A major story trending in Canada right now is the Jian Ghomeshi scandal. Mr. Ghomeshi, probably the second-most popular on-camera personality in their stable (after Peter Mansbridge, who recently drew kudos for his Ottawa coverage) has just been fired by the CBC following a string of allegations of sexual assault by multiple women. The allegations come from at least eight women, at least one of whom has spoken on the record, and the article I have linked to has extensive, and disturbing details.
The Beloved, as he is wont to do, took the devil’s advocate side in discussing this with me, and his question was this: should Ghomeshi have been fired? There is little doubt he is a bit of a ‘creeper,’ as at least one person who knows him professionally told me when we were talking about it. Even by his own admission, he engaged in potentially risky behaviour—at least one expert quoted in the press has said that some of his admitted ‘kinky’ activities were at a high enough ‘level’ that he should not have engaged in them with first dates. But is being creepy a fireable offence?
In this case, I think Ghomeshi’s career choice does impact the nature of the story. If he was using his celebrity status as a hook—and the woman who identified herself in the Star’s story says he did, and that she agreed to ‘meet with’ him to try and help her own career—then it is the CBC’s business. And as an on-camera type, he does to an extent represent the network publicly. It’s the same as saying I could get drunk at home, and my boss wouldn’t care about it, but if I did that in public, made a fool of myself, and a parent from school saw me, that would be an issue. The CBC does not want their association in the public eye to be this fool attacking women.
It’s an awful story—and I think it has the potential to get more awful. Given his fame and the ratings he brought CBC, I think they would not have fired him unless they had major goods on him, goods that have not even come out yet. I think that there is a difference between kink, and violence. And we’re going to find that Ghomeshi may have crossed that line.