Norm Farrell first brought to our attention the fact that CBC BC’s Legislative Bureau Chief (ie. in charge of CBC’s reporting on the BC Legislature) Stephen Smart is married to BC Premier Christie Clark’s Deputy Press Secretary Rebecca Scott. A conflict of interest if ever there was one. Norm filed a complaint with CBC Omsbudsman Kirk Lapointe, and lo and behold Lapointe has conceded this needs to be addressed by the CBC. Go see Norm here and read the Ombudsman’s report here.
So…story closed, eh? Well, not quite. There’s the reaction of Smart’s fellow journalists:
Now Rod M. is rethinking that reaction, but Keith Baldrey’s I find very telling. The leave him alone – as if the blogosphere had unfairly gotten a scalp in Smart. No, this was a ruling by a respected Ombudsman. Stephen Smart may be an exemplary reporter – that’s not the issue. It’s one of perception and Lapointe is rightly moving to protect the reputation and integrity of the CBC. Baldrey should instinctively know this.
The Washington DC press corps is often derided as “The Village” – insular, out of touch, quick to defend their own from any charge of wrongdoing. They hang out with each other, they hang out with those they cover. Reporters become press secretaries and vice versa. It’s all very cosy and incestuous. Although I don’t think it’s as bad here in Lotusland you can certainly see that dynamic at play with this story.
Sticking up for a friend or a respected colleague is usually an admirable trait. But not always.
Kudos, Norm, for sticking up for the public’s interest.
UPDATE: Norm has a follow-up along the same lines.
UPDATE 2: Ian Reid weighs in.
UPDATE 3: For Christ’s sake, someone give Brett Mineer a job!
UPDATE 4: Ugh:
I hear Stephen Smart is staying put as CBC's ledge bureau chief. If true, good move by CBC. Looks like news div. wins out, as it should be.—
Keith Baldrey (@keithbaldrey) January 21, 2012
FINAL THOUGHT: Remember how we tsk tsked when we learned the reporter covering the Kremlin for Russia’s state broadcaster was married to Vladimir Putin’s press secretary? Remember when Putin hired a lobbyist of a petro company to be his Chief of Staff. Russia’s such an oligarchy!