General + Regulatory + Telecom + Media NewsConrad Black comments result in walkout at WAB conference

Conrad Black comments result in walkout at WAB conference

Conrad Black is a lot of things…a Donald Trump and Richard Nixon apologist, a big fan of Henry Kissinger and Rex Murphy, and an optimist about the future of democracy in Canada.

But it was the former newspaper magnate’s outright denial of the death of Indigenous children at residential schools that caused a contingent from the CRTC and a delegation from Northern Native Broadcasting to walk out of Thursday’s Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB) conference.

Featured in conversation with outgoing WAB President David Craig, Director of Programming & Development at Christian specialty channel, The Miracle Channel, Black, 79, was asked his thoughts on balance in the current media landscape, among other questions ranging from U.S. and Canadian politics to what he does in his spare time.

The National Post founder, author, columnist and well-known conservative, took the opportunity to take aim at the majority of the country’s journalists, which he believes “are fundamentally frustrated that they’re reporting on other people.”

Conrad Black & David Craig

Black asserts that following the Watergate scandal, every journalist wanted to be Woodward & Bernstein, and in turn journalism schools “became academies for how to torment people you’re supposedly reporting on and overthrow society generally.” Adding that there’s still “not one shred of probative evidence Mr. Nixon committed any crimes.”

“These reporters become addicted to whatever power they have to build up or more frequently tear people down,” Black opined. “And it’s a lot more fun if you take the ethics out of it, it’s a lot more fun to tear people down…”

Calling journalism “a craft terribly run down in quality and in integrity,” later in the conversation he was asked about Conservative Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre’s support of defunding the CBC.

“I’m in favour of a public broadcaster because we have so much American media coming into Canada and funding it well, but putting in charge somebody ensuring high quality programming fair in use and original,” said Black, going on to point to the example of coverage of the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at a former residential school site in 2021.

“It’s been a struggle for [Fraser Institute Senior Fellow and author] Tom Flanagan and a few others of us to get out there that it didn’t happen. I mean, despite $27 million being voted by parliament to find out exactly what went on in these places that were identified on the basis of sketchy evidence from underground radar as anomalies that could be graves. We don’t even today know if there are any graves there. If they are, whose graves they are? We don’t know that. And yet we went through this terribly humiliating national experience of lowering our flags for six months and proclaiming that we murdered these children and then tried to hide their bodies,” proclaimed Black.

“Well this didn’t happen. None of it happened,” he asserted, over the cry of “Yes, it did” from Indigenous broadcaster Yulanda Leighton, an account executive at CFNR Network. “And where is the media?”

Black’s commentary went unchallenged by Craig.

WAB’s Board of Directors has issued a formal apology to attendees, saying that Black’s opinions are not reflective of those of the board or its members.

“We recognize the comments he made today were disrespectful and incredibly hurtful.  The opinions Conrad Black expressed are solely his and do not reflect the views or beliefs of the Board, partners, sponsors, and members,” reads a board statement. “The intention of bringing Conrad to the WAB Conference was to have him openly discuss his business and media successes and failures. We’d like to address our shortcomings of not properly moderating the conversation. We sincerely apologize for the events that occurred today.”

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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