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CBC Reporter Neil MacDonald Closes Twitter Account

Senior Washington Correspondent signs off under pressure
By: Mike Fegelman
Published: February 10th, 2012 in News » World
Neil MacDonald
Since HonestReporting Canada’s inception in 2003, we have been raising serious questions about CBC reporter Neil MacDonald’s reporting of events affecting Israel and the Middle East.

We have gone on record, time and again with CBC management to express our view that Macdonald's reporting is not consistent with the CBC's policy guidelines which calls for accuracy, fairness, and journalistic neutrality.

MacDonald’s continued exploitation of his position at the CBC was on full public display in the following tweet he authored on his CBC Twitter account on January 5:

One can only imagine what Neil MacDonald had in mind when writing this tweet. Was he implying that Israelis frequently shoot at either Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, or Syrians? We will leave it to our readers to decide if MacDonald’s skilful ambiguity imbued his statement with an abundance of insinuation while preventing a precise and definitive interpretation. Nevertheless, HonestReporting Canada contacted senior editors at CBC News on January 30 asking if this tweet fell in line with the CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices. In our correspondence, we asked rhetorically: “Why do we think MacDonald’s judgements are tainted? This tweet seems to be a pretty explicit example as to why sometimes we question his reporting and his objectivity.”

We are pleased to report that several days after we filed our complaint with the CBC, MacDonald’s Twitter account has been officially closed. On February 2, MacDonald posted the following farewell message to his CBC Twitter account:


This swansong portrays MacDonald as a victim, paints his critics as attackers, and implicates all of CBC in his problematic behaviour. But despite his vigorous assertion to the contrary, we suspect that MacDonald’s superiors brought our concerns (or at least the concerns of the “CBC’s detractors” as Mr. MacDonald has put it) to his attention. Indeed, irrespective of MacDonald’s claim that he’s “voluntarily closing (his) Twitter account” on his own initiative and was not prompted to do so, his cancelled account means that at least on this social media platform, his “ammunition for attacks” against Israel are now in short supply

While MacDonald has “voluntarily closed” his Twitter account, we have yet to hear if our national broadcaster views Macdonald's actions as having crossed the bounds of acceptable journalistic conduct. Pending the CBC’s response, we are very pleased to have defused one more weapon in MacDonald’s arsenal.

Mike Fegelman is the Executive Director, HonestReporting Canada.

Related articles: CBC, Neil MacDonald, Israel, Middle East, Twitter, Closed Account
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