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 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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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pablogate's two dead myths: the roadkill of the CBC-Liberal Party collusion scandal

The House of Commons ethics committee reconvened Tuesday and the mainstream media acted as if it was business as usual.

In their eyes it's Sept. 10 again and all is well with the world.

But the CBC collusion scandal has left two corpses in its wake, and nothing will be the same again.

Fatality #1-- The myth that the CBC is unbiased, or in the words of the CBC Publisher, "detached from partisan interest", and "professional and dispassionate in all aspects" of its reporting.

The CBC confessed last month that one of its Parliamentary reporters, Krista Erickson, colluded with the Liberal Party in putting questions to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney before the ethics committee. She provided them with the questions; they would ask the questions and embarass the Conservative government; the CBC would get a story. In other words, business as usual.

Publisher John Cruickshank really had no choice but to admit Krista's sin. She got caught red-handed. A reporter revealed on live TV that the Liberals had been colluding with a CBC reporter. The Blogosphere published her name, spoiling the CBC's plan to keep it secret. Suddenly, nothing was as usual.

Cruickshank talked the talk. He blustered against anyone who suggested the CBC could be biased. WE HAVE A RULE BOOK AND IT SAYS WE CAN'T BE BIASED, he insisted defiantly. Look, he said, we've admitted poor Krista went too far chasing a legitimate story, but that doesn't prove the CBC is partisan.

No, Cruickshank would do that himself.

First he issued a false public statement.

Krista Erickson, did, in fact, provide questions to a member of Parliament, he conceded. The poor girl needs more training and gosh darn it she'll get it, he said. Period. End of story CBC-style.

Two days later, it was another story.

On his Publisher's Blog, Cruickshank blathered for 14 paragraphs about professional conduct, the CBC's "special reponsibility" to be accountable, fairness, perceptions of partiality, and how the CBC is superior to the private media "whose obligation is, ultimately, only to their shareholders."

Oh, he casually mentioned in paragraph 15, and "our reporter provided questions to two Liberal MPs using her BlackBerry." Period. End of story CBC-style, version two.

He knew any mainstream media outlet following the story had already reported CBC Explanation Version One and would not report the discrepancy. He offered no reason why he lied to the public only two days earlier by saying only one MP (of an unnamed Party) was involved. Nor would he identify the "two Liberal MPs."

Although most observers assumed one of them was Pablo Rodriguez, the francophone MP who asked Krista's questions in English, other names surfaced almost immediately.

Was one of the MPs Paul Szabo, the chairman of the ethics committee? Surely the CBC had a moral obligation to identify him if it was.
Or was it Scott Brison, Krista Erickson's playmate (more about that later).
Did she send her questions via Blackberry to Brison and Szabo, as appears more and more likely, with Rodriguez in the role of a beard to provide plausible deniability that he, and by extension any Liberal on the committee, had spoken with the CBC?

Cruickshank, for all his bold talk, abandoned any vestige of transparency and accountability. He chose to sacrifice all CBC claims to impartiality rather than give up the CBC's Liberal Party collaborators. They were to be protected at all costs, even the reputation of the CBC.

The CBC Publisher is now colluding with the Liberal Party of Canada in a conspiracy of silence.

- He knows who collaborated with Krista Erickson but he won't tell the Canadian public.
- He knows if the ethics committee chairman engaged in a partisan ambush of a witness, but he's keeping it a secret.
- He knows if a former Liberal Party leadership candidate was part of the conspiracy, but he's keeping the truth from Canadians.
- He knows Pablo Rodriguez tried to deceive the electorate by claiming he, not Krista Erickson, came up with the questions for Brian Mulroney---contrary to everything the CBC knows to be true---and yet Cruickshank says nothing.

The problem with trying to keep a lid on anything in the news business is that journalists are blabbermouths.

And National Post columnist Don Martin has just created a new problem for John Cruickshank and the CBC.

In his column on Feb. 1st, Martin mentioned "CBC reporter Krista Erickson, a friend of mine by the way."

"She flipped another person's questions to a Liberal MP who...."

Say what? Another person's questions?

Does that mean--uh, what it means? That there was another person involved with Krista Erickson in colluding with the Liberals? Another reporter, perhaps? Another CBC reporter, perhaps? Or a CBC producer?

Did Krista Erickson tell her pal Don Martin that? Did she tell John Cruickshank that her conspiracy involved another CBC employee? Is Cruickshank hiding this information as well?

Who would that other person be? Could it be someone from the CBC's Fifth Estate, who are rumoured to be linked to the CBC collusion scandal?

CBC credibility--- R.I.P.

(Fatality #2 tomorrow)

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