The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Free Press and CBC play name games

Say it ain't so. We refuse to believe that the Winnipeg Free Press has a double standard when it comes to naming names.

Despite the evidence.

Anyone who read deep enough in Friday's paper saw that Maple Leaf Distillers is suing reporters and editors at the Free Press. But who is being sued?

The newspaper won't say.

That's right, the paper that professes to be so dedicated to naming names refuses to name its own.

It doesn't take a mentallist to figure out who is being sued by Maple Leaf.

Dan Lett, who wrote the six-page opus about Maple Leaf, editor Bob Cox, city editor Steve Pona... shall we go on?

But the paper isn't always so reticent to identify people.

For example, the FP has gone to court to overturn a ban on publication of the names of eight police officers accused of beating three men.

The men -- let's name them: Marc Fillion, Larry Stringer, and Alex Chung - filed a LERA complaint which was being heard in court until the judge decided they needed the services of a real lawyer to help them with their case.

So obviously naming police officers is a public good, but naming reporters who are accused of defaming a company is a public bad.

The Free Press is joined by the CBC its it fight to wrest the names of the police from the hands of the courts. Of course the CBC has already sidestepped the ban by naming the police officers under the guise of reporting on---hold onto your hats--- a lawsuit filed by one of the trio. You see, information in lawsuits is public and not restricted by the law.

But the public broadcaster may have been too clever by half, because they stopped using the names after a couple of newscasts.

Maybe they got some legal advice from an unexpected source, someone close to CBC host Krista Erickson, someone like her boyfriend, Manitoba's senior Crown Attorney, Bob Morrison.

It should make for some interesting dinner table talk when Krista reports on the CBC in court arguing for the names of the police, and the Crown, maybe even Morrison himself, rising to oppose the motion.

To make it more interesting, they could turn dinner into a threesome with CBC reporter Marisa Dragani, whose Blind Eye -Team reports on the LERA hearing are always suitably dramatic. We note, however, that as she emotes about the (cue cliche) "brutal beating" administered by the police (allegedly, of course), she always fails to mention that the three were allegedly babysitting a marijuana grow operation when police showed up.

She always points out that her boys were never charged with anything after the (cue cliche) "brutal beating." And that always leaves us wondering who the grow op belonged to, and what relationship the trio had with that person, or persons.

But that's information we don't expect to hear on CBC or read in the Free Press. These news agencies have applied the all-important "victim" test and found the men worthy. That means nothing can be reported which reduces their new exalted status. Not even any questions about what Child and Family Services thinks about child care worker Larry Stringer sitting around puffing weed with his buddies in a grow op? Imagine what the CBC and Free Press would do if Stringer had been a police officer and was found hanging out at the place.

Fillion, Stringer and Chung were presenting their own case against the police and doing a wretched job by all accounts. The Free Press said the men were acting as their own lawyers because they were refused Legal Aid.

Oops. That never happened. It seems they never even applied for Legal Aid. But it's something that could have happened because, they're victims, you know.

Rather than dwell on its mistake, the Free Press is leading a campaign for public funding for everyone who complains about a police officer (CBC joined in with interviews with outraged defence attorneys). Can tens of thousands in "compensation" be far behind?

If they do the job right, Justice Minister Huff 'N Puff Gord Mackintosh could find himself spending more money on people with beefs against the police than on his announced plan for beefing up police in their fight against gangs and drug traffickers.

That's New Democonomics in action.

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