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SC Trio

"If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation."

Posted on 2009.09.11 at 02:39
Don Draper sounds so...republican.

History always repeats.

Whenever a black leader emerges--one who tilts a little too far to the left--the Red Scare Brigade™ comes a-knockin'. When Ida Wells-Barnett dared to fight the wholesale lynching of black men, her reputation was attacked not only by the mainstream press (Hi, NY Times!) but by her own government, who sent operatives to her appearances in hopes of digging up dirt. When Paul Robeson decided he was tired of watching people being disrespected and disenfranchised, he was put under surveillance until his death. In fact, pick any "radical" black activist with a little shine from the last century and chances are he (or she) was intimately acquainted with Johnny Law. Because in America, challenging racial and economic injustice = not only getting in bed with pinko commies, but having all types of deviant sex with them.

So Van Jones becoming the latest casualty of the Red Scare Brigade™ shouldn't have been a shock. A cursory glance at any history book would've prepared us for what was coming. But even those of us who didn't use our books to level our gun cases were stunned. I was in the middle of a family barbecue when I got the Color of Change email announcing the news. I threw my phone across the table and released a level of invective that would've made my foul-mouthed grandmother blush. Hell, I was disgusted. The lunatic fringe had won another battle. And this time it was someone I'd actually admired.

Last spring, I chased Van Jones around for months in hopes of following up the piece I'd done on Majora Carter and her ongoing quest to put green jobs on the map. (I think I've blogged about my girlcrush on Carter here before. If you don't know who she is, Google her.) Anyway, we never got a chance to connect because dude was prepping for a gazillion things, including the first annual Green for All conference. His personal narrative was great; a quiet, geeky kid who idolized the Kennedys, propelled into activism after the Rodney King verdict. How can you NOT like a guy who decides to put his ivy league degree to use in the hood?

Jones' ascent to White House adviser was supposed to be another great chapter. But, thanks to Glenn Beck and Big Business™, it's a Wikipedia footnote. This is what happens when the Fourth Estate drops the ball. While everyone seems to be lamenting the death of print journalism, or engaged in heavy debate over the future of journalism, there seems to something key missing from the conversation:


You remember ethics, right?

...ok, maybe you don't. But once upon a time, before infotainment became the new journalism, before rich, bloated talk show hosts were considered the arbiters of truth and justice and the American Way, real journalists (with the exception of Robert Novak, RIP) were required to report facts, in full and in context. That what I was taught, at least. I'm not going to kid myself (or your guys) into believing that the profession was ever noble, because we all know what a crock of shit that is. But at least there were STANDARDS, and more people in the MSM willing to call out the bullshit, even if it cost them their careers. This is what the game needs more of.

Meh. Tired. Ending it here.


Fresh shit. argentla at 2009-09-11 18:18 (UTC) (Link)
If you look at, say, Col. Robert McCormick's Chicago Tribune in the 30s and 40s, it's not a whole hell of a lot different than Fox News or Glenn Beck and his poisonous ilk. News as propaganda is not a modern invention.
...and a nappy-headed ho will lead them all.
Fresh shit. thewayoftheid at 2009-09-11 19:43 (UTC) (Link)
...or even the NY Times circa late 1800s. Again, I'm not attempting to confer nobility to the profession, but it just seemed they'd try harder to create the illusion of balance.

Kinda miss the Fairness Doctrine.
Fresh shit. argentla at 2009-09-11 20:16 (UTC) (Link)
I think it's symptomatic of corporate control of everything. In McCormick's day, he had great power and influence, but he also had a lot of enemies. If you were a reporter or editor who got canned for offending his prejudices, there were people who would hire you after that just because they hated McCormick's guts, or opposed everything he stood for. All of the major new outlets today are owned by conglomerates that, while separate, tend to have very similar corporate values. If you get fired by Fox News for saying the Earth goes around the sun, Disney/ABC or NBC-Universal is likely to be wary of you because you've proven you're not a loyal corporate employee, regardless of the actual issues. And, maybe more to the point, they all have their fingers in the same pies.

There are moments -- very depressing ones -- when I start thinking that the idea of political allegiance is really obsolete, and that all political discourse can be expressed in terms of cui bon: what business interests are paying to promote or ridicule a particular point of view, and what's at stake for them. Even more cynically, the only thing that makes me doubt the verity of that is that it wouldn't account for the stubbornness with which America clings to the idea that being brown and/or female is an intrinsically radical action.
JJ Odelle
Fresh shit. jjodelle at 2009-09-13 06:15 (UTC) (Link)
Excellent points in this post. I recently read, "How to Watch TV News" by Postman and Powers. Really good book. Infotainment is a huge problem. How can we even debate with people who talk in solgans and sound bites? Also, false sense of balance is a huge problem... MSM is giving too much time to insane arguements and calling it balance. And now we're back to red-baiting?!? I'm looking into dual citizenship. I might move to Canada...I hear Vancouver is nice...
Fresh shit. verbalessence at 2009-09-12 00:30 (UTC) (Link)
Appreciate a lot of what you say here. The 24-hour news cycle, the scramble for ratings and a general indifference to what is true, is a big part of why the news media blows and why I've lost a lot of my faith in journalism. The blogosphere strikes a semblance of balance, but even it has its limits and sometimes contributes to the problem (e.g. Matt Drudge)

I had only heard of Van Jones, hadn't really looked into him, but once I did, I was truly impressed. He had a discussion on environmentalism and how we need to change the perception that it was something only those in the middle to upper classes can participate in. He was the first person that I felt was trying to apply these large philosophical and groundbreaking concepts about green-issues in real and tangible ways. It really is a shame he had to go - for speaking the truth I might add.

Edited at 2009-09-12 12:30 am (UTC)
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