‘Not My Choice.’ A TV Anchor Is Ousted, and Viewers Ask: Was Sexism to Blame?
From a makeshift studio and with a news anchor’s measured tones, one of Canada’s most familiar faces shocked viewers, created a PR disaster at a national broadcaster and set off intense conversations about how employers treat women as they age.
She did it with a polite, unexpected farewell.
“I guess this is my sign-off from CTV,” the news anchor, Lisa LaFlamme said in a video that announced the abrupt end of her 35-year career at the network.
She made it clear that the decision was made by Bell Media, the company that owns CTV, and not by her. The company made “a ‘business decision’ to end my contract,” she said, adding that she was “blindsided” by the call.
Ms. LaFlamme said it was “crushing to be leaving CTV National News in a manner that is not my choice.”
The video also generated a steady drumbeat of outrage over how Bell Media treated Ms. LaFlamme, a veteran journalist whose résumé includes war zone reporting, the latest national news anchor award and over a decade as chief anchor of Canada’s most-watched nightly news show.
Neither Ms. LaFlamme nor Bell Media has described the specific reasons for her dismissal. But viewers, fellow journalists, former government officials and celebrities were quick to draw their own conclusions, accusing Bell Media of “shameful” and “shoddy” conduct, with some speculating that factors like sexism were at work.
After a Globe and Mail report, citing an anonymous CTV official, said that an executive had questioned Ms. LaFlamme’s decision to stop dyeing her hair and let it go gray, Canadian branches of companies like Wendy’s and Dove, in a gesture toward the anchor, turned their branding gray.
On Friday night, Mirko Bibic, the chief executive of Bell Media, pushed back against the accusations but said he would not disclose details of the case because of an agreement with Ms. LaFlamme.