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By Hilary White

OTTAWA, September 29, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The CBC has responded with an apology to an international uproar over a column the public broadcaster ran which insulted US vice-presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The CBC published the apology after receiving “about 300 complaints” regarding the piece.

CBC web publisher John Cruickshank said the public broadcaster had erred in its editorial judgement and the item should never have appeared on the CBC website. In an online statement, Cruickshank said reaction to the column has caused the CBC to install new editing procedures. “We are open to contentious reasoned argument but not to partisan attack,” he said in a statement.

The taxpayer-funded CBC website ran the piece, entitled “A Mighty Wind Blows Through the Republican Convention,” by Heather Mallick, earlier this month. On September 5th, Mallick wrote that Palin, with her with her “toned-down version of the porn actress look” would give McCain “the white trash vote.”

The CBC, known in Canada as “mothercorp,” had previously refused to retract the column, citing fair comment.

A form letter originally sent by the CBC in response to complaints, published by the National Post, said that although Mallick’s opinions were not those of the CBC, “as the section heading ‘Analysis & Viewpoint’ suggests, our pages also contain clearly identified viewpoint and opinion. We invite some of the best and, yes, controversial writers in the country, Ms. Mallick among them, to offer their views on the events of the day.”

But now the CBC has issued an official apology and retraction of the column, admitting that the article was “a classic piece of political invective. … It is viciously personal, grossly hyperbolic and intensely partisan.”

Last week the CBC ombudsman, Vince Carlin, issued a six-page letter on the issue, in which he agreed with Mallick’s critics, saying that her opinions were not based in fact and were not up to the CBC’s journalistic standards, even for commentary.

“In fact,” he continued, “that type of comment, applied to any other group, would easily be seen as at best puerile. Similarly the characterization of Palin supporters as white trash lacks a factual basis. I asked Ms. Mallick to explain the basis of these characterizations. In a note she explained her opinions of Ms. Palin, but did not provide a factual justification for the statements.”

“Ms. Mallick,” he wrote, “has the liberty to hold whatever views she wishes. And the CBC has both the right and the obligation to exercise appropriate editorial supervision.”

In her September 5th column, Mallick wrote, “It’s possible that Republican men sexual inadequates that they are, really believe that women will vote for a woman just because she’s a woman. They’re unfamiliar with our true natures. Do they think vaginas call out to each other in the jungle night?”

She went on to insult the Palin family, with references to the sexual activities of Mrs. Palin’s teenage children. “Bristol has what is known in Britain as the look of the teen mum, the ‘pramface.’ Husband Todd looks like a roughneck; Track, heading off to Iraq, appears terrified. They claim to be family-obsessed while being studiously terrible at parenting. What normal father would want Levi ‘I’m a f—kin’ redneck’ Johnson prodding his daughter?”

News media in Canada and the US picked up the story, saying that Mallick, known in the trade for her heavy-handed leftism and feminist diatribes, had gone too far. National Post columnist Jonathan Kay said the column was “so appalling that it might finally convince whoever is elected on October 14 to clean house at 25 John Street [CBC headquarters].”

“A subtle, pervasive left-wing tilt in news coverage is one thing – CBC viewers and listeners are used to that. But over-the-top anti-American hate speech … is another,” Kay said.

On September 18, the Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren responded angrily to the column, saying it “did not provoke good debate or serious scrutiny, but simply made [Mallick] look like … a pig.” Susteren challenged Mallick to appear on Fox to defend her opinions.

In his letter CBC ombudsman Carlin wrote that Mallick’s comments about Palin’s children could at best be seen as in “poor taste” and that the column had a “cartoonish tinge” that would barely have been acceptable as satire.

Carlin said that many had accused the CBC of a systemic left-leaning bias and double standards, saying that such comments about a leftist politician, or various ethnic groups, would never have been tolerated by the Corporation.

Carlin agreed, saying that “many of those who complained claimed that there is no one of an opposite ideological viewpoint” on staff at the CBC. “Unfortunately,” he said, “this appears to be true … Appropriate space should be given to a wider range of views” on the government funded broadcaster.

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