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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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

Monday, May 22, 2006

Global TV enlists dead soldier in its War on Harper

Sometimes bad reporting is so bad it crosses a line and becomes despicable.

That's the only way to describe Global Television's coverage of the return of soldier Nichola Goddard's body to Canada.

There wasn't even a pretence of being fair or unbiased because how can you be unbiased when the story is all about you.


Reporter Mike Drolet decided that the most important part of the story of Goddard's return to Canadian soil was the Mainstream Media's whine about not being allowed to stick cameras in the face of her grieving parents.

So that's all he talked about. Me me me me. The MSM Story.


Here's the Global National intro, as read by anchor Tara Nelson.

Under the cover of darkness, a Canadian Forces plane landed at CFB Trenton, Ontario, last night.
Capt. Nicola Goddard's body was repatriated to Canada as her family looked on.
Once again, however, the media was locked off.
Her family is adamant that will not be the case at her funeral later this week.

No subtlety there. Under cover of darkness...see. The evil government doesn't want you to see this.

The brave media is LOCKED OUT...Oh no. Who will save us from the evil Conservatives?

The family of Nicola, of course. It's ADAMANT that Stephen Harper will not prevail.

What a story.
What drama.
What emotion.
What lies.


A google search took 0.03 seconds to provide the information that the plane with Goddard's body was supposed to arrive at 4 p.m. EDT but was delayed for eight hours because of a fuel leak. There was no conspiracy to wait for darkness before landing.

That was a conspiracy only in the minds of Global TV's editors, anchors and reporters, each of whom could have discovered the truth with next to no effort.


But that would have spoiled the focus of the story.
Everyone knows a good story has to have conflict.
And the conflict is the good media versus the evil Stephen Harper.

Mike Drolet:
When CNG's body left Afghanistan, the emotional ceremony was captured by the media.
But as soon as the plane carrying her casket landed in Canada, the rules changed.
An honour guard escorted the casket to a waiting hearse before her family slowly walked over.
This is all we were able to see--- and is the way Stephen Harper wants it.

The media is being banned from filming the repatriation of bodies and it has become a sore point for the families of some soldiers who have died overseas.

Drolet illustrated the story with video of Nicola Goddard's body being removed from the airplane that brought her back to Canada.

Some ban. Maybe he meant the fact he had to borrow the video from CBC because Global missed it.


His next step was to use the families of dead soldiers to condemn Stephen Harper. Except they didn't want to play his game.

Goddard's family? They said they "were not overly concerned with the tarmac issue." The funeral on Friday will be public, they said.

Drolet was sure he could count on Lincoln Dinning, father of fallen soldier Cpl.Matthew Dinning, to be suitably outraged at the tarmac "censorship".

But Dinning told Global "he's not going to pursue" it. Undeterred, Drolet reported what he claimed to be Dinning's position (he had no video and no audio of an interview). Global's reporter said Dinning told him "there was no point in getting in a fight with the Prime Minister he can't possibly win."


There. Got the P.M. in even if he had to do it himself.But the criticism was pretty lame.

If you want better, you can always count on the Liberals. And guess what. Defence Critic Usal Dosanjh, who voted to support Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan before voting against it, was up to the job.

The evil Conservatives are just like that evil George Bush. They should let people see caskets with dead soldiers in them. That's the Canadian way, said Dosanjh.

Drolet knew that to be "fair" he should have something from the Conservatives.
"Harper has said his policy is in place to guard the privacy of families, even though some say they want support rather than silence."

A statement from Stephen Harper, immediately undercut by an editorial comment.

That's the Global News way. Untrue, unfair and unbalanced.

The MSM in general is having a tough time reporting on Afghanistan.
On the one hand you have to support the troops, which is always easier when you have a Canadian soldier killed in battle. On the other hand, you have to do your best to question the mission, which the soldiers are staunchly behind.

In times like these, its best that nobody in a newsroom knows how to count.
Because it fhey did, they would be forced to report how well the peacemaking has gone this past week.

Let's take as a starting point, an alarmist story in the New York Times that two and half weeks ago.

Taliban power creeps back in Afghan south
By Carlotta Gall The New York Times
FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2006

TIRIN KOT, Afghanistan Building on a winter campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations and the knowledge that U.S. troops are leaving southern Afghanistan, the Taliban appear to be moving their insurgency into a new phase, flooding the rural areas of the south with weapons and men.

The alarming part concerned Kandahar province, where Canada's fighting forces are stationed.

In one of the most serious developments, about 200 Taliban have moved into the district of Panjwai, only a 20- minute drive from the capital of the south, Kandahar, Karzai's home city.

The police and coalition forces clashed with them two weeks ago, yet the Taliban returned, walking in the villages openly with their weapons and sitting under the trees and eating mulberries, according to a resident of Panjwai district.

The resident, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said the Taliban were demanding food and lodging and Muslim tithing from villagers. Their brazenness and the failure of the U.S.-led coalition to deter them is turning public opinion.


One week ago, military sources reported a clash between Afghan army forces and Taliban fighters.

The fighting battle was in Panjwai district (sound familiar?). Afghan police had gone in search of Taliban forces after receiving reports they were hiding in the area, just like the NYT story said.

"Unfortunately, we lost five of our men but we destroyed a dangerous group of Taliban. It's a big victory for our police," Mohammad Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, told the Reuters news agency.

It was bigger than anyone in Canada knew.

11 Taliban rebels were killed in the hour-long firefight, including three "commanders". Mullah Abdul Baqi was a provincial level commander, as in he commanded forces for the whole province of Kandahar.

Nobody's said so yet, but a Mullah Abdul Baqi was the Vice-Minister of Information and Culture for the Taliban regime before they were overthrown in 2001. Could it be him?


Mullah Abdul Manan was a district level commander, as in Panjwai district. A government spokesman said Mullah Manan led a Taliban suicide squad. The Ministry of Interior later identified a third commander, Fida Mohammad, among the dead. Two more commanders, named only as Sharifuddin and Ibrhaim, were captured.

So. Sunday. 11 dead. Three top commanders killed. Two captured. Total: 13 Taliban either pushing up poppies or in custody.

The next day, two Canadian soldiers were shaken up when their vehicle was hit by a boobytrapped bomb.

On Wednesday, Afghan soldiers and Canadian troops were scouring Panjwai villages in a search for Taliban.

Local residents had called Afghan security forces after 15 Taliban fighters were spotted hiding in a mosque. They found each other, and in a series of fights between that started before dawn and lasted well into the night, the Taliban were bloodied again.


Nichola Goddard was killed in one of the battles.

Friday's Globe and Mail and the National Post have good accounts of the that clash. By day's end, 18 Taliban were dead and 35 captured. Among the prisoners was a one-legged man in a coma. Early reports said he bore a close resemblance to Mullah Dadullah (we're not making this up), a very senior Taliban commander. But that's not been confirmed, and, indeed, someone claiming to be Mullah Dadullah phoned wire services in Pakistan and denied he was in custody.

Seven more Taliban were killed in fighting in the Panjwai village of Azizi and an estimated 15-20 died when a B-1 bomber unleashed a 500-pound bomb on a compound from which rebels were firing.

The B-1's JDAM (joint direct attack munition) is a big sucker, which destroys everything in an area the size of a football field. No wonder they can't exactly determine how many gunmen were in the compound. They have to rely on estimates from people who lived in Azizi.

Tally for Wednesday: 18 Taliban killed, 35 captured plus 7 killed and 15-20 blown up real good. Total: 75-80 Taliban out of commission, including one top level commander.

But do the math. That's 88 Taliban killed or captured in one week. If there were originally 200, that means 44 percent are out of the picture. And that was before the latest Coalition attack.

On Sunday, an air strike on Azizi killed another 50 or so Taliban insurgents. A villager told reporters at a local hospital that they had been hiding in an Islamic religious school in the village, recovering from the fighting of the previous week.

"Helicopters bombed the madrassa and some of the Taliban ran from there and into people's homes. Then those homes were bombed," said Haji Ikhlaf, 40. "I saw 35 to 40 dead Taliban..."

Add 35-50 to 88 and you have 123 to 138 Taliban dead or captive in eight days. That means almost two-thirds of the alarming 200 Taliban in Panjwai district are not a threat any more. The rest, the one's not wounded, are running for their lives.

In our book, that's good news, indeed.

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