CBC Ombudsman: Covering Syria

The complainant thought the Power & Politics treatment of events in Syria was too one-sided. Continue Reading CBC Ombudsman: Covering Syria

By Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman

The complainant, Marjaleena Repo, thought the Power & Politics treatment of events in Syria was too one-sided. The context was analysis of changes in U.S. policy, what it might mean and how it might affect Canadian policy. The context did not require presenting other overall views and characterization of the conflict.


You were dissatisfied with an episode of Power & Politics which had three different segments concerning the recent bombing of Syrian civilians and the United States’ response. U.S. naval vessels launched missiles at the airport where the attack was thought to originate. You called it “incredibly biased, one-sided reporting and interviewing.” You said the host and the guests on the programme all agreed that Syria was guilty of recent chemical attacks, and that Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad should be removed from office. You stated it was also necessary to include commentators and experts who disagree with those positions and who would question U.S. foreign policy on Syria:

… no one mentioning the obvious fact that the attack on Syria, a sovereign nation, by the USA was a unilateral illegal act that breaches that United Nations Charter, no one expressing concern about this act endangering world peace.

There are many competent people in Canada, United States and elsewhere, scholars, experts on Syria, journalists, knowledgeable about the country’s history and the players in the crisis that has lasted for six years (misleadingly called “civil war” when it actually is a proxy war, financed by several foreign nations, Saudi Arabia and United States among them), who could provide a coherent counter-perspective on the crisis and the recent chemical attack. It takes little effort to locate them, when there is will, but that will appears to be completely missing from this programme.


Amy Castle, the Executive Producer of Power & Politics, replied to your concerns. She told you that there was a particular framework for the coverage of Syria in this particular broadcast and said the purpose was to explore the “international implications” arising from the U.S. missile attack a few days earlier. She told you that the first interview was with retired Colonel Peter Mansoor with a focus on understanding what was guiding U.S. foreign policy and what actions might arise from it in this new administration. She informed you Col. Mansoor had served in Iraq as Executive Officer to U.S. General David Petraeus, who was then Commander of a multi-national force stationed there.

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