CBC Fell Short Of Journalistic Standards Regarding #GamerGate, Says Ombudsman
CBC Fell Journalist Ethics

After many months of waiting and a lot of procrastination, a journalistic review for the ‘Q’ program featuring an interview with game developer Brianna Wu back on February 25th, 2015 has finally been posted. The Ombudsman defends Brianna Wu’s right to say what was said, but the Ombudsman also chastises the CBC program for introducing #GamerGate as being about rape and death threats. Anyone only focused on rape and death threats will likely be disappointed.

Over on the CBC’s Ombudsman review site [backup] it was mentioned by Ombudsman Esther Enkin that the lead into the interview from guest host Rachel Geise with Brianna Wu about #GamerGate and the Law & Order: SVU episode titled “Intimidation Game”, did not live up to the CBC’s journalistic standards.

The interview’s lead-in comment from Geise stated…

“GamerGate is an on line movement that harasses and threatens women, particularly with those who have spoken out about sexism in the video game industry. Brianna Wu recently wrote about the Law and Order SVU episode and her experience of harassment in a piece for bustle.com, and she joins me now by phone from Arlington, Mass.“

Listeners complained about the misrepresentation of #GamerGate by the CBC, one amongst many by the broadcasting station. And as a brief history lesson, the hashtag started over a scandalous breach of ethics by a Kotaku writer .

When challenged by this description, CBC Radio director Lynda Shorten defended the description Geise used on the ‘Q’ program, stating…

“Balance does not, for instance, mean that every voice critical of GamerGate must be immediately juxtaposed with an equally strong voice supporting GamerGate. It is not always possible or even desirable to include all relevant points of view in the short time available for one story.”

Ombudsman Enkin disagreed with the program director’s stance. According to Enkin…

“Ms. Shorten’s response came to you over five months after the program aired. Q has faced many challenges this season, but this still is an unacceptable length of time to answer a complaint.”


“I think Ms. Shorten is wrong to say that because that was the focus and context, there was no need to address the issue of #GamerGate. At least some framing that notes this is a polarized and contentious term would have provided some needed context. The program did not live up to a commitment to providing more than one perspective in the way the introduction to the interview was phrased.

Enkin defends Brianna Wu’s right to express an opinion about #GamerGate and that a guest expressing said opinion is not violating the CBC’s journalistic standards and policies. However, Enkin states that the CBC should be “mindful” in its coverage, writing…

“There have been enough high profile stories in the past 12 months to prove this is still an issue worth discussing. The introduction of the piece fell short of standards. While I think CBC News and Current Affairs needs to be mindful in its coverage about how it characterizes something as amorphous as #GamerGate, the interview with Brianna Wu and her experiences falls within the bounds of policy.”

Enkin jumps through hoops to defend that coverage of #GamerGate centering around the harassment narrative still has merit, but in this case at least acknowledges that the CBC stepped over its bounds by being clearly biased in its presentation of the cultural event.

What’s more is that it’s scary to think that a CBC director can so easily admit that balanced reporting isn’t always required and that biased reporting is okay.

This follows up on CBC’s director of programming, Lorna Haeber, who mentioned on a separate occasion that describing #GamerGate as a movement about sending death and rape threats was a quick way to “remind people” “what it was about”.

If the Ombudsman came down on Lynda Shorten and Rachel Geise for falling short of the CBC’s journalistic standards with that intro, then I can only imagine the same should be said for the CBC’s “On the Coast” program where the same sort of language was used and the same sort of excuse was used to forfeit providing listeners with a balanced view of the event.

It’s now become sad when the CBC’s own Ombudsman is starting to point out the broadcasting station’s bias since it’s become indubitably conspicuous.

As an addendum, there is a blatant factual error in Ombudsman Enkin’s review of the CBC’s slip-up. Enkin states…

“It erupted a little over a year ago when Eron Gjoni, a 24 year old American, posted a blog accusing his ex-girlfriend, game developer Zoe Quinn, of exchanging sexual favors for good reviews of her work. It escalated from there.”

According to French-Canadian Ombudsman Pierre Tourangeau, he acknowledges that there are no sources to back up that Eron Gjoni claimed that his ex-girlfriend exchanged sexual favors for “good reviews”, stating in the review…

“In regards to the first part of [redacted] complaint, specifically his denial that Eron Gjoni ever accused Ms. Zoe Quinn of having “exchanged sexual favors for a positive game review or positive coverage”, I would like to note that Ms. Beausoleil and the management of ICI ARTV admit that ‘no source supports this statement, as the blogger repeated allegations made by English dailies that were misinterpreted’”

There are no sources for Eron making that claim because he never made that claim, the media fabricated that lie as a strawman to attack. Hopefully, that will be corrected on Enkin’s part in the next review of a misrepresented #GamerGate piece covered by the CBC.

If Deepfreeze.it covered more than just game journalists, both Lynda Shorten and Rachel Geise from the CBC would have some unflattering notches added to their bios.

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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