Free Bill Moyers, 9/11 Conspiracies and Enron

Free Bill Moyers!

Donor Digital, a West Coast company helping non-profits raise money online, is pushing another little campaign on the side. It seems that an unfortunately large number of PBS affiliates -- 30 or more, including D.C. flagship station WETA -- have suspended the new, hard-hitting show "Now With Bill Moyers." Apparently they don't think intelligent, forceful journalism mixes with fundraising. Ugh.

Tonight's show (Friday, March 8), for example, has a strong piece on the environment, with good reports from Wyoming and Utah on how the Bush administration's green light for developing public lands is affecting the landscape in the West. There's also a nice zinger on money in politics and an interesting interview with T. Boone Pickens on how he has become a Texas water baron.

Both the Masher and Donor Digital urge you to check out your local PBS station and see whether they've dumped Moyers, too. If you live in Hartford, Miami, Madison, Milwaukee, Nashville, San Diego, Detroit, St. Paul, Las Vegas, San Antonio and a bunch of others, make a stink!

Give Corn the Credit

Why do papers like the New York Times so begrudgingly give credit to reporters -- other than their own writers -- who break stories? Recent case in point was David Corn's co-breaking of the news that Bush had a business relationship with Enron as early as 1986. The Times, in an article by Jim Yardley, gave limited credit to Corn's article in The Nation and another piece in the alternative weekly San Antonio Current, but only on the jump page, and with no mention of the writers' names. Of course, that's better than no mention at all, which is often the case.

Corn pointed out one amazing thing: "I had my assistant do a Nexis search and he found only one reference in the past few days to this new Bush-Enron fact, in The Daily Telegraph. Now imagine if The Nation (or the Times) had run a story proving that Clinton had been an Enron partner. You can imagine the uproar that would have caused with Rush Limbaugh, CNN, the rightwing pundits, etc. But Bush directly in bed (or in oil) with Enron? Hey, who cares?"

Who's in on the Conspiracy? Ask Pacifica?

Speaking of David Corn, he's been a brave man of late, taking on controversial conspiracy theories in his AlterNet piece, When 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Go Bad. Corn argued that trying to blame the World Trade Center attacks on the U.S. government isn't only irrational, it's distracting from the real issues that face the country. In reaction to his article, says Corn, "I've literally received hundreds of e-mails accusing me of either being a sophisticated CIA disinformation agent/shill or a hopelessy naive simpleton. (Can I be both?) Very depressing to see how many lefties buy into the most absurd conspiracy theories."

One of the main rebuttals comes from Mike Ruppert, a longtime CIA critic and one of the targets of Corn's article. In a condescending Letter to the Editor, Ruppert suggests that both the U.S. government and The Nation (presumably through Corn, who is The Nation's Washington editor, though his article appeared on AlterNet and TomPaine.com) are "trying hard to kill" his expose. Wow, the Feds and The Nation conspiring -- that's a new one!

Speaking of Ruppert, two Pacifica stations -- San Francisco's KPFA (the Masher's hometown favorite) and L.A.'s KPFK -- took the conspiracy promotion route by putting Ruppert on the air during their recent fund drive. The stations also offered his 2 hour video about how the CIA was in cohoots on the World Trade Center attack. Apparently in L.A., media critic Norman Solomon had the role of refuting Ruppert, but listeners voted with their checks as the "video flew out the door."

A letter sent to interim KPFK station manager Steve Starr by a handful of current and former staffers concerned about journalistic integrity stated: "For years, he (Ruppert) has been peddling conspiracy theories about the CIA in south L.A., Jeb and George W. Bush and the drug trade, and now, apparently, the CIA's involvement in the World Trade Center attacks. Ruppert has been repudiated by everyone but the naive, the unwitting, the psychotic and those willing to exploit him."

Hmmm ... strong words. The Masher feels out of it, not being privy to the conspiracy listservs and not actually knowing who the hell Ruppert is. But then a memory flash -- there was that flyer advertising a Ruppert speech in Sacramento (touting a Chomsky speech on the other side), and offering $1000 to anyone who could refute his findings. Maybe Corn needs some extra dough to buy new shoes for his kids?

But Pacifica Needs the Money

Let's hope that Pacifica's desperate need for money is not motivating whom they put on the air. (No, the Masher doesn't see this as a free speech issue). Clearly, mucho dinero is needed for the network and its affiliates to get back on their feet.

The network's legal battles caused the bad guys to spend millions on lawyers to protect their interests (the dissidents sued the national board; how else were they going to win?). The amount of resulting debt still isn't clear, but educated guesses put it over the $4 million mark.

So on-air talents like the irrepressible and ever-popular Amy Goodman are asking listeners to shell out, and the Masher agrees. Even if you are ambivalent about Pacifica, it needs to survive its current financial woes, and with all of our help, it can get better. So dig deep -- just don't ask for the Ruppert video in return.

An aside -- Amy Goodman and her producer, Miranda Kennedy were among the many at the Feb. 28 book party in New York to celebrate AlterNet's new "After 9/11: Solutions for a Saner World." Observers called the event a social and intellectual success. Special guests included RadioforChange.com (and KALW in San Francisco) radio personality Laura Flanders, MediaChannel.org's Danny Schechter, Village Voice writers Tom Robins and Sharon Lerner and hip-hop critic Jeff Chang, who offered sane observations about the dire situation we are in and how we might better fight back.

Enron: Where the National Inquirer leads, the New York Times Follows

Recently, the Masher had quite a treat while standing on the supermarket line. The front page of National Inquirer boasted a blaring headline attacking not Prince William or Oprah, but everybody's favorite corporate villain, Enron. The issue stuck it to Enron for its corruption, lavish spending and party habits, particularly the loads of dough they reportedly dumped in Houston strip joints. Who said that Enron was only a business story to be stuck in the business section?

Illustrating the story was a picture of Enron executive Rebecca Mark arriving at one of the company's big bashes on the back of a Harley Davidson. But the Enquirer went much deeper, alleging that Enron recruited active CIA agents who, on unpaid leave from the Agency, joined the Enron staff and trained Enron employees in how to succeed in the international market. The article further alleged that the G-men provided Enron with insider information on foreign companies for their economic advantage. If true, this story's a hot one. But with such major advantages, how could the company have had such a total meltdown? Bad information from the CIA?

A week or so later, lo and behold, the New York Times published essentially the same story, albeit with much more emphasis on the parties, perks and craziness of bringing elephants to corporate bashes (not once, but twice). Needless to say, the Times left out the parts about heavy drinking and lavish lap dancing. But they did print the exact same picture of Ms. Mark on the Harley. Oh, and the Times said nothing about the CIA.

Progressives Perched High on Bestseller Lists

Lefties like to lament the presence of scary right-wingers on bestseller lists, like Pat Buchanan's "The Death of the West" sitting high up on the New York Times list, and Bernie Goldberg's laughable book on liberal media bias also selling a lot.

But wait a second -- there's Michael Moore's new book, "Stupid White Men," at #2 on the New York Times list and # 1 on the San Francisco Chroncile's list. And Noam Chomsky's 9-11 book is hanging tough, near the top of the Chronicle list and still #1 on the Village Voice Bestseller list. Also, Ralph Nader's "Crashing the Party" sits at #8 on the Voice list, while Eric Schlosser's paper back edition of "Fast Food Nation" is extremely popular, appearing on a number of lists across the land. Go Team! says the Masher.

Imagine How Sad

The Masher's heart was broken to see John Lennon's and Yoko Ono's naked butts -- that famous photo of yesteryear -- squeezing sheets shaped into a Absolut Vodka bottle. The Masher doesn't know whose decision this was (hopefully not Yoko's) but it is tragic. Just when the world is embracing Lennon's amazing song "Imagine," as the anthem of those seeking a positive path out of the darkness of 9/11, we are reminded that just about everything is for sale.

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