Saturday, January 08, 2005

Just When You Thought Uncle Tom Was Dead Redux

I couldn't help it. It was like indigestion causing you to reexperience last night's dinner. I was just so amazed by the gall of the current administration that I couldn't leave this story alone. I promise this is the last I'll talk about it. Okay, I'll try not to say anything else, but I'm making no promises.

So, reading further into the Armstrong Williams story, I discover that this isn't the first instance of the Bush administration planting stories in the media. Again I say, if you have to sell your story or sell your policy, perhaps it doesn't have the substance it should. Prior to the No Child Left Behind cookie, we find out the Drug Enforcement Agency has also planted stories to support drug policies, and had similar plans for the new Medicare policy.

For contrast, I did some quick research on what is arguably the world's most famous government-sanctioned media machine: the BBC. According to their site, the BBC started in the early 20's, but in reluctant response to the growing number of radio hobbyists broadcasting their own programs. The government wised up, recognized the potential of radio, and set up 2 stations. Fast forward to today, the networks of the BBC are run by a board of governors appointed by the Queen upon the recommendation of ministers. Funding comes from a licensing fee paid by viewers, to ensure that programming is free from influence, including that of advertisers. Another, more interesting aspect of its mission, is that the BBC is not massaged by the government, and there have been strikes by employees in response to possible government interference. Doesn't sound like much on the surface, but imagine CNN or AOL shutting down because it thinks the government or a special interest is too involved.

The real reason why Bush 2 et al were able to get away with their shenanigans is because they believed they could. Sure, they hid the identity of the story submitter, but the bottom line is they though up the plan and executed it. Not so value-filled, is it?

I'm not going to start a rant related to the 2000 election, the 2004 election, the stuff I don't get about the Electoral College essentially superceding the voice of the people, the villifying of lesbians and gays in the name of morality, or how things are supposedly wonderful for people of color based on the few black and brown faces pasted up by the White House while the rate of HIV infection among black and brown women is skyrocketing; young people of color are turning more and more to crime or the military as a means of support, and we're arguing about whether or not businesses can handle raising the minimum wage to $8 an hour (never mind that unless you live in an area with a really low cost of living, $8 is nothing). I will say that I'm scared as hell about what the future holds considering the dirt we've already heard, and it's not even the 10th of January yet.


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