CBC's 'forbidden' words were frequently used by CBC executives

Although Canada's national public broadcaster has lectured citizens on implementing their version of proper language etiquette, documents reveal that CBC's own executives are guilty of using a few of their own 'banned' words.

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CBC's banned words were often used by CBC executives themselves.

Internal emails obtained through a proactively released access to information filing show state broadcast managers, including CEO Catherine Tait, using phrases like "brainstorm" even though a CBC article told Canadians to "rethink" having the words in their vocabulary.

CBC's scolding, hectoring article, titled "Words and Phrases You might Think Twice About Using" from November 2021 read:

“Have you ever casually used the terms 'spirit animal,' 'first-world problem,' or 'spooky'? It might be time to rethink your use of these phrases and remove them from your daily lingo.

CBC Ottawa compiled a small list of words, submitted by readers and some of our journalists who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour. We ran some of the words by anti-racism and language experts, who said some of these phrases can be hurtful to various groups of people for their historical and cultural context.

'Being an English speaker doesn't entail that you necessarily know the racist etymology automatically,' said Ai Taniguchi, a linguist and an associate language studies professor with University of Toronto Mississauga, in an email to CBC.'"

The list of verboten parlance, for those looking to self-censor, is as follows:

blackmail, blacklist, black sheep, ghetto, inner-city, spooky, sold down the river, grandfathered in, spirit animal, powwow, tribe, lowest on the totem pole, savage, gypped, gypsy, first-world problem, brainstorm, blindsided, blind-spot, dumb, lame, tone-deaf, crippled.

But, behind closed doors, when no one was watching, CBC executives were using at least some of the words they lectured regular people about throwing around in polite company.

CBC's American-residing CEO Catherine Tate on November 17th, 2021 used the phrase "brainstorm session" in an email to staff just 11 days before CBC scolded the country about saying it.

Communications on May 2021 show CBC employees discussing a new diversity and inclusion advisory committee. The managers once again used the "insensitive" term "brainstorm."

This is not the first time CBC has been caught not practicing what they preach.

CBC's Wendy Mesley admitted to using the "n-word" in staff meetings on two separate occasions after repeatedly calling others racist.

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