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.

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, January 29, 2010

Free Press junk journalism touts poll as boost for anybody-but-Katz crowd

If there's a way to cheapen journalism any further, the Winnipeg Free Press will find it.

Case in point: Friday's story by "reporter" Mia Rabson titled 'Polling data suggest Katz is vulnerable.'

Everyone knows that reporting on polls is the lowest, laziest form of journalism. But this was beneath even that pathetic standard.

Mia Rabson went into full shill mode. Her "story" (with files from Bartley Kives) is about the opinion of unidentified sources about the alleged results of an unreleased poll conducted by an unknown person, group or party.

"None of the sources would release the poll results, but all said they showed (Mayor Sam) Katz' re-election is far from a sure thing" wrote Rabson as if this was a legitimate story.

The polling was done by Viewpoints Research, which is co-owned by Gary Doer's wife, Ginny Devine. So you can pretty much guess it was done for someone affiliated with the NDP.

"The Winnipeg Free Press has learned," wrote Rabson coyly, that Viewpoints tested Katz against three possible contenders for mayor.

Why play coy? The FP could have learned about the poll the same way we did, by reading about it on the Internet.

On the "2010 civic election wpg" thread on a commenter named DowntownWpg had details of the poll early Wednesday morning.

"I've heard that Viewpoints Research (primarily owned by Gary Doer's wife) is currently conducting a survey on behalf of the left-leaning/NDP potential candidates. They are seeking attitudes of the general public, who would be either somewhat or very likely to vote in the next civic election, on how likely they would be to vote for the following:

- Dan Vandel (sic)
- Judy Wasylycia-leis
- Russ Wyatt
- Lillian Thomas
- Sam Katz
- David Angus (probably just threw that name in there within the survey to provide at least one other centre-right name so the survey doesn't seem as slanted).

DowntownWpg went on to give examples of the questions asked in this alleged survey, except that the process has all the makings of a push poll, an underhanded campaigning technique in which respondents are tricked into believing they are participating in a legitimate poll when the objective is actually to influence the views of the respondents and not measure them.

"Respondents are then asked a battery of about 15 questions on their level of agreement with a bunch of statements... almost all apparently regarding Sam Katz. Specifically, this is to determine the best talking points to use in a campaign against Sammy. ... some of the statements are (do you agree/disagree somewhat/strongly that):
- "Sam is more interested in helping his business friends than he is for the average citizen of Winnipeg."
- "I am concerned about conflict-of-interests Sam has with his position as Mayor and his private businesses."
- "While Sam often talks about being 'tough on crime,' yet he has not done enough to make our city safer."
- "Sam is either freezing or cutting taxes for sheer political interests, when our city's infrastructure is falling apart."
- "Sam lacks a vision for Winnipeg's future."
- "I am concerned about the response time of our emergency first responders."
- and some other typical stuff about potholes/roads, garbage & recycling collection, etc."

We guess they're saving "Should Sam Katz stop beating his dog?" for later.

Reporting on a push poll as a true measure of opinion is garbage journalism. It's also something we've come to expect from the Free Press which has apparently forgotten how to do real reporting.

Take the Judy Wasylycia-Leis-as-mayor trial balloon as an example. Nowhere have you read that Judy Alphabet (as she's known in media circles) HAS NEVER HAD A REAL JOB IN HER LIFE.

That's right, the person the NDP is touting as a legitimate alternative to Sam Katz is a lifelong party apparatchik who has never worked for a living.

After getting a masters degree in political science she "worked" as a policy planning consultant for the NDP and as executive assistant to party leader Ed Broadbent. She moved to Manitoba and worked in the same capacity for Premier Howard Pawley. Then in 1986 she was elected as an MLA where she held the cabinet post of Minister of Culture (whoopdedoo) with responsibility for the Status of Women, losing that responsibility about 18 months later. She sat as an MLA until 1993 when she ran as federal NDP candidate in Winnipeg North---and lost. So she, ahem, "worked" for Cho!ces, a self-described "coalition of leftist independent community activists." In 1997 she ran for Parliament again and won this time.

While sitting as an NDP MP, she took great pride, as did her party colleagues, at keeping deterrence and denunciation out of the Youth Justice Act. NDP Justice critic Joe Comartin bragged about it at the time and still holds the same position, speaking for his party, which includes Judy Wasylyscia-Leis.

When Manitoba Justice Minister Gord MacIntosh made his annual trips to Ottawa begging for changes to the laws to make it easier to prosecute juvenile criminals, Judy was silent.

When Manitoba Premier Gary Doer took his tougher-on-crime roadshow to Ottawa in 2007, with Opposition leader Hugh McFadyen and Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz as his handmaidens, Judy was silent.

Whenever Winnipeg and Manitoba politicians begged MP's to toughen the laws on car theft and juvenile criminality, Judy toed the federal NDP line and dismissed the pleas. Now she wants to pretend she cares about Winnipeg issues?

Mia Rabson wrote that one of her sources on the phony poll said "in a head-to-head race with Katz, Wasylycia-Leis was "competitive"."

We're betting Katz hasn't lost a second's sleep over Judy Alphabet's shadow candidacy.

Hey Judy---GET A JOB.

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