Tone Deaf

Irony (From Webster’s New World Dictionary): A combination of circumstances or a result that is the opposite of what is, or might be, expected.

 

 

On Sunday night, July 18, I had a Twitter conversation with the weekend anchor for Columbia/Jefferson City’s ABC channel 17, Evan Millward. That conversation, centered around the closure of the University of Missouri Press.

His Tweet:

“Would also add that the MU Press piece is barely news, only that it’s endemic around the country (my alma mater did same).”

Twitter won’t allow me to reach far enough back into my own Tweets to include my response word for word, but I pointed out that it should be newsworthy because it is endemic. Closures such as that of the MU Press are happening all across the country. It shows a pattern of restricting access to said works and is a precursor to losing rare collections forever.

 

“Right – if it were isolated, not news. My alma mater did the same, so I get it – bad trend.”

I added that, closing such presses, added with higher and more difficult to attain loans and rising cost of tuition were earmarks not of a bad trend, but of a campaign against access to higher education. I went on to suggest that it was his job as a journalist to connect those dots in order for the public to see a more complete picture of what is going on.

These issues signal much more than a bad trend.

To that, Evan had no response.

Ironic.

Last Wednesday, while paramilitary police were firing 40 mm rounds on civilians, firing pepper spray balls and loosing dogs on children, Evan and I had a conversation about Anaheim. Events on the street were unfolding while we ‘spoke’ and by his own admission, Anaheim looked ‘crazy’. To be sure, his was an accurate assessment. Anaheim looked like a war zone. Members of the press were shot at and detained by Anaheim PD. Dozens of images emerged of bloodied civilians, victims of mass police brutality.

I begged him, via Twitter, to cover the brutal crackdown, in order to give Missourians a sense of what was going on in California. The public, even in fly over states such as ours, have a right to know what is being done with our federal tax dollars (some of the equipment, including the 40 mm ‘non-lethal’ rounds, were specifically marked only for military use) and in our names. Massive police attacks have been well documented in cities around the country.

I pointed out to him that, although we have several 24 hour news stations, there was zero coverage of the events in Anaheim as they unfolded. These channels had even taken down the annoying tickers at the bottom of the screen. One can only presume this was to unburden them of the responsibility of omitting the police action. There was no mention on any news websites either, save those in Southern California.

Evan’s response:

“Trust me, media won’t be silent. But I work in LOCAL (yes, that was how he typed it, all caps) news- our resources go to stories in our community, viewers demand it.”

When I pointed out that national network and cable news’ polling numbers for trustworthiness and reliability were at all time lows, Evan countered:

“Those numbers you referenced are predominantly for cable, some network. Local numbers have almost never been higher.”

He went on:

“ALL local stations in SoCal have it as lead story online…stop confusing local and cable.”

There have been many articles written about the shrinking news pool and the elimination of bureaus across the country. I pointed this out to Evan, suggesting that something as shocking as what we were both witnessing in Anaheim shouldn’t be reduced to a regional story. It should greet every American when he/she woke. We cannot combat this sudden, drastic turn toward tyranny in our country without proper information.

Predictably:

“Not saying it won’t show up in a newscast but we can’t take our eyes off Mid-MO for something in SoCal. Network will handle.”

Ironic.

The same day Anaheim was turned into a shooting gallery by the police of that city, a 12-year-old girl and members of her family went into a St. Louis area Victoria’s Secret to do a little shopping. The young woman, Dejamon Baker, watched as her mother, Charlene Bratton, was confronted by a St. Louis County police officer. The officer said there was a warrant for Ms. Bratton’s arrest, due to, of all things, unpaid parking tickets. According to Ms. Bratton, the officer told her to put her hands behind her back. When Ms. Bratton asked why, she states the police officer tackled her to the ground. Shortly after, the officer (term used loosely) pulled out a taser and hit the 12-year-old girl in the chest and stomach with the weapon.

“I had fell on the floor and I couldn’t control myself. I just kept on shaking and stuff.” Dejamon said. The girl went on to say, “I was just crying. I guess he got mad because I was crying or something, then he just took it out and tased me.”

A spokesman for the police said the officer stated the girl was getting ‘physically involved’ and ‘would not back away.’ Dejamon and her mother both deny that claim. The spokesman said he believed the tasing was ‘justified’, although admitted it was a ‘unique situation’.

This occurred last Wednesday, one week ago. The same day as my conversation with Evan about the events we were witnessing in Anaheim and the responsibility of Missouri media in covering it.

The first report of the incident in St. Louis appeared Friday, on NBC 5 KDSK’s website. If you didn’t catch it there, the odds are good that you didn’t know anything about it. I receive SMS updates from almost every major news organization in this state. I didn’t know anything about it until I stumbled upon it today, quite by accident. As I am sitting here typing, I still have seen nothing from most of these news outlets, although since American Spring began Tweeting about it this morning, the story has become headlines across the country in places like the Huffington Post and the NY Daily News. Even Russia TV had a piece on this latest example of police brutality in America up by this afternoon.

Ironic.

Today, I received an email from Ms. Amy Wilson, a reporter for the Westside Star, a sister paper of the Lake Sun. On July 17, I notified her that my phone, and those of some of my friends and family, were experiencing issues that could be hallmarks of surveillance. I had asked her for her help in looking into the matter as a potential story. In following up with Ms. Wilson, I sent her the piece ‘Is Big Brother Watching?’. A few days later, Ms. Wilson asked if I wanted that to run it in the Lake Sun as a letter to the editor. While I explained that was not my intention, I said yes and also sent her a copy of ‘Anaheim and the rest of us.’ I cannot say that I had any hope of the Anaheim piece seeing print for obvious reasons, but I did have an expectation that the other letter might run.

In her email response, Ms. Wilson said:

“We can’t run the Anaheim letter, but if you tone down the Big Brother one a bit, we should be able to run it, if you want to.”

When asked for clarification on what ‘toning it down’ meant exactly, I was told her boss and editor of the Lake Sun, Ms. Joyce Miller, made the decision not to run the piece.

Ironic.

You see folks, here’s the thing, our news agencies have been butchered intentionally. They have been dissected and whittled away by corporate cuts. This is intentional. It is the goal of corporate media to eliminate as many outlets as possible, allowing control over the information the public receives to be in the hands of a few. It is an endless process of cuts, consolidation and restriction. The desired end result for corporate news is to reduce staff and bureaus until they have one person responsible for determining and compiling our news. The bottom line is the driving, carnivorous force behind this suicidal march.

The unfortunate thing is that those who work at our papers, radio and television stations, make the corporate philosophy a palatable one. They make arguments in favor of these changes, not realizing that soon enough, the black hole created by profit motive will devour them on the way to its ultimate goal.

Ironic.

The US Congress, in what is now commonplace bipartisanship against citizens’ rights, has legalized the use of propaganda via the latest version of the NDAA. This changes the very nature of our ‘free press’ and allows for corporate ownership to prod ‘journalists’ into telling us climate change is bullshit, the police state of America is a myth and that our political process isn’t completely corrupted.

It allows incidents like those in Anaheim and St. Louis to be portrayed as ‘isolated’ and encourages spin doctors to manipulate them in order to blame those without weapons for the violence perpetrated against them. Our media has been corrupted as surely as our political process, and by the same forces.

Ironic.

Late last nite, in a conversation with a person from Occupy KC Press, the point was raised to me that we must be our own media. He said that the sooner newspapers and the like go the way of the dinosaur, the better. They are counter-productive, as they are truly agents of disinformation.

I argued against that point. It has long been my belief that instead, we should continue to ask, beg, cajole and pressure our local reporters and editors to tell us the truth. It is they, I have maintained, who hold the keys to solving most of our problems.

It is now almost seven in the evening. Mid Missouri media seems oddly silent on St. Louis, although American Spring, with a little help from our friends, has helped to turn the story of Dejamon viral.

Perhaps there was more truth in what my friend with Occupy KC Press said than I care to admit.

Ironic.

Please share this post with everyone you know.  We cannot allow the story of Dejamon to be treated as an exception to what is quickly becoming the overreaching rule of law.

Follow on Twitter @AmericanSpring.

Peace.

Advertisements

Anaheim and the rest of us

Last night, I watched as the streets of Anaheim,CA were transformed into a war zone reminicent of Syria.  On one side, police stood in riot gear, weapons drawn.  On the other, unarmed men,women and children (yes, children) gathered to protest the brutality of Mayor Tait’s regime.  This year alone, it has been responsible for five killings in the community they are entrusted to protect.

Protestors gathered outside City Hall during a city council meeting when there was no more room in the public forum.  Soon after, the riot police came with orders to disperse.  When the crowd refused to vacate their rights to freedom of assembly and speech, the predictable black hand of tyranny struck.

Volleys of pepper spray containers and rubber bullets filled the night sky.  Protestors were shot at indiscriminately, leaving no one, not even members of the press, unaffected.

Journalist Tim Pool was shot at while holding his press credentials high and shouting “Press! Press!”. Amber Lyon was pinned down between vehicles by police fire.

Meanwhile, chaos reigned as the police state employed its machinations, including firing 40 mm ‘non-lethal’ rounds at unarmed, innocent civilians.

While following the violent attack against the citizens of Anaheim via Twitter, a glance around our 24 hour ‘news’ channels brought a chilling reality home. 

Despite the advent of round-the-clock news organizations and their internet counterparts, there was no mention of the unfolding events in Anaheim. Not a single line on a website, not a single sound bite.  Even the oft annoying tickers at the bottom of the television were turned off. The assult against the people of Anaheim was conducted in relative silence, a long standing tactic of totalitarian regimes and the police state.

A run through the morning’s news reports brought home a sickening reality.  There was no shortage of quotes from the police chief, who said his officers shot pepper rounds at ‘the feet of protestors’ in order to get them to ‘move’.  This, in opposition to dozens of pictures to the contrary. Mayor Tait said later in the day that he would not ‘tolerate vandalism’, a reference to broken windows of banks and a Starbucks location.  This evening, the events in Anaheim and the brutality inflicted on its citizens are being described as ‘violent protests’.  The fact that the violence was perpetrated by the paramilitary police seems to be lost in translation through manipulation of language to make it appear as though the unarmed citizens were the instigators of the attack, not the men with guns.

More frightening is the removal and censorship on Twitter of tweets containing the hashtag ‘Anaheim’. A quick search reveals that all of the tweets regarding last night’s attack have been removed, leaving a few generic lines behind, without reference to the events that unfolded on the streets of California.

It is for all of these reasons that I began a conversation with Evan Millward of ABC 17 News, serving the Jefferson City, Columbia, Lake of the Ozarks area in my state of Missouri.  Evan is generally up late and always gracious enough to entertain a conversation, even though he and I rarely see eye to eye on the role of the media today.

For more than a year, American Spring has been dedicated to the idea that the media is our most precious resource, when those who work in it DO THEIR JOB.  The importance and necessity of a free press is crucial to maintain democracy against those who would conspire to ursurp it.  The delivery of truth to citizens allows them to be informed and empowered. It is the most important entity in our republic, providing it serves its function.

The Cliff Notes version of our exchange, featured the same rationale I have heard before from various local Missouri media persons.

We cover LOCAL news, national news is covered through the networks.

The problem with that logic is, as Evan and others would readily admit, that national news outlets are untrustwothy at best. The people of our nation have turned off and tuned out precisely because we know propaganda when we hear it. National news and cable channels provide a narrative given them by their advertisers, because they pay the bills. Worse, in most cases, these super conglomerates make editorial decisions based not on serving a public interest, but on maintaining a bottom line. That, from conception, undermines public trust. 

We count on those in our local media to bring us truth in reporting, if for no other reason than they live in our towns and cities. They face the same problems we all do, the same gas pumps, the same rising food prices, the same encroaching government.

While telling yourself that attacks against Americans lies outside your regional boundries may allow you to sleep well at night, what are you doing to your neighbors by virtue of your silence? How is that better than national and cable outlets that serve bullshit on a paper plate?

Congress has already indicated that the next step in silencing dissent will be the prosecution of journalists for investigating matters they find uncomfortable. 

If you require a local tie to the brutal crackdown in Anaheim, perhaps you should question why the small township of Linn Creek,MO (population less than 400) has a military Humvee in its police arsenal. Or a feature on the politicians who claim to represent us, although they voted in a rare show of bipartisan support to legalize the use of propaganda on the American public.

Those two facts, in combination with predictions of civil unrest due to climate change and food shortages, would certainly cast a local light on Anaheim.

The question left by last night’s attack in California and my subsequent conversation with Mr. Millward is one that resonates across the country.

What happens to local journalists when you are left holding their bag and your best intentions?

You live with us.

You claim we should trust you.

In final analysis, there is only one thing left to say:

Earn it.