....LMB: "The Fear-mongering Continues"....

July 19, 2004

Last week, I wrote about the recent bout of anti-anarchist news articles, trying to make the public fearful and therefore accepting of police repression during large-scale protests.

RNC Watch has written a follow-up article, examining the NYPD's allegations described in the last week's tabloid piece: that anarchists were posting statements to the internet about how they are going to try to trick police and waste their time. The RNC Watch writers searched the internet, and could not find any such postings anywhere. They then challenged conservative writers who had gleefully seized upon the story and challenged them to find these postings. Nothing. And with powerful search engines like Google around, they should have been able to find something if such postings existed. RNCW then noticed that the author of the tabloid piece was also responsible for an equally vague and scary piece about violent protesters who were to allegedly wreak havoc at a protest in NYC back in 2002. Which leads me to theorize that this reporter, the NY Daily News' Patrice O'Shaughnessy, is one of the NYPD's go-to people when they want to spread these kinds of scare stories.

Along these lines, the NYC Independent Media Center has written a report titled "Getting Used: How the Mainstream Media Helps Create Climate of Fear and Repression During Political Protests" (.pdf). I'll go ahead and print the article's abstract here:

As New York City prepares to host the 2004 Republican National Convention, a familiar pattern of police exaggeration, governmental fear mongering, and media gullibility is threatening to create protest conditions that harm city residents and the American civil liberties tradition. Since the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle in 1999, a sad but familiar pattern has become evident in the run-up and aftermath of protests. Police officials, aided by a hype-hopeful mainstream media, exaggerate the possible dangers posed by consistently non-violent protesters. Using the climate of fear created by this hype to justify their actions, the police consistently engage in extra-constitutional and illegal behavior, such as mass pre-emptive arrests, the interference with media outlets, and brutal protest behavior. Inevitably, the mainstream press realizes the hype once the protests are safely over, and sheepishly admits its mistake.

It is the purpose of this report to document this pattern during six large-scale political protests since the summer of 2000. Drawing almost entirely from mainstream press reports, the following pages document the climate of fear created by the media and police in the weeks and days before protests. We then see examples of how the mainstream press reported arrests during protests themselves, followed by descriptions of the actual reasons for the arrests once the protests were safely over. Usually, the reasons change. We also see how the very media outlets that eagerly repeated police claims during the protests angrily denounced manipulation once the protests were over.

It is the hope of the authors of this report that awareness of these patterns will help mainstream media outlets avoid making the same mistakes during future protests.

The report's only about 20 pages long, and is certainly worth a read.

Posted by Jake at 11:21 PM | TrackBack (1)
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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