Dispatch from The Front Line: RBG is dead: Start staring into the abyss now. Also, what the hell is the CBC playing at?
So I guess the Republicans are going to shuffle a Supreme Court replacement in there just a few weeks before an insane election. That will probably be fine.
And a good weekend to you all. Let's fire up the ole' Twitter today and find something new to write abo … OH DEAR GOD.
Hours before we sent this puppy to press/pressed the publish button, news hit the wire of the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She was 87. And she died six weeks before an election that will likely be contested. And, in an act of truly stunning hypocrisy, Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell vowed to move quickly to install Ginsberg’s replacement — because, well, of course he will.
In more Canadian news, we at The Line were already properly ginned up when we saw this little tidbit:
CBC & Radio-Canada Media Solutions has launched a new offering dedicated to creating branded content, including promotional podcasts, under the name CBC/Radio-Canada Tandem. …
“The launch of Tandem is in response to what our advertising partners have been asking us for: the opportunity to work with our country’s most trusted media brand to create content experiences that resonate with Canadians on a deeper level,” said Barbara Williams, Executive Vice-President, CBC.
CBC says Tandem:
“Aims to strike the balance between creativity and data,” using research and analytics to create strategic, measurable, results-driven campaigns.... “Clients wanted an integrated, turnkey solution to create quality content and leverage the credibility of our network. I am so pleased that we now offer this.”
Let us take a moment to leverage a little a little credibility under the CBC’s ass.
What the fuck is the CBC playing at, here? The corporation receives a cool $1 billion in public funding per year and it's using taxpayer funds to, yet again, horn into the revenue streams of private communications outlets. No one — literally not a single Canadian taxpayer who isn't already employed by the CBC — wants to throw money at a public broadcaster so that it can: "Help Canada’s strongest brands shape and share inspiring stories across our platforms and across the country.” Vomit.
No one asked for a taxpayer-funded advertising firm, you goddamn loons.
This is yet another classic example of one of the most dysfunctional habits of the MotherCorp: mission creep. A massive and rudderless operation unfettered from the practical limitations of profit-seeking has proven itself unable to restrain its own boneheaded impulses.
We, at The Line, can hear the pitiable defences already: "Oh, but they're already underfunded. Of course they need to, uh, use their incredible taxpayer-funded competitive advantage to eat into the dwindling revenue streams of failing private media outlets just to survive!"
No. No. No they do not.
When faced with a dysfunctional hydra-headed cultural behemoth that is demonstrably incapable of keeping its mandate in its pants, the first impulse should not be to shovel ever-more taxpayer funds into the ever-widening maw. The CBC could respond to *cough* "inadequate funding" by narrowing its scope and focus to the things that make it most necessary to the Canadian public that it serves — radio, news, documentary, serving regions and topics that the private sector cannot adequately penetrate. Instead it goes off and does weird shit like this, and CBC Comedy, and CBC Music.
You cannot be everything to everyone. You shouldn't be everything to everyone. Canadians are not well served by a monopolistic government-funded one-stop #content communications shop. Figure out what you do best and stick to it. Focus on supplementing — rather than crushing — private-sector journalism. Maybe even consider ways to support private-sector start ups and independents, especially in local markets. "Revenue generation" is not the place where a public broadcaster should demonstrate self-defeating, industry-following innovation.
(We also don’t care if the BBC does it. Hey, if your organization’s goal is to highlight the unique delightfulness of Canadian culture and leadership on the world stage, consider not mimicking every asinine scheme dreamed up in a gormless London zoom sesh like a bunch of wide-eyed colonials gaping at your first skyscraper.)
We have two words for you guys. These words should be keeping you awake at night. The words are: "Mandate Review." We are one Conservative majority government away from assembling a heritage committee hearing into the appropriate role and function of the CBC in the modern media landscape.
And while we suspect the Conservatives will blunder by turning such a review into a petulant exercise in whinging about the biases of their least favourite national news anchors, if you guys don't knock this kind of anti-competitive bullshit out, your private-sector media contemporaries are going to whisper the party on from the sidelines:
"Faster pussycats, kill, kill."
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As Alberta premier Jason Kenney pulled neck-and-neck with the NDP in recent polling numbers, Dave Robertson noted that the United Conservative Party is running out of gas, and seems ill equipped to pivot to the economic crisis facing Alberta.
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On Friday, The Line got a shout out on Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish. This was neat. We appreciate it and, if you haven’t already, we encourage you to subscribe to his substack as well.