Veteran producer Tara Henley, who resigned from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation this week after claiming the network abandoned journalistic integrity to embrace "a radical political agenda," has noticed similar problems at American news organizations.
"My focus is Canadian media, but I do read quite a lot of the American media as well… I think it's very polarized, and I think on both sides of the spectrum, the working class needs more voice and more representation, and it troubles me," Henley told Fox News Digital.
"We're not talking to enough people and the views are very limited. They're very narrative-driven, and it's not healthy for democracy," Henley continued. "I have no problem with the woke worldview being in the room. I think we should reflect that view, but it can't be the only voice in the room."
Henley, who identifies as a liberal herself, published her scathing resignation announcement on Substsack, detailing a newsroom stifled by far-left ideology that limits critical thinking and obsesses over race. In her piece, Henley blamed "a radical political agenda that originated on Ivy League campuses in the United States and spread through American social media platforms" whose proponents "monetize outrage and stoke societal divisions" for setting the tone of current media outlets such as the CBC. She feels that too many newsroom-decision makers are products of the prestigious universities that helped create the issue in the first place.
"I mean, this used to be a working class profession… this is now an elite profession. And we in the media are living alongside and working alongside and having our kids go to school with the other elite," she said. "How can you possibly be adversarial when you're in that same world? Our job is to question."
Henley’s Substack entry quickly went viral, and while she had a feeling it would start a conversation in Canada, she had "absolutely no idea" it would garner global attention.
"I think the most heartening thing about this experience is hearing from our fellow journalists … I have been getting so many messages from across the country and, now, around the world. And these are people of very different political persuasions, and I have been incredibly heartened to hear that we're all wanting a better media," she said. "We are all wanting a media that reflects more views, that includes more people that talk to more people across our countries."
The Toronto-based Henley, who joined Canada’s public broadcaster in 2013, said several "prominent American journalists" have reached out to her since her essay put a spotlight on a "woke" worldview infiltrating newsrooms. The feedback has helped her realize she’s hardly alone in thinking things need to change quickly.
"I’m kind of most amazed by this is how resonant these issues are in different cultural context. This is a problem that we're dealing with all across the western world," Henley said, noting that extreme partisanship isn’t only an issue for left-wing organizations.
"This is also an issue on the right," she said. "We're very polarized."
"The problem is the financial incentives are so strong in this direction," she said. "The outrage sells, and now journalistic organizations are sort of implementing policies based on this radical agenda."
Henley feels the partisan policies are being institutionalized and, therefore, it will become more and more difficult to restore diversity of thought in newsrooms if drastic changes aren’t made.
"We should be hiring less people from the Ivy League and possibly less people with college degrees. It's not rocket science what we do. We talk to people. You know, I don't know that I needed my master's degree to do this job. I really don't," she said. "I think all I need is curiosity, critical thinking and the willingness to talk to people from all walks of life and to go in with an empty notebook, to go in with an open mind and with without prejudgment and see what the story is instead of deciding ahead of time and amplifying that."
Henley feels she used to be one of the most liberal staffers at the CBC but eventually found herself as the most conservative staffer, even though her personal politics didn’t change. She feels the egos within the newsroom shifted dramatically to the left, but it’s a particular type of leftism invading news organizations.
"It's not a leftism that is super interested in material conditions, right? It's not a leftism that is looking at wages and working conditions and housing and the opioid crisis. That's not the focus. The focus is on identity politics," Henley said. "That's the focus of the leftism. And so my politics are still what they've always been. Those are still stories that I care about and want to cover, and I don't have a problem with us covering identity politics. It's just not to the exclusion of broad stories that need covering that affect a broad swath of the population."
While Henley walked away from her gig at the CBC because she feels the organization drifted too far to the left, even for a self-described liberal like herself, she is pleased that former colleagues seem to be aware of the problem.
"I have gotten emails and calls and text messages from colleagues that I've worked with, and colleagues that I didn't know from all across the country, saying it's really time to have this conversation and thanking me for raising the issue," she said.