10.30.2014 05:00 AM

In Friday’s Sun: I didn’t know

[I’m posting this early because I’m starting to think my first reaction – disbelief – was wrong. Really wrong. Time will tell, etc., but here is my stab at trying to understand this.]

What did they know, and when did they know it?

That’s a question that has its origins in the Watergate scandal, forty years ago. What did the President know, and when did he know it?

In the intervening years, in respect of assorted real and perceived scandals, it’s a question that you hear a lot. Most of the time, it’s reporters asking The Question about politicians.

In the past few days, the roles have been reversed. Lots of political people are asking The Question of media people: when did they know about Jian Gomeshi, and what did they do about it?

The sordid details are ubiquitous, now. Jian Ghomeshi – who, full disclosure, I knew and liked – is accused of multiple cases of abuse by at least eight women. Most of the complainants are anonymous, but at least one has gone on the record.

None of the allegations have resulted in charges. But all of the allegations have certainly resulted in nausea. As in, it is enough to make one want to throw up.

In the first few hours of the Ghomeshi story, quite a few of us felt that the state broadcaster had no place in the bedrooms of the nation, and said so. But as more details oozed to the surface, quite a few of us started to reconsider.

I sure did. And then I remembered something, from long ago.

In 1984, I was president of the student council at Carleton University, and a journalism student. I wasn’t very good at either, but that’s what I was when a good friend and fellow journalism student called me.

She was crying. She said that she had made the mistake of trusting a very senior reporter with a major TV network. When she didn’t agree to go out with him, this reporter started to threaten my friend. He told her she would never work in TV news, ever, if she didn’t do his bidding.

I’m a bit of a hot-head. I’m a walking Irish bar fight, a pollster friend once said, and it’s true. My friend was scared, and I was thoroughly pissed off. So I found out who the reporter’s boss was, and I called him up.

The boss received my complaint without evincing the slightest degree of empathy for my friend. Zero.

He said he’d look into it.

Here’s what happened next: (a) my female friend was being shunned (b) the reporter was being promoted (c) the reporter and the network were going after a Liberal candidate I was helping out.

I know this because, as I was squiring the candidate around some event in Ottawa, the very senior reporter walked in. “Ah, the famous Warren Kinsella,” he said, and proceeded to put together a hatchet job of truly epic proportions.

What happens next to Jian Ghomeshi is mostly up to the courts. What happens next to various alleged victims is mostly up to the victims themselves.

What interests me, mostly, is what happens next to the CBC. What did they know, and when did they know it?

The allegations were myriad, and had been well-known for months, we are now told. So, did the CBC investigate? Why not, if not?

And if they did, why did they not act sooner? It’s The Question, and it’s one to which the CBC had better have a damn convincing answer. (If it wants to survive, that is.)

Oh, and my friend? She went on to success after success, and is now one of the top PR folks in the country. The very senior reporter, meanwhile, is facing a criminal trial – on an unrelated matter – in the Fall.

And three guesses where he worked? First two don’t count.

You got it.

The CBC.


  1. smelter rat says:

    I regret my initial response as well. Turns out the guy is scum.

  2. sezme says:

    What a story this has been. What has compounded it and made many initially doubt the accusations, is that it seemed so out of character for Ghomeshi to those of us who knew him as listeners to his radio program and those who were interview subjects and acquaintances. He seemed like a smart, empathetic, and above all, respectful man, to those who didn’t (allegedly) suffer abuse at his hands.

    So now we’re no longer faced with he said, she said. We’re faced with he said, she and she and she and she and she and she and she and she said. That’s a lot of she’s. So what he said starts to look a lot less credible. So sad for these women, and so sad that someone in his position could abuse that position as he (allegedly) did, and make us all feel like dupes.

    It’s also a sad statement on our society that as Warren said, none of these women felt able to go to the police and initiate a complaint that might have stopped this abuse. I’m not blaming them at all, because look what can happen (see Warren’s story).

    • Michael Bussiere says:

      Funny, I wasn’t surprised in the least. And it’s the sound of how he opens his show that was the clue.

    • Just Askin' says:

      Most times, complaining to the police does not result in charges even when a woman is raped because most women do things like shower or delay reporting, hence there is no physical evidence which juries here want thanks to CSI.

      One woman of the many I know who have been raped and the few who reported it, did actually get her day in court. Her American assaulter hired a private investigator to follow her and dig up dirt on her and her friends to use against her in court. Which happened. So, she was raped, humiliated on the stand, and her rapist got off more or less scot free.

      As long as people think reporting rapes and sexual assaults fixes everything, they will continue to blame women for not reporting crimes. This needs to change.

      • pc says:

        “As long as people think reporting rapes and sexual assaults fixes everything, they will continue to blame women for not reporting crimes. This needs to change.”

        Hear, bloody, hear! Well said.

  3. JH says:

    The CBC never ceases to amaze me. The people in charge there don’t really seem to care if the public thinks the Corp is worth the money or not. It’s like they just presume they are entitled to it. A lot of the content is inane and to watch the twitter feed of a bunch of their ‘reporters’ daily running all over Parliament Hill tweeting comedy to each other makes you want to spew. Last night’s P & P really did it for me though. Evan Solomon’s earth shattering poll question was about covering up bullet holes. Really? With everything that’s going on in our world, that’s the best they can do? That’s the burning issue of the day?
    Mark me outta there!

  4. We were all in disbelief until I heard that there were girls hurt.

    • Michael Bussiere says:

      No, we weren’t.

    • debs says:

      spot on, at first, I thought hmmm what is the CBC up to. But when the star story broke( right after Jian G’s fb post) I wasnt at all confused as one woman is a possibility of misunderstanding, sourgrapes what not, but 4 who all talked about beatings to the head(now its up to 8 and counting.) Yeah Jian isnt a misunderstood kinkster, he is flat out a predator, who used his position as bait to reel in victims.

      • VC says:

        There is nothing ‘spot on’ Deb and you are still very confused with respect to the turpitude of the alleged actions of Ghomeshi. Not everyone sided with Ghomeshi when the allegations came to light and not everyone had to wait to see if there were more victims in order to believe the claims of the first one that stepped forward. Your logic is baffling: give Ghomeshi a “Get Out of Jail Free” card on the condition that he has only victimized one person. Try taking a victim’s account seriously before waiting to see if a pattern emerges.

        • debs says:

          well until the allegations came out? how could anyone know women were hurt, I dont live in toronto nor work in the radio/media industry. So the first story that broke was that jian ghomeshi was taking a leave of absence, the next part, he was being let go( Ihad half wondered if a sex scandal was breaking or a dope one) then lo and behold there is him saying he is akinkster and 4-6hrs later, the star story. forgive me if Im not travelling in ghomeshi’s circles to know he has been a bad date for years.
          so yes once women were reported to be injured abused, it was still baffling and unclear to me. I also am not a daily listener to Q so had not connection to him one way or another.

        • debs says:

          oh I missed your comment in context. one woman assaulted. Yeah sorry thats not enough for me to immediately assign blame, it requires more then he said she said, but 4 women is what the story told. ( ghomeshi had his smooth story planked with one jealous lover and a freelance journalist with an axe to grind)
          and I didnt buy his story as the only real truth either. But one woman doesnt make a pattern of abuse, one woman can lie or once incident can be a mistake/bad situation etc. But much has already been written about this, it was one woman with a whole host waiting in the wings to come foward. So that is much more believable to be actions of a predator.
          I mean I once smacked a guy in the face, never repeated the action, didnt become a pattern and most certainly wasnt enjoyable. But if he came foward today to accuse me of abuse, wtf? well its true it happened but I didnt abuse him further and we broke up amiably without future abuse.

  5. MJ Patchouli says:

    Thanks for this, Warren. Of course, Jian Ghomeshi has a charismatic persona on air, and many fans across the country believed his Facebook defense last week, including me. I initially thought he was going on leave because he was having a breakdown over his dad’s death, which I totally empathized with. I am not going to beat myself up about that, or believe I’m a bad feminist or stupid person. Too many smug folks beating up the initial believers on Twitter, yet it seems many who worked in his environment heard rumours, heard from friends — why do they get a free pass over fans who trust a longtime charming and intelligent and engaging radio persona? He certainly emerges at this point as a calculated and violent predator. And I understand why a woman would not report these bad dates to police but I still don’t understand why at least one of them seems to have gone back for seconds.

    • Just Askin' says:

      Initial shock at the violation followed by an attempt to make it OK by turning it into a relationship rather than an assault.

  6. lance mclean says:

    First BBC now CBC, hopefully we won’t find as many as they did.

    Just a few of theirs over the years

    Stuart Hall, a popular and long-serving BBC commentator

    Jimmy Savile, radio and television presenter

    Reggin Perrin star Rossiter, who died in 1984, allegedly performed a sex act while three BBC employees tried to rape a male TV extra

    Dave Lee Travis – Disc jockey, radio and television presenter

    Chris Denning – Former Radio 1 disc-jockey and convicted sex offender

    and many more investigated but not prosecuted

  7. Arnold Murphy says:

    If justice is to be achieved, I think it’s in the courts, to find him guilty without him being able to face his accusers or at least answer in court to the allegations (even the word alleged, leaves me unsettled). Each of these women should understand that they have the support of society to come forward, Warren states a strong case for also investigating the role enablers who may have protected Jian played also, those within the CBC have to come clean, because if they knew and acted in any way as callous as they did in his friends case they have some responsibility to share in subsequent cases from that time forward, especially if they flexed any muscle to make anyone feel like not coming forward. Although BDSM is not my cup o tea, those who somehow enjoy it do have a right to privacy and an expectation if consensual activities occurred. I think the privacy of the bedroom still applies, as does privacy in every aspect of our personal lives, that is why the courts are the resolution in my opinion, either civil or criminal, truly otherwise we are forming a mob and that can give a lot of credence to Jian’s side of the story, in my eyes a mob at the gates of the jail house ready to lynch is a spectacle we should not be seeing or allow to occur. If the women refuse to press charges, many will be left with an unfilled appetite for justice and that is going to be a problem in the future as well dare I say for the next person accused in a similar way, justice should not be dispensed on the fly nor should we permit the public or the government to trespass into the private lives of individuals incrementally under the guise of either seeking justice or public interest, like bulls in a china shop or through a crime scene, we are apt to cause more damage than the original crime by setting precedence that scandal and shaming are tools of convenience to be used when justice seems beyond reach.

  8. Joe says:

    It has yet to be proven that Jian did what he is accused of although the mounting evidence is dispelling some doubts in my mind but that is beside the point. What I find most disturbing is that any man would do such acts to any woman without her consent or desire for such treatment. Yes Virginia there are some women and some men who like pain during sexual encounters.

  9. doconnor says:

    Changing ones opinion based on new data is nothing to be ashamed of.

  10. jeff316 says:

    What I really think is notable is this:

    “[I’m posting this early because I’m starting to think my first reaction – disbelief – was wrong. Really wrong. Time will tell, etc., but here is my stab at trying to understand this.]”

    Because that type of state is what a lot of people going after the CBC at this time should be posting first.

  11. davie says:

    Can you look at this as a part of the spectrum of attitudes and behaviours that also includes missing and murdered women?

  12. Pipes says:

    As a member of the flock of sheep, I am now bewildered by this and I am not sure what to think. I usually think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
    Anyway my opinion only counts with my dog and he is far more intelligent than I and he has taken the position that he will not comment until all of the facts of the case are known.

    • David Bronaugh says:

      Then your dog will never speak, and neither will you, as “all of the facts of the case” are never known. We are always working with partial information.

      In this case, the partial information paints a picture of a really unpleasant person under the right (or wrong) circumstances.

  13. Justin says:

    Please, people get a grip. Some of you trying desperately to draw parallels between the CBC and the BBC sex molestation scandal is laughable. The CBC made the right move in firing Ghomeshi before more was made. Now if it shows over the next few months that CBC management knew and tried to keep it secret about Ghomeshi’s peculiarities and violent tendencies, then we can start making accusations.

    • lance mclean says:

      yes the CBC did make the right decision but as Warren eluded to, (The Question of media people: when did they know about Jian Gomeshi, and what did they do about it?) who knew, for how long, did they hide it for a while and why now? So perhaps there is something to look into at the CBC itself, after all Gomeshi was one of their higher profile personalities?

  14. Tony Miller says:

    I look at Jian Ghomeshi and think “In what world did he think that it is or was remotely ok to hit women, choke women, be physically aggressive with women in any way?” I wonder if his father, who he clearly admired, had any knowledge of his behaviour, or if he learned this from his father. I wonder if he has any male friends who are able to take him to task for this and say “Not acceptable. Not right. Not cool. Not anything but reprehensible.” I look at these women and applaud them for their bravery in speaking out. Lastly, I truly hope that this narcissistic sack of misogynistic crap does not have a story arc that ends with his rehabilitation and resumption of duties. The Q in Q stands for Questionable. And the A…well, you can fill in the blank.

  15. Ian turnbull says:

    I don’t know the man and I have never listened to his program. However I read his facebook post when this thing first started. The tone of it was one clue, the “jilted lover” excuse was the next clue, and the “jilted lover trying to convince others to go along..” sealed the deal with me. In my mind this guy had done some terribly wrong things and was trying to cover them up.

    As far as I am concerned he is scum and if the rumour is true that he hired a PR firm and they were involved in his post I have a big issue with that firm. Any PR firm should have also clued in the guy was scum the minute he tried the “jilted lover trying to convince others…” line. What kind of firm knowingly represents that type of person? I understand why every person no matter what their crime has the right to legal representation and why lawyers do that. However I don’t think every scumbag has a right to PR representation and I question the values of firms that chose do business with them.

  16. smelter rat says:

    This is interesting. Not normally an Adler fan, but he’s spot on. https://soundcloud.com/thecharlesadlershow/a-few-thoughts-on-jian

  17. smelter rat says:

    According to twitter, Navigator has cut ties with Ghomeshi.

  18. Derek Pearce says:

    …and now hearing this, it’s too bad that you-know-who is only on trial for this unrelated matter, because imagine what other bits of abusive behaviour has he been up to over the years of his television career.

    Btw, in addition to being dumped by Navigator, Rockit Promotions also cut ties with Ghomeshi this afternoon. He’s going to have to settle for a plain old lawyer now.

  19. BrianK says:

    I appreciate your disclaimer at the top, and by way of my own disclaimer, I’m a regular reader of this website. I’ve purchased one of your books. I like your writing and find your points of view interesting, even when I disagree. So I say this as a fan – your blog post on Sunday night (which you seem to have taken down) was absolutely asinine. A much more full-throated mea culpa is needed (though again, I appreciate your disclaimer). What compelled you to buy Ghomeshi’s “stay out of my bedroom, CBC” angle so quickly when Ghomeshi himself said that a bunch of women would be coming forward to accuse him of non-consensual activities? That should have had your bullshit detector on high alert, as it did for many others. I don’t know Ghomeshi, and if you do, I can imagine how tough it is when someone does something completely at odds with who you thought they were. But the bottom line is that the only way to wring something positive out of this ugliness is to turn it into a conversation about consent and the silencing effect of power. What happens next is *not* up to the courts, or the victims. The stories are out there, and given the “behind closed doors” nature of the accusations, it would be difficult to make charges stick. What happens next is up to opinion leaders like you who help shape what other people think. You’re allowed to be confused and need some time to make sense of it all, but when you get to the part where you realize that there’s one bad guy here, and it’s the guy who chokes women, I hope you’ll use this space to shine a light on other individuals who think they can victimize people because they have a famous name. Kudos to the CBC for letting him go before it took public pressure to make them act. Now lets focus on the victims and assuring women that when some douchebag thinks he can get the public on his side with consultant-crafted drivel about how “bitches be crazy”, we’re not gonna buy it.

  20. >>What interests me, mostly, is what happens next to the CBC. What did they know, and when did they know it?
    >>The allegations were myriad, and had been well-known for months, we are now told. So, did the CBC investigate? Why not, if not?
    >>And if they did, why did they not act sooner? It’s The Question, and it’s one to which the CBC had better have a damn convincing answer. (If it wants to survive, that is.)

    Really? A couple years ago the Canadian Forces had an airforce base commander who turned out to be a serial rapist/murder. Maybe we should shut down the Canadian Armed Forces. Because they should have known!!! In fact I blame the Minister of Defense. He better have a damn convincing answer. (If he wants to survive, that is.)

    Myriad of allegations? In the reports I read, only one complaint made it as far as CBC HR. There has been no criminal conviction. No charges. Not even a single complaint to the police.

    In what universe does an employer need to vouch for a star employee’s off hours transgressions?

    Note that when they did fire Gomeshi, there was an instant 55 million dollar lawsuit, and knee-jerk backlash against the CBC for over-reacting.

    Now three days later you, a Sun-employee, want to crucify the CBC for under-reacting.

  21. Bob E. says:

    The double greater than signs (>> – of course the psychological significance, the inflated ego, is obvious) are a character fingerprint of Ghomeshi. The purposeful leaving out the “h” on the name is another telltale (o our keyloggers are working overtime tonight!) You join the dots on “crescent”. Think you might of had el Shitto himself on the line. Creepy and weird. Just looking out for your welfare. Despite the rough exterior, you are a good egg.

  22. john demerais says:

    i knew he was full of shit when he posted the pre-emptive ” Don’t believe ANYTHING those lying f’ing sheep say , Dr. Doolittle “!! post on facebook ,the other day . That was unbelievable , but it seemed to work , for a few hours . The cbc has run it’s course . kiil it , kill it dead .

  23. Kevin Brown says:

    I am curious who the CBC Ottawa reporter from the ’80’s is. Can you drop us some hints Warren? Does his first name begin with “M” Is he still a reporter?

  24. My Name is Andy says:

    If you want a definition of the “old boys club”, its the CBC.

  25. Kevin Brown says:

    Off topic!

    There is a huge political story that the media is ignoring. Last Tuesday night on Joe Warmingtons “late shift” radio show – Karen Stintz revealed that the John Tory campaign had offered to pay off her campaign debts of $35,000 if she would drop out of the race!

    This of course is considered bribery and it is illegal. In 2007 former Ottawa Mayoer Larry O’Brien was charged with bribery by the OPP when he offered to pay an opponent $30,000 to drop out of the 2006 mayoralty race.

    This is nothing new for John Tory! In the 2003 Toronto mayoralty race John Tory was accused by John Nunziata of offering Nunziata $150,000 to drop out of the race. Had Nunziata dropped out Tory would have been in striking distance of beating David Miller! He could have been Mayor!


    Just as Tory was given a complete free pass by the media during the election he is being given a free pass on this bombshell revelation. The reason of course is Tory either directly controls the media via his role at Rogers (e.g. Rogers owned City TV) or is very good friends with those at the helm of other media outlets.

    The Toronto Police should be investigating but not likely this will happen given the fact that Tory and Bill Blair are very close friends.

    Warren this would be a good story for you to cover because you are not afraid to stir things up. You are probably one of the few people in the media with the guts to take this on!

    Imagine the implications if John Tory were to be charged with bribery before being sworn in! Could he even be sworn in? What would happen? Would Doug Ford become Mayor? Imagine the implications for those on John Tory’s team. According to Stintz Nick Kouvalis brokered this “deal”. This could destroy Kouvalis for good!

    Hopefully you can take on this daunting story!

  26. Joe says:

    While CBC likely could have done a better job in this instance I can see how they got there. I once worked in an HR department and we had all kinds of ways of handling conflict. However like all things created by humans our systems were far from perfect. A person could complain through his/her union or directly to supervisor or supervisor’s supervisor etc. However each level had its own way of dealing with the issue. That meant that when the complaint was no longer pursued it was assumed that the conflict was resolved. Most of the time this worked but sometimes when the victim left the company I wondered if there had been a real resolution or if the victim was leaving because we failed resolve the issue.

  27. e.a.f. says:

    I still can’t figure it out. What has happened here is much like what happens in any number of large corporations. Some care, but the bottom line comes first. Sometimes its a case of interpretation. We may hold the C.B.C. to a higher standard, as we should. It is our national broadcaster.

    If we get the answer, of they knew and they knew a long time ago and weren’t going to mess with success, then more than a few heads ought to roll. They will have abdicated their role as “national broadcaster”. Just as the C.B.C. documentary about, who knew what in G.M. and the Conservatives about the “switch” in vehicles, we need to know about this.

    On the other hand, who cares. The women didn’t go to the police. They went to a broadcaster. Is this their new career? Victim of Mr. G. If Mr. G. is what he is alleged to be, you’d think he might have made the “bad trick” list of men to date. In many organizations, “bad dates” are fairly common knowledge. If that is the case, why would anyone date him, besides advancing their careers.

    If some one hits you, you either get up and phone the police or get up and get a 2 x 4 and hit back. I’d suggest, we may never get at the truth and I for one, suggest we get back to other issues facing this country and women. turning Mr. G. into a pariah or the CBC as bad employer of the decade, will it really matter in the end? Will it change the “culture” at CBC or any other business organization? most likely not. its sad, its ugly, its sick, but its reality. Will it ever change? A bit at a time, but only if people stand up and go to the police, insist charges are filed. You can’t change attitudes, but you can change behaviour.

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