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.

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:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The MSM's fight for democracy, one lie at a time

The blogosphere is humming with the revelation of emails showing left-wing journalists on a private web forum (Journolist) discussing ways to coordinate their coverage of the Obama presidential campaign to divert attention from his 20-year-association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his incendiary pastor.

Pick one of Obama's critics, anyone will do, and accuse him of being a racist, was one suggestion.

The editors, reporters, and columnists on the site swapped ideas on the best line of attack to undermine Sarah Palin as the Republican running mate, and, for good measure, they tried topping one another in showing their hatred of prominent conservative voices like Rush Limbaugh.

Nine years ago CBS reporter and producer Bernard Goldberg wrote a book simply titled Bias. Calling on his 30 years of experience in the news business, Goldberg described how the mainstream media slants its reporting to promote the left-wing viewpoint without even thinking about it. There's no great conspiracy, he said, just a matter of like minds thinking alike.

With the emails from the Journolist website, we see Goldberg was far too generous in giving the MSM journalists a pass on collaboration.

We don't have anything like the same sort of smoking gun to point to when discussing the bias and slanted reporting at the Winnipeg Free Press.

We just rely on the facts.

A week ago the FP engaged in two obvious political smears, one disguised as a news story and the other as a commentary.

Columnist Lindor Reynolds pretended that a cheap swipe at Mayor Sam Katz's dating history was an examination of his character and thereby a legitimate public service. She assumed nobody could see through the email she allegedly received from a "citizen" for the politically-slanted attack-job it was.
Reynolds, finding the heat in the kitchen too hard to handle, recanted with a grovelling apology to Katz and her readers.

But she made it clear the remorse for the column was her own and not shared by FP editors Paul Samyn and Margo Goodhand, who apparently felt the smear against Katz was still a good job well done.

Neither did they show discomfort at the second smear published in the newspaper by political reporters Mia Rabson and Dan Lett.

Rabson covers Parliament for the FP. She took over from the Paul Samyn whose own stint in Ottawa was marked by the heavy taint of collaboration with the Liberal Party. Prior to a major funding or policy announcement, the Liberals would deliver the details to Samyn on a Thursday so that the FP could have an "exclusive" in Friday's paper before the official announcement was made to the rest of the media in town. Nobody asked what the FP had to promise the Liberals in turn to ensure the "exclusives" kept coming, but its not hard to guess the options.

Rabson keeps the tradition alive by slanting her coverage against the Conservatives in Ottawa while promoting her "sources", Liberal Anita Neville and NDPer Pat Martin.

Last week, she, with the help of her colleague Dan Lett, took another run at Manitoba MP Vic Toews. Under the guise of "ethics", they accused Toews of failing to report he was collecting a pension for his years in the Manitoba Legislature. Sure enough, Pat Martin was quoted attacking Toews.


Instead of a retraction, they closed comments on their website.

"Toews’ office insists he made the disclosure although it has never appeared on the summaries made available to the public over the past four years," wrote Mia Rabson.

The Ethics Commissioner's office informed the FP:

“In the spring of 2006, Minister Toews disclosed to our Office his pension rights under the Government of Manitoba Civil Service Superannuation plan...the Office did have the information on file that pension income had been anticipated. Not including it in the Disclosure Summary for his signature was an oversight on the part of the Office."

Toews had notified the Ethics Commissioner even before he started collecting the pension that he would soon receive it. That was on record.

The FP was informed by Toews that their story was wrong. And they still went ahead an published A FALSE STORY.

The next day they acknowledged in a backhand fashion that their story was wrong, but not that it was false.
It was wrong they said and it was Toews' fault---he failed to correct their false information.

Note to Mia Rabson and Dan Lett: We don't know what rinky-dink journalism school you went to, but there's one hard and fast rule in the business --- it's ALWAYS the reporter's fault when the story is wrong. There's no passing the buck; when in doubt, cut it out.

The Free Press at best was reckless in its reporting. The evidence indicates otherwise --- they published what they wanted the truth to be even knowing the opposite was true.

Lindor Reynolds had enough shame to apologize to her readers.
"I promise not to abuse your trust again," she wrote.

But the editors and political reporters of the Winnipeg Free Press refused to make the same pledge.

We can draw the obvious conclusion.

They will abuse your trust again. And again. And again.

Part of the reason is not just the leftwing slant of the reporters and editors. The Winnipeg Free Press, you must remember, is not neutral when discussing the Conservative government in Ottawa. The FP is one of the news outlets that belongs to the Parliamentary Press Gallery which is in an open adversarial relationship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Being an adversary is by definition, being biased against your opponent.

Just last month Helene Buzetti, president of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery, issued an open letter, co-signed by Winnipeg Free Press reporter and president of the Canadian Association of Journalists Mary Agnes Welch, in which they declared that political reporters are on the side of the angels against that devil Stephen Harper. Nothing less than Democracy itself hangs in the balance if the reporters fail to defeat Harper.

Some snippets:

"Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the flow of information out of Ottawa has slowed to a trickle. Cabinet ministers and civil servants are muzzled. Access to Information requests are stalled and stymied by political interference. Genuine transparency is replaced by slick propaganda and spin designed to manipulate public opinion."


"This is not about deteriorating working conditions for journalists. It’s about the deterioration of democracy itself."

"Last month, reporters gathered in Montreal at the Canadian Association of Journalists’ conference to discuss these issues. On behalf of our members, we are calling on journalists to stand together and push back ..."


"This is not about ideology or partisanship on the part of journalists. Journalists aren’t looking to judge the policies of the Conservative government. Rather, we want to ensure the public has enough information to judge for themselves."

"Journalists are your proxies. At our best, we ask the questions you might ask..."

Note to the delusional: You are not our proxies. You do not speak for us.

Not about ideology or partisanship? Bwahahahaha. What a laugh.

You do not listen to us or our real concerns.

You waste your time on useless diversions like the Guergis/Jaffer non-affair, the Afghan "secret" documents, and boycotts of the premier of China while ignoring the efforts of the Opposition parties to undermine tough legislation against violent crime and their support for racial discrimination in hiring.

Still think you're our proxies? Then think about this:

Mia Rabson has promoted NDP Pat Martin's crusade to scrap the penny, but she turns a blind eye and a deaf ear when Martin could be quoted on a real news story.
This week the Conservatives in Ottawa ordered a review of government hiring practices that not only give priority to minority groups but sometimes openly declare NO WHITES WANTED.
Pat Martin openly supports discrimination in hiring for the federal civil service. Steve Rennie of The Canadian Press quoted him. Brian Lilley, Sun Media's senior correspondent on Parliament Hill, quoted him.
You would think the Parliamentary reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, published in the home of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Pat Martin's constituency, would interview him too. After all, who better to expound on the ethics of racial discrimination than the NDP"s former ethics critic?
To Sun Media he blasted the government review as a sop to “the fundamentalist, neo-conservative, right wing.” “Sometimes the pendulum has to swing too far in the other direction,” he said.

To CP, he said,"I don’t think they can make a case that white, middle-class people are being denied access to public service jobs, or that there’s any preference shown."
Unless you can read.
One government job ad cited on the internet states

Applicants must meet at least the first requirement:
* Open to: Members of the following Employment Equity groups: Aboriginal persons, visible minorities
* Persons residing in Canada and Canadian citizens residing abroad.

It defined the meaning of ‘visible minority’ as:
A person in a visible minority group is someone (other than an Aboriginal person as defined above) who is non-white in colour/race, regardless of place of birth...
Come to think of it, why hasn't anyone asked mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis her opinion of racial discrimination in hiring, given her obedience to the NDP party line for the past 13 years.

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