It's a measure of how consummate a broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi is that so many people are giving him the benefit of the doubt following his dismissal from CBC - even in the wake of detailed allegations very much in line with his own admission about less-than-conventional sexual proclivities.
The biggest compliment a listener can pay to a radio personality is "I feel like I know you." In seven years as host of Q on CBC Radio, Ghomeshi became a friend to legions of loyal listeners in Canada and the U.S. His laid back style rubs some people the wrong way, but that probably says more about them than it does about him. If my one personal encounter with Ghomeshi was any indication, the friendly, engaging guy on the radio is the real deal and not an act. Anyway, the speakers don't lie - at least not for seven years. Factor in Ghomeshi's obvious intelligence and strong work ethic, and his professional success is understandable and well-earned.
But there are skeletons in everyone's closet, and Ghomeshi's came clattering out the cupboard yesterday on his own Facebook page as damage control for what was already known about his dismissal and what was to follow when the Toronto Star exposed an alleged pattern of behavior tantamount to sexual assault and misogyny. Meantime, what were once only internal industry rumblings about callous womanizing also went mainstream, mainly in the form of a much re-posted blog written last year that didn't mention Ghomeshi by name but is widely perceived to be about him.
Under those circumstances, Ghomeshi is receiving a remarkable level of support and goodwill on social media, which goes back to his gifts as a broadcaster. He has touched people intimately (no pun intended) and became part of their their daily lives despite never having met them. They feel emotionally invested in his trauma and want the best for him.
Out of sight is out of mind, however, and the sympathy and public clamoring for Ghomeshi's reinstatement by CBC will fade in his absence from the airwaves. Whether he's given another opportunity at something he does better than most in an industry where everyone knows everyone else will be a test of who his real friends are.