The complainant, Murray O’Regan, thought CBC radio news was indulging in tabloid journalism talking about the Khadr settlement. The item on the hourly newscast focused on the controversy over the Canadian government’s compensation deal with Mr. Khadr. Mr. Murray thought the report did not provide context about his guilty plea at Guantanamo Bay. He had a point – but there were other stories that day which provided more detail.

COMPLAINT

You objected to the phrasing of some radio news reports which aired through the morning of July 5, 2017. David Cochrane was reporting on the reaction to an announcement the Canadian government had agreed to a $10.5 million payment to Omar Khadr to settle his civil suit over mistreatment and breach of his charter rights. You said that it was inaccurate to state that Omar Khadr “admitted to killing” a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. He admitted guilt as part of a plea bargain, and was under duress. You also thought the news story was not clear about the reason Mr. Khadr was compensated. You thought it stated that the payment was for what happened on the day of his arrest, rather than his treatment at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. You noted that on the hourly newscast at 10:00 a.m. that morning, Mr. Cochrane varied his script slightly by stating “whatever he admitted to”, and this too was problematic:

Lastly the use of the word whatever by David Cochrane is a classic use of the word to deflect responsibility to what is stated or to deflect incoming information that one isn’t willing to process.

You felt the news stories were “tabloid in nature” and further inflamed public opinion on a controversial matter.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

The Managing Editor for CBC News, Paul Hambleton, replied to your concerns. He pointed out that the stories you referred to were very brief reports on the compensation and the reaction to it. In such a short time, he explained, it is “sometimes impossible to elaborate on every nuance of a complicated story such as this.”

Continue reading this story on the CBC website, where it was first published.