Saturday, September 09, 2006

An E-mail Exchange With a Right-Wing Friend in NY, Re: ABC's "Path to 9/11"

From Howie:

I am waiting here with anxiety to see your blog attacking the Demoncrats with their if not dangerous precedent, then definitely their groundbreaking attempt to use the power as members in OUR government, threatening, and I won't use the word NEWS, but our media with new rules for censorship. Their letter threatening a media outlet to pull their FCC licence because they didn't like the content of a program, besides smelling of partisanship, begins to set a path I don't believe this country should go. If you were outraged because you felt out rights were being violated with computer scans of phone conversations looking for key words to PROTECT our country. This should send you over the top. Yet, your silence is deafening.
My response:

I would love to be inside your head when you go off on these (completely inaccurate and totally biased) rants.

"Dangerous precedent?" "Groundbreaking?" Did you get this right from or something? You don't talk like that, Howie. I've been teaching long enough to know when a student didn't write a paper, or at least "cut and paste" someone else's words and ideas and presented them as his own. You need to start thinking for yourself. No, I'm not busting your balls now. I'm really serious. You desperately need to sit and examine your own heart and your own mind and your own conscience and admit to yourself that you're supporting an enormous lie, here. Everything you've argued to me over the past several years has been a lie, even if you won't admit it to me -- or to yourself. The facts are in the public domain, and they've been documented. If you care, you can look them up. But you will listen to what I have to say and then call ME closed-minded.

Where is the censorship, Howie? Disney has deliberately (further) blurred the boundaries between fact and opinion, between truth and propaganda, between news and entertainment. Howie, one thing you may not understand about the mass media, but I teach my students every day, is that they are MASS media. The messages they broadcast and transmit reach millions, tens of millions, and sometimes hundreds of millions on a daily basis. You say they are threatening "I won't use the word NEWS." Then why bring it up? The fact of the matter is that this is NOT news, but Americans might no longer be able to tell the difference. This is not a documentary. A documentary could conceivably be categorized as news. Many documentaries are unquestionably news. This is a "docudrama." A DRAMATIZATION of events. It is NOT news, though undoubtedly many will mistake it as being "true." But it is a work of fiction. And, from what I'm hearing and reading, it is more fiction than fact in many places. This is irresponsible, and dangerously so.

This whole topic is actually far more complicated than I am able to go into in an e-mail. I read, research, and teach about this stuff my entire life. But to boil it down to a few sentences, we have "news" programs that present stories to us which are utter crap, but we call them "news." Tom Cruise's rant on Oprah. The "scandal" of race-based teams on "Survivor." The advantages of liposuction. At the same time, we have "serious" reporting that is itself irresponsible. Just look at Judith Miller. We have "journalists" presenting as "facts" things that are complete fabrications. The Senate Intelligence Committee's report on prewar intelligence just released the first of its findings yesterday, and guess what they said? No link between Saddam and 9/11. No link between Saddam and al Qa'ida. No link between Saddam and Abu Moussad a' Zarqawi. All things that YOU (and most GOPers) insisted on. They were lying. You were duped. In all three of these cases, I saw the lie and was not duped. I read. But most Americans don't read, and most were duped. Some were duped so badly, that they STILL believe these three lies, even though history and official government reports say they were -- ummmm -- not true. The Senate Intelligence Committee has not yet made a report -- which it eventually will -- on whether the intelligence that was used was "cherry-picked" in the face of OTHER, more reliable, more verifiable (and verified) information that was also in the possession of the Bush administration. Would you like to make a wager now on what the results of that report will be?

The answer to all of this is NOT to let more lies go unchallenged. What ABC is doing is wrong, and so obviously political. We have a right to demand that they act responsibly, and if they insist on acting irresponsibly, we have a right to demand they pay consequences. And what the Democrats are doing now is no different than what GOPers have done in the past -- for less justifiable reasons. Republicans demanded that CBS pull its "Reagan" miniseries for completely subjective reasons, not -- unlike "Path to 9/11" -- because of outright fabrications. It was Disney itself who tried to kill Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" by blocking its distribution. And every word in that movie was true!!! Where were your cries of (so-called) moral outrage then, Howie?

Don't you feel a little bit hypocritical? Of course you don't; you're a REPUBLICAN.

Apparently, it is okay for corporations, whose sole allegiance these days seems to be to their bottom line and their shareholders, to practice censorship. But democratically elected representatives cannot demand, at their constituents' request, responsible behavior from mass media? Tell me again that "fascism" is a bad adjective for your ideological orientation, Howie.

Yes, I AM outraged by the Bush administration's infringements on constitutional rights. I'm not the only one, and FINALLY, that message is getting through to this administration. And I am outraged by "The Path to 9/11." Contrary to your suggestion that "my silence is deafening," I have already sent an e-mail to Disney and to ABC asking them not to air this work of fiction (written and directed by a close friend of Rush Limbaugh's) masquerading as fact.

But you're right, Howie, that's not enough. I ought to post something on IN THE DARK. I will right now.

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