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:

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Cox blog avoids Axworthy debacle, transcript presumed lost


It seems that baby bloggers have been titillating themselves by sharing ---if you can believe it --- fantasies about The Black Rod.


Guess we should feel flattered.

* Equally amusing are the antics of Winnipeg Free Press reporter Mia Rabson and Opposition leader Hugh McFadyen.

McFadyen held a news conference Wednesday on hallway medicine and Rabson wrote a story about it. It seems that information uncovered by a Freedom of Information request contradicts (big time) Premier Gary Doer's contention that hallway medicine is a thing of the past thanks to the NDP.

Strangely, Rabson's story fails to mention that the information supporting her story and McFadyen's news conference came from Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck (who wrote about the real hallway medicine numbers in his column on Tuesday.)

Now, given the Paul Samyn/Lloyd Axworthy fiasco
( ) we all know we can't trust any quote in the Free Press, even when it allegedly comes from a tape-recorded interview.

So we can't really say if Rabson simply wrote Brodbeck out of the picture, or whether McFadyen claimed his information came from a FIPPA filed by his crack hallway medicine task force, Winken, Blinden and Nod.

What's most important, though, is that Rabson wrote the story at all.

Brodbeck has been hounding the NDP on hallway medicine for years ever since discovering the government manipulates the truth to hide the real number of patients in hallways by claiming they are offset by empty beds somewhere else in the hospital. Until now, the Free Press has been either ignoring the story or offering defences of the government practice.

But Rabson's story is bad news for Gary Doer. It means that the Free Press smells blood. And with a provincial election less than a year off, the last thing the NDP wants is a press feeding frenzy.

The FP may even go on to examine other government fiascoes, like the nursing shortage. It was 500 when the Tories were last in government. It became 1500 under the NDP, which now wants credit for training more nurses and cutting the shortage to 1000, only double what it was in Tory days.

* And while we're giving credit where its due, we have to say how much we respect Steven Fletcher's honesty. Did you see his letter to the editor in the FP on Friday? In it he confessed that he didn't climb a mountain in Yoho National Park all the way to the top as reported in a Free Press story Aug. 8.

"my friend, Mayor Sullivan (Sam Sullivan of Vancouver) is the only one who can lay legitimate claim to being the first quadriplegic to reach the Burgess Shale.", said Fletcher.

When you're looking for an honest politician, look no further than the MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia.

* Still with the Free Press, we had to laugh at Friday's editorial "Independent Eyes.""Neither the family of Matthew Dumas nor the general public has yet been given a good account of what happened on Jan. 31, 2005 when the young man was shot and killed by a Winnipeg police officer."

What a fascinating indictment of the newspaper's own reporters and editors.

The best account of "what happened on Jan. 31, 2005" is still in The Black Rod ( "Daddy, They're Beating Him Up" ) where it was first reported more than one year ago.The Free Press has known about our story from day one.

It also knows that the story has been confirmed by reporters at the CBC and its own sister publication, the North End Times, but that these so-called journalists decided for personal reasons to suppress the story and keep it away from the very "general public" the FP editorial board is so concerned about.

If the mainstream media in the city had done its job properly, there would be less mystery about what happened the day Matthew Dumas was shot and killed.

* Free Press Editor Bob Cox is back to pretending to be a blogger. He tries to get readers by promising the inside story of how stories get into the newspaper. So what did he have to say about the infamous Paul Samyn/Lloyd Axworthy mystery misquote story?

Absolutely nothing.

Nobody at the FP is allowed to discuss this story. So Bob Cox will go on pretending it never happened even as he "shares" with readers. Because the Free Press blogs are owned and operated by the Free Press. Their tame pet bloggers will write what the FP wants them to write and nothing more. It's the exact opposite of what true bloggers do.

We have broken the monopoly of the mainstream press on defining and reporting "news." The FP may pretend that its Samyn/Axworthy debacle is not news, but it can't suppress the story any more, try as their faux blogs will.

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