Published May 13, 2020Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi is once again trying to reboot his career with a new podcast. After being found not guilty of multiple sexual assault charges in 2016, Ghomeshi has launched Roqe — a newly released podcast focusing on "the in-depth life stories, opinions, and identities of personalities in the Iranian diaspora."
As Canadaland reports, the podcast was quietly launched in mid-April and so far has posted eight episodes. To refresh your memory, following Ghomeshi's sexual assault controversy and legal battle, he put out the "The Ideation Project" in 2017 — a comeback attempt that faced a wave of criticism.
Roqe — a Farsi word that translates as "candid, or straightforward in conversation," as Ghomeshi explains in the first episode — is a much slicker affair, featuring "well-known" actors of Iranian descent. The podcast's logo also calls back to those of his previous series, Q and >play.
In attempts to learn more of the project and its financial backers, Canadaland conducted an interview with Mehrdad Ariannejad of Roqe Global Media, which was incorporated as a for-profit business by Ariannejad (also the CEO of the registered charity Tirgan) on February 4.
At one point, the Canadaland journalist Jonathan Goldsbie asks the following:
Given that Jian Ghomeshi was accused by over 20 women and men of sexual assault, misconduct, harassment, very serious accusations, do you feel he's an appropriate host for a show about exploring and celebrating the Persian diaspora?
First of all, he was acquitted. And secondly, I'm not judging anything. But anyone in his or her life should be given the chance to come back to society. All of us, we make mistakes.
Another section reads as follows:
Did you see this as a way to help give Jian Ghomeshi another chance?
Are you concerned about the people who say he hurt them?
Absolutely, I'm concerned. I'm concerned about any individual or any human being who is hurt in a relationship. But these things are not for me to judge. Because the personality I know, the Jian I know, is not a person who does these things. So that's why I never believed that many of those women who came forward and went to courts. I didn't believe them.
The interview also attempts to discover who exactly owns Roqe Media and if Ghomeshi may be one of those owners. However, Ariannejad only states, "This is co-owned between many people. Not just me."
In response to the Canadaland article, Iranian Canadian Congress president Soudeh Ghasemi stated the organization is "extremely disturbed by comments made by Mehrdad Ariannejad speaking about the accusations of sexual violence against Mr. Ghomeshi" in which Ariannejad said in the interview that he "never believed" many of the women and that "many successful people have their enemies and friends."
Ghasemi added, "These comments in our opinion are unacceptable and extremely disturbing," going on to state the organization "would like to clarify that Mr. Ariannejad currently has no executive role at the ICC and he does not represent the point of view of the ICC on this issue."
You can read the entire Canadaland piece here and check out the Roqe podcast here.