Too many in journalism, and especially electronic journalism, think being rude, offensive, is synonymous with ‘hard hitting’. However, sometimes such behavior on the part of the interviewer might backfire. Take this interview between CBC’s Kevin O’Leary and Chris Hedges. O’Leary crossed the line of journalist and tried to become a bully, a la Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly or some of the kind you find on the likes of Fox News, but Hedges was having none of it. He not only replied directly to O’Leary’s crude and crass insults but he then went on to give an eloquent description of the financial crisis happening in America, contrasted that with what is going on in Canada, referred to a Canadian writer that the hosts of the CBC should have been familiar with but probably weren’t and then concluded with how he won’t appear on that program again. That would be Canada’s loss if he were not to appear again, and so reacting to not only Hedges’ outrage but that of its viewers, CBC’s ombudsman issued a quick apology for O’Leary’s boorish behavior, saying in part
This Office and CBC News received hundreds of comments, many of them demanding an apology and some demanding that O’Leary be fired for suggesting Hedges was a ‘left-wing nutbar…..There is room at the inn for a range of views, but there is no room for name-calling a guest……O’Leary might have been genuinely curious about Hedges’s views, but his opening salvo only fed contempt, which breached policy.
It’s comforting to see that there are some in the news business that not only have standards but hold their staffs to them; something sorely lacking in most major American media outlets. O’Leary was clearly outclassed and picked a fight with the wrong person. Hedges and the Canadian viewing public are owed an apology.