11/20/2014 12:45 EST | Updated 01/20/2015 05:59 EST

CBC Denies Banning Linden MacIntyre For Comments On Peter Mansbridge


TORONTO - Veteran CBC journalist Linden MacIntyre has not been barred from appearing on CBC News Network despite an internal memo to the contrary.

Jennifer Harwood, managing editor of CBC News Network, sent a memo to some staff late Wednesday stating that interviews with MacIntyre on the network this week had been cancelled.

The memo said the move came about because of MacIntyre's reported comments to the Globe and Mail comparing the workplace behaviour of "The National" host Peter Mansbridge to that of ousted "Q" host Jian Ghomeshi.

Harwood said Thursday that her memo was written in the "heat of the moment." She praised "The Fifth Estate" and said MacIntyre's final episode with the investigative program airing Friday was a powerful piece of journalism.

"While my feelings about the comments about Peter stand, I recognize that cancelling promotion of an important piece of journalism only hurts CBC News. That was never my goal, and our intention is to have Linden on CBC News Network tomorrow," she said in an e-mailed statement.

MacIntyre is retiring this week after some 24 years co-hosting "The Fifth Estate." He announced his departure earlier this year, saying he was leaving to save the jobs of younger producers and send a message about sweeping layoffs at the public broadcaster.

The Globe reported Wednesday that MacIntyre said in an interview that Ghomeshi was "allowed to bully and abuse people," and that "that's the way it works, whether it's Mansbridge, (Peter) Gzowski, whatever. They were not like shrinking violets, either."

MacIntyre did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Canadian Press. The Globe and Mail reported Thursday that the "Fifth Estate" host regretted his choice of words but stood by the essence of his comment.

Mansbridge said in a statement that MacIntyre wrote him a detailed and full apology Wednesday night, and that he was not aware of the original story until he received it.

"I was not on any e-mail list from Jennifer Harwood. I am not one to discuss internal CBC differences in the media but am confident this will work its way quickly to resolution," he said.

Harwood said that Mansbridge is as "dedicated to the people who work at CBC as he is to the work we do at CBC News.

"To me, to have his name tied in any way to the words abuse and bully is untrue and unfair. It's hurtful to Peter and it's hurtful to the people who work alongside him," she said.

She added that as managing editor of CBC News Network, she strives to uphold the highest journalistic standards that CBC News represents.

"My note was written in the heat of the moment. Linden has now apologized. I think it is time to move on."

CBC News editor-in-chief Jennifer McGuire said in an interview that Harwood did not consult with her before sending the memo and that it is not consistent with CBC's editorial practices.

"It was really an e-mail in the moment," said McGuire. "The truth of the matter is we don't make editorial decisions based on personal relationships or based on bad press or even comments in other media that we don't think are true or supportable."

Harwood is a "long-time colleague" of Mansbridge who was among CBC staff upset by MacIntyre's comments, said McGuire.

"Many people were very upset by comments that they saw as totally counter to the reality of the real situation, in terms of Peter and his behaviour on his show and in terms of his relationships," she said.

Asked for her response to MacIntyre's broader point that CBC stars are often given more latitude in their behaviour than more vulnerable lower-level employees, McGuire said there's no evidence to support that claim.

"Is it true that stars at CBC have incredible profiles and incredible strength? Absolutely. But if we're suggesting that somehow, at every show across the country, that they're making all the calls about everything, that is just not accurate or supportable," she said.

Ghomeshi was fired by the public broadcaster last month amid allegations of "abusive behaviour" from numerous women. Police are investigating complaints by at least three of them.

The former "Q" radio host has filed a lawsuit against the CBC alleging defamation and breach of confidence. Ghomeshi has argued in a Facebook posting that he engaged in "rough sex" with women, but said it was always consensual.

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.

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