Thursday, October 6, 2011

CBC: It's time to fire Kevin O'Leary

Tonight on CBC News Network's Lang and O'Leary Exchange, conservative host Kevin O'Leary needlessly insulted the American award winning journalist and social activist Chris Hedges who had been invited to the show to offer analysis on the Occupy Wall Street protests.  The exchange (about 5 minutes) can be watched here.

Here's my transcript, starting after a brief exchange where O'Leary was merely generally snide and rude, but not specifically offensive to Hedges, the guest host (Amanda Lang was off) asks Hedges what the protestors want:
Host:  What is the sense you have of what this movmement would like to see happen?
Hedges:  They know precisely what they want, they want to reverse the corporate coup that's taken place in the United States and rendered the citizenry impotent, and they won't stop until that happens.  Frankly if we don't break the back of corporations we're all finished anyways since they're rapidly trashing the ecosystem on which the human species depends for life.  This is literally a fight for life, it's that grave it's that serious.  Corporations, unfettered capitalism as Karl Marx understood, is a revolutionary force.  It commodifies everything; human beings, the natural world, which it exploits for profit until exhaustion or collapse.  The bottom line is that we don't have much time left.  We're on the cusp of perhaps another major banking crisis in Europe, defaults in Greece, followed by Spain, Portugal.  There's been no restrictions, no regulations of Wall Street, they've looted the US treasury, they've played all the games that they were playing before and we're all about to pay for it all over again.
O'Leary:  Listen, don't take this the wrong way, but you sound like a left wing nutbar.  if you want to shut down every corporation and every bank, where are you going to get a job?  Where's the economy going to go?
It really must have been Hedges mentioning Marx that set him off and like Pavlov's dog, O'Leary just can't help but go for crude insults (and what is the "right" way to take a comment like that?).  Hedges manages to keep his cool in the small exchange the follows (which I didn't transcribe) until the guest host interjects to refer back to O'Leary's offensive comment, and starting with Hedges, they get back into it:

CH:  I don't usually go on shows where people descend to character assassination, if you want to discuss issues, that's fine, but this sounds like Fox News, and I don't go on Fox News.  I mean, either you discuss the issues, and look, you have had eloquent writers, people like John Ralston Saul in Canada, who have laid this out with incredible lucidity, and to somehow attack this critique by calling someone a nutcase, engages in the kind of trash talk that has polluted the corporate airwaves.

KO:  Excuse me, let's debate the issues then.

CH:  Well you were the one who started it.

KO:  I didn't call you a nutcase, I called you a nutbar.

CH:  You said [I] sounded like a "left wing nutcase."

KO:  Yes--"bar."

CH:  Well, that's an insult.

KO:  (interrupts) Hey, are you left wing leaning at least?  Would you say?

CH:  No, I would say...

KO:  (interrupts) You're a centrist?

CH:  Can I finish?

KO:  Please.

CH:  I would say that those who are protesting the rise of the corporate state are the true conservatives because they're calling for the restoration of the rule of law.  The radicals have seized power and they have trashed all regulations and legal impediments to a reconfiguration of American society into a form of neofeudalism.
What exactly is the importance of the difference between calling someone a "nutcase" and a "nutbar"?  Notice too how he again tries to derail the discussion into a comfortable venue where he can just write off Hedges as a "left wing extremist" and thus ignore his commentary.  I don't necessarily like talk of "true conservatives" but it is a nice way of turning O'Leary's attack on him by pointing out the very reasonable and non-radical goals of the protests, in terms comfortable to conservatives, the rule of law.



But here's how the interview ends:
Host: (upbeat) Well thanks so much for joining us...

CH:  Well, it will be the last time. (removes earpiece with expression of disgust)
This interview was disgusting and a travesty of CBC programming.  I'm barely able to tolerate O'Leary's Gordon Gekko meets Jim Cramer meets Rick Santelli routine on the best of days, but when he succeeds in getting an imporant and insightful commentator like Chris Hedges to swear off appearing on the CBC (and most likely depriving Canadians of his voice) I really have to draw a line.  CBC, fire this asshole.  I'm sick of this him polluting the airwaves and it's time for him to be shown the door.  He's not entertaining, insightful and the only value the show ever has are the moments where the normal co-host, journalist Amanda Lang amusingly bats down his radical right wing nonsense, are definitely not worth the price of having this guy. 

There's no excuse for treating an invited guest to the show like that, particularly one who has no particular reason to come on Canadian TV and has no particular agenda in Canada.  There was no reason for an openly hostile line of questioning and badgering, trying to make the issue about Hedges rather than the behaviour of the Wall Street elites.  I think the CBC's attempt to placate Canadian conservative complaints about the network's supposed liberal bias by having a guy like O'Leary "balanced" by a mostly straight journalist in Lang is pointless and counterproductive (it pisses off people who like the network while doing nothing to persuade critics who will call for its defunding no matter what) but fine, if you insist on having a conservative, find a better one who at least doesn't drive off useful and interesting guests from coming back.

A more worthwhile right wing host might have asked Hedges a useful line of skeptical questioning about the statement quoted above, what does Hedges mean by "breaking the backs" of corporations?  O'Leary jumps to the conclusion that it means "shutting them down" but it isn't clear what Hedges meant exactly, what did Hedges mean by "unfettered capitalism" and did that mean he thinks some form of "fettered" capitalism would be viable?  I think I know the answers to these questions since I'm fairly familiar with Hedges' work, but CBC's audience was denied any useful clarification by O'Leary's boorish attempt to caricaturize Hedges rather than explore his position.

It should be said too that the guest host was useless, where I think normally Lang might have intervened to some extent, but still the primary fault is O'Leary's.

There's also the serious issue that O'Leary runs an investment fund company while holding a major media platform with which to talk up and down stocks that his funds may hold or want to buy.  It's a huge conflict of interest and I have never once seen O'Leary swear off buying or selling any of the companies discussed on the air.  At least let's get an analyst who isn't also an active player in the game.

CBC, it's time to end Kevin O'Leary's run.  In his own harsh view of the business world, an employee is either an asset or a liability, and O'Leary is not an asset.


29 comments:

  1. At the very least O'Leary owes Hedges a public apology.

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  2. Yeah, this alone might not rise to the level of firing, I probably need to document more of him being rude to guests to establish a track record of this stuff. Quite sure if I could stomach a month of this show, I would find other examples as bad. He can't help himself.

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  3. This post is right on the mark. It is great if Amanda and Kevin have a knockdown dragout punchup. But insulting guests is totally out of line.

    Well done!

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  4. As a Canadian and long time CBC watcher,I'm furious. To see our National network degrading to this new low is downright embarrassing. O'Leary doesn't have much to bring to the table other than self-serving motivation and should be removed. I think the network should, at the very least, offer Chris Hedges a public apology for the very un-Canadian demeanor displayed by O'Leary. I somehow doubt that O'Leary would have the depth of character to do so himself.

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  5. I saw this interview. If you are going to quote the entire interview, than quote the entire interview. You missed a part where KO asks CH how he got to the protest, asked him if he drove. I totally think the interview was warranted. Tough questions from both the right and the left need to be asked and answered. You mentioned KO reaction. Well how about Mr. Hedges reaction. If he is the professional you profess he is, than why the cry baby whimpering at the end. If you are going to face Kevin O, be prepared to face the music. Don Cherry is no different. The left and right have their "tough guys"

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    1. O'Leary embarrassed himself - He was visibly embarrassed by his own behaviour. The part where KO asks CH if he drove was incredibly lame. CH pwned him the whole time. Sounds like you re the one whimpering.

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  6. Anon @12:04AM:

    I linked to a clip of the full interview. I quoted the portion of the interview I found objectionable, the point is not whether Kevin asked any fair questions at all, but that he sunk to "you're a nutbar" at all makes the whole segment worthless. Seeing as I had to type that out myself, you can type out the relevant portions yourself and write about them if you think "did you drive a car to the protest?" is some kind of deep or useful point in rebuttal to Hedge's line of thought.

    I see you, like O'Leary are making this about Hedges again, with more insults in lieu of thought ("cry baby") and blaming the victim, this is pretty typical for conservatives; apparently we should all expect to be abused when appearing current affairs television programming? Because O'Leary is known (in Canada) as an ignorant jackass, everyone who appears on his show is at fault if they don't like it?

    It doesn't surprise me that you think political debate should work like Don Cherry's hockey: To the most brutal and vicious goes the victory. No wonder Canadian teams never win the Stanley Cup anymore. Cherry is another personality the CBC should have fired a long time ago, the Kevin O'Leary of coaching.

    All the more reason to fire O'Leary, that he is normalizing Rock'em Sock'em instead of reasoned discourse.

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  7. O'Leary is a bully, but because he can make a dollar from it that makes everything he does okay. CBC is disgusting for allowing him this power.

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  8. the right wing is down to 'you're a nut' responses

    there really isn't any other way they can defend the rape and pillaging by wall street

    ps.

    Seeing as I had to type that out myself, you can type out the relevant portions yourself and write about them if you think "did you drive a car to the protest?" is some kind of deep or useful point in rebuttal to Hedge's line of thought.

    ouch!

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  9. is there any petition out there demanding his resignation or at least have him make a public apology? we pay for the CBC and we expect better. we've probably lost a future guest because of this who is actually quite brilliant.

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  10. Where's the CBC reaction in all of this? Are we now funding Sun News-lite?

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  11. If O'Leary can read French, he might try a little fable by Jean de Lafontaine called "L'Avantage de la science". I wonder if he would recognize himself?
    http://www.histoire-en-ligne.com/spip.php?article836

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  12. Facebook petition. They're also asking that you write the CBC ombudsman.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Get-Kevin-OLearys-hatred-off-the-CBC/245027462214692?sk=info

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  13. That's fantasic. I actually did write the CBC omsbud back when I wrote this, and got the same reply posted in the comments to that FB page.

    I see later some others get a reply from the Omsbud saying he's conducting an inquiry. Good.

    I'll post my message and the reply here anyway.

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  14. Your right we do pay for the CBC ... all of us not just those who lean to the left. However, all you see on the CBC is left wing politics. Mr. O'Leary was right ... these protests (in Canada especially) are not well organized and have not clear message other than civil disobedience. You are all sticking up for Mr. Hedge who in one breath tries to convince us he does not "lean to the left" and in the next talks about Karl Marx as if he is his hero. Sure Mr. O'Leary is blunt but at least he is honest. So let Mr. Hedge go lick his wounds and run off to the safety of those interviews that dare not question him or confront his ideas (Fox News would eat him alive) and let Mr. O'Leary do what he does best, which is make money, hire people and help stimulate the Canadian economy!

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    1. Your right we do pay for the CBC ... all of us not just those who lean to the right. However, all you see on the CBC is right wing politics. Mr. O'Leary was wrong ... these protests (in Canada especially) are well organized and have a clear message including civil disobedience. You are all sticking up for Mr. O'Leary who in one breath tries to convince us he does not "lean to the right" and in the next talks about Conrad Black as if he is his hero. Sure Mr. Hedges is blunt but at least he is honest. So let Mr. O'Leary go lick his wounds and run off to the safety of those interviews that dare not question him or confront his ideas (Fox News would eat his pussy) and let Mr. Hedges do what he does best, which is write books, inspire people and help stimulate the Canadian Unions!

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  15. geogeo, the CBC does a fair job of reporting reality and being skeptical of government and power, the way the media is supposed to. It doesn't surprise me that to conservatives that is confused with a liberal bias.

    As to O'Leary, you make the same basic and tired mistake he does: You don't know how to debate ideas so you have to discredit the opposition personally. You're just redbaiting Hedges about Marx, but have no actual reply to anything he said, and neither does O'Leary which is why he needs personal insults. It's exactly what Fox would do too, and who can blame Hedges for not going on a network that will just mock and insult him, avoiding any confrontation with his ideas or arguments.

    The closest O'Leary comes to debating Hedges is where he asks him if he drove a car to the protest. O'Leary basically seems to think that if you want to complain about corporatization of the government, banks or big finance in general, you must eschew all corporate products whatsoever and arrive on a horse wearing home made clothes or something. It still boils down to an attempt to win the debate by discrediting Hedges as some kind of hypocrite, which again is a logical fallacy. Your doctor can tell you to eat healthy, and eat nothing but junk food himself. He'd be a hypocrite, but still right that you should eat healthy. It's the same nonsense that has conservatives thinking the size of Al Gore's house or his flight schedule has any relevance on the reality of the science telling us we're warming the planet. If Al Gore is a hypocrite, then what...CO2 doesn't contain additional infrared heat from escaping into space?

    So all O'Leary has to offer is logical fallacies and just outright insults. If you think that's what should be representing conservatives on Canada's public broadcaster, I guess I really don't understand conservatives.

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  16. Daniel ... do not know which CBC station you are watching but if you do not believe they lean left and do a fair and balanced job of reporting you are delusional. I admitted O'Leary was blunt (and some might see it as rude) .. but maybe some of us who are out there working hard to look after our families and contribute to society are sick of being preached to by others. Daniel, you do not know me so do not tell me I do not have any actual replies ... if I were to make the same assumptions I would say that I believe that you are a typical liberal who has never watched Fox News and says what you guess to be true instead of getting your facts straight. If you had watched Fox you would know that unlike other cable news channels, most of their commentators would not make personal attacks on or knowningly insult Mr. Hedges. However they would question some of his ideas and would attempt to debate with him ... which is why he would never go on ... Mr. Hedges does not want to debate he wants to preach and is not interested in hearing the other side. You on the other hand apparently know everything including what Mr. O'Leary thinks! Unlike you I am not sure of what Mr. O'Leary's exact views are, but I think he was trying to make a couple of valid points. One of them being that these protestors are not very clear on what they want or what they are protesting. There does not seem to be one theme but many scattered ideas. Next I do not think Mr. O'Leary expects these protestors to "arrive on a horse in home made clothes" ... but I think he wants those who are protesting against "large corporations" to realize that if they really believe that these corporations are evil, then they too have to take some responsibilty every time they use a cell phone or listen to an ipod (which many of them do while protesting)!

    Mr. O'Leary is who he is .. some love him, some hate him ... We are lucky to live in a country where we can voice our opinion of him or can argue back and forth about our political views. I think all of us sometimes take that for granted and instead focus on the negative. As for Mr. Gore ... I will leave that debate for another day!

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    1. Geogeo ... do not know which CBC station you are watching but if you do not believe they lean right and do a fair and balanced job of reporting you are delusional. I admitted Hedges was blunt (and some might see it as rude) .. but maybe some of us who are out there working hard to look after our families and contribute to society are sick of being preached to by others. Geogeo, you do not know me so do not tell me I do not have any actual replies ... if I were to make the same assumptions I would say that I believe that you are a typical conservative who has never watched The Colbert Report and says what you guess to be true instead of getting your facts straight. If you had watched The Colbert Report you would know that unlike other cable news shows, most of their commentators would not make personal attacks on or knowningly insult Mr. O'Leary. However they would question some of his ideas and would attempt to debate with him ... which is why he would never go on ... Mr. O'Leary does not want to debate he wants to preach and is not interested in hearing the other side. You on the other hand apparently know everything including what Mr. Hedges thinks! Unlike you I am not sure of what Mr. Hedges' exact views are, but I think he was trying to make a couple of valid points. One of them being that these protestors are very clear on what they want and what they are protesting. There does not seem to be one theme but many coherent ideas. Next I do not think Mr. Hedges expects these protestors to "arrive on a horse in home made clothes" ... but I think he wants those who are protesting against "large corporations" to realize that they really do believe that these corporations are evil, and be proud to take some responsibilty every time they use a cell phone or listen to an ipod (which many of them do while protesting)!



      Mr. O'Leary is who he is .. some love him, some hate him ... We are lucky to live in a country where we can voice our opinion of him or can argue back and forth about our political views. I think all of us sometimes take that for granted and instead focus on the negative. As for Mr. Bush ... I will leave that debate for another day!

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  17. Ok.. Why not get rid of Cherry also for is constant attack on Fr Can....

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  18. This Kevin OLeary is a cockroach - disgusting, narcissistic scumbag

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  19. The CBC likes him because he's controversial and their numbers are low. People seem to love a fight so they migrate to the program.

    They obviously love him when he is on 3 cbc shows at the moment.

    Hopefully he will be a victim of the upcoming CBC cuts

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  20. Hi there,

    I just watched the interview last night.

    Christopher Hedges is not a left wing nut bar. However, his initial comments in the interview (which you reprint above) certainly made him sound like one, at least to those of us who do not regularly move in his circle. Kevin O'Leary may have violated some protocols by pointing this out so bluntly, but I think it actually served Mr. Hedges well. It forced Mr. Hedges to rephrase his remarks in such that they sounded more sensible to a general audience. As a result, he got his ideas across to that general audience. He would not have otherwise.

    This whole issue is about the need to conduct oneself appropriately for the forum in which one finds oneself. Kevin O'Leary should tone down the Dragon's Den rhetoric when conducting a serious interview on a complex topic. But, equally, Christopher Hedges should tone down the aloof public intellectual banter when talking to the general population.

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    1. yep. Stop being so smart Hedges you nutbar!

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  21. I saw this interview and I, a sternly left leaning centrist, thought Hedges sounded and looked like a nut bar. He also came off as horribly I'll prepared for the interview. When you are invited to a show, it is customary to do research on who the hosts are and the general format. Lang and O'Leary always features a business man and a news commentator. Hedges should have been expecting a rather silly bombastic attack (face it-nutbar is a school yard insult) and yet he floundered. The shows audience are primarily business people and people interested in business, and he started talking about "breaking the backs of corporations" but never once explaining how that would fix anything, and proceeds to invoke Marx, which suggests he thinks the tried and repeatedly failed communist system would be good.

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  22. Last night on Lang and O'Leary exchange KO stopped just short of dissing Shania Twain over the closure of the Shania Twain center.Timmins will demolish it to make way for opening an old goldmine near the site. This left KO with that disgusting S__t eating grin plastered all over his face. Then commenting "see it's only the MONEY that really matters" Here's what eventually happens to people like K.O. that are obsessed with money 24/7 "eventually their faced with making some hard decisions MONEY OR THE REST OF MY LIFE... wait and see

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  23. Just touching again on the Chris Hedges / O'Leary debacle. I would bet that Chris Hedges could venture out at night alone in almost any city in North America. I doubt that Kevin O'Leary would even entertain the thought.

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  24. It is about time KO has been fired, enjoy the read :)

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/kevin-o-leary-leaves-cbc-s-the-lang-o-leary-exchange-1.2733971

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  25. Kevin O'leary - the quintessential Canadian JERKOFF! He likes to give everyone the impression that he is well educated and a successful businessman. He pseudo financial so-called investment firm is in reality a fraudulent front for ripping off its customers at every opportunity. His performance on the Dragon's Den was the largest joke in reality TV. He never committed to investing his own funds for anything. In the few cases that he did, he would later renege on his committment. Simply read the many articles of his embarrassing antics on the web. Here's one from the Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/kevin-oleary-hes-not-a-billionaire-he-just-plays-one-on-tv/article4564334/?page=all. How he was skimming all the contestants whenever and wherever possible. He failed at University of Waterloo but the University gave him his last (take it or leave it) chance by advising him that he can sentol in the dept of the environment, not engineering. O'leary exemplifies the true definition of the word SCUMBAG.

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