Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Public Broadcaster Fails the Public. HELLO, The Cancer Epidemic My Have Some Economic Causes

Perhaps It should come as no surprise when the financially beleaguered, and, as a public institution that is hostage to advertising revenue, sadly politically craven, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, is silent about the powerful  interests responsible when they address serious subjects like cancer on its prime-time news programme The National, as it did on Tuesday Nov.25. And it should  come as no  surprise when the increasingly avuncular and vapid Peter Mansbridge [sorry Peter, uncles don’t have to be vapid] continues his sycophantic adulation of experts by declaring the expert panel he has just presided over “a great discussion”. All the experts properly and duly acknowledged at the beginning of what is increasingly, and rightly, referred to as a “show”, that prevention, rather than treatment, is the cure for cancer, but not till deep into the programme did the newly anointed defender of  Canada’s  public healthcare, Danielle Martin of Women’s  College Hospital, suggest that public policy might be relevant to the cancer epidemic. Her main point was the somewhat anodyne, but valid one, that the language of cancer matters. Right there, Danielle.
However often the experts on The National’s cancer panel reiterated the superiority of  prevention to treatment  as the  approach of choice and the importance of not shaming individuals for what was not their fault, i.e. cancer, the deep message of the programme was that there is a culprit for cancer’s inexorable toll, and its called the people, stupid! – that is, stupid, or, maybe as Martin interjected, poor, people who fail to exercise enough or to eat well. OK to shame the public  victim, but not individuals, it seems. As all the expert talk flowed on, one key factor, environmental pollutants and their polluting progenitors warranted not a split second of verbal attention. FTR there are places in the world with high proportions of centenarians and they are far away from polluting industries and the interests that benefit from them, let alone the increasingly stressed workplaces that go with them. One not entirely unconnected error of fact in this regard: cancer has in fact not been with us since time immemorial, i.e. it is not as eternal and omnipresent as the weather – the programme’s clear implication.

No, it should not surprise us when the financially dependent avoid exposing the culpability of their patrons. But disappoint us it should. Where does the public go for truth when its public broadcaster deserts it? Another panel of truth in broadcasting experts won’t do it.  We are left with a handful of marginalized truth-tellers who  frighten advertisers away and will never appear in prime time in major media. No wonder more and more are dying from cancer.  It comes in so many forms.

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