As a follow-up to my post about former fluff broadcaster and current fraud artist Mike Duffy, here is a link to a Rick Salutin column about the fluffy news reader Peter Mansbridge, and about the decline of CBC news in general. As a bonus, here is my own take on Mansbridge.
Peter Mansbridge: big voice, big disappointment
Over the past decade or so, TV news anchor Peter Mansbridge, of the tax-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), has become a shell of his former self. He may have been a serious reporter at one time, but as his income and status has ballooned, he has evolved into a mere teleprompter reader who lobs softball questions to prominent authority figures.
For his one-on-one interviews, Mansbridge has mastered the art of faking sincerity and acting concerned. This puts him in the same league as other sappy infotainers like Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey and Ben Mulroney.
Mansbridge acquired his sweet gig because of one thing above all else: his deep voice. By his own admission, his career in journalism started by accident after he graduated from high school in the late 1960s and then wandered aimlessly around the country. He fell into a job as a baggage handler at a small remote airport, and one day he filled in for the flight announcer. A CBC manager who happened to be in the airport offered Mansbridge a radio job. Then, as it often happened in those opportunity-filled boomer days, Mansbridge gradually climbed to the top of the CBC pyramid.
Now he rests on his laurels and doesn’t have to do his own research or writing. He simply repeats what others – much lower on the pay, status and job-security scale – accomplish under difficult circumstances and strict deadlines. It’s like news karaoke.
In addition to his commanding voice and charming public demeanor, other reasons for his success include his grey-haired, white-skinned grandfatherly image and his solid, old-school Anglo-Saxon name. Both tend to give TV viewers an impression that his word is gold. Another factor is that uncreative CBC executives are afraid to take a chance on someone new. This is despite the existence of several thousand qualified, experienced journalists across Canada who would jump at the chance to do his cushy job for a fraction of his salary.
In CBC’s current reality of widespread budget cuts, layoffs and contracting out, many of their non-management jobs have been transformed into temporary positions with no benefits. Sometimes those contracts last for weeks; other times just one day. The modestly paid freelancers are usually journalism graduates with related work experience or those without journalism degrees who have paid their dues in other ways. If the young Mansbridge was starting out here and now, there’s no way he would get his foot in the door. Not a chance.
It’s well past time for the CBC to cut the cord and send the over-rated and overpaid Mansbridge out to pasture. Perhaps there’s a senate seat waiting for him.