Friday, 31 October 2014

Jian Ghomeshi: a catalyst for a prolonged CBC budget crisis with the Harper Government.

Former CBC Q host Jian Ghomeshi in a no-win position.

Jian Ghomeshi, consenting adults, the public good, legal wrangles and the CBC budgets.

by Tom Thorne

Jian Ghomeshi was fired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) last weekend. Apparently the CBC administration has discovered that Mr. Ghomeshi likes rough sex and he allegedly enjoys hitting and smacking women during sex. Mr Ghomeshi, himself,  has revealed that some of allegations do have traction.

In a weekend lengthy 1586 word Facebook account of his difficulties, Mr. Ghomeshi admitted to consensual rough sex with several different women. Some of the women are now coming forward saying they don’t remember giving their consent. None ever went to police to complain or to lay a charge against Mr. Ghomeshi. Most of the women have remained anonymous except actress Lucy DeCoutere and lawyer Reva Seth.

The problem the CBC faces is Mr. Ghomeshi  is prominently in the public eye and is a poster boy for the CBC in a time of crisis when their federal government budget allocations are under intense fire. The CBC has laid off possibly 600 plus staff because of their budget crisis with more recently. CBC morale is already tapped out.

The last thing the CBC administration needs at this time is to fuel the Harper Government with a scandal that won’t play very well with Conservative’s support base, which in turn will enable Harper to cut more CBC budget to look good with his political base in an election year. That’s the 38 percent that gave Harper a majority government last time.

So when this situation surfaced CBC administrators had little choice but to confront Mr. Ghomeshi for the greater good of the CBC which is sailing some very rough fiscal seas. Of course there are problems of removing their star from the firmament and removing Mr. Ghomeshi’s 3.5 metre high poster from their CBC building hallway in Toronto.

They have deals to consider with 170 US radio outlets where Mr Ghomeshi’s program Q is now aired daily. The CBC administration may end up saving face, doing the right thing for violence against women, but lose audience and prominence in the ever shifting broadcasting and developing web based distribution models. Not a good situation during a budget crisis.

However, CBC has little choice. In addition to the obvious business problems created by the Ghomeshi firing they may be in a lose-lose situation since they will experience more federal government budget cuts and they will be facing a civil suit for $55 million launched by Mr. Ghomeshi through his lawyers Dentons Canada LLP.  Mr Ghomeshi is also filing a reinstatement attempt with the broadcast union that represents on air CBC people.

An interesting development is the withdrawal of the public relations firm Navigator from the fray. This public and media relations company was initially engaged by Mr. Ghomeshi to represent his image interests and to offer advice. Their council may have been ignored in some way because they now realize that they cannot help him.

Was Navigator involved in the Facebook 1586 word statement? It gets his story out front. After that statement Mr. Ghomeshi has only remained silent. He has let his law firm represent him which is probably his wise and only choice. 

Navigator cannot hope to counter Lucy DeCoutere and Reva Seth going public describing their sexual experiences with Mr. Ghomeshi.  Anything Navigator could say or do with be seen as supporting violence against women. It is a no win argument and hence their departure from working with Mr. Ghomeshi.

Navigator’s only defence of Mr. Ghomeshi is to say that the rough sex was consensual implying that all the women also made a kinky personal sexual choices. That is also a public and media relations situation that is also a loser.  

What appears to be the case is Navigator has cut their loses for what quickly developed into a no-win situation which can only be seen as a tactical withdrawal before their own reputation for good PR work is sullied.

Mr. Ghomeshi may very well be permanently adrift with his career in tatters and facing legal wrangles that could go on for years. This CBC case will probably never get to court and it may yet be compounded by suits launched by the women involved. It remains to be seen if they launch actions and if their cases are criminal or civil. Violence against women has no statute of limitations. 

One can only conclude that Mr. Ghomeshi is in very deep trouble. The longer outcome for the CBC is not promising. The women involved probably now know that not reporting violence is bad for all women, and mostly those not involved with the famous.

©  Copyright 2014, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

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