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:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Black Rod: Required Summer Reading

Well how about that?

The Black Rod has been put on the summer reading list for Manitoba teachers.

Now we know The Black Rod has been used as a teaching tool in Winnipeg classrooms, and is read regularly by students in journalism schools.But this was a new frontier for us.

The main feature on the teachers' society website ( is for "67 Sites/ A website for each day between the end of classes and September."

"Have a great surfing summer" MTS tells its 15,000 members.

A scan of the recommended reading turns up an eclectic collection of interesting, informative, occasionally intriguing sites well worth a look. (Yes, we know the URL says 64 sites. The headline says 67 and we counted 67, so 3 must have been added late.)

Let's see.....there's a site that posts comic books covers with what's known to collectors as "good girl" art.

There's the website for a man who wrote to 100 companies at a cost of 39 in stamps and asked for free stuff. He got lots.

There's a place to learn Einstein's theory of relativity in a couple of minutes. That could come in handy one day.

And a place to see how rich fictional characters are? If you've ever wondered who's richer, Richie Rich or Bruce Wayne, here's where to find out.

And how about world's worst bridesmaids dresses.

You get the drift. And high on the list is The Black Rod. In fact it's the only Manitoba blog in the smattering of political sites. (We know we'll be challenged on that, but keep reading.)

But we had to wonder about the reading comprehension of the MTS rep who put together the list. because his description of The Black Rod is exceptionally strange.
One of those self-congratulatory right-wing blogs, but it is local. More meanspirited than fun. Hates everything except conservatives and Sam Katz.

Huh? Readers of The Black Rod know that we have, in no particular order, criticized all three political parties at various times.

And we were the only ones to go on the record to say Sam Katz's political career was finished if even one person contracted West Nile Virus and died while he endorsed Taz Stuart's monumentally useless "green" campaign to stop the annual infestation of mosquitoes.

The only one's to get a bye from us has been the Manitoba Liberal Party, because to kick them would be like kicking a puppy.

The reference to Sam Katz has to be connected to our exposure of two attempts by the Winnipeg Free Press to smear him through bogus stories. Neither Free Press publisher Andrew Ritchie, or Editor Bob Cox, or the reporters who wrote the stories have ever challenged the truth of our stories, or tried to defend the blatant inaccuracies of theirs, so we stand behind what we wrote without apology.

And the reference to conservatives, we figure, relates to the Peter Kent Challenge series of stories we wrote during the last federal election in which we pointed out chapter and verse how the Free Press slanted its news coverage --- sometimes subtly, more often blatantly --- to undermine the federal Conservative campaign. There too our findings were unchallenged and our expertise unmatched by any of the political pundits embraced by the mainstream media.

Note, especially, Exhibit C - a story about voters with no real voters

It was only when we saw who compiled the MTS reading list that we got our answer to how the description of The Black Rod could get so distorted.

It was George Stephenson, MTS website manager, and sometimes freelance columnist to ---wait for it ---the Winnipeg Free Press.

Yes, the same George Stephenson who wrote a blistering attack on bloggers in January. (Rogue journalists. Bloggers take on the world in cyberspace. Thu Jan 26 2006)

Let's see, he said then that he wondered what "a legion of Internet pundits" would do "once they stop hyperventilating into paper bags" now that the Conservative Party had won the election.

They comprise that growing wad of computer users who call themselves "citizen journalists," bloggers by a more common name, who believe their every thought is a treasured gift to the rest of us. They are limited only by cerebral function, motor skills and bandwidth.

While some just post to the Internet pictures of their dogs and details of their lives, those now drawing the most attention have web logs devoted to attacking anything they deem to be liberal. That includes big L liberals, small l liberals and the media in general, which they abbreviate to MSM, Satan's caddy -- mainstream media.

You don't think that a liberal columnist picking up a paycheque from a small-l liberal newspaper criticized for slanting its news coverage in favour of the big-L Liberal Party would be biased, do you?

Nahhh. Not unless you see what other websites he directs his MTS readership to.

The political sites on the MTS reading list include, Canadian Dimension magazine, Politics Watch, National Public Radio, the Huffington Post, and blackberry addicts.

Of the latter, Stephenson writes:
Manitoba political blog is short and piercing with a touch of humour. Trends to the left, but far more readable than most overblown right-wing rants.

But, Black Rod, you said you were the only Manitoba blog on the list?

Welllll. You see there's some question about Stephenson's other pick. We defer to Curtis Brown, the Brandon Sun's political reporter, who sums its up when he openly states that blackberry addicts is a faux blog written by paid NDP staffers.

No wonder George likes it. It seems that his line-up of political websites to check out also leans a little to the left. is a labour sponsored forum, pro-NDP (however reluctantly) which carries posts celebrating the killing of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and calling for more, more, more.

Canadian Dimension magazine is as far, far left as you get without crossing over into the loony left world of conspiracy theory.

NPR? The CBC of the United States. 'Nuff said.

Huffington Post? A collection of blogs by a variety of people, some famous names, created by Arianna Huffington to serve as the internet voice of liberals in the U.S. Among the latest escapades by posters is initiating harassing phone calls to Swift Boat veterans who challenged John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign. Mature, political debate from the left in American politics.

So we guess it's an honour to be the only counter-weight to the other politico sites being recommended to MTS members.

And here's a heads-up for both old and new readers.

Don't miss our Hundred Days of Huey, coming in the days ahead.


We wish a happy and healthy Canada Day to all our readers.

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