& Loathing in a newsroom near you
every action, there is always opposed an equal reaction." So said Sir
Isaac Newton, arguably the smartest person who ever lived. His wiseness
was talking about physical science, not social science. Nonetheless,
we lesser mortals are always tempted to marry the two, looking for portents
in one to apply to the other.
We do so at our peril.
However, Newton's point regarding equal and opposite reactions does
seem to have non-scientific application in the decidedly esoteric area
of human aspiration. Whenever some self-important lout tries to stifle
free expression, it surfaces somewhere else.
Red China may have killed
(figuratively and literally) all dissenting voices, but it cannot control
the wide-open Internet if the country hopes to modernize. The dictators
of Indonesia and their neo-fascist fellow travelers in Japan, Singapore
and Korea have found out that you cannot have a free economy without
human freedom, workers' rights and a diverse press.
As William Safire aptly
put it in the New York Times, freedom is indivisible. Controlled economies
attempting to operate in a human rights vacuum simply collapse. (Then,
they expect the U.S. taxpayer to bail them, at which point the full
moon rises and I morph into a fiscally conservative Republican.)
Freedom requires checks
and balances, a free press and robust debate. Otherwise, freedom's just
another word for nothin' left to lose. Which brings me once again to
a beleaguered TV program entitled "Fear & Favor in the Newsroom."
It was produced by true
freedom fighters, Beth Sanders and Randy Baker, hosted and narrated
by legendary Pulitzer Prize winner ("The Good War") Studs Terkel. Alas
and alack, the show has had a devil of a time clearing PBS stations.
PBS! All this time I thought public broadcasting was created to allow
alternatives to packaged goods TV here in the land of the free.
"This is the story the
corporate media won't report, which is why it is so important that 'Fear
and Favor in the Newsroom' gets the airing it deserves" says Pulitzer
Prize-winning former Wall Street Journal reporter Susan Faludi, author
of the womens' rights bible, "Backlash."
Fear and Favor has two
segments of particular interest to Nevada. It tells how the PBS News
Hour watered down a story on low level nuclear waste dumping. It also
shows how then-NBC News President Michael Gartner zapped bloody footage
of the Gulf War.
He was not alone. The
American media found the 1991 war a surprise ratings hit and unanimously
decided to manage the news like any other series.
Anything which proved
that our smart bombs were dumb and that the Patriot Missile missed most
of the time was simply not allowed on the air. And so Gartner spiked
footage showing dead women, bloody kids and broken bodies. This from
a longtime newspaper publisher who himself went on to win a Pulitzer.
With Desert Smurf II in the offing, Fear & Favor gains renewed importance.
Our kids are going over there to kill and die once again.
Fear & Favor tells how
the New York Times canned Pulitzer winner Sydney Schanberg ("The Killing
Fields") after he wrote a column exposing local corruption. Northern
Nevada's KNPB TV-5 graciously scheduled the show (9:00 p.m. Friday,
Feb. 27), because a certain obscure newspaper writer and some of his
friends in organized labor asked them to. It's taken that kind of an
effort in just about every market in the country.
Just as other countries
are learning the value of liberating their media, ours are becoming
more and more controlled. CBS News, which lied to us about Vietnam even
with Walter Cronkite on the air, spoke not one word of Picabo Street's
spectacular Gold Medal Super-G run on the night it happened. They could
have aired it as it occurred, but chose to wait 24 hours to better serve
Where media control is
overt overseas from Bosnia to Beirut to Beijing, over here it's more
subtle, most often accomplished by omission. What you don't know, you
don't miss. Most talk radio stations are run by rich guys soliciting
ads from advertisers who look and think like them. Consequently, hate
radio came into being to cater to their prejudices.
But human aspiration
to self-expression can never long be suppressed. Which brings me to
a guy named Steve Dunifer, the nation's number one pirate radio purveyor.
He found me on the web and called to say he's heading for Las Vegas
in early April to make noise at the National Association of Broadcasters
annual convention. He's especially upset that they're inducting hate
radio guru Lush Rambo into the broacast hall of fame.
Many of us are angry
that the public airwaves were given away to private profitmongers earlier
this century. We got angrier still when Pres. Clinton and VP Gore did
ditto with the Internet and high-definition TV spectrum.
Dunifer has done something
about it with a network of low power pirate radio stations across the
land. He intends to leave a transmitter in Gomorrah South for the use
of whichever activists want it.
So far, he has made his
attempt to take back the public airwaves stick in court. (See http://www.freeradio.org).
Do yourself a favor.
Fax, paper-mail and e-mail this column to people you know, then figure
out ways to take back the public airwaves of your town. More
Be well. Raise hell.
AND FAVOR REDUX: Barbwire
by Barbano / Expanded from the 1-6-2015 Sparks Tribune