While it is always disturbing to watch a trial by media violate fundamental human rights by an assumption of guilt before a court of law finds such to be the case, it was especially dismaying to find that the media in question, on tonight’s The Fifth Estate, were possibly as culpable in the allegations made against Jian Ghomeshi as Mr. Ghomeshi himself. Never have I been so ashamed of the C.B.C., whose program was a disgraceful attempt to exonerate itself from any responsibility in the affair by putting a patsy, a Mr. Boyce, in a seat hotter than he had been prepared for or, it seemed, warranted. Being blind, I have often listened to ‘Q’ over the past several years, during which time I gradually became aware of Mr. Ghomeshi’s personality quirks: his chronic insecurity and susceptibility to flattery; his sometimes oddly strained relationships with floor crew etc. But on his regular Friday thanks to staff, I do not recall the mention of a ‘Boyce’. I do, however, vividly recall his thanks to an executive producer who was the only person termed ‘Mister’ – it was something like ‘Mister Haram Shamani’; I do not have the means to confirm the exact name, but it did sound Arabic or Iranian – and I wonder why this man was not interviewed on the show. Since we know that two members of CBC staff viewed the videos Mr. Ghomeshi showed in apparent defense of his sexual conduct, I also wonder why the second man was not questioned or mentioned. Why also was the reason Mr. Ghomeshi would show such seemingly-incriminating videos not discussed? One is forced to assume that Ghomeshi felt they exhibited exonerating evidence of consensual activity, no matter how vile. Yet Boyce, the fall-guy, was seemingly there to take full responsibility for the public corporation’s actions – or inaction – when we had already heard of complaints to Human Resources and the well-known ‘toxic environment’ surrounding the show, which made women weep and console one another in washrooms, and others quit their jobs in despair. The Unmaking of Jian Ghomeshi did a fair job of documenting the making of Mr. Ghomeshi, a threadbare job of unmaking him, and an embarrassingly miserable job of justifying its own inability to say mea culpa. Ever-critical of police investigations into police malfeasance; and government committees to examine government misdemeanors, The Fifth Estate demonstrated astounding hypocrisy by presuming its ability to investigate its own parent, or boss. It was like listening to a Crown Attorney charged with aiding and abetting sexual assault interrogate a defendant charged with that sexual assault.
To add insult to injury, there was no mention of why it is not possible for other women who have complaints against Ghomeshi to come forward under guarantees of anonymity. It can be dome in the case of Mafia informants, and under-age victims of sexual abuse. It can surely be dome here, if only by means of sealed affidavits only available to legal staff. Such a probe might have assisted Ghomeshi in his long journey from allegations to convictions; yet instead one felt that the CBC was mainly interested in blaming the entire fiasco on this hapless Boyce – a strategy I suspect will not wash, since a scapegoat has to be higher up the food-chain. If ever anyone, but Charles I, was so concerned with the efficacy of the axe-man’s blade, it must be the CBC giving the Fuhrer in Ottawa a full go-ahead for dismantling a broadcaster which cannot even cast broad enough for its own safety.
Paul William Roberts