August 23, 2012 : Introducing Occupy Truth; Profiles in Journalistic Courage
A cliche-laden, text message driven society, synonymous with the attention-deficit-disordered world advertisers have plunged us into. Reading, writing and basic comprehension, threatened with extinction by mass technology, ultimately creating compulsive subservience, or compulsive self-servingness. Both equally insidious. A futurist nightmare.
Subsidies to help less advantaged students eliminated, gone by the wayside in favor of schooling designed to instill obedience and deprive students of critical thinking faculties – the latter reserved exclusively for the one percenters - and those who mortgage themselves to the hilt, victims of endless collateral college loan damage, in search of some sort of economic security, inflicted by Lords Dimon, Blankfein, et al. Sound journalism – fuhgeddaboudit!
What the hell are we talking about??
Oh yeah – text messages. We originally wanted to give a big “LMFAO” to Occupy Truth. It's 1500 adherents gather in Cleveland to protest the “violence of the Occupy movement,” barely concealed by – they say - a carefully-orchestrated media conspiracy. examiner.com
The rally is organized by Gateway Pundit writer Jim Hoft, known to some as “the dumbest man on the internet.” (Confession : we're both disappointed and relieved to see he holds the title) Hoft says the goal of Occupy Truth is “to inject some honesty into the narrative of just how potentially violent the Occupy movement can be.”
Then we read closer. Is this the very same Jim Hoft listed on the
ethics board of the Lifeboat
Foundation, an organization dedicated to “encouraging
scientific advancements while helping humanity survive existential
risks and possible misuse of increasingly powerful technologies,
including genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics/AI, as we
move towards the Singularity.”
Indeed it is - the very same! Hoft apparently had failed to realize that he shares many of the same concerns as Occupy - and even the media that cover them. For example, they all agree that the goal of all media should be, well...truth!
With this in mind, we reprint, in its entirety, our
recent email to Jim, which is our humble attempt to clear up what now appears to be a regrettable misunderstanding - that happened to lead to a 1500 person rally in opposition to a group he has more in common with than he thought.
What we all call news leaves a lot to be desired. Not to sound trite but “news,” as we've come to call it, is produced (usually) by enormous media companies, who answer to boards of shareholders. Therein lies a huge problem – what happens when stories with elements of “truth” - are turned by Fortune 100 companies into a consumable “product.” In other words, how many of those “truth elements” are preserved in the final news product. Asked another way: how many nutrients remain in a mass-produced food product?
Now about this Occupy Truth thing you;ve got going...
You're right, establishment media usually do a lousy job on Occupy. It's hard to cover the kids and the grannies in the streets, because, well, you need to be in the streets and actually talk to someone – that's called reporting. And it's what the media should do, right? That is when they're not being kettled and arrested by NYPD, whose chronic mistreatment of reporters earns them a mention in a recent human rights report by NYU and other law schools.
It's hardly a secret that we take critical pot shots here at the establishment media. But before we join you in bashing them, a couple of observations. They're stuck with a thankless task : delivering stories on accelerated publishing schedules, meeting the whims of their advertisers and investors, unearthing the latest piece of “tidbit news,” all to attract smaller audiences with ever dwindling attention spans, thank you Steve Jobs. Note : follow the money. Or read the advice of one of your very own gurus (below).
Now, we know you'd rather we help “begin the early steps in constructing a nanoshield” or to help you fund “further diamond mechanosyntheiss research”... but since we left our wallet at home, we're going to instead contribute to your mission of reaching – preserving -“truth in media.” With this in mind, we offer several outlets and reporters, who excel at uncovering truth, if not exactly “truthiness”
As far as what counts as good journalism, how about if agree to this definition : “full and fair story-telling.”
It's the description used by NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates to acknowledge the work and passing of Newsweek reporter Karl Fleming, who had a “three pack a day cigarette habit and a fondness for strong whiskey.” Jim, please check out the work of this pioneering civil rights reporter. Or maybe just grab a dictionary, and look up the word “reporter.” There will be a picture of Karl Fleming, who braved “bullets and beatings” to submit authentic, impeccably-sourced work on the civil rights movement, the Watts riots (where he was nearly killed), and other upheavals of the 60s and 70s. NY Times, Washington Post
A few other “full and fair story-tellers” you may want to check out :
CNN News' Soledad O'Brien, who goes deep on the renovation and building of a new Murfreesboro mosque, which – though initially approved by town planners - is the target of ongoing antagonism and lawsuits. Not only does her report feature comprehensive interviews - including filming on the new Mosque site as shots are fired nearby – O'Brien and CNN touch nerves and highlight the moral issues surrounding a fundamental American question : who are we ? report available here
O'Brien filed a recent update on the story CNN
She then takes on 2010 Senate loser Christine O'Donnell, who uses her face time to echo a popular line in certain ideological circles that the Prez, in trying to bring healthcare to the masses while appeasing insurance companies, is a “Marxist.” Believe it or not Jim, leaders in Washington used to pay lip-service to exactly this kind of thing (video above). We admit it's kind of disorienting to hear JFK saying things that, well, sound a lot like Occupy, but you know what they say about truth being stranger...
Or perhaps, you could check out, or even donate to, your namesakes (sort of) - the muckrakers at non-profit truth-out.org, who critique not only the establishment media, but do daily journalism for Average Joes.
Jim, you may not like the coverage, but to say that the Occupy Cleveland case was ignored means you just haven't done the research. The AP story ran in hundreds of outlets. For background, you may also want to read truth-out's Jake Olzen's investigative reporting, which raises questions as to the level of coercion and manipulation the government subjected the outcasts responsible for buying the explosives to
And while on the subject of truth-out – though this may seem like cruel and unusual punishment - check out this quote from theorist extraordinaire Henry Giroux. He's a brainy guy, we just wish he could write in terms we understand.
Still, Jim, does this sound like it could, maybe, just maybe be describing you and your posse :
"At the heart of this movement is a culture of cruelty and vulgarity that [use] education to produce a new form of political illiteracy in which there is no difference between opinions and arguments, reason and emotion and evidence and false statements.”
Look, it must really suck to be labeled the “dumbest man on the internet.” (apparently the guy who said this hasn't been to tmz.com lately) And seriously, it's not like you have to be perfect, god knows we get things wrong.
But when you point to 7,387 occupy-related arrests as of August 9 (all published online), the trouble is the web site you link to clearly lists the non-violent nature of most of those arrests. The other thing is the stats are inflated, giving arrest numbers for Occupy Oakland of 409 people, but only 12 have charges pressed. Jim, every single altercation with cops makes the press, with full arrest totals, and the coverage usually quotes the authorities. Doesn't this tell us something??
- many of the arrests listed are political, i.e. citizens choosing to
be arrested. So for example we see many Occupy
Homes demonstrators including rapper Brother Ali, arrested for
defending the Cruz family from eviction. Are you calling that violence?
As you know, there is such a thing called mass civil disobedience which has been used in the United States previously by The Freedom Riders, SNCC, and by that original Hall of Fame Occupier Mahatma Gandhi. Not to mention your own inspiration , the Boston Tea Party – which by your implied definition is an act of violence...
We want to be helpful here ….
Gandhi : in the Occupy Hall of Fame
This definitely does not help you make your main point which is : the establishment media is covering up Occupy domestic terror while reporting on corresponding Tea Party acts of violence.
As far as the Tea Party, hey, many media commentators have compared the two groups. And did you know that when these groups sit down to have a civilized discussion with each other, the crazy thing is – they end up agreeing a lot! The Tea Party says the government has been corrupted into an all powerful intrusive force and Occupy says yeah, on behalf of large banks and polluting companies. Also check truthout about unwarranted cell surveillance– as well as this scary NDAA thing . Did you know that former NY Times reporter Chris Hedges is part of that lawsuit against NDAA (see link above)? And both groups, like your own Lifeboat Foundation, are equally concerned by the misuse of highly developed communications technology...
As far as actual violence – limited – that took place in Occupy encampments in 2011 - you scoff at Rep. Maxine Waters saying “it's life that happens.” But is she wrong?? Hey there's a few creepy tea party stories as well. And isn't it true – work with us here - that the tenor is just a bit different? Okay, criticize occupy for being naive and overly optimistic and staying with their parents cause they can't afford to rent - but there is no list of death threats made by occupiers against US Congresspeople. And can you imagine if official Occupy groups called, as did one state tea Party, for the over throw of the government. Well, you can bet it would knock Phyllis Diller off the front page, god rest her soul.
Jim..we wanna believe you and Occupy Truth are fighting for Average Joes everywhere, not just Joe the Plumber.
And speaking of Joe the Plumber and his “fuzzy math”...why not invite Labor leaders like the outspoken Leo Gerard to your next demonstration – his recent piece describes declining middle class incomes in America and how it impacts Average Joe's – including Joe The Plumber.
Finally, we offer you the words of your own guru, the man who set you on the path to tracking bias in the liberal media, none other than Christian broadcast pioneer Marlin Maddoux, who you quote as saying:
“If you are to become a discerning individual, able to maintain some degree of intellectual equilibrium, you must understand that the television networks' first and foremost job is to "get the numbers." The company only makes a profit if you and I watch. We are the buying, spending public. How do they attract those "numbers"? Why, by presenting a better show. It makes no difference if that show is called the evening news. It's all the same. It's show business.”
"Unfortunately few of us ever ask anything at all. We trust our eyes and ears. The interpretation of what we see and read and hear we leave to the "professionals"—the newscasters and the news writers. So most Americans never really know the truth."
So where is the truth, Jim? We're here to help you and Occupy Truth start sorting it out. Please let us know how you make out.
Or, to quote one of our favorite philosophers :
"When Jesus comes back, these crazy, greedy, capitalistic men are gonna kill him again.”
By the way, feel free to send us your response to email@example.com, as you can imagine, we're always looking for stuff to print!
Updates for this space should be sent to UWS Press