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Newsmaker of the day: Amanda Lang

Newsmaker, Jan. 13: The allegations against another CBC commentator pile up


 
Amanda Lang. (Photograph by Cole Garside)

Amanda Lang. (Photograph by Cole Garside)

The giant head shots that decorate the CBC’s Toronto Broadcast Centre are starting to feel like “Wanted” posters.

Just weeks after the public broadcaster purged radio host Jian Ghomeshi—and scraped his image off its walls—another network star is under fire. Amanda Lang, CBC’s senior business correspondent, stands accused of trying to “bury” a damaging story about the Royal Bank of Canada and its abuse of the Temporary Foreign Workers program, for personal gain.

In the spring of 2013, CBC investigative journalist Kathy Tomlinson sparked national outrage with her report that RBC—on its way to making more than $8 billion in profits for the year—was firing 45 Canadian IT staff, and replacing them with cheaper, temporary foreign workers. The bank eventually apologized, and the federal government promised to reform the system. But not everyone agreed that off-shoring was such a big deal.

At the time, Lang aired a sympathetic interview with the bank’s CEO Gord Nixon, and then wrote an op-ed for the Globe and Mail, labelling the debate a “side show.” “Information technology workers displaced in Canada are being replaced not by cheap Indian workers but by better ones,” she argued. “It’s called capitalism, and it isn’t a dirty word.”

Related: The toxic CBC environment that abetted Jian Ghomeshi

The column for a competing media outlet raised some eyebrows, and reportedly earned Lang a dressing-down from her bosses. But this week, the muckraking website Canadaland published a piece alleging that the CBC host had a much deeper, undeclared interest in downplaying the story. The online report says Lang not only received speaking fees from at least six events where the bank was one of the sponsors, but notes that she was in a romantic relationship with one of its board members, Geoffrey Beattie. Canadaland also detailed a heated, internal CBC conference call in which Lang and Tomlinson squared off about the significance of the story, with the business correspondent arguing against follow-ups.

Lang denies that she ever tried to kill the story, undermine her colleague, or took money directly from the bank. And she told the Toronto Star that the CBC was well aware of her personal and business connections. “It has no bearing on my journalism,” she said in an interview with the paper. “All practices that we follow here at CBC were followed, and there was no decision made at any time that we should disclose on air.”

The public broadcaster is backing up its star. In a memo sent to staff, and later posted on its website, CBC News general manager and editor-in-chief Jennifer McGuire wrote that the Canadaland story is “misleading” and based on several misrepresentations. “There was rigorous debate but there was no ‘sabotage,’ and the notion that ‘Lang’s efforts to scuttle the story were successful, at first’ is categorically untrue,” said the network executive. “We continued to invest in the story, and our coverage led to a change in government policy. It is a story we are proud of and continue to follow.”

But the new controversy, and all the negative publicity, can hardly be welcome at an institution that is already in turmoil, rocked by budget cuts, layoffs, and the fallout from Ghomeshi’s alleged sexual assaults against multiple women.

With its stars becoming targets, the CBC may soon have to start offering them danger pay. Or at the very least, rethink its decorating scheme.


 
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Newsmaker of the day: Amanda Lang

  1. Lang is one of the poster Children for the privatization camp. CBC used to be a well run organization. Now? The high profiles are behaving like some politicians and senate members in the greed factor.

    Dump the unethical money grubbers or remove CBC from public funding. Lang, Mansbridge, George S. and the rest of them are grossly overrated. Too much hype and no substance.

  2. Since when does on-air talent (Amanda Lang is not a reporter – never has been) start questioning a story in which she has had no involvement? Do you see anchors start questioning reporters about the validity of their stories? The fact CBC “Senior” business correspondent has NO academic credentials is frightening enough… The fact she didn’t disclose conflicts of interests to her colleagues is a good enough reason for her to be fired. Good on Jesse Brown for his pit-bull approach to Canadian media… For too long, it has been a far too-cosy club.

  3. Shame in the CBC for permitting such an obvious conflict of interest to occur with no consequences. Lang should be fired immediately.

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