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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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: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 07, 2008

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

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 #2 --- The myth that professional journalists are more trustworthy than bloggers because they have standards, ethics and training that ensures their personal biases do not influence the fairness of their stories. Oh, and they have editors.

Well, ding dong, the witch is dead.

The CBC collusion scandal has been like an infusion of truth serum into mainstream reporters. And their confessions are eye-opening.

It started with pundits like CTV's Mike Duffy and Maclean's columnist Paul Wells who tut-tutted that 'it's no big deal, everybody does it.'

None other than CBC Publisher John Cruickshank pointed out that practice, by anybody, was unethical and unprofessional.

"When, as in the present instance, it is revealed that a reporter has been collaborating, even if only obliquely, with one party or another, an appearance of partisanship emerges that cannot be dispelled by claims that this is how political reporters interact with their sources." he blogged.

"Any time a reporter plants a question and covers the results, they are deceiving their audience about their detachment and fairness."

Then National Post columnist Don Martin wrote (Open season on Ottawa's flacks, Feb. 1, 2008) that the Parliamentary Press Gallery isn't even pretending to be detached and fair in their latest trumped-up "scandale du jour" where they're attacking PMO (Prime Minister's Office) communications director Sandra Buckler over something about something nobody outside their little circle cares about.

A "full-court-press-pile-on is taking place atop Stephen Harper's closest aides", he wrote.

"It appears to be a gleeful media overkill, which smacks of personal payback..."

And why? Because the press wants to punish the Prime Minister for the Krista Erickson-Liberal Party collusion scandal.

"Given this bitter, show-no-mercy reaction against a reporter with friends in the governing party, the PMO shouldn't be surprised if journalists cut them little to no slack when they make mistakes." said Martin. Or when they just feel like it, professional standards be damned.

Not convinced? Remember the truth serum.

On a recent broadcast of CBC Newsworld's "Politics" hosted by Don Newman, Toronto Star columnist Susan Delacourt (whose live-in whatever is, according to bloggers, a Liberal strategist) confessed that she and her media colleagues were making it personal in their reporting on the firing of nuclear regular Linda Keen. You remember her, don't you?

Keen was the bureaucrat who put the lives and health of thousands of cancer patients at risk because she refused to approve the reopening of the only nuclear facility making cancer-detecting isotopes. She was repudiated by every single member of the House of Commons and every single Senator, all of whom unanimously voted to overrule her and see the Chalk River reactor reopened.

Delacourt said the Parliamentary Press Gallery was using their on-going war with Stephen Harper over rules governing press conferences, cabinet meetings, and photo-ops to spin their Keen stories.

h/t to Joan Tintor http://joantintor.blogspot.com/2008/01/delacourt-keen-coverage-is-payback-for.html
(emphasis ours)

Delacourt: "And for the last two years, this government has sort of shown, sort of, the back of the hand to that whole idea of independence, or sort of distance, and I think this is where it catches up with them.

The media is gonna tell this story from the experience they know which is - we don't know what it's like to get someone on your doorstep firing you at ten o'clock at night - but we certainly know what it feels like to be trifled with and to be played around with and bullied."

Delacourt didn't even pay lipservice to the canard that professional reporters don't let their personal feelings influence the fairness of their stories. The Parliamentary Press Gallery isn't pretending that's the case anymore.

One year ago this week The Black Rod reported how the PPG's then president struck a deal with all the Opposition parties to reverse the PMO's new rules on the press regardless of who replaces Harper as PM.

http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2007/02/revealed-parliamentary-press-gallerys.html

A few months later, National Post columnist Warren Kinsella was even more blunt in a column (Time to make nice, Mr. Harper. The Press Gallery will get its revenge when it counts -- at election time
, Warren Kinsella, National Post, Thursday, May 31, 2007)

Kinsella mentioned the Toronto Star's Richard Brennan, "the tough-talking new president of the Ottawa Press Gallery" (who was later elected president of the PPG). Referring to quotes by Brennan in the weekly Parliament Hill newspaper The Hill, Kinsella wrote:

"Brennan -- whom we affectionately called "Badger" when he toiled at Queen's Park, after the sturdy carnivorous burrowing mammal with strong claws -- hinted at what is well underway: retribution.


"There's not a lot we can do, except push back, and that's what he is going to find," said Brennan. "We are pushing back."

What's different now is that Susan Delacourt feels comfortable enough to talk openly about this push back campaign. And we know why. She knows there will be no blowback.

We recently noted in The Black Rod that Winnipeg Free Press columnist Dan Lett confessed (see, truth serum) in his newspaper-approved blog (emphasis ours):


"In the mainstream media, there is an unwritten rule that demands that we not waste space writing about other media outlets. It's not universally respected, of course, but in general there is an "honor among thieves" philosophy that says, "I got my say, and you get your say."

Just last week Lett was emboldened to write that people should expect their newspaper to provide slanted news coverage.

" I've long conceded that newspapers reflect the gender, race, and demographic bias of the people who put them together...I just think we're all better informed when we acknowledge the FP is sort of white and liberal..."

His point being you should expect the Free Press (in this instance) to favour the liberal spin on stories. If you want to read something different, he said, you should search out other sources of news.

"I often tell groups who have asked me to speak to them about media and politics that no single news organization has the responsibility to make readers/viewers fully informed." he wrote.

"...all news outlets - and alternative news sources for that matter - should have an opportunity to join the debate on any given subject. "

"I know that is presumptuous when one journalist gets access to a big organization like the Free Press and others don't. But isn't the beauty of the on-line journalism community the fact that technology is helping citizen journalists jump into the game with old-school, bricks-and-mortar news outlets?"


Gee, that's mighty sort of white of him, isn't it.

******
Back to Basics

Let's not forget where all this started--when CBC reporter Krista Erickson fed questions to Liberal MPs to embarass the Conservative government.

Frank magazine provides another clue to CBC's Liberal insider whose identity John Cruickshank is hiding for all he's worth.

"Readers will recall the Speaker's garden party last spring, when Krista stood by the main tent to get pictures of herself with Tories (sic) MPs and ministers (readily identifiable by the drool on their shoes.)

"At one point during the mock rutting ritual, it was, of all people, light-loafered MP Scott Brison who slung Krista over his shoulder Alley Oop-style. The sight of Krista's ass in the air had members's members rising on a point of privilege."


Read the rest in their January 30, 2008, issue.

The Hill Times had a tamer account of the Speaker's party, still including Scott Brison but with a different CBC reporter this time.


"Last Tuesday's event at The Farm in Kingsmere, Que., was lovely. After serving up some delicious vegetable and chicken on skewers, potato salad, roast beef and desserts, MPs, staffers and journalists mixed and mingled. Some played football, including Maclean's magazine's Kady O'Malley and Grit MP Derek Lee, while others sat close to the open bar and chatted. Others started picking people up, literally."

"CBC TV national reporter and funny gal Julie Van Dusen teased Liberal MP Scott Brison about not winning 'Sexiest Male MP.' She ribbed him for winning 'Best-Dressed Male MP' and pointed out that he wasn't too well-dressed on that very evening. The dress code for the evening was casual so Mr. Brison wore a light blue Lacoste golf tee and jeans with a dark blue striped sports jacket instead of his usual suit. Mr. Brison then proceeded to pick her up and when he put her down, declared, "I haven't picked up a woman in so long!"


C'mon. A party full of reporters and nobody's got cell-phone photos?

Supporters of Krista Erickson have meanwhile set up a Facebook site. Among her well over 100 "friends":

* Nancy Baroni, parliamentary assistant to Liberal MP Maria Minna
* Ryan Cotter, parliamentary assistant to Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett
* Richard Zussman, special assistant to Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua
* Stephen Dame, legislative assistant to Liberal MP Alan Tonks
* Bryn Hendricks, assistant to Liberal MP Hedy Fry

And

* Al Payne, assistant to Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal, the same Sukh Dhaliwal who sits on the Commons ethics committee.

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