April 28, 2003

Media Maxim

I got in a car today with a very nice gray-haired Afro-Caribbean driver, a nicer gentleman you could never hope to meet. He was playing WABC AM on his radio. There was some wormy voice on the air taking calls and being extremely combative -- just beating down his caller if he doesn't agree with him. But he wasn't beating them down by meeting their arguments and overcoming them, he was just throwing flack at them, just being obnoxious and expressing hate and intolerance. It was extremely annoying.

The callers who agreed with him he was all buddy buddy with, drooling all over each other in effusive mutual admiration. The ones who agreed, he just overwhelmed them with some sort of interference, usually avoiding aguing the central issues. "What are your souces?" "The New York Times", " What date?", "I don't know what date." "Well I have to have your sources."

I asked who the talk radio talker was and the driver told me some of the people who have programs on the station: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Cannity, Curtis Slewa, some others to the same general flavor of rancid radio propaganda. I tried to listen with an open mind but it wasn't even interesting, it was just enraging.

The driver was such a nice man, I didn't want to be rude. I said, "You like these guys?"

He said, "Well, a lot of people like it... You know, they get tired of the music."

Oh, okay. So I listen a little while and the guy starts going off on people who claim Bush didn't win the election. He calls them some name, I can't remember what, thank God, and says, "I'm going to give you a little education. All the people who say President Bush wasn't elected don't have the foggiest notion of what they are talking about. The president was never elected by the people, he's elected by the Electoral College.

I can't keep quiet any more. "What he just said about the Electoral College had nothing to do with what happened. The Supreme Court stopped the election. If the votes had been counted Gore would have won both the popular vote and the Electoral College.

The driver knew that was true, but obviously didn't broadcast the information to his clients. Then the guy on the radio, the little snarly dweeb, goes off about Bush's latest tax cut for the biggest corporations, with some ridiculous kindergarten logic about how "we want more money back," as if the tax cut is going to the clowns who listen to and get their brains washed by that station.

I said, "You're going to end up getting me to hire you to drive to the studio to strangle this guy. He's really getting me angry.

"What's really sad is that the people who are hearing this, who really think they believe in George W. Bush's policies are the ones who are going to get screwed. If you one of the richest people in the country, you'll do okay under Bush. The rest of us won't do so well."

Fortunately at that point the driver switched to an NPR station that was playing some Thelonious Monk and I cooled right out. I don't think my driver was fooled by that crap. He's far too wise an old man not to know the score. He plays it for his clients. But a lot of the people who do believe what the storm troopers on WABC say are working people, working class and middle class people who have been taken in by Bush's smooth lies.

I hate to see them taken in. I want to break the bad news to them about the media:

So here it is. My Media Maxim to Working People:

The Big Media are not your friends. The Biggest Corporate Media -- owned by the richest corporations -- serve the whims of millionaires. If you are a working person, they are not on your side. They are not serving you. They are manipulating you. You can't trust them. They do not tell the truth.

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