Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

The State of the Media

Posted in civil rights, media by allisonkilkenny on September 7, 2008

Here is the transcript of my rant on Drunken Politics. Sorry about the cut-off. We’re working on our time management.

I can’t TELL you how excited I was when CNN-contributor Donna Brazil got pepper-sprayed at the RNC. Ok, here’s what happened: The police were busy spraying a group of protesters when Donna sauntered by and got blasted in the face with pepper spray.

In case you don’t know, Donna Brazil is a woman who should not be trifled with. She’s a powerful and proud black woman, who can lay a smack-down on any rival talking head.

So I wasn’t HAPPY that she got pepper-sprayed……..but I was HAPPY when she got pepper-sprayed… BECAUSE I knew there would FINALLY be repercussions for the crazy behavior of the Minnesota police.

When I saw this story, I knew Donna would fight for justice. There would be marches to the Capitol! Petitions would circulate! Donna Brazil and Wolf Blitzer would tie themselves to the Washington Monument until justice rolled down like waters!

SURELY, I thought, she would not let this police brutality stand! Well, early this week, Donna Brasil offered her fiery response to the New York Times: QUOTE: “I’ll avoid the protesters tomorrow.” End…Quote.

GIRL! They pepper-sprayed you! What shit needs to happen in order to WAKE THE MEDIA UP? The public beheading of Rachel Maddow? Keith Olberman burning at the stake? We live in a police state, and everyone seems to know it except the media!!

Imagine if Donna Brazil’s breed of journalistic laziness had infected other periods of our history.

Imagine Edward R. Murrow reporting the following in 1938: “This is Edward Murrow speaking from Vienna… It’s now nearly 2:30 in the morning, and Herr Hitler has not yet arrived….I think I’ll avoid this area tomorrow.”

Unfortunately, Donna Brazil’s dismissal of protesters is typical of the mainstream media. Journalists don’t see protesters as kindred spirits even though protesters, like journalists, are muckrakers – they’re concerned citizens that want to hold the government accountable for their actions.

While journalists use their words, protesters use their bodies as actual physical barriers between agents of brute strength and the People. Without the protection of a soldier’s gun or an anchor’s hoard of corporate lawyers, protesters act as guardians for We – the scared, lazy, and apathetic People. And here’s the really amazing thing: they know they’re going to lose. That’s the point. Protesters lose the battle so that WE can win the war.

By the way, all of this used to be really beautiful and noble, but the government has done everything in its power to rob protesters of the dignity they deserve. And the media has become a willing accessory to the crime.

Protesters need to adopt some kind of insane gimmick in order to get any media coverage. The strange blend of Crazy and Adorable known as Code Pink is a perfect example. These women dress in pink, bounce around, and sing song parodies like: “Old McRumsfeld had an Unjust War,” it’s cute, but is this really what the protest community has become: bells, whistles, stupid outfits, and bad puns?

And protest rallies have become a cluster-fuck of ideologies. Attend any typical rally and you’ll see eleven hundred different varieties of signs and slogans ranging from FREE TIBET to SERIOUSLY, STEVE, GIVE ME MY FUCKING X-BOX BACK!

So I understand that covering protests is confusing for journalists. Gee – -they think – there sure are a lot of pissed off people here, and their main grievance is unclear. What will the thesis of my article be? Oh! I know! “Crazy Anarchists Fuck Up Otherwise Lovely Afternoon!” Pulitzer, here I come!

Sure, there are a lot of grievances…because there’s a LOT to be pissed about! Here’s a novel idea: multiple articles about multiple protests groups. Expanding coverage of protesters may even allow for some personal biographies of activists to leak into the mainstream so they don’t ALL look like psychotic Anarchists hell-bent on the fiery destruction of civilization.

And I know, I know. There are just SO many protester arrests to keep track of! According to Pacifica, more than 800 protesters were arrested at the RNC, including journalists like Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman.

What is a poor New York Times editor supposed to focus on? Well, how about just ONE protester, who has fallen victim to national security, gone mad?

Take, for example, twenty-three-year-old Monica Bicking, a member of the protest group, the RNC Welcoming Committee. Bicking was arrested earlier in the week and now faces us to seven-and-a-half years in prison under the Minnesota version of the federal PATRIOT Act.

Bicking had previously spent her time working with poor children in Ecuador and assisting the Quaker peace group, American Friends Service Committee. Oh, she also worked in Honduras doing humanitarian work. What. A. Monster, am I right? A real, genuine threat to society! Lock your doors! Hide your children! Monica Bicking is trolling the streets!

Luckily, the 2002 version of the Minnesota Patriot Act designates any act intended to influence public opinion as the QUOTE: “furtherance of terrorism.” END QUOTE Therefore, even if you apply for a permit to peacefully assemble, you can be arrested if you disrupt the peace. Basically, you can have your little protest, but you’d better be damn sure you don’t change any minds. With Big Brother on our side, the American people are safe from social deviants like Monica Bicking for one more year.

Journalists are supposed to be the eyes and ears of the public and they’re supposed to protect citizens like Monica, while she exercises her freedom of speech. Instead, networks and newspapers serve as mouthpieces for their corporate overlords and stories like Monica’s get buried. I’m waiting for the full transformation when CNN will proudly broadcast AOL’s “Protester Beating of the Week.” Benny Hill music will play over a montage of protesters getting the shit beaten out of them by police, and we’ll all sit at home, twitching and cackling, having forgotten what outrage and passion feel like.

But YOU, Listener, don’t own a newspaper and YOU don’t own a network. You’re not a reporter and you’re nor a journalist, so what the hell concern of it is yours? What can you do when the problem is so dire? Well, believe it or not, you, the listener, do have one power. You can control what you believe.

You can buy the media’s lies about ALL protesters being violent Anarchists, or you can use your brain instead.

Wise media consumers realize that modern ANarchism harbors all kinds of political ideologies ranging from the very reasonable anti-nationalist views to the pierced and tattooed Weekend Anarchists, who whip empty beer bottles at the cops just because – like, ya’ know – Rage Against the Machine Told Them To! They’re – like – expressing their individuality by following orders from a band…and…stuff…

Anyway, the media seems to think these two schools of protesters have something called Anarchism in common. The truth is: Americans are mad as hell and some of them don’t want to take it anymore. How they express that madness differs greatly depending on the individuals in question. But the media enjoys these kinds of blanket labels. It’s easier to call all protesters ANarchists just as it’s easier to name entire groups of resisters Insurgents. Meanwhile, if the media likes a group, they call them Freedom Fighters instead.

Well, which is it, CNN? What’s a confused consumer to believe?

You – the Listener – should not be fooled by these tricks. You know John McCain calls the media his “BASE” for a reason. You know the world is home to countless beliefs that can’t be crammed into neat categories like “Good” and “Evil,” and you really can’t trust a corporately owned media to help you tell the difference between them.

You know the only safeguard between a hurricane of media lies and your fragile ideologies is your own judgment. Be careful as you choose what to believe.

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