The view from here

November 6, 2008 § Leave a comment

Like millions of other people, I watched the US presidential election with friends, who, although they have cable, do not actually subscribe to any American news channels.  So, just as I did on 9/11, I watched American history unfold through the distinctly Canadian lens of the CBC.

Quite apart from the fact that our national broadcaster doesn’t have holograms, I was struck by the contrast between its coverage of the event and the content of the event itself.  As other commentators have observed, by this point ad nauseam, Obama’s victory was largely the result of increased voter participation by two groups: (a) African and Latino/a Americans, and (b) youth.  Both were in attendance at last night’s teeming victory rally in Chicago, and their enthusiasm was almost palpable.

The CBC’s coverage, by contrast, was muted, staid, and colonially dull.  This being an Important News Story, all the usual suspects were there–Peter Mansbridge, Rex Murphy, Henry Champ-and they have never seemed older or whiter than they did last night.  Mansbridge was at best aloof and at worst downright haughty, while Murphy reprised the same pompous schtick he has been performing since Confederation.  It took a brief appearance by Joe Schlesinger to remind us that some Canadians have accents, and another by Ian Hanomansing to reassure us that non-white Canadians don’t.

I have always hated the version of Canada that the CBC is required by law to promote, and someday I will write a book about why.  For the moment, I’ll just observe that our news media, like our politics, is in dire need of new faces and, even more so, new ideas, lest both become completely irrelevant to the vast majority of Canadians.


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