The CBC Office of the Ombudsman reviewed a complaint that asserted a CBC Television report on The National suggested a connection between Israeli geopolitics and international non-intervention in Syrian strife, but did not find a violation of CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices.

Review from the office of the ombudsman | English Services

Summary

The complainant asserted that a CBC Television report on The National suggested a connection between Israeli geopolitics and international non-intervention in Syrian strife. I did not find a violation of CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices.

On June 12, 2012, CBC Television's The National presented a report on the ongoing civil strife in Syria, including the diplomatic challenges the conflict presented for western countries, particularly the United States.

Neil Macdonald, the Senior Washington Correspondent for CBC News, examined the state of the conflict and why there had not been international intervention.


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The National's host, Peter Mansbridge, said “considerable time” had been spent by CBC News debating what to show in the broadcast and he warned that the “images are awful.” Macdonald indicated an “endless gallery” of disturbing images was coming from the country, including those of mutilated and dead children. He said the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had taken a “ghastly interest in children.” A United Nations representative in the report asserted that children were being used as human shields.

Macdonald noted that Syria was also depending on Russia for support. The report showed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing concern that Russia might be supplying military helicopters to the regime, a move she said would intensify the conflict.

Macdonald said Syrians were alone in their battle with the government and there were “several answers” why. He then featured Clinton in the report saying “there is no doubt” the Assad regime “needs to go” but that it was important to “create a transition that gives at least some possible reassurance to those who fear what comes next.” Macdonald said Clinton “pointed specifically to Israel. She said what comes next matters drastically to that country.”

Macdonald noted that the Israeli-Syrian border had been quiet for 40 years but that might not continue were Assad replaced with a “Sunni Muslim regime with a fundamentalist tinge.”

The complainant, Alexander Budlovsky, said the report suggested Israel was to blame for the continuing bloodshed in Syria and was the “bad guy” in the conflict because the West was citing Israel's interests in not intervening. He called this an “obscene insinuation.”

To continue reading, please go to the CBC ombudsman's website where this column originally appeared.

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.