Many people wrote to complain about one of the panelists on the CBC election night programme – she compared Donald Trump to Hitler.

By Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman

Many people wrote to complain about one of the panelists on the CBC election night programme – she compared Donald Trump to Hitler. It may be upsetting, or considered inappropriate, but it is not a violation of policy. Furthermore, another panelist immediately rebutted the comparison. Two complainants, Diane Weber Bederman and Rick Matton, requested a review. This covers both complaints.

COMPLAINT

Many people complained about one of the panelists who participated in CBC News’ U.S. election night coverage. Danielle Moodie-Mills compared Donald Trump to Hitler. Two complainants, Diane Weber Bederman and Rick Matton, requested a review.

Ms. Bederman said it was “disgusting.”

You brought on a commentator who compared Donald Trump to Hitler?

That is absolutely beneath contempt … It is beyond the pale even for unethical journalism at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr. Matton expressed much the same sentiment. He said he wrote “to express my complete disgust shock and horror” that Ms. Moodie-Mills was given a platform to speak on CBC television.

He thought that Peter Mansbridge and the other panelists did not appropriately counter her views. Mr. Matton characterized her comments as “racist propaganda and completely false information.”

CBC panelists and CBC’s Peter Mansbridge stood by silent while this woman went completely crazy on air and admitted during her rant she had nothing to lose. That alone should have been a trigger to stop her live hate filled rant on Canadian television.

Ms. Weber Bederman felt the reference was insulting to Jewish people, who were victims of the holocaust. She said:

Jewish people have a right not to have the holocaust demeaned by your organization -whether by an employee or a panelist.

Mr. Matton also thought the entire broadcast was biased and reflected the views of the “elites” in Ottawa and Toronto. He thought the panelists “hated” Donald Trump and Mr. Mansbridge was obvious in his disappointment that Hillary Clinton had lost.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

The Executive Producer of The National, Don Spandier, who was also responsible for the election night broadcast, replied to the complaints. He acknowledged that using a comparison to Hitler is disturbing and offensive to some people. He characterized it as hyperbole. He added that one of the panelists contradicted Ms. Moodie-Mills after she made the comparison.

I should point out that David Frum immediately countered that criticism of Mr. Trump didn’t have to go as far as a comparison to Hitler. He added that there are many degrees of criticism, but that former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi was perhaps a better comparison.

Mr. Spandier explained that the panel was put together for the range of perspectives the members brought to the table, and for their expertise on American politics.

As the results came in over the evening, Mr. Mansbridge turned repeatedly to the three panelists for their insight and often divergent perspectives on what turned out to be a dramatic and, for many, surprising outcome…There were three people on the panel: Ashley Banfield, a Canadian journalist and host of the CNN Headline News program Prime Time Justice; David Frum, a respected conservative commentator, speechwriter for former President George W. Bush and now senior editor at The Atlantic, and Danielle Moodie-Mills, a Democratic strategist, social justice activist and creator of Politini, a pop-culture and politics radio program.

He added that there were other voices heard from that evening to provide Canadians with a range of views and information so they could assess the significance of what had happened. He said that while some people were offended by Ms. Moodie-Mills, CBC News has an obligation to provide a platform for a wide range of views, and to give individuals a right to express them:

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