Jian Ghomeshi: How he got away with it

I really like how Macleans covers stories. This one has a lot of depth and highlights why CBC and others turned a blind eye to Ghomeshi`s transgressions. Guilty or not, the fact that it went on for so long with nobody checking is the problem for a trusted Canadian entity like CBC. Society faults the women for their actions and inconsistencies after their interactions with Ghomeshi but they are in good company judging by this article. Click here to learn more or read an excerpt below.

 

Stursberg, too, was a Ghomeshi fan, gushing in his 2012 memoir Tower of Babble that the host was “so clever, so charming and so driven.” Q began airing in March 2007 at 2:00 p.m. Ghomeshi lobbied hard for the prized former Morningside slot, Stursberg writes. “ ‘Put me in. We’ll move the numbers,’ [Ghomeshi] promised.” In June 2008, Ghomeshi got his wish. The move was meant to telegraph a major shift in direction, Stursberg writes: “It would indicate that we were pursuing a more urban and more contemporary feel, along with a younger demographic.”

It’s a formula that worked. As many as 811,000 tune into Q during an average weekday, and 6.9 million listeners tuned in at some point during the 2013 and 2014 season. That’s fewer daily listeners than The Current boasts, but Q is also syndicated in 160 stations in the U.S. on Public Radio International. Julia Yager, PRI’s senior vice-president for sales and marketing, says the number of Americans listening to Q on a weekly basis was 858,000 in spring 2014, up six per cent from last fall. Q is “one of the faster-growing public radio programs in the U.S.,” she says. A weekly televised version of the show draws 300,000 viewers, the Q YouTube channel averages 1.5 million hits per month, and the podcast gets about 250,000 downloads every week.

On the broader stage, too, the CBC’s investment in Ghomeshi—he’s reported to make just shy of $500,000 annually—paid off. In 2012, there was much celebration when Ghomeshi was named best talk-show host at the New York Festivals International Radio Awards. A former CBC employee sees Ghomeshi’s appeal to the CBC as a “projection screen for a lot of CBC insecurities. There was this idea of the non-existent Canadian star system, and we need somebody to participate in all of the s–ty galas we have. And Michael Enright might not be that guy.”

“It was a complicit relationship,” says a former CBC producer. “It wasn’t as if Jian arrived fully formed as their dream. He made sure he appealed to them, too, which is how he made the leap from a Newsworld show, which used to be the place [where] the smart people played.”

The medium worked for him, says a long-time CBC staffer. “On television, there was something about him that radio doesn’t have. He has that voice. On TV, he’s awkward.” Radio allowed Ghomeshi a tool of seduction, says a CBC host. “It’s incredibly intimate. It’s like a needle mainlining through a main vein. You invite people into your house, your car, your bedroom.” Ghomeshi consciously mirrored guests’ tone and cadence to create the illusion of intimacy, he told Toronto Life in 2013: “People connect with people who sound like them,” he said, “not to be too Machiavellian.”

Such was the sway of a man who referred to himself as the “Persian Prince” on Twitter that management sided with his version of events for months—until Ghomeshi himself served up graphic evidence that he had “injured a woman,” as executive vice-president Heather Conway wrote in an internal CBC memo the week after he was fired. “We also spoke to Jian at that time, and asked him directly if there was any truth to the allegations,” she wrote. “Based on Jian’s denial, we continued to believe Jian.”

Now, the network that believed and gave Ghomeshi a public platform is forced to look at what was lurking in plain sight. “It’s not simply the fact that it’s a show branded and sold with his image, but also that the CBC represents public trust,” says a former Qstaffer. “Even if you don’t agree with the existence of a public broadcaster, the CBC belongs to everyone; it’s a public trust. What’s so tragic about this, is that has to exist in good faith, and partners have to exist in good faith to have that a living thing. That’s something that was abused. To think that it may have feathered his nest—that is such a monstrous story.”

It’s a story that’s far from over. Ghomeshi, who has gone underground, was reported to be in Los Angeles, then Ontario’s Muskoka region. He has said he plans to address the allegations, but has not yet done so. (Maclean’s requests for an interview were not answered.) Before any charges have been laid, the organizations that depended on Ghomeshi’s marquee value and showman skills have all distanced themselves. The Giller prize replaced him as its gala host; the Polaris Music Prize dropped him as a juror. Penguin Random House cancelled his second book—and told booksellers it had ceased further production of 1982. Valerie Poxleitner, the 27-year-old Toronto electropop musician known as Lights, had initially defended Ghomeshi, her manager for the past 12 years; this week, she posted a message on her Facebook page saying she had severed their business ties. “I am now aware that my comments appear insensitive to those impacted, and for that I am deeply sorry,” she wrote. “I hope everyone can heal from this.” Former Q guests—among them Atwood and musician Owen Pallett—added their names to petitions decrying violence against women. People who profited directly have also disassociated themselves. Speakers’ bureaus severed ties. So did Ghomeshi’s long-time manager and publicist. And in what is seen as an unprecedented move, Navigator, known for helping politicians and celebrities out of ignoble scrapes, dropped Ghomeshi as a client, suggesting worse to come. Based on what we’re finally seeing, that’s inevitable.

 

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