So farewell, then, Peter Mansbingo. The Windex-eyed patriarch of The National fades to beige after one final Canada Day selfie, trading in his million-dollar paycheque for a $500K pension from a grateful nation.
As is his due, the Giant of Journalism’s™ salary bloated from $550K to $900K between 1998 and 2013, even as The National’s audience shrivelled from 1.4 million to 430,000. In sheer drone-for-the-buck, that’s 39 cents a viewer in ’98, compared to $2.09 in ’13.
Not bad for a high school dropout (Glebe Collegiate, ’66), failed jet-jock (he pooched his Royal Canadian Navy pilot training even worse than senior calculus), airport lost luggage announcer, and sonorous CBC “Senior Correspondent,” who never once broke a story.
Peterkin’s final $100K pay bump to Million-Dollar Mansbridge arose from the CBC paid speaking gig fiasco. Readers will recall that shit storm, as it was revealed how prominent CBC meat puppets, among them Mansbingo, Amanda Lang and Rex Murphy, had been showered with dosh by the likes of Manulife and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Indeed, it turned out that Lang, then the Corpse’s chief business corro, made more money talking about her job than actually doing it, raking in an estimated $300K a year for speaking to her Bay Street buddies. Mansbridge hisself pocketed nearly $200,000 in 2014, on 13 gigs worth $15,000-$20,000 a pop.
Enter Jesse Brown and various Guardians of Journalistic Integrity™ to mount a Twitter campaign demanding that all CBC employees must henceforth eschew (bless you!!—ed.) paid appearances, lest they give rise to the perception of conflict of interest (wat dat!?—ed.)
Eventually, Corpse management capitulated and banned their televisual toastmasters from accepting pay for prattle.
Mansbridge reacted poorly; “incandescent with rage,” was how one CBC colleague described it. And who can blame him? After all those years of raking in tens of thousands of dollars for sharing his deep thoughts at the Muskoka Moose Lodge, Mansbridge had been kicked where it hurt most, below the money belt.
He protested that he was being unfairly deprived of his rightful emoluments. He’d been making outside appearances for years and he had a reasonable expectation they’d continue. Further, CBC management was not only fully aware of his moonlighting, they’d approved it!
So Mansbridge demanded the Corpse make him whole, or else he’d unleash his legal weasels.
Still slathering on the burn cream from the Jian Ghomeshi and Lang PR disasters, Corpse brass capitulated, awarding their glabrous mascot an extra $100K to alleviate his hardship.
After all, at The National, it’s always been all about Petey, and anyone foolish enough to challenge el queso grande soon gets Gulaged. Remember Pam Wallin? Jason Moscovitz? Of course you don’t.
Nothing happened on The National without Mansbridge’s say-so. From the lavish and fawning coverage of the Franklin expedition search (as he sat on the Arctic Research Foundation advisory board) to the panels he handpicked (invariably including cronies like Allan Gregg and Bruce Anderson). Ditto any big series on the flagship news show. He influenced who would be hired as he approved all reporters and any regularly appearing guests on the show.
Petey’s entitlements include a chauffeur-driven limo that picks him up every Monday morning at his home in Stratford, and deposits him at CBC HQ in Toronto. He bunks at his downtown shag pad during the week, then he’s driven the three-hour trip back to Stratford – and National Treasure™ Cynthia Dale – on Fridays.
Another perk was the stimulating environment of the Corpse itself, bursting with younger talent for which Mansbingo, like Ghomeshi, has always had a sharp eye.
And then there was Natalia Mohammed Macleod. The CBC PR flak/actress from Vancouver was 27, and barely half Mansbridge’s age, when they had a fling in the late nineties. (Natalia went on to enjoy a modest filmic career, appearing in The 13th Warrior, with Antonio Banderas and Omar Sharif.)
Cynthia, upon reading of Petey’s Left Coast legovers in the satirical press, presented him with a play-me-or-trade-me ultimatum, or so the story went. Eight months after their nuptials, Cynthia bore Peter an heir, William Stanley Mansbridge, seven pounds of junior bingo-caller. Mathematically-inclined observers began rethinking their theories on just what had expedited Petey’s forced march down the aisle.
Another of Peter’s protégés proved a total pain in the ass. Krista Erickson (Franks passim, ad shaggiam) was the rookie host of CBC Winnipeg’s six o’clock news show when Mansbridge came calling in 2005.
Totally smitten, he pushed for Erickson’s promotion to a plum gig at the CBC Parliament Hill bureau—despite warnings from Ottawa brass she was too green for the gig–not to mention that she looked like a Barbie doll, dressed like a hooker and swore like a meat packer.
Krista predictably pissed off the press gallery and got suspended by the Corpse for allegedly writing questions for Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez to nail Byron Muldoon in committee. Standard operating procedure in inbred Ottawa, but the Tories launched a complaint with the public broadcaster.
The CBC tried to reassign her to Toronto, but Erickson lawyered up and refused the demotion. She argued that when Corpse news boss John Cruickshank tried to move her off the hill, she was made to appear guilty of wrongdoing and her reputation was damaged.
“I didn’t hire her,” whinged Cruickshank. “[Tony] Burman did. Now he’s with Al Jazeera. I wish she’d go to Al Jazeera.”
According to Corpse sources, they were stuck with Krista because she had hanky spanky emails from Mansbingo, which could prove highly embarrassing in the event of a sexual harassment suit.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. Krista got a significant payout and later took her act to the Sun News Network, a gig that also ended in tears.
As for any other unresolved Mansbridge messes still rattling around at 250 Front Street, CBC HR can, we presume, be trusted to maintain a decorous silence, or failing that, discreetly forward the relevant files to my organ at the usual numbers.
Thanks for watching? Frank could have done no less!