The complainant thought a piece on The National marking the fifth anniversary of the start of hostilities in Syria was distorted and biased.

By Esther Enkin for the CBC

The complainant, T.A. Anderson thought a piece on The National marking the fifth anniversary of the start of hostilities in Syria was distorted and biased. He thought there were many facts and perspectives that should have been included, and provided many links to that information. The story was far too narrow in scope to include such detail. Perspectives come over time. There is no conclusive narrative nor an obligation to stick to the one preferred by the complainant.


You thought a story on the March 18, 2016 broadcast of The National was “disgraceful neo-conservative propaganda.” The story marked the fifth anniversary since demonstrations in the Syrian city of Daraa escalated to a wide-scale armed conflict, an ongoing civil war. You saw this particular piece as consistent with a pattern of coverage that omitted important background and facts you believe necessary for the understanding of the situation in Syria.

CBC News and The National have been complicit in propagating and sustaining the neoconservative regime change narrative, and hold a responsibility for the massive human suffering in Syria, (and Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine.)

You provided 15 examples of either omissions or distortions of the story as you see it. I have included those 15 points here. You also provided a great deal of documentation and links to a variety of sources to back up your points. Rather than try to paraphrase them, I am providing a link so that your full position can be accessed: Click here.

  1. No mention at all was made of the long-time US/Pentagon/ neoconservative calls and plans for regime change in Syria, widely telegraphed throughout the decade before the war started.

  2. No mention was made of CIA and other foreign involvement in the Syrian (and Libyan) protests in 2011.

  3. No mention at all was made of US/NATO-regime-changed-and-destroyed Libya which created the necessary conditions and precursors for IS.

  4. No mention at all was made of the illegal 2003 US invasion, regime-change and destruction of Iraq which laid the necessary groundwork for IS and this brutal war in Iraq and Syria.

  5. No mention at all was made of the US funding, arming, and training of regime-change proxy forces to overthrow the elected government of Syria.

  6. No mention was made of the fact that under the US-led “fight against ISIS”, involving the resources of some 62-plus nations, ISIS actually grew in numbers and territory.

  7. No mention at all was made of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, key backers and enablers of IS/AQ and other violent Wahhabi extremist groups in Syria.

  8. No mention at all was made of Russia’s 2012 peace plan that would have seen Assad transition out peacefully, but that was rejected by the US which preferred to seek another destructive regime change.

  9. No mention was made of Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, or the fact that most of the various other groups are offshoots, associates, or subordinates of the dominant IS/AQ groups.

  10. No mention was made of the word “proxy”, when that’s exactly what this 5-year war is, a proxy war with multiple foreign backers behind every group.

  11. No mention of the phrase “regime change” was made, when that too is exactly what this heinous war is about.

  12. No mention was made of the fact that the US just reluctantly declared that ISIS atrocities in Syria and Iraq constituted genocide.

  13. No mention was made of the US military’s resistance to the neoconservative regime change plans in Syria.

  14. No mention was made of international law, of Syria’s sovereignty, of Russia having been invited there by the Syrian government, or of recent UN Security Council resolutions.

  15. No mention was made of Russia’s 5 ½-month intervention having turned the tide against ISIS, or of ISIS’s response to Russian strikes by targeting a passenger jet and killing 224 Russian tourists and crew.

You believe that this coverage “makes a mockery of fairness” and that the National has not fulfilled its obligation to provide the relevant information Canadians need to make up their minds on this issue.


The Executive Producer of The National, Don Spandier, told you he appreciated the effort you had taken to provide the information and links to him. He told you he shared your email with the editors and reporters involved in creating the story on the anniversary of the Syrian civil war.

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