Gone For Good?

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...or will Westcott someday
return to CBC airwaves?

The federal election is over, but the dust has certainly not settled.

For unsuccessful candidates like Craig Westcott (right), however, life has returned to normal. Westcott is back to cranking out the The Business Post and the Irish Loop Post. However, his voice has not been heard on CBC Radio's Morning Show, where Westcott delivered regular, highly controversial commentaries.

It's not surprising that there would be a cool-down period' after a political episode like this. It's not every day that an outspoken journalist veers into a run at politics. Indeed, some observers feel that Westcott should never be allowed to return to CBC as a commentator, and that his credibility as a journalist has forever been compromised.

I don't agree with that. First, the commentator's role is to express subjective opinion objectivity is not necessary. And let's not forget that one of the nation's most successful commentators our own Rex Murphy also had his run at politics. The question then, is not whether a political candidate can return to public commentary, but when.

As for whether or not he can return to journalism, this is not an issue for Westcott as he is self-employed. It is up to his readers and advertisers to decide his fate.

Out of curiosity, I fired off notes to Craig Westcott and the CBC.

I asked Craig if there have been any conversations with the CBC about if and when he could return to the airwaves.

"I haven't heard from CBC and I haven't approached them," Westcott said. "I doubt that they would consider me for commentaries for a number of years. How long was it between the time Rex Murphy ran for the Liberals provincially and when he started getting work again at CBC? I don't know exactly, but it was a considerable period. That said, I certainly enjoyed doing the commentaries and appreciated the opportunity that CBC Radio gave me."

In researching this item, I did hear some rumours that Westcott's post-election criticism of CBC did him in. Others said Westcott had a good run and the CBC just feels it is time for a change. One person even said that too many of Wescott's commentaries were on the same topic (Danny Williams). But these comments do not have factual foundation, and are likely just idle speculation.

I put some of these questions to Kathy Porter, Executive Producer, Current Affairs with CBC Radio.

"To the best of my knowledge, there is no cooling off' period for commentators or panelists," Porter replied. "By their very nature, such people are expected to express their own opinions, whatever they may be, and we are always looking for a wide range of opinions. Any listener will know about Craig's recent political activities, and they can factor that into their interpretation of his views. So producers are free to use Craig - or anyone else - as a commentator or panelist, if they want to. We would include his political activity as part of his credentials."

Porter said that Westcott has done "great work" for The Morning Show and they do value his contribution. "However, we are always looking to expand the range of opinion we present, so even before Craig decided to run in the election, we were on the lookout for new voices to add to his."

CBC has already broadened its base of Morning Show commentators, with recent appearances by journalists Brian Callahan and Dawn Chafe. I enjoyed hearing from both, and appreciate their addition to the mix.

But I do miss Westcott's caustic commentaries as well. I expect he will make a rebound, someday

I just hope it doesn't take years.

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Recent comments

  • Craig
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    Just saw your entry. Another fair job of presenting an interesting situation. Another good example of journalism intersecting with politics is Randy Simms. Randy ran twice provincially, numerous times municipally and is in fact a politican right now as mayor of Mount Pearl. Last week I heard him mention that he has acted as a fundraiser in recent years for the provincial Tories. Despite all that, he is a commentator for CBC Television, a columnist for The Telegram and the host of an Open Line Radio Show. I guess the bottom line is that everyone is entitled to a view and the only criteria for airing them should be the competence of the commentator and the value of the view being expressed, with all due care to note the person's political biases up front.
    I certainly did enjoy writing the commentaries for CBC Radio.

    Craig Westcott
    The Business Post
    St. John's