Having dabbled in reporting and taken a few broadcasting courses in the my years gone by, I still hold a passing/partial interest in journalism (especially tabloid). In fact, many years ago, I was accepted to BCIT’s once important Broadcast Journalism program but chose not to attend.
When chief anchor and senior editor of CTV News Lloyd Robertson wrote the standard post-broadcasting career autobiography, I decided to check it out – from the library for free.
It was riddled with spelling mistakes, poor grammar, run-on sentences, punctuation errors, repetitive and boring anecdotes, and a total sense of narcism and arrogance that made me groan at every page.
Almost as bad as the never-ending Mike McCardel drivel.
Lloyd’s free form writing had no scope, range or depth. He is snarky and overly critical towards Canadian history, culture and politics. It’s full of yellow journalism, nepotism and cronyism. It was self-promoting with little to no regard for his colleagues and he resorted to name calling and destroyed the careers of those around him and beneath him.
There was sabotage to his competitors. His actions on the way up in the broadcast news circuit was ruthless, temperamental and perpetually hostile.
That’s Barbara Walters’ book.
Robertson book was good Canadiana and full of valuable historical stories.
Not as detailed or extensive as Katharine Graham’s A Personal History but still good.
Unfortunately he didn’t mention his striking resemblance to The Simpsons’ broadcaster Kent Brockman (formerly known as Kenny Brockelstein) on Channel 6 News Springfield.
Robertson does discuss:
- His early years growing up in Stratford, Ontario that were often difficult
- His mother who was severely mentally ill with deep emotional disorders, paranoia and obsessive -compulsive behaviours. She eventually received a lobotomy from the same US clinical neurologist Walter Freeman who performed a lobotomy on Rosemary Kennedy
- His interview with Sir Alec Guiness, Obi-wan Kenobi himself, while he was playing Richard III at the Shakespeare Festival in the 1950s who was very charming and humble
- His tenure with Mother Corp (CBC)
- Canadian 20th century history, the politicians that ruled the roost and his interviews with each Prime Minister from Mulroney to Harper
- The rise of antagonistic unions in the broadcasting industry and the Cronkite Effect
Robertson sets the record straight regarding his jump from CBC to CTV for a bigger salary. He also fiercely objects to the federal NDP’s personal attack on him when he left Mother Corp “…it revealed a mentality (by the NDP) that sneered at people who aspired to advance themselves”. How true.
“I’d rather go to a 100-watt station north of the Arctic Circle than return to the everlasting shenanigans of the vicious, manipulative bureaucracy that so dominated the public network,” he writes.
And this was before the Jian Gomeshi scandal.
Harvey Kirck and the Others
Robertson was paired with Canadian broadcasting legend Harvey Kirck on the CTV National News way back when.
Kirck was of the old school of hard drinking reporters and was busted on more than one occasion drinking and driving. Here, Robertson is non-judgemental and complimentary on his skills as a broadcaster.
Following the Royals
Now it gets delicious. This chapter opens with Diana’s death. Robertson met her in 1991 and was obviously enchanted, “…glamorous smile and those luminous, sparkling eyes…”
He’s met many Royals and confesses to be an erstwhile monarchist – loving Her Majesty and sites Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Royal Tour to Canada in 2011 as perfection: “the right mixture of royal precision, tradition and pop-star hype.”
“It has been said that Canada is the treasured prize of the Commonwealth because it has never seriously questioned the monarchy and so obviously adores and respects the Queen.”
There’s lots of juicy bits on his opinion of our Prime Ministers including Harper. He also speaks about the grinding work day in the studio, his relationships with other politicians, industry colleagues, and Canada as a country.
I’ll leave it off with this…