Friday, May 29, 2009

Steve Murphy Gets His Butt Kicked But Harper Cleans Up

Last October when Steve Murphy of CTV News went against his word and ran the Stephane Dion re-starts, I said that he proved that media ethics is an oxymoron. It was about as low as a public broadcaster could go.

This week it was ruled that Mr. Murphy and CTV, violated industry codes and public apologies will run during his program.

He may have been a respected anchor, but will go down in history as a snake.

Mike Duffy has also been charged for replaying the false starts and having a panel dissect them. We know what he got as his reward. Not sure about the man that many call 'Mr. Potato Head'.

CTV broke codes in Dion interview, CBSC finds
May 27, 2009

OTTAWA — The arbiter of ethics on the airwaves ruled Wednesday that CTV violated industry codes when it included three false starts in a broadcast of an election interview with then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council found CTV Atlantic's 6 p.m. newscast was ``discourteous and inconsiderate'' when it ran the awkward false starts after the anchor promised Dion they wouldn't be broadcast.

It also found the question that was put to Dion ``confusing.''

At the beginning of the interview, anchor Steve Murphy asked Dion: ``If you were prime minister now, what would you have done about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper has not done?''

Dion began to respond, and then stopped and asked Murphy if they could restart because he didn't understand the meaning — whether Murphy meant if he had been prime minister since 2006, or going forward.

Murphy restated the question in a similar fashion, and Dion asked for two more restarts, which Murphy agreed to.

Afterward, the entire tape — including the restarts — was broadcast.

The council said in its decision that the question was confusing to begin with, even to someone whose mother tongue is English.
And it took issue with the fact Murphy had agreed to Dion's request to restart, and then broadcast the entire exchange. It noted that restarts and out-takes are common in television news media.

``Mr. Murphy was in a position to make the commitment he did make on behalf of the broadcaster, a commitment that could be relied upon,'' the CBSC's Atlantic regional panel wrote.

``In the view of the panel, if Mr. Murphy did not have the authority to make such an agreement, he ought not to have made it. Having made it, the broadcaster ought to have stood behind him.''

CTV News president Robert Hurst expressed disappointment with the decision.

``We are deeply concerned by the tone and content of the council's decision as it is not the CBSC's role to police the nature of the questions any news organization chooses to pose to a public official,'' Hurst said in a written statement.

``CTV News also stands by the conduct of Atlantic Canada's most-watched news anchor Steve Murphy, one of the region's longest serving and most respected journalists, who has been unfairly criticized throughout this process.''

A spokesman for Dion said the former leader had read the decision, and said ``it speaks for itself.''

CTV will run a statement saying it violated the Radio Television News Directors Code of Ethics within the next three days during the supper hour newscast, and then again within the next week.

The standards council also studied complaints lodged against CTV Newsnet's Mike Duffy Live program. The show rebroadcast Dion's false starts and discussed it with a panel of politicians and later with journalists.

During the discussion, Liberal MP Geoff Regan suggested Dion might not have understood the question because of a hearing impairment, but then said it was not a subject worth discussing.
Duffy then repeatedly said that Regan was accusing the network of ridiculing a handicap.

The CBSC's national specialty services panel said Duffy ``went too far.''

``He was not fair, balanced or even-handed,'' the panel said, also agreeing the rebroadcasts of the restarts were in breach of industry code.

CTV Newsnet will run a statement saying it violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters code of ethics within the next three days at the same time as the Mike Duffy Live program used to air, and again within a week.

Two members of the national specialty services panel dissented with the Duffy Live opinion, saying that media outlets should err on the side of providing more information — not less — to the public.

They argued that Dion's ability to react to stressful situations could have constituted valuable information during an election campaign.

The dissenters said they agreed with the assessment of Duffy's show, but didn't find it constituted a breach of code.

Hurst's statement did not include a specific mention of Mike Duffy Show Live.

Duffy was appointed a Conservative senator last January. He declined comment Wednesday. Regan said he was pleased with the ruling.

``I hope it'll lead to stronger journalistic practices,'' Regan said.

``I respect the media and they have an important role to play, but this decision clearly shows that in this case CTV crossed the line.''

Little solace for Mr. Dion, but hopefully it will be clear message to others. How can we rely on our journalists and anchors when they will stoop this low for a story?

Details of the case can be found:



and HERE

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