Mr Fife Goes to Washington: Watch Out Mr President as Bob is on the Premises
By Michael J Morris
As the official visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was getting underway, Alexander Panetta, the Washington correspondent of the Canadian Press issued a "warning" to President Barack Obama on Twitter.
It read: "Warning, Mr. President - @RobertFife is on the premises." Gerald Butts, the principal secretary to the prime minister "liked" it.
Actually it was high praise for Bob, and a mark of respect for his reporting abilities from one of his fellow journalists. Bob, as Chapleau folks know him, was in Washington as Ottawa Bureau Chief of The Globe and Mail to report on the prime minister's visit. Bob joined the Globe in January this year but remains host of CTV's Question Period.
Mr. Panetta was likely warning Mr. Obama that he best watch out as he may be in danger of getting "Fifed" by Bob -- a term I was not aware of until now, even though I have followed Bob's journalism career since 1978 when it began.
Although others may have used the term, I discovered an article on Buzzfeed by Craig Silverman, the Founding Editor Canada, in August 2015 entitled "Why Getting Fifed by CTV Reporter Robert Fife is the Worst Thing That Can Happen to You".
Mr. Silverman also provides a definition: "Fifed. (v.) to strike terror into the hearts of Canadian politicians by Robert Fife." He goes on to provide examples mostly centred on the Senate scandal surrounding Senator Mike Duffy.
It was Bob who broke the scandal wide open, and when I saw the tweet that once again Robert Fife had proven why he is simply the best, it immediately captured my attention. Kevin Newman, was retweeting a comment by Rosa Hwang, senior broadcast producer with CTV National News. "Once again Robert Fife proves why he's simply the best." Bob has received several awards for his reporting.
"What had Fife done now?", I wrote in my Cranbrook Guardian column that Bob had broken the story that Nigel Wright, the chief of staff to Stephen Harper, then the prime minister, had written a personal cheque to Mike Duffy, the senator appointed by Harper, for $90,172 to pay back expenses to which the senator was not entitled.
The Duffy scandal was placed squarely in the office of the prime minister by Bob Fife,
In November 2008, Deborah Howell, the ombudsperson at the Washington Post wrote that "good reporters are the heart of news gathering. If it's news, they have to know it. Without them, the public wouldn't have the news and information essential to running a democracy -- or our lives. Whether the story is local, national or foreign, it has to be gathered on the ground by a reporter."
Ms Powell added in answering the question about what makes a good reporter, "Endless curiosity and a deep need to know what is happening. Then, the ability to hear a small clue and follow it."
Bob is one of those reporters who certainly fits the comment by former Washington Post Post executive editor Ben Bradlee who thought that a reporter's most important quality is energy: "They've got to love what they're doing; they've got to be serious about turning over rocks, opening doors. The story drives you. It's part of your soul."
In the interests of full disclosure Bob was in Grade Nine when I arrived to teach at Chapleau High School in 1969, and once he learned I had been a daily newspaper reporter, he never stopped asking me questions throughout his high school years. And when he was attending the University of Toronto, he challenged me on every issue when he came home on vacation or to spend the summers. Maybe I was one of the first people to to be "Fifed".
Happy St. Patrick's Day. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org