The appearance of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney before the Parliamentary Ethics Committee on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007 will be seen as another milestone in the march of citizen journalists who are inexorably undermining the practices of old-style reporting in the 21st Century.
Newshounds across the country saw, right before their eyes, how the mainstream media consciously ignored the most serious breach of ethics exposed by the committee hearing.
The breach of ethics had little to do with Brian Mulroney and everything to do with the taxpayer-funded CBC which was caught red-handed colluding with their former masters, the Liberal Party of Canada, to smear the current government.
And how the poisonous alliance came to be revealed to the public is a fascinating story of its own.
After Mulroney's session with the ethics committee, CTV's Mike Duffy was doing his post-mortem when he threw TVA reporter Jean LaPierre a soft-ball question about why the Liberals went after Mulroney over the auction of cell phone wavelengths.
Instead of the expected eye-glazing answer, LaPierre, who was formerly a minister in Paul Martin's cabinet, dropped a bombshell.
Lapierre said he knew on Wednesday night what questions the Liberals were going to ask, that the CBC had provided the questions to the Liberals and that his source was "an influential Member of Parliament."
Well, Mike, I will surprise you, but last night I knew all about those questions. They were written by the CBC and provided to the Liberal Members of Parliament and the questions that [Liberal MP and committee questioner] Pablo Rodriguez asked were written by the CBC and I can't believe that but last night, a very influential Member of Parliament came to me and told me those are the questions the CBC wants us to ask tomorrow.
Duffy almost passed out. Instead of asking for more details, he said the allegation was "libellous or defamatory" and he tried to get back to the sleep-inducing issue of spectrum auction.
It took two more twists before Duffy would even acknowledge it as a legitimate story.The Conservatives issued a news release demanding answers from the CBC over LaPierre's story, and LaPierre updated it, with a report that a Liberal Party researcher contacted him to say the CBC did call the Liberals but that the Liberals wrote the questions themselves.
The story hit the blogosphere like an Alberta Clipper. The mainstream media? Not so much.
'In fact, aside from a panel discussion on Duffy's afternoon TV show on Thursday, there hasn't been a word about Questiongate in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, CBC National News, CTV news, Global, or the local newspapers. A Google News search fails to turn up a single newspaper story about the CBC/Liberal alliance.
And yet this story is huge by any journalistic measure.
The CBC has allegedly breached every ethical principle by secretly conspiring with one political party against another, all the while pretending to be above politics.
The spectrum auction question was designed to link the Conservative government to Brian Mulroney, who is a senior officer of Quebecor World. The Liberals were alleging Mulroney used his political connections to get Quebecor a hearing with the minister in charge of the auction, and thereby was acting as an unregistered lobbyist.
LaPierre was a member of the Liberal Party caucus until recently. He is an excellent source for the machinations within the Liberal Party. And it appears he reported on his own party's transgressions because his own personal code of ethics was offended.
From the Transcript:
Jean Lapierre: ... but a Member of Parliament last night came to me and told me about those questions-I want you to know because I did not really appreciate that because you know I've been serving in this Parliament for what- 16 years-and never a network posed a question for me.
Duffy: Well, let's just say that's hearsay that's going around ...
Lapierre: Yes but I heard it. Here in this building.
Duffy: Yes I know you heard it but when the lawsuit arrives...
Readers of The Black Rod will not be surprised by LaPierre's bombshell. Way back in February The Black Rod revealed how the Parliamentary Press Gallery openly bragged about their anybody-but-Harper dalliance with the Opposition.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Revealed: the Parliamentary Press Gallery's Anybody-but-Harper Entente Cordial
The MSM are quick to bray about being professionals who don't pollute their reporting with their personal biases, unlike the pyjama-clad bloggers in their mothers' basements. They are the first to demand that politicians (those that they disapprove of, at least) be held accountable for conflicts of interest or a breaches of ethics.
But when one of their own is accused of the same offences, they lower the Cone of Silence.
Omerta: the Code of the Mainstream Media.
But the day of the gatekeepers is long past. The blogosphere will keep the pressure on the CBC until it answers to the charge of collusion. There's no way that the CBC can be allowed to cover any future federal election until this matter is thoroughly investigated and dealt with.
In the Rathergate debacle, CBS fired producer Mary Mapes because she arranged a phone call between an official of the Democratic Party and a source of hers who promised to provide her with (forged) documents she could use to attack President George Bush during the 2004 presidential election.
She crossed the line, CBS said.
By actively collaborating with the Liberal Party on writing questions to ask Brian Mulroney, the CBC erased the line.