Media Blitzkrieg

April 22, 2009

Just a friendly reminder…
   The community conference sponsored by Techeland Arts Council and the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau is this Friday at the Teche Theatre in Franklin.
   This is your opportunity to come and hear how the highly successful and innovative program in Colquitt, Georgia began and flourished. This is your chance to learn how we can do the same thing here.
   You really don’t even have to lift a finger after you leave the conference, if you don’t want to. But at least come hear how this could be an exciting, revolutionary idea for Franklin.
   And particularly, if you have stories to tell, come to the workshop Saturday and let us hear yours.
   We’d love to have you. More info and a registration form are available at our Web site, techeland.com, many local businesses or by calling 907-6412.
   Some of us have been working on this for more than a year and a half. Do us the honor of showing up and at least listening. You may like what you hear.
   ——
   So here it is. The nation you now live in.
   A group of colonists dressed as Indians who dumped a fortune in tea into Boston Harbor are considered heroes, and rightly so, except for the trying to blame it on the Indians part.
   A nationwide reenactment of same finds the participants chastised and ridiculed.
   Welcome to USA 2009.
   Depending on who you ask, nationwide participation was something like three-quarters of a million people. Listen to most of the cable news channels, and it was just a few hundred.
   When CNN reporter Susan Roesgen went out to “cover” the Tea Party in Chicago, she turned the incident into a shouting match by stepping outside her role as a journalist into an instigator.
   By asking a participant a question and then arguing with his answer, Roesgen stopped being a newsman and became an editorialist.
   She was clearly seen on video denouncing the demonstrations as anti-government and anti-CNN and accused Fox of setting the whole thing up.
   CNN has since pulled the video off all common web sources citing copyright infringement. It can still be found, however, with a little patience.
   “We have no respect for CNN because it doesn’t respect us,” shouted one angry Chicagoan.
   “You are not talking to regular, mainstream people,” a lady accuses Roesgen. “You pick people to talk to.”
   Kinda like they did in the aftermath of Katrina, eh?
   She went on, “This is not about Republicans and Democrats. This is about the government stealing our money.”
   It was little better anywhere else on the “airwaves.” Fox became a cheerleader for the campaign, a step-away-from journalistic credibility in the opposite direction of CNN. MSNBC subjected viewers to an endless barrage of trashy jokes using an alternative meaning for “tea bagging” in a sexual context considered deviant by the masses. CNN popped a few in there, too.
   “The thing that bewilders me is this president just cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people. So I think the tea bags should be directed elsewhere because he certainly understands the burden that people face,” White House adviser David Axelrod said Sunday.
   Hmm. What about that staggering tobacco tax? All the talk of gasoline and other fuel taxes already looming?
   And it’s not all about taxes, anyway. It’s about the stimulus package, it’s about regulations and government tinkering in our lives day in and day out. It’s about paying through our noses and having no say in how it’s spent, much less how much we pay.
   Nobody seems to understand it, and the Panama City News Herald took the same moral high ground as ol’ King George II:
   “Let me see if I understand this: These people claim that the government is spending too much money and they are tired of the so-called waste. In fact, they claim President Obama is the problem.
   “Riding by the post office, it sure looked to me that many of the people protesting are out there because of who President Obama is. Seeing that most of our local politicians are Republicans, I have not heard of them turning down the stimulus money. In fact, I have heard them explaining how they want to use it in this mostly Republican county. You people have nerve.”
   Yup. So did the folks in 1773. What they’re doing, you understand, is trying to twist the anger and disgust into an attack against Obama and Obama alone, when in fact this goes, far, far back into the collective consciousness. If anything, many Americans are angry at Obama for making things worse, instead of solving the problem as they had hoped he would.
   It’s all indicative of a news ethic run amok. Katie Couric got an award at the Walter Cronkite Awards Dinner for smearing Sarah Palin during the presidential campaign? Doesn’t anyone see the irony here? Couric shouldn’t be slamming anyone in a news interview, she should be reporting the news. Not Palin, not Obama, not Biden, not McCain, nobody.
   That’s the purpose of editorial pages and commentary blocks on broadcast. There used to be a clear line between Page 1 and the op-ed page that has mostly been erased in national media.
   It’s a media that interviews actors and singers for political comment. It’s an institution that Cronkite would have disdained and dismissed out of hand at once. You can get more news from a bottle of gin than CNN, MSNBC or Fox.
   “Slackers protest taxes at Tea Party as others work,” proclaimed the Oregon Statesman Journal, sounding just like the principal in Back to the Future.
   The media has painted the protestors as Conservatives, Republicans, Right-Wingers, but if you look deeper into the smaller news reports from across the country you’ll find that the gathering represented quite an impressive cross-section: Right-wingers and left-wingers alike fed up with both parties, or parties in general. People of all ethnic and social and economic groups fed up with Big Brother’s hand in their pockets when they buy a pack of cigarettes, get a vehicle registration or pay income taxes.
   “Just a bunch of wimpy, whiney, weasels who don't love their country and don't want to support – there are guys at Walter Reed who gave their legs for my country, and they're whining because they have to write a check,” said CNN’s Paul Begala of the protest participants.
   “Of course, they didn’t think they were speaking out against our military and our vets — they hadn’t really thought it through at all. They were under the impression they were condemning federal taxes,” says Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg.
   “This tea party initiative is funded by the high end – we call it Astroturf, it’s not really a grassroots movement. It’s Astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class,” said House speaker Nancy Pelosi.
   It’s not Astroturf. It’s a fed-up populace of lefties, righties, centrists, whites, blacks, yellows, reds and anything else you can think of who are sick of this government and what it does with our money, our reputations and our honor as a nation.
   Bottom line: Ain’t none of them in Washington worth a plug nickel. As a registered “no party” voter, as a person who votes for candidates based on issues, not affiliation or stupid labels like “left” and “right” I have to say we live in a country controlled by government drunk with power, a media insane with some sort of ethical disorder and a populace that may finally be starting to realize they’re being shafted.