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 since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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:

Friday, July 28, 2006

The latest dispatch from the War

At great personal risk, dodging snipers and volleys of brickbats, The Black Rod brings you the latest dispatch from the front lines of the Parliamentary Press Gallery's 'War on Harper.'

On Wednesday, national radio host Charles Adler interviewed Globe and Mail reporter Alex Dobrota, who was wounded by Harper's refusal to answer questions following a news conference the previous day.

Dobrota told a harrowing story of how he refused to surrender to the Prime Minister's insane demand that reporters sign their names to a list---a list, damn it---of those who wanted to ask questions at the press conference called to tell how the government planned to evacuate Canadians from Lebanon.

Lesser men would have cracked under the pressure. Not Alex Dobrota. Medals must be struck for bravery such as his. Children will sing his praises in classrooms of the future.

The Globe and Mail must be so proud that their reporter refuses to do his job. He would not, he told Charles Adler, ask questions of the Prime Minister---even though he wanted to.

But the public must be denied information. It's for their own good. The Press Gallery will not surrender.

Adler tried to achieve what Condoleeza Rice failed to get in Lebanon, a ceasefire. But he, too, had to concede defeat. The Press Gallery believes it is winning the Harper War.

The PM is hurting, said Dobrota, because the Press is forced to report what he says verbatim and he is not able to clarify his statements. Ha ha ha. Take that Harper.

Here, then, is a transcript of that interview on CJOB. Keep the Kleenex handy. It's raw and uncensored, just the way the brave men and women of the Parliamentary Press Gallery would want it.

(We pick it up in progress.)

Adler: Now, some people say that it, it'd be okay if they could pay the money back. I don't know if there's much of a history of, uh, Canada charging refugees, uhh, for evacuations. Uh, but is there any feeling at all, um, as far as you know, as far as the news conferences that you've been going to, the journalism you've been doing, is there any feeling at all on the part of any government officials to charge people for the evacuations, to help defray the cost of it ?

Dobrota: Well, so far, I mean it's hard to answer that question. Um. Obviously the journalists were there yesterday. We would have liked to ask Mr. Harper a follow up question. Uh. But as you know, uhh, many of us refuse to put our name, uh, names on a list and so therefore, you know, he would not, uh, we tried to, to ask him, to put that point to him but, you know, he, you know, we tried to ask him questions after the question period but he wouldn't let us. So obviously that's something that we would like to, to clarify, as well.

Adler: This has to do with the ongoing conflict between the journalists and the government. Uh, do you think. and I guess I'm putting you on the spot here, but, do you think that, uh, I realize there's a conflict between the national press media and, and the government, uh, because the government wants to do things a little differently than the previous government did, and find out who wants to ask questions first and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I don't want to get into a lot of inside baseball, but...

Dobrota: Right

Adler: you think at a time like this it might be a good time to have a ceasefire between the people in the national press gallery and the Government. I mean you can, you can have your point. It can be as principled as you want it to be. But can't you go back to that after this conflict is over?

Dobrota: Well, you know, I wouldn't venture to, to speak for my colleagues, um, but I think what's interesting to, to know here is that as much as, as his policy can, can hinder, um, our job, or my job, where I couldn't, you know, I would have liked to ask him a follow-up question on his comments, if they, I didn't have a chance to do that. I think that as much as it can, you know, it can hurt me, I think it can hurt, you know, in a way, him as well, because he doesn't have a chance to clarify. And so, you know, he gives us a quote and we run with it and then, you know, we do a story on it. and you know, I just think that, you know, I think it's damaging to him as well.

Adler: I just, I just, I, I, I guess what i'm trying to say is that these events are larger than either of you, and would be in the interest of the public, or, wouldn't you agree that it would be in the interst of the public to drop the Press-Government conflict for now?

Dobrota: Well, as I said, I wouldn't, I wouldn't, you know, I could hardly answer that. I wouldn't want to speak for, for all my colleagues. I think it's a larger issue than myself included.

Adler: No, I understand that. I'm just asking you as, as a journalist if it goes through your mind, I think it might have gone through your mind yesterday, but if you don't want to answer that, that's fine. It's incumbent upon me to ask the question.

Dobrota: Right.

Adler: Next, how much money are we spending in evacuation?

If you can read these stirring words by a brave man fresh from the battlefield without weeping, you must be made of stone.

We (sniff) cannot. Excuse us.....


Dobrota is also a photographer. See his pretty pictures at

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