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.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

National Post misses mark in Erickson editorial

The National Post broke ranks with its mainstream media colleagues Thursday and published an editorial on the CBC investigation of collusion between a CBC reporter and the Liberal Party to damage the elected Conservative government.

The CBC has been counting on MSM solidarity to keep the story out of sight--off the pages of newspapers, off the nightly television newscasts, and definitely off the public's radar.

Their PR problem has just increased exponentially, even though, as you'll see, the National Post failed its responsibility to be as honest with its readers as possible.

The story of the collusion between the CBC and the Liberal Party of Canada is a watershed in journalism in the country.

Never before has the great divide between the Old Media and New Media been so stark.

From the very moment TVA reporter (and former Liberal Party cabinet minister) Jean Lapierre revealed on CTV's Mike Duffy Live that a CBC reporter collaborated with the Liberals to the point of writing questions for a member of the Commons ethics committee, the MSM showed its true colours.

Duffy, looking like he just swallowed poison, called the news libellous or slanderous (he couldn't decide which).

Did he ask the obvious question "Which reporter was it"?

We wish.

Instead he changed the subject and literally tried to push Lapierre away so he couldn't reveal more details. (Thank God for YouTube.) Only after a Liberal researcher confirmed the story did Duffy allow a panel to discuss the collusion.

Since then neither Duffy, Lapierre, nor any CTV reporter has done a follow-up story. Which comes as no surprise since no mainstream media reported the story initially, and the only follow was when CP did a story on the Conservative Party's official complaint to the CBC.

Only then did a few outlets like the National Post and The Toronto Star even mention it. After which the curtain of silence came down again.

Not one of the hundreds of reporters who cover Parliament Hill has done original interviews with Jean Lapierre, Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez (the benefactor of the CBC's question-writing), Don Newman, host of CBC Newsworld's daily politics show, or even Peter Mansbridge, the recipient of the reporter-in-question's up close-and-cozy attention in Winnipeg during the CBC lockout.

Maclean's columnist Paul Wells spoke for many CBC defenders when he dismissed the story by saying "reporters have been planting questions with MPs at committee hearings since the dawn of time."

Funny how he couldn't remember ever planting a question with the Opposition when the Liberals were in power, but, he claimed, "I'd have done it in a second" if he there had ever been a story that needed advancing.

Amazingly, there was never a single one.

The Blogosphere, on the other hand, approached the story reporters.

They started with the question "Who?"

Pretty soon their sources, including many from within the CBC, coughed up a name, Krista Erickson. Then they worked the official CBC spokesmen, News Publisher John Cruickshank and Ombudsman (English Services) Vince Carlin, for comment, publishing e-mail exchanges that advanced the story. And finally, in the public interest, they stimulated discussion about bias in the media, particularly the publicly funded CBC.

If you want the news, you read the Blogosphere. If you want the cover-up, you get it in the mainstream media.

The National Post may have published an editorial calling on the CBC to come clean about its investigation, but to what purpose?

"We want a name" was the headline on the editorial. Yet the Post knows who the reporter under investigation is. Why the pretence?

Why not treat the matter like a real news story, the way the Blogosphere did, and assign a reporter to interview the relevent people, not the least of whom would be Krista Erickson. Does she deny working with the Liberals on questions for the Commons ethics committee? Or will she say her actions are no different than those of her Parliamentary colleagues, Julie Van Dusen and Terry Milewski, whose previously reported actions to embarass Prime Minister Stephen Harper were condoned, and even applauded as gutsy journalism, by CBC brass?

The CBC won't even contemplate that there's an anti-Conservative culture within the corporation. Instead, they're selling the idea that any criticism of the objectivity of the CBC is a partisan attack.

Any discussion of bias in the media is not in the public interest, sniffs the CBC publisher.

It's time to ask which public the CBC references when it assigns its Parliamentary reporters.

The left-wing Toronto intelligentsia that makes up their social circle?
Or the taxpayers forced to pay for CBC reporters who work hand-in-hand with the Opposition to defeat the elected government?

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