The complainant thought it inappropriate for Neil Macdonald to refer to creationism as superstition in a column he wrote about challenges facing the Republican policy in the face of a Trump candidacy for President.

By Esther Enkin, CBC ombudsman

The complainant, Steve Cherry thought it inappropriate for Neil Macdonald to refer to creationism as superstition in a column he wrote about challenges facing the Republican policy in the face of a Trump candidacy for President. Expressing opinion is prohibited by CBC policy and even this passing reference did not meet the standard.

COMPLAINT

You were angered by a column written by CBC reporter Neil Macdonald entitled “Trump is the fuel, but the Republican party will burn itself down”. There was a reference to those who believe in creationism that you deemed “pernicious” and a “smear to a religious group.” You said that a poll shows one third of Canadians believe in creationism and one third a combination of both evolution and creationism. Mr. Macdonald was insulting a large number of people, you felt:

This then is inflammatory & divisive & discriminatory against statutory rights & a large segment of the population.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

Lianne Elliott, an Executive Producer with cbcnews.ca responded to your complaint. She told you that the main thrust of the analysis piece was to examine challenges facing the Republican Party in the face of a Trump candidacy for president. She said the reference to creationism was an aside:

Rather, it was a hypothetical aside about various factions within the Republican Party other than Donald Trump himself whose actions might create electoral challenges for the party among mainstream American voters.

She added that in the body of the essay, Mr. Macdonald cites other groups who might have taken over the Republican party. She told you that although it was not meant as a pejorative in this context, she understood why you might take offense. She realized that is was not a sensitive use of language. She explained what Mr. Macdonald was attempting to do:

…it was a rhetorical flourish attempting to make the distinction between the widely-accepted scientific consensus on evolution, and the efforts of some fundamentalists to have creationism receive equal attention in the school system.

She added that senior CBC news staff have met with producers and reviewed the use of language and the need to ensure that “greater care must be taken when choosing descriptive language.” She also told staff it is important to show respect for diverse points of view and beliefs.

To continue reading this review, please go the CBC ombudsman’s website where this was originally published.