be fair and to the point.

The extreme right wing has fully manifested (and is holding) in Trump and the big lie but conservatives up here are still following that playbook as a path to power because the majority of Canadians, as Americans I've read, are actually progressive and so devious means are required. Look to the Republican tactics on voter suppression for example. All of this means that journalism is currently caught in the middle due to the objective philosophy embedded in "journalistic integrity." However, that has become a problem with all the post-truth right- wing chicanery, so ignoring that reality has resulted in what's being called "bothsidesism," a condemnation for providing a platform for overt lying. The false equivalency has enabled a right- wing that now exemplifies the "banality of evil." Republican Ron DeSantos and Fox News in its entirety have no place at any reasonable table, period. Tara Henley doesn't just "lean out" as her book title indicates, she obviously leans right at a time when the right has never been more wrong.

Suggesting we should shut down debate because it might favour the right to discuss both sides of an issue is not a strategy I would support, but this approach does explain why much of the MSM is struggling to maintain its audience, and why Substack, for example, is thriving. The issue at question here is not whether false news should be reported, but whether the CBC and other media in Canada will allow Canadians to judge for themselves why an issue is controversial, and how they might understand that issue. On issues related to gender and race, no discussion is permitted that doesn't affirm one side of this debate. Take the example of the medicalization of children who declare they are not comfortable in their bodies. I have heard this discussed a number of times on the CBC but only within the context that there is no problem prescribing puberty blockers and hormones to minors. Maybe there isn't, but to say this would be to ignore increasing concerns about this process outside of Canada, in the UK, Sweden and most recently Australia. There are more and more young people, "detransitioners," who regret taking these drugs because of various irreversible physical changes that develop; these people often feel they weren't properly counselled, or rushed into taking these drugs. All of this is ignored so that the belief that there are no problems can be maintained. By doing this the CBC in this case has decided to report only one part of a story, one that affirms the prevailing ideology regarding sex and gender. The CBC has apprently made an editorial decision that it is more important to affirm an ideology than to report the facts. This is the kind of problem Henley is criticizing. Again, maybe the CBC's point of view is correct, but it's not for the CBC to decide how their audience should think.

Remember that other bright new "media star" that started the open slagging of the "lamestream" media? Conservatives just love their catchy aw-shucks phrases that cover their deliberate strategy to attain and maintain power, even at the price of democracy. Seriously. Everyone sees that. And the actual frigging WORSHIP of Trump for gods' sake, and Q-Anon. And outright denial of FACTS and science in a time of covid and climate change, and expertise generally, and all of this aided and abetted by social media giants that are close to surpassing mere government as glaring examples of "too big to fail." (Mark Kingwell points out that they represent what may be the ONLY thing Republicans and Democrats could begin to agree on because shockingly, neither the clear and present dangers of a pandemic and/or climate change have been able to.
Republicans have succeeded in transforming their party into full-on obstructionist, rogue mode, culminating of course in the spectacle on January 6th. So how can you possibly think that THAT, along with everything else, including their stupid, ridiculous insistence on the "big lie" for a YEAR now recommends them as part of ANY ongoing, reasonable debate?

Here's a potentially interesting example of editorial bias at the CBC, related to what I wrote earlier. The New York Times just published this article about the controversial use of puberty blockers and hormones for children and adults in relation to new standards set by WPATH, the most important regulator of trans healthcare guidelines. Both sides of the controversy are presented:
If i'm correct in my perception, the CBC will not cover this story.. It has only been one day but so far they haven't.

Why are you focused on ONE issue instead of the far more important big picture, furthermore an issue that is basically like the pandemic as far as being "science in real time?" That's both petty and unfair. Myopic conservatives are always trotting out anecdotal exceptions to try and justify their closed minds but how do you not see that the right wing take is ALWAYS basically the more closed one, the more status quo one, the "traditional" one? Google "conservative brain;" it helps to partly explain the irrationality, the straight-up stupid intransigence of the right wing, their trademark obstructionism. Basically they just can't stand change and are simply more fearful generally than liberals. Maybe why more of them are religious.
So adaptation is far from being their wheelhouse, but as we go along here in a rapidly changing world, how is that not THE most important feature of any government? Big picture.

I'm in full agreement with Peter. I too have been "cancelled" by the CBC. As small L liberal i find myself by default in the conservative camp by people like Tris. Name calling Liberal trolls end the debate

Howard, I'd be interested to know what it was that made you feel cancelled by the CBC. I'm what my conservative father used to call a "bleeding-heart liberal," and there are times I find myself railing against some of the people being interviewed on the CBC (which, to my mind, is exactly what Peter here says isn't happening). Unless one listens to the CBC 18-24 hours per day, how would one know if one's views are or are never represented on the air? For example, it would be fascinating (for someone; not me, my focus is the climate emergency) to go through the last 5-10 years of CBC broadcasting on Peter's "issue" to see if it's true (or just Peter's perception) that they never represent the perspective he (really strongly) feels is missing.

But our hearts DO bleed, they are us, so the derogatory tone associated with that term has always puzzled me. Same with the word "socialism" which is also us, not to mention the collaborative source of our very survival as a species. These are just two examples of the triumph of what is the essentially nasty conservative narrative.
I'm with you on the climate emergency and would sum up the male perspective here as going into the weeds, or not being able to see the forest for the trees.

To be clear, my issue is that the CBC will not authentically debate issues related to sex/gender and race. Garossino never addresses this issue but instead goes after Henley's credibility. You're of course right to suggest I may be wrong in my view because I and probably no-one listens to the CBC 24 hours a day. What I'm saying is that like Henley, who has first-hand experience, I see what is in all likelihood editorial interference in telling two sides of certain stories. I too subscribe primarily for reporting on climate and I value what NO does in this area. I wish they would stick to this rather than jumping on the bandwagon of CBC can do no wrong supporters, and while doing so taking a shot at Substack where people are not limited by editorial policies.

Debate eh? "Civilized debate" you mean? I don't know how old you are, but I am old enough to remember when Stephen Harper's "cons" ( btw why exactly are they called that now do you suppose) ran the very first nasty American-style ad; it made fun of Chretien's tic, Bell's palsy I think. (And speaking of American-style, Harper as PM was also the first to say "God bless Canada," showing the new, evangelical influence on the CPC via the Reform Party.) Another warning flag was how David Suzuki, formerly generally accepted as a Canadian success story, started to come under regular attack. And remember "robo-calls?" That was another new level of deviousness. And the list goes on, highlighting who the first real "trolls" were, and still are.
But "name-calling" is the deal-breaker for you? Our Canadian and cultural obsession with politeness, a.k.a. the "low-drama narrative" DOES boil down to avoiding conflict at all costs, ensnaring journalists in particular. However, while many people generally keep trying to "go high when they go low," conservatives have taken full advantage by only increasing their bad-boy style. Bernier embodies that by boldly, openly mining the worst of human nature, and recall that he came within a hair of leading the federal cons. That's the only aspect of conservatism you can truly call "open" because their minds sure as hell aren't. Here at the University of Lethbridge I recall a forum on how to talk to people about climate change. Obviously, It referred to science denialism of course, one important plank of conservative "thought" shown at their last convention where the majority defeated a motion that stated climate change was real and requires action. Can you think of a more positive, somehow better description for that other than stupid? Never do you see them trying to understand the other side, except as yet another tactic to win or keep power. There are a multitude of reasons why Jon Stewart called them "the party of NO."

I'm not focused on one issue and I'm not a Conservative, but it's clear to me that on issues related to sex/gender and race, there is clearly editorial censorship of opposing views, and that's what Henley's piece was about. I used that issue as an example. And just to further my point...CBC still hasn't reported on the new WPATH guidelines. Trans issues are front and centre on the CBC (I recall Carol Off calling people who questioned trans id as equivalent to holocaust deniers!) yet any criticism of this movement is clearly not allowed.

As for the big picture, I believe the identitarian left is seriously damaging the prospects of left wing policies to advance. This is pretty clear in both the coverage of the Rittenhouse case and the Virginia election where much of the MSM, reported false information with the aim of once again crafting a specific narrative rather than reporting the news. Both cases were only indirectly about anti-Black racism, yet the CBC and other organizations made these cases all about racism. Read Matt Taibbi on Loudon county, for example.
What this comes down to for me is that publications like the NO should make every attempt to tell two sides of a story rather than endorse one particular narrative. I'm fine with writers like Garossino taking a's an opinion piece!...but I would hope the editors make sure that these pieces authentically address the issues raised rather than just ok a personal attack on a journalist, which is what I see here, and on the CBC.

As well, I'm thinking your attempt to demonize half the population will in the long run be a failing strategy. It brings up another issue that I've thought about lately, that is the fact that the left has lost much of its connection to working class voters as it pursues social justice at the expense of economic injustice. Look what happened in the UK where Labour lost seats it's held for generations! As much as I loathe Trump, I don't think his appeal is primarily racist. Whole towns and industries have been wiped out in efforts to globalize the market, and pretty much nothing has been done to rebuild their communities. Bernie Sanders understand this and therefore his appeal to people on both sides of the political spectrum, but of course one thing the Democrats and Republicans share is their love of big money and their loyalty to maintaining the current status quo. So yes the Republicans have created lots of irrational thinking on the right, but the Democrats have also done their share of damage by making promises they never intend to keep, and by, like the Republicans, only telling one side of a story. Which bring me back Canadian media and what I'd call its unthinking bias in favour of Liberal Party politics which says all the "right things" when it comes to cultural issues but does little to help strengthen the economy for young people, for working class people, for people who aren't part of institutions.

It isn't ME that's demonizing half the population, it is they themselves; at this point the Republicans have done far more than create "lots of irrational thinking" on the right; are you really that desensitized? It's like a bunch of juvenile delinquents have taken over, hyper-male and incorrigible "proud boys" running wild and laying waste to the underpinnings of democracy, common decency and honesty. Steve Bannon was quoted as saying when asked about their attitude toward the media, "just flood the zone with bullshit."
As a woman I view this intransigence as just more of the tediously protracted revolt against feminism that liberalism and the left wing can be seen as a proxy for. Fair-minded, caring and collaborative, can't have that. We want winners! Right. One of the burning questions before us at this point is whether or not we will survive the male of the species. Seriously.
Governance is obviously hard but becoming binary has made it easier. Bernie Sanders would have been my choice too, and I would prefer progressives here would simply put aside their petty, political narcissism of small differences and unite so we could all sleep at night because the wolves are indeed at the door.

I've just been reading the book/memoir by historian Tony Judt ("Thinking to 20th century"), who was on TV a fair bit around 2002/2003, commenting on the immorality and guaranteed-stupidity of the Iraq War. Man, talk about "only one acceptable opinion". The Washington Post had 27 op-eds in favour of the war, two against. Phil Donahue was told that to have on one anti-war voice, he had to have on two for it...and Donahue counted as an antiwar voice, so he had to have on 5 guests - four in favour, one against.

Tony Judt gave a talk at some hoity-toity Hamptons party with the elite of the NYT and networks present; NYT reporter Judith Miller slagged him in quite personal terms, and nobody stood up to defend. One guy came up later (Head of UN Peacekeeping) to assure him he was correct, whereas Miller was a "serviceable journalistic outlet for the party line". As Judt notes, just months later, she was busted for simply being Dick Cheney's PR agent, and everybody stopped talking to her. But nobody apologized to Tony for not caring who was right, only who was popular with the NYT board.

When the NYT and Post tried to "broaden" their coverage by hiring more conservatives, as long as they weren't outright Trump-lie supporters, they sure as hell weren't broadening their coverage to include people who think the Iraq War went so badly that the military should be reduced, or that $780B a year for it is controversial. They didn't hire any outright Bernie supporters, the way they hired new conservatives.

The NYT resignations strike me as different from other newsrooms where there were people turning opinions into an HR issue, on the grounds that anybody signing a letter that trans people don't like "makes me feel unsafe". Tom Cotton was calling for soldiers to be turned loose on American protestors, which would make anybody feel unsafe.

I think you're correct in saying that politics often determines editorial bias more than the reporting and assessment of facts, and give good examples of it. That's my point as well. The phrase "manufacturing consent" comes to mind. I'm not sure if you were suggesting that Cotton should have been censored, but I don't think so. There is no evidence that publishing his call for troops led to any violence, or at least, led to any violence where someone was seriously injured or killed. Except in some extreme cases, I don't buy the idea that words are violence in the same way that punching someone in the face is. All that is good about our world has been achieved by people saying controversial things, by challenging the status quo. If an idea is worthless or destructive, the truth will come out eventually, but only if we're free to say what we think.

Publishing the 27 op-eds in favour of the Iraq War didn't lead to violence either.

Oh, unless they helped lead to the Iraq War, the way Cotton's op-ed might have helped put soldiers in charge of domestic policing, which was statistically guaranteed to lead to dead bodies.

There's a term "stochastic terrorism", most often used after Bill O'Reilly called George Tiller, "Tiller the baby killer" dozens of times, just before a man shot Tiller at church. Bill O'Reilly didn't shoot a soul.

I think you're basically arguing my point, Roy. That is, that it is the role of the media to tell the truth to its readers and viewers rather than to fall in line with political pressure or a particular ideology. That's what you're saying, isn't it? I think we differ in that you seem to think someone at the Times, for example, should make moral decisions about what news is fit to print. I don't feel comfortable having anonymous editors deciding what I should and shouldn't know.

Sorry Peter, your completely off-base on this. Words matter.

We're in agreement, Andrew, words do matter, except that you seem to be fiine with the media deciding what the reading/viewing public should read and hear, and I think it should be left to citizens to judge the words and actions of others.