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March 5, 2006

A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add or would like to make an empty threat, please contact me.

March 5 , 2006

An Unprovoked Attack By The Corporate Media

How television “news” is manufactured from thin air

I think I have a right to complain.

Let me tell you about a nasty little incident that happened to me back in February of 2003. It could have happened to anyone at all. Even you. And there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it, except complain bitterly.

Hopefully, after I tell this story, you will look at television “news” with different eyes. Or better yet, begin to disregard TV "news" as a legitimate information source. Especially the “news” manufactured by television station WNYT Channel 13. Even better, don’t bother to watch TV “news” at all. Why waste your time?

I was attacked without provocation by WNYT 13 at an extraordinary public meeting that took place at the First Lutheran Church, which is between State Street and Western Avenue below Quail. Some 250 people packed into a meeting hall to hear a distinguished panel, introduced and moderated by then Albany Common Council President Helen DesFosses. The mood was serious. All of us present were alarmed by recent events, and many of us were searching for some solutions to a very frightening problem.

The subject at hand was the recent passage of the so-called “Patriot” Act by the U.S. Congress, a blatant and illegal attempt by the elites to overthrow the Bill of Rights through legislation. The spineless idiots in Congress, including our own miserable excuse for a representative, Michael McNulty, were enthusiastically endorsing this power grab by the executive branch of the Federal government. Both Senators Clinton and Schumer had happily sold us out. Along with being alarmed, we all felt betrayed by our own government.

Worst of all, the corporate media, both local and national, was engaging in an almost complete blackout of information on the “Patriot” Act. Only the barest mention of its passage flashed through the back pages of the daily papers, and no discussion of the tremendous and terrifying issues was allowed anywhere. And of course, no letters to the editor by concerned citizens were printed about the subject, except, of course, babblings about “the threat of terrorism” by the badly misinformed.

Many of us were puzzled by this behavior by the media. Wouldn’t the reporters, editors and other media workers be deeply concerned by the illegal repeal of First Amendment protection of the free press? Wouldn’t the media employees see it as a threat to their very livelihoods? Yet the corporate media proved to be the prime supporters of this unconstitutional legislation. Indeed, their treatment of the “Patriot” Act has proven that the corporate media is corporate first, and media second.

It was at this forum at First Lutheran that we in Albany first heard about the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC.) Founder Nancy Talanian of Northampton, Massachusetts, explained to the crowd how the BORDC had been circumventing the corporate media blackout on the “Patriot” Act by bringing the issue to local elected councils. At that point in time, more than fifty municipalities around the country had soberly considered the implications of life without the Bill of Rights, and had passed resolutions condemning the “Patriot” Act. (Currently, 397 municipalities nationwide, including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, plus eight states have passed resolutions.)

Some of us who were present came out of the forum filled with hope, and we decided to start our own Albany Chapter of the BORDC. Perhaps we could convince the City of Albany Common Council to pass a resolution. And, at the same time, we could get a lot of people in Albany to take a hard look at the "Patriot" Act. If it could be done elsewhere, why not here?

Eventually, after many adventures, we managed to convince not only the City of Albany, but Albany County, the City of Schenectady, Bethlehem and Guilderland to pass resolutions against the “Patriot” Act. Tens of thousands of people in the City and the Capital region have learned how the Act threatens our security and undermines our prosperity. But the heroic battles to pass these resolutions is another story.

Back in February of 2003, the forum at First Lutheran was about to begin. Suddenly, a camera crew from WNYT 13 burst open the door. These corporate media employees made no apologies for their rudeness, and they did not ask us permission to interrupt. Nor did they ask any questions or conduct interviews. They simply started filming from the doorway, and shined a horribly bright klieg light into the audience.

To my astonishment, no one in the room spoke. We all just sat there staring straight ahead while these intruders stole our images and irritated us. Even the moderator, Helen DesFosses, remained silent and looked exasperated. I wondered why she didn’t tell the WNYT 13 goons to back off so that the meeting could begin.

It was very surreal. Almost nobody moved. Most just sat and stared straight ahead, bathed in bright, painful light. Nobody, that is, except for me.

The light hurt my eyes, so I put up one hand as a shield. This one hand did not shield my face, mind you, it was strategically placed over my eyes to block the bright light emanating from the doorway. I did not put down my hand until the corporate intruders turned off their light and left, and the meeting began.

The next day, at least a dozen people told me what happened.

“I saw you on the news last night,” they all said to me, tentatively, hesitantly.

It seems that WNYT 13 “News” showed a thirty second closeup clip of me with my hand up shielding my eyes from their light! Talking head Ed Dague and some female announcer opened the segment by saying, “There was some sort of protest meeting tonight in Albany.”

There was no mention of the “Patriot” Act, or why there was a massive turnout of concerned citizens. Ed Dague and the female creature smirked and had a bright little exchange at my expense.

“Look at this guy,” said the female. “He’s trying to hide his face.”

“Well,” pronounced Dague, “If he doesn’t want to show his face, then he shouldn’t go to these public events.”

Then these two balls of human waste laughed at me.

Now, I admit that I am angry and resentful about this. And yes, even though this attack was random and could have happened to anybody, I still take it personally. Go ahead, call me insensitive, but I sincerely hope and pray that Ed Dague, the female creature, and the WNYT 13 camera crew who shined the light in my face all develop lingering incurable diseases and slowly die, crying and whimpering in pain. I want them to suffer horribly. That would make me laugh with joy.

My sputtering resentments aside, take a look at what happened here. First off, an important and vital public event was not merely censored by WNYT 13, but openly mocked. One could plausibly state that WNYT 13 was delivering a carefully considered and deliberate message to those of us who participated in the forum: we are powerful, and you are not. Dare to oppose the “Patriot” Act or any other political outrage, and we, the corporate media, will humiliate you in public.

But consider the falseness of the "news" segment. The entire item was about how some random guy at “some sort of protest” was hiding his face from the cameras. To make this "news," they shined a light in my face and I tried to shield myself from their light. After creating the scene, they told a lie about why it happened.

It’s important to understand that almost all corporate television “news” is manufactured in pretty much this way, out of thin air. I’ve seen phony “news” created plenty of times over the years, at public events, political functions, crime and disaster scenes. The TV film footage that results from these events can be called a lot of things, such as entertainment, political propaganda or surreal fantasy. But it sure can’t be called an accurate picture of reality. Nor can it be called "news."

Consider one more thing. These people who work for the corporate media, managers, talking heads and camera crews, all know exactly what they are doing. All day long they manufacture lies. What sort of persons do that with their lives? What can they possibly think of themselves?

How many other people have they done this to?

And yes, I did complain to the TV station. I was shunted over the phone to a young lady who identified herself as “Beth Cullen,” who pretended to be the station manager. She did not think that allowing me to respond to the false segment was “appropriate,” nor would she ask the station to issue an apology. As soon as "Beth Cullen" figured out that I was not likely to sue, she hung up on me. I hope she dies.

Meanwhile, thanks to the continued blackout by bottom feeding corporate media outlets like WNYT 13, America today is still saddled with the so-called "Patriot" Act. As long as the corporate media practices the terrorism of political censorship, most politicians will continue to feel safe enough from public outrage to undermine the Bill of Rights.

Last year, I heard via email that the WNYT 13 employees had gone on strike against their corporate owners. The local labor activists from around Albany were calling for the public to show solidarity with the strikers.

First, they wanted us all to stop watching channel 13. Well, I was way ahead of them there. I stopped watching television a long time ago, and I’m a much better person for it, thank you.

But the labor activists also wanted us to join the WNYT strikers on the picket line. You know, support the dirt bags who filmed me and shined a light in my eyes. Oh yeah. I actually did strongly consider standing out in front of the TV station as the employees walked the picket line.

I was planning to yell at them, “You scumbags are gonna get fired! You don't deserve good jobs! You’re all gonna be dipping french fries, ha ha ha!” Unfortunately, I had the flu that week, and didn’t get a chance to show solidarity.

Maybe next time those corporate terrorists go on strike and ask for my support, I'll make a special point of showing them my face in public.

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