Reply from the Executive Producer of the Lang & O’Leary Exchange

It seems that the CBC indeed acts quickly to complaints. Below is the response I received to my complaint (a variation of this text can be read here) around Kevin O’Leary’s treatment of Chris Hedges in the Occupy Wall Street interview.

As I anticipated in my complaint, the response, which clearly finds Kevin O’Leary in the wrong, justifies O’Leary’s presence on the show to be ‘colourful, outspoken and controversial’.  This is, as noted, a tried formula particularly in American (and Canadian apparently) news. The challenge with this formula is that the expectation for O’Leary to be controversial appears to trump in this instance the duty to be intelligent. Kevin O’Leary is the Don Cherry of business reporting and he clearly tries to perform this role. Nowhere is this more evident in his interaction with Chris Hedges who, through his intellectual superiority,  is able to use rhetorical jujitsu to counter O’Leary’s bullying. Yet, the larger question in all of this is does news have to be this way?

Should the desire for news to be entertaining (both to keep audiences and to keep advertisers) be the [commercial] logic which drives news? This, to me, is the much larger question which needs to discussed.

Robert Lack, Executive Producer of The Lang and O’Leary Exchange, asked that we forward to you the following reply.

CBC Audience Relations

Thank you for your e-mail of October 7th, 2011 addressed to Kirk LaPointe, CBC Ombudsman. As the Executive Producer of THE LANG & O’LEARY EXCHANGE, I would like to reply.

You wrote to draw our attention to a segment on the October 6th edition of the program.

During a discussion about the Wall Street protests taking place in New York and Washington, our business commentator Kevin O’Leary responded to an answer from author and journalist Chris Hedges by saying: “Listen, don’t take this the wrong way, but you sound like a left-wing nutbar.”

We expect Kevin O’Leary to be colourful, outspoken and controversial.   However, this was not an appropriate way to refer to a guest on our program and it detracted from an otherwise very interesting interview.

You may be interested to know that I called Mr. Hedges after the interview to apologize on behalf of the program.

And I also discussed with Mr. O’Leary the inappropriateness of addressing guests in such a way.

I appreciate your sharing your thoughts on this issue.

It is also my responsibility to tell you that if you are not satisfied with this response, you may wish to submit the matter for review by the CBC Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman, an independent and impartial body reporting directly to the President, is responsible for evaluating program compliance with the CBC’s journalistic policies.


Robert Lack
Executive Producer



Filed under Uncategorized

10 responses to “Reply from the Executive Producer of the Lang & O’Leary Exchange

  1. Pingback: CBC Ombudsman to review conduct of Kevin O’Leary in Chris Hedges interview | pmmcc | Patrick McCurdy

  2. Pingback: How to Complain to CBC about O’Leary’s exchange with Chris Hedges about Occupy Wall Street (Part 1) | pmmcc | Patrick McCurdy

  3. Pingback: How Kevin O’Leary’s exchange with Chris Hedges over Occupy Wall Street violates CBC Journalistic Standards (Part 2) | pmmcc | Patrick McCurdy

  4. Gayle

    This is a completely unsatisfactory response. You don’t need to have a discussion about whether or not news needs to be this way. The answer that any intelligent individual will come up with is: No, it does not.
    I would also not describe the interview as interesting. Kevin O’Leary was belligerant and offensive and had nothing but insults for Chris Hedges. Yikes!
    Shame on you Oh Canada.

    • george

      Let the outrage begin! This is yet another example of those who preach ‘tolerance’ , being the least tolerant.. Often those who invoke accusations of “hate” crimes, are the ones to truly fear.
      O’leary may have no manners, but the truly important issue here is the preservation of free speach. I can remember that in China, disagreeing with official policy was considered a mental illness, curable with a long sentence in jail… hospital. In Canada it is a Hate crime.

      It would be refreshing for the CBC to not follow the left wing political correctness, for a change.

  5. Kudos to you and your blog, Patrick. The response from CBC is interesting, and your skewering of O’Leary as the ‘Don Cherry of business comment’ in this country spot on. Nice turn of the phrase and putting a fine point on the problem of entertainment-driven news. cheers DW

  6. Russell Bryant

    Years ago, Dan Rather, in his role as a responsible journalist, grilled George Bush Sr. over his involvement in the Iran Contra affairs. During an exchange on national US television, it was perceived that Dan Rather crossed the line and became combative and failed to show proper respect for the President. For his behaviour, Dan Rather and the network apologized.

    In this case, we have O’Leary being rude, unprofessional, and juvenile in his questioning. This is what I have come to expect from Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. The conduct of Kevin O’Leary was a disgrace and we all deserve at least as much as Americans asked of Dan Rather. We should have an apology from the CBC and Kevin O’Leary over the way that this interview was conducted. I would also like the network to seriously consider terminating their relationship with O’Leary.

  7. Ah. Of course you’re already on it.

  8. William Croft

    I know Lang and O’leary are playing roles, although O’leary may beleave all he say, but why must you saddle Lang with a role that makes her appear as dreadfully naive, with no knowledge of elemenary economics and zero manufacturing I could tolerate her role, if she didn’t constantly interrupt O’leary. This is simply poor manners. Presumably you cast Lang in this role because you believe most of your audience is equally naive about business. You do us a diservice, while Lang’s constant interuptions derail any hope of educating the viewers. Wht do I watch. Your guests, of couse. Same reason I watch Charlie Rose. Get Lang to listen to what her guests say, rather than follow her prescripted list of queastions.

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