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

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Fake News is so yesterday


By now you've heard about Fake News. But the Winnipeg Free Press has taken the concept a step further and has introduced Fake Views.

What's that, you ask?  Read on.

The MSM is well aware that the news consuming public knows the tricks of Fake News and has no hesitation in outing biased opinion that's presented as "news".  The WFP gets called out every day on their comments pages.

So the Free Press has decided to re-package fake news as opinion or viewpoints, or even 'analysis' to give themselves deniability when the public points out that the story spins like a top.  'It's not us, it's the writer's opinion,' they can safely bleat, they think.

This weekend the FP ran a piece of "analysis" on their editorial pages headlined "Manitobans favour putting price on carbon."

The title was so absurd, we had to read further.

It turns out the piece was written by Curtis Brown, a familiar name to Winnipeggers.  He used to provide his leftist spin for Manitoba-based Probe Research, but is now " a senior research associate with Environics Research."

Apparently his research has proved that "Manitobans favour putting (a) price on carbon."  Or so you would think.  His findings:

* almost everyone in Manitoba is extremely, definitely, somewhat, kinda, li'l bit, concerned about climate change, whatever that nebulous term means.
* a teeny-weeny bit more than half of Manitobans believe that government can reduce carbon emissions at least a teeny-weeny bit

* of course, at the same time,  Manitobans wouldn't be surprised if government strategies don't do a thing and that  a carbon tax is actually a cash grab . 
* still, says Brown, nearly sixty percent of Manitobans welcome a carbon tax with ten percent (give or take) strongly in favour and 25 percent strongly against.

Red flags, anyone?  First, there is no link to this alleged "research."  Suspicious? You bet.

Second, the article breaks the cardinal rule of reporting on polls which require you to publish the questions asked, the order of the questions and the margin of error. 

It's soon obvious why these are missing. The "research" involves "about 150" people in Manitoba.  

A sample size this tiny gives a margin of error somewhere between "April Fool's" and "flip a coin."

So we dug a little deeper. And hit paydirt.

They say Google is your friend, and our friend told us:

"Michael Adams is the president of the Environics group of research and communications consulting companies which he co-founded in 1970... In 1987 Environics launched Canada’s first syndicated public opinion survey on the environment (The Environmental Monitor), which in 2007 evolved into the Canadian Environmental Barometer, Canada’s leading syndicated tracking public opinion survey on environmental issues. He also serves on Ontario Premier’s Climate Change Advisory Panel, on the Steering Committee of Sustainable Prosperity and on the advisory committee of Carbon Talks."

And what is Carbon Talks?

"Carbon Talks is a partnership with Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, in collaboration with SFU’s Beedie School of Business, the School for Public Policy and the School for International Studies. Our goal is to advance Canadian global competitiveness by shifting to a low-carbon economy."

"There are a number of forums and initiatives within Canada to generate ideas about how to shift to a low-carbon economy, but there are few processes that focus on accelerating action. Carbon Talks looks for the strategic entry points where convening key participants can be effective. We work with partners to move groups from intent to action and we support this work through fact-based research and analysis."

In short, good ol' Curtis Brown works for a company that's in the business of hyping carbon taxes. 

And the Winnipeg Free Press is in the business of hyping the hype under the guise of "analysis."  

Step aside Fake News, there's Fake Views to sell.

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