Some things make me smile. Not that I think there is anything funny about the mess that has rocked the CBC. But this week The Star interviewed some of our competitors asking “Can he come back?” The “he” in question is Jian Ghomeshi, the disgraced host of CBC’s celebrated program, “Q”. In case there is anyone out there who doesn’t know — he stands accused of violence and sexual misconduct by a number of women including former girlfriends and co-workers. So The Star wanted to know if there was any way that his career could be salvaged? To a man the PR pundits argued that, while not impossible, in this age of twitter and You Tube, it is highly unlikely. Me, I am not so sure.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a Ghomeshi fan — at least not since the agency had occasion to work with him a number of years ago. Up to that point I had been as enthusiastic as anyone about the fresh new voice he brought to daytime radio. But long before the scandal broke I started to squirm every time I heard that smarmy “Hi There” uttered in his cultivated, seductive drawl as he introduced the show. Familiarity does breed contempt.
But to come back to the issue of recovery, The Star story appeared the same day some balmy woman announced she was going to marry Charles Manson. Ghomeshi belongs to a long string of sexual predators in the public eye who manage to find some following that overlooks their ugly past. Let’s start with Roman Polanski, whose partner Sharon Tate was murdered by Manson. Polanski was charged with rape of a 13 year old but still finds an audience for his films. The list of celebrities who have stepped over the lines of propriety if not the law is a long one. And for many of them scandal is just a bump in the road. There are always fans who find notoriety “fascinating.”
This is true even in the non-celebrity world. Toronto elected a mayor who had been charged with wife abuse. And even after endless incidents of drug and alcohol abuse as well as cringing public spectacle, his family franchise still found support among 30 per cent of the voters. Trust me. There are people out there who will overlook anything.