Democratic Underground

Confessions of an Internet Junkie
October 23, 2001
by ExPatDem

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Since long before the tragedy of September 11th, I've been a true Internet political junkie. My morning fix begins with Smirking Chimp and Buzzflash to see what stories they're linked to. More often than not, I've already read them at MediaWhoresOnline, Democratic Underground, CommonDreams, Online Journal, Slate, Salon, AlterNet. BartCop, Working for Change, American Politics, Liberal Slant, Consortium News, etc., etc.,… there are hundreds, but I limit myself to around 20.

In the process of stressing myself out and neglecting work, I've come to a couple of conclusions I would like to share with my fellow junkies in the hopes of extracting some meaning from this confusing sea of information.

We know too much.

Not in the Orwellian sense of black helicopters coming to take us away (what was that whirring sound?) but in the sense of having an overabundance of shocking information about what's taking place in the world. Faux News watchers and Rush Limbaugh listeners live in a simple world where America fights to save "Freedom" from those godless Islamics. However, the rest of us have seen a frightening web of deceit and intrigue.

The CIAs, Bushes, Cheneys, and Bin Ladens of the world have orchestrated our present madness in the interest of weapons sales, a potential $4 trillion worth of oil and gas, and even profits from the sale of Anthrax vaccine, if you can believe that. We know just how profoundly ugly things have become, and that reality is not as simplistic as mainstream news would have us believe.

It's not enough to just read the stuff.

If you're like me, you mainly read but also contribute the occasional tidbit to the message threads. No matter how trenchant our observations to each other, I can't help but feel that all of it is just whistling in the graveyard if it can't translate into some kind of action.

MadDog77: "Hey guys, Bush just declared martial law, and put a new tax on air!"
TexasSue: "Wow, MadDog….that really sucks."
CarneyMan: "Those guys are such idiots…somebody oughta do something."

The Arabs have a saying for this phenomenon: "The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on."

An essential part of the Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft/Rumsfeld juggernaut is momentum, and their "caravan" is moving forward while we're busy exchanging notes and correlating information. And, as we know, Bush has his own version of the Arab saying: "Who cares what you think?"

It's hard to share our knowledge.

Although I love my brother dearly, somehow he morphed into a Republican in recent years; we stopped talking about politics somewhere between November 7th and December 12th of last year when he opined that "it's downright criminal what Al Gore is trying to do in Florida." (Counting votes in a presidential election… truly despicable.)

Anyway, with heart in mouth, I recently sent him an article from the London Guardian on "Why Americans have no idea why they're hated." His response was a suggestion that I should be handling public relations for Bin Laden. So much for my plans to educate him about the Carlyle Group and their dubious activities.

The GOP's scorched-earth approach to politics has so poisoned rational discourse that there's little opportunity to share important knowledge with those being spoon-fed mainstream Infotainment "news". The gap between liberal and conservative is now a giant abyss, which is probably why we keep our opinions about Bush to ourselves at cocktail parties.

Liberals can't get anywhere with the present biased media.

Al Gore had no reputation as a "chronic liar" until he began to battle with Karl Rove's propaganda machine, and the same fate that befell this thoughtful and decent man lies waiting for anyone who takes up the Democratic cause in 2004. The GOP has absolute dominion over the airwaves, pure and simple.

The mainstream media, beginning with Fox and NBC, anointed one of the deadlocked candidates as "winner" and the other as "sore loser," and cast the die for the travesty that followed. The US is crying out for objective, balanced media, and the survival of Democracy depends on it. So how on earth do we fix it?

It's about money.

The huge multinational companies who pull the strings of both the media and our new "Corporate" government are motivated by profit, and nothing else. So how does a media company like Fox get revenue? By selling advertising. Now, tell me what would go through the mind of a CEO whose company sponsors FOX news after receiving an avalanche of letters like this example...?

President and CEO
General Motors
Dearborn, Michigan

Dear Sir,

I am a member of Consumers for Democratic Media, a coalition formed to take action against the extreme right-wing bias in today's broadcast and print media, which now places America's cherished institution of a Free Press in jeopardy.

Our opposition to your company's sponsorship of FOX News, with its blatantly pro-GOP agenda, means that, as a consumer, I will therefore exercise my rights to:

•Avoid any purchase of General Motors products
•Advise family and friends to boycott General Motors products
•Actively encourage friends and relatives via the Internet to join this boycott
•Continue such actions until you withdraw your advertising or convince FOX News to change their biased policy and begin offering objective and complete news coverage which includes liberal and contrasting viewpoints.

I'm only one person. But I'm one of 50 million liberal/moderate voters whose votes in the 2000 election were thrown out, in part because of biased media coverage, and one of the millions who understand the importance of a Free Press to the survival of American Democracy.

If the American Corporation is willing to play a part in the cynical manipulation of the public through biased media, it would do well to heed those from whom its wealth flows: The American Consumer.

Yours truly,

(your name)

Cc: President, Fox News Network

Until the Campaign Finance Bill is passed, there is no hope of Democratic party action. A few short weeks ago, I would have included in these observations the idea of encouraging the Senate and Congressional Democrats to take decisive action against the GOP onslaught on the Bill of Rights. I abandoned that concept when I learned about Mrs. Tom Daschle's lobbying on behalf of the airline bailout, and realized that money touches everyone. There's no Santa, no Easter Bunny, and no real opposition to the Bush agenda beyond reducing a $1.6 trillion giveaway for the rich down to $1.3 trillion. Whoopee. Once again, it's all about money, and it needs to be removed from the political process just as its impact on the dissemination of news needs to be changed.

I know that proposing consumer pressure against unlimited Corporate power is not up there with the Chinese student facing down the tanks in Tiananmen Square, but it's an honest attempt to do more than just reading and worrying. If you agree, PLEASE copy this to as many people as you can, and feel free to borrow the letter's form for your use. Any suggestions for "viral marketing" of this idea would be most appreciated…Also useful would be to compile a list of companies advertising on mainstream news channels…

The stakes are much too high. Let's do something besides read, whine, and worry.

Yours for better days.

P.S. Is there a better illustration of what's wrong with American media than Fox's bizarre network promo? If you haven't seen it, it's an emotive, soul-stirring montage of the waving flag, soldiers exchanging salutes, and jets taking off from aircraft carriers, climaxing with the logo: "Fox Sports". To which I can only say: "Huh?"