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, December 21, 2007

Bloggers Out Krista Erickson as CBC-Liberal collusion suspect

The Blogosphere is abuzz with the name of the prime suspect in the CBC/Liberals collusion scandal---- none other than Krista Erickson, Winnipeg's very own Golden Girl.

The CBC is, officially, still investigating which of their Parliamentary reporters worked with the Liberal Party members of the Parliamentary Ethics Committee by providing them with questions to ask former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, questions designed to embarrass the current Conservative government. But, daily leaks from within the CBC indicate that they honed in on one suspect almost from the moment the CBC collusion was revealed last week.

And Krista Erickson is prominent in those leaks.

Sometimes it's by name:

Wudrick Blog
Monday, December 17, 2007
CBCGate: Name That Journo

Ottawa Watch said...
It's Krista Erikson. The questions regarded lobbying for wireless spectrum.
6:46 PM

Sometimes by description:

The Tea Makers (a blog by a self-described CBC manager)
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Caution: Falling Ice and/or Snow
You may not be aware of it, but Canadian Conservative-leaning blogs are aflame with outrage over the fact that an unnamed CBC parliamentary reporter suggested questions to MP Pablo Rodriguez for Brian Mulroney. So instead of asking something about Airbus, he asked something about cell phones.

Anonymous said...
Ouimet and everyone else who works in the Mother Ship on Front Street has zero interest in this story. But it illustrates the divide between the CBC. Employees working outside Toronto often harbour an us vs. them view of the people in the Death Star. In Ottawa circles CBC still has a certain importance. And our reputation is paramount. Unlike Toronto, where you tell people you work for mother and they yawn and start listing all their friends who work at Much, City, TSN and Entertainment Tonight Canada. CBC Toronto types don't seem to care what happens outside the purple, green and blue elevators. P.S. If it turns out to be a certain bossomy young reporter who gave the Liberals a question, there will be a mutiny in Ottawa with universal demands for her beautiful and well coifed head. We may have to hit up Tyra Banks to find Canada's next top Parliamentary reporter. 'Girlfriend, you really pull off that Parliament thang.'
10:56 AM, December 19, 2007

Sometimes by reputation:

Small Dead Animals

I suspect Rodriguez will get a rough ride in the house for awhile any time he asks a question. And quite frankly the reporter at the CBC should essentially be frozen out, which means not recognizing her. Combined with her behaviour during the Hurricane she clearly has a tendency to sensationalize and make up stories while demanding perks and props.

Posted by: Stephen at December 20, 2007 10:17 AM

("during the Hurricane" refers to The Black Rod story about her vacation in Mexico: )

Did, as we postulated last week in The Black Rod, Krista's zeal get the better of her? We've since learned that two weeks before the ethics committee hearings, CBC National ran a piece by her regarding the very allegations made by the Liberals in the televised proceedings.

The CBC hasn't addressed the allegations against her, leaving her to twist in the wind.

The CBC is praying the scandal dies over the Christmas/New Year's period. They have already announced they will not release anyone's name because they're treating the exposure of their cosy relationship with the Liberals as "a personnel matter."

It's not. It's a scandal of Rathergate proportions.

Catching the publicly funded CBC collaborating with the Opposition Party to undermine the elected government of the country is NOT just another story.

But as you can see from the mocking attitude of the CBC manager's blog, that's not the view from inside the CBC. The culture of using public airwaves to attack the Conservatives is so ingrained that its become second nature to CBC employees. When they did it during the election and got caught, the management said each time, oops, it was a mistake, it was an individual's error and not deliberate. That excuse got stale after the first half dozen or so times.

At least one CBC defender understands the stakes, making this prescient comment on The Tea Makers:

Anonymous said...
I'm not really sure why anyone thinks this is funny. One silly girl with stars in her eyes has done more damage to the reputation of CBC's news service (tv, radio and on-line) than all the good reporters have done to elevate it. What's most concerning is that this has become a political football that most people just don't "get". Any political party worth their salt would run with this for their own agenda....and that's precisely what's happening. The fallout from this has not even begun and for the first time in recent history the CBC actually deserves the spanking it is getting. So, if you actually care about the CBC (and yes, I know it's hard to some days) and it's reputation in the news game, wake up, quit yawning and be outraged that one of your own has put a scarlet letter "U" for unethical on everyone.
8:44 PM, December 20, 2007

CTV's Mike Duffy was interviewed this week on CHUM radio station CFRA by Michael Harris, a sometimes guest on Duffy Live. Harris raised the CBC/Liberal collusion story which first broke on Duffy's show. Duffy drops some bombshells of his own (emphasis ours):


I happened to see the piece where you broke the story basically that the Corporation may have been feeding questions to the Liberals. The CBC in an uneasy relationship with government, especially this government and now the CBC itself will not give the name of the person--the journalist, that is--was mentioned obliquely. What do you make of the position the Corporation has taken in this that they are entitled to keep that secret and internal.


Well, It certainly says something about their on-air credibility, right? Don't you think that the people watching the news would like to know who's the one who works hand-in-glove with the Liberals or any other political party. I mean it's really astonishing to me that they're not more forthright.

The other thing is that Jean Polder (ph) the official spokesman for CBC, who used to with us out at CJOH in the old days, basically said that they were investigating whether a reporter had gone too far in the legitimate pursuit of a story. He didn't say "No, this is not true. It never happened." He said we're investigating a reporter went too far. So they're, in effect, conceding that it occurred and they're saying did, and it's a female, did she cross the line? So, uh, we'll see where that all ends up. But I think it puts the CBC in a difficult position not to say who the person is because then it puts all of their people under a cloud and Canadians have a right to expect more from their national broadcaster. And some of us who worked there--both you and me--know that in the past that kind of thing wasn't tolerated but times have changed dramatically at the Corp, and I think this goes to the heart of credibility.


Also I think this is a big test for the new the new head of hte CBC fresh from the Chicago Sun-Times. John's got a problem on his hands that's really gonna test him. John Cruikshank.


You worked with John Cruikshank at the Globe. I don't really know him, I know who he is. I'm not really certain that anybody who hasn't been part of that inside circle at the CBC has any appreciation of just how political and how difficult a place it is to manage. I mean there are factions within factions, uh, Politically correct is, uh, is the understatement of the.. The people who are in positions of power share a completely different value set than most of the rest of us in journalism."

Duffy also addressed why the scandal is not being covered in the print media. He said the CBC is the biggest employer of freelancers from the newspapers and a CBC cheque makes the difference to many print journalists (we think he means in Ottawa and the Centre of the Universe) between a good life and a very good life.

CBC Ombudsman Vince Carlin has the knotty problem of how to spin this scandal to the public. His immediate response to complainants about the CBC collusion is an e-mail saying the complaint has been sent upstairs to Cruickshank, who holds the newly created position of Publisher, English News.

Cruickshank comes to the CBC from a stint as publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and chief operating officer of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Group. He knows the precedent set in the U.S. when CBS was caught using forged documents to attack George Bush during the 2004 presidential election campaign.

Knowing their credibility risked being destroyed forever, CBS set up an investigative panel of distinguished outsiders to examine how the story ever got to air in the first place. When the panel came out with its report, the network fired producer Mary Mapes and asked for the resignations of senior CBS vice-president Betsy West, "60 Minutes Wednesday" executive producer Josh Howard, and his top deputy Mary Murphy. Host Dan Rather was allowed to run out his contract counting paperclips.

CBS news and current affairs will carry the taint of Rathergate forever, but at least the house-cleaning cleared the individual reputations of the reporters and producers who remained.

Cruickshank has to bring in someone with fresh eyes to do the same at the CBC. The public corporation needs a wholesale cleansing of the people who, in Mike Duffy's words, "share a completely different value set than most of the rest of us in journalism."

The CBC manager-blogger writes in The Tea Makers:

"Personally I just don't see what the big deal is. And it's boring. I nearly fell asleep writing that opening paragraph, and I might have got that last part wrong. That's how I "cover a story."

That's exactly the attitude the public expects and exactly why The CBC cannot investigate itself and hide its conclusions behind close doors. The CBC cannot go into another federal election with the stench of bias and collusion that currently covers all of its radio and television news staff.

Memo to John Cruickshank: This story isn't going away.
Post Script:

The CBC isn't alone in ignoring the Liberal collusion scandal. Canadian Press did one whole story, when CBC announced it was investigating itself. But CP has its own biases.

Compare how that story ran in the French and English versions.

The CP story on the CBC investigation of itself hit the wires Friday night in both English and French versions.

Le réseau CBC ouvre une enquête
La Presse Canadienne

Le réseau CBC a ouvert une enquête interne afin de déterminer si un de ses reporters parlementaires a soumis ses questions à un député libéral qui participait à l'audience sur l'affaire Mulroney-Schreiber.

CBC reviewing claim reporter fed questions to Liberal MP

OTTAWA - The CBC has begun an internal investigation and possible disciplinary action after one of its parliamentary reporters apparently suggested questions to a Liberal MP taking part in the high-profile Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry.

While the stories were identical for the most part, there was one paragraph where the English version was significantly different from the French. Here's a word-for-word comparison of that paragraph:

La nouvelle a fait des ravages vendredi dans la blogosphère, sur Internet, où l'incident a été considéré comme un exemple du parti pris de la CBC pour les libéraux.

The story raged across the conservative blogosphere all day Friday, where the incident was viewed as an example of Liberal bias by the CBC.

La nouvelle = The story
a fait des ravages = raged across
vendredi = Friday
dans la blogosphère = across the conservative blogosphere
sur Internet = (on the Internet)
où l'incident a été considéré = where the incident was viewed
comme un exemple = as an example
du parti pris de la CBC pour les libéraux. = of Liberal bias by the CBC.

Can you spot the difference?

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