Don Cherry may be a household name in Canada, but he's not above his employer's reprobation. During his Coach's Corner segment on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada on March 22, the usually jingoistic Cherry blasted his country's decision not to participate in the war in Iraq. Wearing a red-white-and-blue tie, Cherry said, "When the chips were down, we turned our back on [the U.S.]." Within days the CBC received more than 1,500 calls and e-mails, most criticizing Cherry.
As the flap was subsiding, Cherry went on Jim Rome's syndicated radio show on March 31 and called Canada's stance "an embarrassment" and war protesters "kooks."
Those views were disavowed by the government-owned CBC, and the network took the video link to the March 22 show off its website. "This is not a freedom-of-speech issue," CBC's Ruth-Ellen Soles told SI. "Coach's Comer is for hockey discussions, not political or war discussions." (Cherry told SI, "I better lay off this for a while.")
Yet Cherry's record of sounding off at will is the main reason CBC pays him a reported $472,000 a year for a weekly seven-minute gig. During the Gulf War he unfurled a Canadian flag on the air and blasted the "wimps and creeps" who opposed Canada's participation. The CBC said nothing then; why is it muzzling him now?
It was easy to miss in the 7� hours of Final Four coverage, but CBS deserves credit for its moving piece on Bob Ames. A member of La Salle's 1954 NCAA title team, Ames became the CIA's top Middle East analyst and died in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut. The producers wisely decided to use Ames's widow, Yvonne, as the poignant piece's lone narrator.