Democratic Underground

Reporting Garbage
April 23, 2001
by Whyzayker

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Ah, the so-called "Liberal Press." We hardly knew ye, that is, if you ever existed at all. "We the People" are at the whim of major corporations and publishers who own our sources of information. I'm sure we all know GE owns NBC and MSNBC. Disney owns ABC. Right-wing nut Rupert Murdoch owns Fox News, and believe it or not, 76% of CBS's political contributions went to the Republicans. Is it any wonder that so many people don't even realize the coup that took place a few months ago? It's a scary thing when the so-called "majors" ignore what's really happening in our country. But when the foul smell of withheld information blows downwind to the folks in our respective local media, it all reeks of cover up. Or, even worse, ignorance by the people who are supposed to be keeping us informed.

Local media "scoops" whatever is fed to them from the companies who own them. Most of the time they are too occupied with a town meeting, the robbery of some all night convenience store or, lately the closing of another factory. Smells like the 80's doesn't it? As the news director for a local TV station told me, "we concentrate on local news. Anything on a national level that we report comes from affiliate headquarters." One of the editors from my local newspaper told me something similar. "Newspapers are beholden to their publishers," he said. From a local perspective, that is exactly the problem. Those comments are further proof of something most of us already knew. Big Business is in charge of information. They tell us what they want us to know…whole truth, half-truth or no truth at all. It just doesn't matter when so much money is involved.

This article is in no way meant to criticize the respectable folks who run the local media here in conservative Broome County, N.Y. (except those who work for Fox - any respectable journalist should know better!) What does bother me, however, is the Stepford-like status quo state of mind that seems to have become the mindset of the local media here and, I'm sure, elsewhere in America. The fact that either they don't know or just don't care who the people are that are instructing them what the "news" should be or will be is highly disturbing at best. Our local people do a marvelous job keeping us informed on what happened down the street, but why are they not questioning the national news that they are being fed? Or, if it actually does bother them, then why do they take such a "stand off-ish" attitude when Joe Public asks the question, "why?" Aren't there any Woodward and Bernsteins on a local level out there?

The Press and Sun Bulletin in upstate N.Y. serves Broome County and the surrounding counties, and is owned by Gannett Inc. Co., a media corporation located in Arlington, Virginia. I became interested in checking Gannett's "alliances" when I noticed that the Letters to the Editor section was starting to follow a peculiar pattern - since the election there have been a noticeably higher proportion of anti-Clinton/pro-Bush e-mails that that get published. In other words, if you are anti-Clinton/pro-Bush, you're safe in sending your comments through the Internet. If you're on the other side, well then you'd better find an envelope and a stamp or chances are you won't get published. I've talked to several folks at the Press and Sun Bulletin and have learned that e-mails go to Arlington first before they make their way back to Vestal (Press headquarters). The closest remark I could get to the contrary was the statement, "well... not to my knowledge."

I began tracing political contributions by stock holders/employees of Gannett and found a lopsided preference to the GOP. For instance, according to (thank you JJ) the Vice Chairman and President of Gannett, Douglas H. McCorkindale was a supporter of Dan Quayle as far back as May of 1999. The director of USA Today (owned by Gannett) began supporting George W. back in July of 1999. Then there's one Millicent Feller, a senior vice president in Gannett's legal department. Here's a lady with money to burn. To be fair, she did give money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for expenditures, but she also went wild on contributions for Bush, McCain, Chafee, the Friends of Giuliani and more.

But does this prove anything? Of course not. Does it pass the Dan Burton "smell test?" Well… let's put the shoe on the other foot, so to speak. If we were discussing Bill Clinton's coverage in all this, wouldn't the die-hard right-wing nuts be asking questions? Well sure they would.

So are we. For instance, back in March the Miami Herald as well as USA Today (Gannett) were to release results of their recount of the Florida "undervotes" on the 17th. But according to the Miami Herald, the editors of USA Today had problems with the results. They "didn't understand" some "minor peculiarities" in the data. Basically, they just didn't like the results. Out of the three criteria the two papers used in the recount, Gore won twice. One of those two criteria was the one the Republicans had wanted to use. Granted it only gave Gore an edge of 3-6 votes but it just didn't look good. So they decided not to publicize it. And they didn't. Instead they chose to publicize the result that showed Bush "won" at the future risk of their credibility. And the sad thing is they're probably not risking much.

The truly despicable but real realization is that America suffers from its own form of Attention Deficit Disorder. Most people aren't concerned that not only is the wrong man in office but that laws were broken in order to put the loser, both figuratively and literally, there. The same apathy that allowed Reagan to use the Constitution for toilet paper is allowing this Chief Incompetent to claim he was "elected" with a so-called mandate to destroy everything that's been accomplished over the last 8 years. The American people have gotten what the minority that voted for this brat deserves. The majority has no one to blame but themselves. Apathy is the enemy.

But let's not lose sight of what this piece is all about. The people responsible for keeping us informed are horribly derelict in their duty. Just where are the real journalists? Where the hell is the so-called "liberal press?" The truth is, it never really existed in the first place. From what I've been able to find, the first reference to the liberal press came from Spiro Agnew when his tax problems were coming to light back in the 70's. The pathetic tone of conservative "martyrism" during that time provided just enough political fertilizer to allow this lie to become part of the English language. With the national disgrace that was Watergate, the conservatives tried, successfully, to make sure that the press would always be labeled as "liberal." It was nothing more than a term Republicans used when they were caught with their pants around their ankles. And for some godforsaken reason, we allow them to still get away with it. But the term just doesn't make sense. Especially now with what we face: a stolen presidency.

In order for there to be a liberal press during Watergate, the liberals by definition would have allowed that Nixon was a paranoid, delusional psychopath and would have started howling for better understanding of the mentally ill. That didn't happen. Why? Because Nixon was a criminal. A paranoid who disgraced the office with his bigotry and self-delusions. And where was the liberal press when Ronald Reagan was having homeless people removed from view outside the White House because he didn't want to see them? Where was the liberal press when Reagan "wagged the dog" with the Grenada goof to take people's minds off the 200 plus marines that were blown to bits in Beirut? Where was the liberal press when Reagan got caught lying over and over again concerning his promise "never to make deals with terrorists?" That remark blasts Clinton's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" way out of the water. But where was the liberal press?

Speaking of Clinton, where was the liberal press when the House violated the rules of impeachment? You remember those, don't you? The rules for impeachment are "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Will someone explain to me how lying under oath about oral sex with an intern qualifies? It just plain doesn't. So Clinton gets the impeachment tag just because he flunked Tom DeLay's "popularity contest." Hell, most Americans would flunk that one!

And where was the liberal press during the Campaign? Why was there so little information concerning Dubya's abysmal record in Texas? Yet whenever Gore forgot who he went to a fire with or made claims (that ended up being true), the press went into overdrive to ridicule him. And now, in the aftermath of the worst example of democracy and voter rights in American history, why is Dubya getting a free ride?

Money. Plain and simple. The big companies who "own" information are counting on the fact that you just don't care enough about what really happened last November. And while you're busting your hump 40 plus hours a week waiting for a Bush tax cut that isn't going to do you or the country any good, if it even shows up at all, the Big Boys are cashing in big time on your quest for ignorance and the desire to "just move on for the good of the country." But for those of you who do care about what this country is supposed to be about, here's some of what the "liberal press" hasn't told you:

1. Two of the Supreme Court justices were in violation of several statutes under Title 28 Section 455 of the Judiciary and Judicial Procedure by participating in the infamous decision of 2000.

2. On March 10th the Associated Press released a story out of Palm Beach that showed the Butterfly Ballot was responsible for the loss of 6,600 votes for Al Gore. More than enough to send Jr. packin' back to Texas.

3. Thousands of Florida voters were illegally removed from registered voter lists by a Texas firm hired by the state of Florida. Most of them minorities.

4. The NAACP, the ACLU, PFAW, and Lawyer's Committee on Civil Rights is in Tennessee right now investigating claims of voter fraud and voter violations that make Florida look like amateurs.

5. The press release of April 4th that falsely declared Bush the "winner" in a recount was only part 1 of a 3-part story published by the Miami Herald. Part 2, published on April 5th declared Gore the winner.

6. On opening day at Red's Stadium, a plane carrying a banner that read "Bush stole your votes" flew overhead for 25 minutes. Hours later, who sponsored the flight experienced a "shut down" lasting several hours. and as well as other anti-Bush sites have experienced similar problems.

7. One of the major players in the recent negotiations between the US and China concerning the crew of the spy plane was a navy admiral appointed by…ta-dah! Bill Clinton.

And there is so much more information out there. On May 19th Voter March is sponsoring a demonstration in Washington D.C. with another taking place at the same time in San Francisco. But will the liberal press be there? Does the press know that most of us out here are either mad as hell or still have questions? Do they care that many of us still care what happened? They haven't been there in Maine or Los Angeles or Florida or any of the other many states where people are taking the time to voice the same opinions which were and still are being ignored.

When I first started researching for this article it was supposed to be an attack on the local media in my area. But through that research I learned that the members of the media here are less informed than many of the folks who read their paper or watch their station. And the same thing is happening in your town or city.

Luckily, we here in Binghamton have a saving grace. One of our editorialists is a man named David Rossie, who not only can take you to places in the Catskills and allow you to breathe fresh mountain air through his words, but also has ruffled the feathers of every knuckle dragging, mouth breathing right-wing nut here in Broome County.

But we cannot fault most of our local media for what they obviously don't know. I've learned through my research over the last 2 or 3 months that our local reporters are under the impression that we don't want to hear any more about Florida or recounts or the fact that most of us do not consider Jr. a legitimate president. But if enough people call or write them to inform them that we do care about the raping of our rights as voters to install the most incompetent puppet ever to inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, maybe, just maybe they might listen.

This is our responsibility. The same way Republicans felt it was their responsibility to undermine the last eight years in search of scandal. But we as the unrepresented ones (I mean, does Bush really speak your mind?) need to take care of our little corner of the world. Let your local media reps know that they are missing the big picture. Let them know that we are still mad as hell. Let them know that we have more information than they do and we're really tired of doing their jobs. Remind them that they are supposed to be informing us of the truth instead of the garbage their bosses are feeding them. Tell them to stop worrying about how good their hair looks and become real journalists. Tell them that most of us out here are watching, listening and reading and searching. Tell them they need to do the same. Tell them they need to do their jobs.

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