In a controversial decision last week, the CBC retracted a column by freelance writer Heather Mallick that blasted Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin after the corporation’s ombudsman, Vince Carlin received over 300 complaints.
The article went relatively unnoticed for three weeks until a critique appeared in The National Post and a FOX newswoman called Mallick a “pig.”
“Mallick’s column is a classic piece of political invective. It is viciously personal…and intensely partisan,” said CBC publisher John Cruickshank in a public statement on the issue.
Mallick described Palin as having “a toned-down version of the porn actress look,” and claimed she would ensure “the white-trash vote.” She also accused Republican men of being “sexual inadeuqates” and criticized them for thinking “that women will vote for a woman just because she’s a woman.”
But the CBC has remained in the limelight even after their decision. Though Carlin has maintained his recommendation for retraction came from Mallick’s violation of the CBC handbook on journalism, bloggers have accused the CBC of folding to external pressure rather than to ethics.
Others have questioned the wisdom of removing such a controversial piece of journalism from circulation because of its potential for debate.
“They should have allowed a rebuttal to cast things in a different light. Shutting someone down only adds fuel to the fire. Why this article? Other people have a right to rebut it,” said McGill Sociology professor Elaine Weiner.
Palin, who has only been the governor of Alaska for two years, has been criticized in the media for a lack of experience and competency.
Her candidacy has been seen by some as a political manoeuvre for the women’s vote.
“Senator John McCain’s choice…is a cynical effort to appeal to disappointed Hillary Clinton voters and get them to vote, ultimately, against their own self-interest,” wrote the National Organization for Woman’s chair, Kim Gandy, in an online statement.