SETHFM vs. CBC RADIO III: The Curiosity Of Tom Power

CBC Radio is a publicly funded broadcaster in Canada. Yet, in SethBlogs’ daily listening, their temperament is to present every story they encounter from a politically “progressive” vantage point. Against that pious bias, SethBlogs’ funded SethFM to the rescue.



As any fan or foe of SethBlogs knows, I consider CBC Radio to be my nemesis. It’s not just that they have a slant regarding how our society should be run, they have a slope. This does not mean that they are always wrong in every conclusion they promote, but it does mean that their editorial policy is to never dig for nuance; so long as the item they are discussing claims to be progressive, they are for it.

Moreover, CBC Radio’s sloping presentation is more egregious than that of other biased broadcasters, such as FOX News (to the right) or MSNBC (to the left), because CBC Radio is publicly funded, and so has a duty to all of its constituents, not just to those who agree with them.

So each day—as I listen to CBC Radio—I hope for a break from their no-nuance policy.

Recently, for instance, CBC Radio reporters announced—with a progressively correct grin—that we now had proof of current racial bias in Canada’s policing. My ears opened wide to take in the details of this significant claim, only to learn that the alleged proof of racism could be found in the fact that a higher percentage of certain races are arrested by Canadian police than other races. The reporters gave no consideration to the possibility that the disparate arrest rates could be related to disparate crime rates amongst current Canadian racial demographics (due to various social factors, including perhaps historical racism, itself).

And we know that CBC Radio is aware that historical factors (beyond current racism) can contribute to differing racial demographics in the present, because they frequently talk about the lingering effects of historical injustice on modern groups. Now, of course, it’s possible that both current police racism and history are influencing today’s results, but CBC Radio is not claiming a possibility here: they are claiming a fact that—because we have differing arrest rates—we know that racism is the cause. This would be like assuming that, because online shopping is increasing, that modern Canadians hate going to the mall. That might be the case, but it might also simply be that Canadians get better prices online. I’m interested in the information either way, but—by not checking their work for logical errors—CBC Radio simplifies these discussions down to their lowest common assumptions.

So, as I hear these failures of curiosity, I often wonder:

Do these progressively correct CBC Radio stars realize that they’re ignoring worthy counter arguments to their assumed truths, or are they simply playing simple because that’s their job?

The poster voice for this question of mine is the sweet-seeming Tom Power, the current host of CBC Radio’s arts & culture show, Q. The man is so cuddly in his simplification of complex topics that he seems more dangerous to me than a more aggressive version of himself might be, as he lulls his audience into a belief that there is no possible dark side to his dogma.

For instance, I recall Power interviewing playwright and director, Robert LePage (before the latter failed an appropriation test with his Slav production), and Mr. LePage contemplated out loud whether the #MeToo movement might be overreaching in its possible tendency to reduce humour in the workplace. Power replied, with his fluffiest voice:

“Well, ultimately, I think that might be a good thing” [paraphrased from my memory].

And that was an end to it. Mr. LePage realized that he had been instantly vanquished by his soft-spoken interrogator, and he immediately admitted to our Mr. Power that he was quite right.

Now, Tom’s conclusion might indeed have been correct—perhaps, on balance, the reduced humour of some is worth the increased comforts of others in the modern workplace—but, before pronouncing his progressive judgement, I wonder if Tom might have shown a drop of curiosity about what sorts of troubling consequences for humour Mr. LePage had in blasphemous mind.

So, in answer to my question about whether Mr. Power is as simple as he seems—or if he’s just pretending to be because that’s his job—I counted the above failure of curiosity as evidence of a genuine blandness of mind. Yet, some days—when Q’s topic of discussion has no obvious socio-political implications—I notice that Mr. Power is capable of humour and thought beyond his simplistic progressive assertions.

So I have been torn by the mystery of Tom Power:

Is it possible that he is, in fact, a brilliant progressive strategist hiding in plain platitudes?

Well, recently, our Mr. Power finally proved to me which was his true identity.

On the other side of the Q microphone was Daphne Rubin-Vega, who is the lead voice in the dramatic podcast, The Horror of Dolores Roach, which features progressively-approved implications regarding gentrification and race. Now, personally, I don’t know whether gentrification is as morally harmful as we’re told by progressive advocates; on the one side of my brain, I empathize with those who cannot afford to stay in their established neighbourhoods, but on the other side, I do not like the idea of restricting who can come into and make changes to a neighbourhood. Moreover, I’m not sure which side of the gentrification debate has the best claim to our society’s overall welfare. So, being a gentrification agnostic, I’m always interested to hear arguments on both sides. But, of course, CBC Radio’s policy regarding gentrification is much more settled: gentrification is, by definition, immoral and even racist.

Yet, unfortunately, for our sympathetic Mr. Power, in this case, Ms. Rubin-Vega was not as gifted at staying on progressive message as Tom’s usual group-thinking guests. As we will discover in the following episode of SethFM, Ms. Rubin-Vega’s resulting ideological misstep forced the true Tom Power to reveal himself as he dove in to rescue his guest from her accidental wrongthink. While his brilliant and quick-thinking moral rescue mission proves Tom Power is not a simpleton, after all, his unplanned unmasking was an unexpected joy for your loyal SethBlogs.

Watch SethFM below for details.



III: THE CURIOSITY OF TOM POWER (you were just here)

6 thoughts on “SETHFM vs. CBC RADIO III: The Curiosity Of Tom Power”

  1. Thanks Louvain! Although, all credit for humour should go to Tom Power who inadvertently satirized himself throughout. 😉

  2. I enjoyed the analysis of the conversation between the two, and how how logical reasoning takes a back seat to dogma, and yet can be spun to save face by a skillful interviewer. I agree that it is an example of poor use of public funds.

  3. Thanks TC! Yes, it’s amazing how quickly a seemingly one-dimensional interviewer can become clever when their ideology is in danger.

  4. Most interesting and entertaining. While I am a dedicated CBC listener as well, I confess to rushing to the radio to turn it off when Q comes on. I can’t bear Tom Power’s breathless interviewing style any more than I can bear the half-wit personalities that he usually interviews. Robert Lepage would most certainly be an exception. I notice that Tom Power is your favourite victim, and I don’t blame you for that. I do wonder, though, if you find similar lack of nuance in other programs, like As It Happens, The Current, The Sunday Edition?

  5. Thanks Tom “Anti-Power.” I don’t blame you for avoiding Mr. Power. His soft spoken style grates on me as well. As with many CBC Radio personalities, I suspect he’s much more interesting in person when his PC betters aren’t watching over him.

    And yes, well caught: I have indeed taken on Tom Power on the Q show in three out of three of my SethFM video series so far. I think it’s mostly coincidence (as I have critiqued many other CBC Radioers in the writing wing of Sethblogs), but I shall endavour to branch out on my video criticism in future.

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