CBC suspends Margaret "not a serial plagiarist" Wente from Q media panel

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      Finally, a media outlet is taking action—and telling us about it—in response to the plagiarism controversy swirling around Margaret Wente. But it's not the Globe and Mail, which published the columns called into question by blogger Carol Wainio.

      On Tuesday (September 25), the CBC announced it has "regretfully decided" to suspend the Globe columnist from appearing on the biweekly media panel hosted by its Q radio and TV program. Wente had been a regular participant on the panel for the last three years. Now she's sure to become a focus of the panel's discussions. "We are continuing to follow details as they emerge, but we can confirm at this time that Ms Wente will not be appearing on the Q media panel," the CBC said.

      The CBC's move comes after Globe editor-in-chief John Stackhouse said in a published memo that he has taken "appropriate" but unspecified disciplinary action with regard to Wente's "unacceptable" journalism in a July 2009 column. "The journalism in this instance did not meet the standards of The Globe and Mail in terms of sourcing, use of quotation marks and reasonable credit for the work of others," Stackhouse wrote in the September 24 memo, which failed to use the word "plagiarism".

      (The Stackhouse memo also confirmed that public editor Sylvia Stead will now report to the publisher rather than the editor-in-chief. Nevermind that the public editor has largely lost the confidence of the public, judging by many comments on the Globe site and on Twitter, for her role in the fiasco.)

      On the other hand, after Wente's offensive defense and the way the Globe editor-in-chief and public editor have seemingly closed ranks around "one of Canada's leading columnists", it probably would have been refreshing to hear Wente fend for herself on Q's media panel.

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      Sep 26, 2012 at 1:32pm

      Hurrah! Does this mean that Wente is now Gone? Thank God! Or thank Carol Wainio for FINALLY (hopefully) ending the reign of stupidity and meanness that was Madame Wente. BTW, Wanio is not only an astute blogger, but she is an internationally heralded painter. Talent abounds in some, whereas in others it never was, eh Margaret?


      Sep 26, 2012 at 1:34pm

      It's very difficult to separate "Wente the Thoughtless Columnist" from "Wente the Plagiarist".

      So I have to wonder if I'd have more sympathy if I had not found her opinions so offensive over the years. I suspect that I would have done, because the "incident in question" (as I understand it) is relatively minor in nature - nothing to cause me great outrage, in isolation.

      But when a columnist who has built a career on being pompous and sanctimonious finds herself on the receiving end of serious criticism, it's hard not to give a little cheer.

      On the whole, I'd rather see her come back as a wiser, chastened person. But given her sad "apology" on the G&M website, I don't think she's learned anything at all from this incident.

      Darach Seaton

      Sep 26, 2012 at 8:13pm

      I almost always disagreed with Margaret Wente's opinions - she so often seemed determinedly ungenerous - but because I was always concerned not to capitulate unthinkingly to my own knee-jerk responses, I tried very hard to pay respectful attention. Listening to her on Q, she seemed measured and thoughtful, at least by her own lights, and I gave her credit for that. Now it seems that my intentional respect was woefully misplaced - she clearly had no such respect either for her listeners and readers, or for the craft and ethics of journalism: clearly I was naive to think that however unkind her opinions often seemed, she was at least acting with integrity.

      George Kosinski

      Sep 27, 2012 at 12:19pm

      I was so surprised the first time I heard Margaret Wente on CBC radio. Her comments indeed seemed measured and thoughtful - a bizarre contrast to her consistently unmeasured and thoughtless comments whenever she discusses drug policy.


      Sep 27, 2012 at 1:03pm

      In respect to Wente seeming more thoughtful outside of her columns, I suspect it is because she has been directed to write the sort of black and white, inflammatory, poorly thought out opinions she has become infamous for all in the name of pageviews. I can't recall ever seeing one of her headlines that didn't evoke an "ugh" at the very least.

      The G&M has been on a long slide to mediocrity and irrelevance. Wente has been a contributor to that, either of her own volition or because she was requested to do so. Either way, the paper would be better off without her.


      Sep 27, 2012 at 4:23pm

      Wente is a genius. This episode will hopefully blow over.

      Her sharp, knife-twisting criticism of anything in the PC path achieved what column miles of wanky, dour "reportage" failed to do: force readers reasses their own opinions, and generate conversations about - gasp - the issues of the day.

      Uh... isn't that what media should do?

      I love her. She's a journalism hero. Even if in her long career she had some mis-steps, so what? Reporters are not perfect, people are not perfect, professionals are not perfect.

      I hope the progressive fundementalists are content when their morning fair-trade Guatemalan blend and G&M / CBC routine is no longer marred by having to read something they disagree with.


      Mike Cantelon

      Sep 27, 2012 at 11:10pm

      Wente getting outed as hypocrite scum is the best thing to happen to Canadian journalism since Conrad Black going to the big house.