Allegations Emerge Against Fired CBC Host Jian Ghomeshi
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
This next story may be upsetting to some listeners. In recent days, the CBC - Canada's public broadcaster - suspended and then fired one of its best-known hosts, Jian Ghomeshi. He has a since been publicly accused of subjecting numerous women to violent assaults during sexual encounters. Ghomeshi says, the incidents were rough, but consensual. Reporting by the Toronto Star newspaper suggests otherwise. NPR's David Folkenflik tells us more.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Until just a few days ago, the program called "Q" was the one Canadians turned to for thoughtful conversations about pop culture and contemporary life, with Lena Dunham, Julian Assange and in this case, a rare interview with Joni Mitchell.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "Q")
JIAN GHOMESHI: You see yourself as different from...
JONI MITCHELL: Oh, yeah. People tell me I'm from Mars all the time.
GHOMESHI: You're not mainstream.
MITCHELL: No, I'm from Mars.
MITCHELL: How many times have I been told that?
FOLKENFLIK: The 47-year-old Ghomeshi's been one of the most popular radio and TV hosts in Canada. And he's also heard on 155 public radio stations in the U.S. Back in May, the Toronto Star first began investigating rumors of Ghomeshi's behavior toward women and presented allegations to Ghomeshi and the network, but had not yet published anything. The CBC fired him on Sunday, after which Ghomeshi posted a lengthy note on his Facebook page, saying, the network was making a moral judgment against his taste for consensual bondage and rough sex. Michael Cooke is the Star's editor-in-chief.
MICHAEL COOKE: He preemptively called the women liars. And it was at that stage that we felt comfortable putting the women's evidence in front of Canadians.
FOLKENFLIK: On Monday, the Star started to publish increasingly detailed accounts by eight women accusing him of violence during sexual encounters. A television actress, Lucy DuCoutere, told the Star and others that Ghomeshi had assaulted her 11 years ago.
LUCY DUCOUTERE: He did take me by the throat and press me against the wall and choke me, and he did slap me across the face a couple of times. And that took me by surprise because that's something that I had never had happen to me before.
FOLKENFLIK: She was speaking there to the CBC radio show "Current." The other seven women who spoke to the Star have not been named. CBC officials have said, they're investigating possible instances said to have occurred in the workplace. Jeffrey Dvorkin worked for CBC Radio from 1976 to 1997 and rose to be its chief news executive.
JEFFREY DVORKIN: The CBC felt, I believe, that they had an obligation to protect their own reputation. And they did not want it comingled with the private activities of Jian Ghomeshi.
FOLKENFLIK: Dvorkin, a former news chief for NPR, says, the CBC has fired people in the past for sexual harassment. If proven, he says, this case should be no different. Ghomeshi's representatives did not return efforts seeking comment. He's filed a lawsuit against the CBC, seeking about $50 million in damages. For Canada, such as lawsuit is quite rare - as is, for that matter, the whole scandal. David Folkenflik, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.