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:

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Winnipeg Free Press: Why screw up once when you can screw up twice?

Waiter, a double serving of crow for the Winnipeg Free Press table, please.

The first week of the new year isn't even over and already the corrections are piling up and apologies flying over at the Free Press.

Facts wrong? Political bias? Yep, just business as usual.

First, there was the public face-plant by columnist Lindor Reynolds whose front-page story about the closing of a family-run fabric store named the wrong store throughout the story. So sorry; heh, heh, we all make mistakes; now quit calling me, she told readers the next day.

And then there was the story by Ottawa reporter Mia Rabson which revealed that the series of Conservative Party-bashing stories she'd written throughout 2010 were w-r-o-n-g wrong. Full-out, completely wrong.

Vaccine centre had quiet death
-- Bidders not told of decision for six months -- Timing rules out local politics as factor
By: Mia Rabson
Posted: 5/01/2011 1:00 AM
OTTAWA -- Canada's chief public health officer decided to scrap plans to build a pilot HIV vaccine production facility more than six months before he told any of the four organizations vying for the project.
Briefing notes and memos to Dr. David Butler-Jones obtained by the Free Press through an access to information request show the steering committee overseeing the bid process put the brakes on what was supposed to be the centrepiece of the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative in July 2009.
The timing of that decision is key because it shows local Winnipeg politics had nothing to do with the decision to shelve the proposed $88-million plant that most believe was destined for the Manitoba capital.

Oh, how it must have hurt to write that last sentence for Rabson had been providing a platform for Liberal and NDP politicians to trumpet the opposite all year long. In fact, she just couldn't let go, so she repeated the lie one more time in the very story that refuted it.

"Manitoba Liberal candidate Terry Duguid has long alleged his candidacy played a role in the process, including limiting the efforts local Conservative MPs made on behalf of the bid by Winnipeg's International Centre for Infectious Diseases. Until August 2009, Duguid was the CEO of ICID. He says he left his post after it was made clear to him by people connected to Manitoba senior cabinet minister Vic Toews that Duguid's candidacy for the Liberals in Winnipeg South could jeopardize ICID's bid for the vaccine plant."
And then, breaking every ethical rule for journalists on the use of anonymous sources, she quoted an anonymous source to take one more cheap shot at the Conservative government.

"A source close to ICID said it is still widely felt in Manitoba that if Quebec's bid had been judged the best, the government would have ignored the Gates study and gone ahead anyway."

Vic Toews' comeback was better than anything we could come up with:
"So there you have it: Rabson reporting that an undisclosed source is telling Manitobans about what is "widely felt" by Manitobans regarding something that might have happened if something that didn't happen would have happened."

But where Rabson managed to dig up an anonymous source to make an irrelevant comment, she was careful to stay far, far away from a central player in her anti-Conservative fantasy stories.

We speak, of course, of none other than the Free Press candidate for mayor, Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

JustJudy was the most rabid proponent of the political conspiracy theory, and Rabson made sure to give her plenty of ink.

MP grills federal officials over cancelled HIV vaccine facility, Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free Press, April 13, 2010.

"OTTAWA — NDP health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis on Tuesday accused officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada of lying about the reasons Canada cancelled plans to build a pilot-scale HIV-vaccine manufacturing plant.
She said she thinks they are trying to deliver government-issued talking points and are being tripped up by a "tangled web of deceit and obfuscation."
Wasylycia-Leis said she believes the decision was entirely political for four potential reasons, including "petty politics" because of the Liberal candidacy of Terry Duguid. "

Gates study on HIV vaccine facility 'fatally flawed': expert. Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free Press, March 19, 2010

NDP health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis believes the decision to kill the facility was political in nature and said the Gerson report disproves the Gates study. She said the government should revisit its decision.
"I think we're either dealing with incompetence or a cover-up," she said.
Vaccine-facility decision process 'fair and open': Butler-Jones, Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free Press, March 16, 2010

OTTAWA - The head of Canada’s public health agency said this morning there was nothing untoward in the decision last month to shelve a plan to build an HIV pilot vaccine manufacturing facility.


"There was a fair and open process," Butler-Jones said, bristling under questioning by NDP health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis. "You suggest somehow I would alter that. That’s untrue."


But there have been a number of accusations politics were at play at least in part in the decision. Wasylycia-Leis said the committee hearing was full of "weasel words" and questionable denials that left more questions than answers about what actually happened.

"This was a highly questionable process," she said.

Now that the facts prove the government was telling the truth all along, you would think Rabson would go to Wasylycia-Leis and ask whether she intends to apologize to the public health officials she slandered while an MP.

Bwahahahahaha. Yeah, right.

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