CBC fires Jian Ghomeshi over sex allegations
CBC star Jian Ghomeshi has been fired over “information” the public broadcaster recently received that it says “precludes” it from continuing to employ the 47-year-old host of the popular Q radio show.
Shortly after CBC announced Ghomeshi was out the door on Sunday, Ghomeshi released news that he was launching a $50-million lawsuit claiming “breach of confidence and bad faith” by his employer of almost 14 years. He later followed that up with a Facebook posting saying he has been the target of “harassment, vengeance and demonization.”
Over the past few months the Star has approached Ghomeshi with allegations from three young women, all about 20 years his junior, who say he was physically violent to them without their consent during sexual encounters or in the lead-up to sexual encounters. Ghomeshi, through his lawyer, has said he “does not engage in non-consensual role play or sex and any suggestion of the contrary is defamatory.”
This is very interesting news to me; I don't listen to Q every day but I am a fan of the show and listen when I can. Or at least I was a fan of the show; it will be presented by guest hosts for the time being but I'm sure it will be wound down and cancelled in the coming weeks.
What I find most fascinating about it is the PR. On Friday Ghomeshi announced he was leaving, officially to deal with "personal issues". Yesterday the CBC announced they were firing him. Only hours later Ghomeshi posted this on his Facebook page: Dear everyone, I am writing today because I want you to be the first to know some news...
It's a finely crafted piece of "crisis management" (he hired Navigator, a PR company that specializes in "Issues Management, Crisis Response and Reputation Recovery"). Point by point this is what he has to say:
- His dad died recently. It's already a tough time for him. He worries about his mother. (building sympathy by using something completely unrelated)
- He loved working at the CBC, loved everybody who worked on the show.
- He was asked to leave on his own accord, but "I am not going to do that. Because that would be untrue. Because I’ve been fired. And because I've done nothing wrong." (paints everything that follows to be "the truth")
- "I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer." (discredits the people who he anticipates will be making public statements)
- "We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady's Giller-Prize winning book last year. I don’t wish to get into any more detail because it is truly not anyone's business what two consenting adults do. I have never discussed my private life before. Sexual preferences are a human right." (frames his proclivities as like something right out of "Fifty Shades of Grey"—a book that many women have read—to plant the idea that what he has done is something that, secretly, many women would have enjoyed. Also frames his firing as an attack on his privacy and "human rights".)
- Goes on to say "I have lost my job based on a campaign of vengeance".
- "I have always tried to be a good soldier and do a good job for my country." (The CBC is the public broadcaster, so he frames his employment as doing a patriotic duty. Uses the "always tried to be a good soldier" idiom less than a week after two Canadian soldiers were killed by a couple of crackpots.)
And most important of all he got it out before any other media got the other side of the story. He made it personal by posting it on his personal Facebook page. Anything that follows in the media is now going to be analyzed in comparison to his story of a "smear campaign" orchestrated by a "jilted ex" that had been picked up on by a freelancer who couldn't get his story published earlier because it couldn't be substantiated.
The Toronto Star article says:
It sounds pretty awful, but is it "true"? I suspect it won't really matter if it was true or not in the end. He won't be hosting anything any time soon.The three women interviewed by the Star allege that Ghomeshi physically attacked them on dates without consent. They allege he struck them with a closed fist or open hand; bit them; choked them until they almost passed out; covered their nose and mouth so that they had difficulty breathing; and that they were verbally abused during and after sex.
A fourth woman, who worked at CBC, said Ghomeshi told her at work: “I want to hate f--- you.”
(Ghomeshi announced that his lawyers will file a $50 million civil action against the CBC for "general and punitive damages for breach of confidence and bad faith".)