The CBC has removed veteran broadcaster Wendy Mesley from her position as host of The Weekly with Wendy Mesley, pending an investigation into an incident that occurred during preparations for last Sunday’s episode about Black Lives Matter and the media’s coverage of racism.
“Last Thursday, senior management within CBC News were made aware of an incident involving Wendy Mesley,” the CBC’s head of public affairs, Chuck Thompson, says in a statement. “While we investigate further, Wendy will not be hosting The Weekly. Always respecting the privacy rights of our employees, we have nothing more to add.”
In her own statement emailed to Canadaland, Mesley elaborated on the circumstances.
“In the context of an editorial discussion about current issues regarding race, I used a word that should never be used,” she says. “It was not aimed at anyone, I was quoting a journalist we were intending to interview on a panel discussion about coverage of racial inequality.”
She says she immediately apologized to her co-workers, and recognizes that “this is a word that no one like me should ever use. I made a big mistake and promise to change my behaviour.”
“I was careless with my language and wrong to say it. Regardless of my intention, I hurt people and for that I am very sorry. I am also deeply ashamed.”
The incident is the latest in a series of issues to have emerged during the CBC’s coverage of the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, which have rapidly reframed even mainstream discussions around the concept of policing. These situations have included Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Sandy Hudson describing getting uninvited from a radio appearance after a producer scoffed at the notion of defunding the police; a pair of misleadingly presented news reports concerning NYPD officers driving into protesters; and an internal “solidarity” letter from CBC/Radio-Canada president Catherine Tait that was called out by staff after she neglected to specifically cite anti-Black racism, instead condemning racism against “whatever form it takes – against whatever community.” The CBC subsequently acknowledged its failings in each case.
World Report host Nil Köksal filled in for Mesley on Sunday’s episode of The Weekly, which included a panel discussion with Angelyn Francis and Desmond Cole looking at why journalists of colour can often feel unwelcome in Canadian newsrooms.
Top image of Mesley via the CBC Media Centre.