‘Dragons’ Den’ star Kevin O’Leary accused of ‘encouraging terrorism’ on TV

Marc Weisblott
National Affairs Reporter
Daily Brew

Kevin O'Leary has become famous due to his role on "Dragons' Den."

But some viewers might have wondered why the terms used to describe the pitch of an invention to a panel of investors needs to be so menacing.

After all, those violent connotations were recently the subject of a review by the CBC ombudsman.

The language of business commentary, which O'Leary delivers daily on CBC News Network, was questioned in the most recent complaint over the venture capitalist.

"The incumbent CEO has not delivered anything for shareholders," O'Leary commented on the financial performance of General Electric during an April 21 broadcast. "And at some point, the institutional shareholders are going to put a bullet in his head."

Such a metaphor, asserted viewer Dick Harling, was "encouraging terrorism."

While the vocabulary would be uncommon for a traditional news program, executive producer Robert Lack defended the co-star of "The Lang & O'Leary Exchange," even if he contradicted CBC practices that demand an avoidance of violent wording "except where its omission would alter the nature and meaning of the information reported."

So, the complainant still wasn't satisfied.

CBC ombudsman Kirk LaPointe stepped in to determine whether or not O'Leary was out of line. Previously, he admonished the host for the use of the term "Indian giver."

When it came to statements like "greed is good" and "I love money" or calling unions a "parasite" on business, however, they were regarded in line with the arch role for which he was hired.

Similarly, the terms associated with the brutality of big business weren't inappropriate, according to LaPointe.

"Beyond the 'bullet in the head' to describe a leader who must be ousted," wrote the ombudsman, "there is the stock's 'dead cat bounce,' the takeover-resistant 'poison pill,' the board with its 'knives out' and the company 'bloodletting.' Similar imagery can be found in sports, politics and entertainment."

So, with a ruling that supports O'Leary's use of colourful language, another bullet has been dodged by the man who has become the CBC's most controversial hire since Don Cherry.

Besides, any further discouragement might have only encouraged him to relocate to the U.S.

A country where, of course, the "Dragons' Den" equivalent that O'Leary also appears on has a bloodier name: "Shark Tank."

(CBC Photo)