No. 13 -- October 27th, 1995

One of the biggest bogeymen to the Right Wing in this country is the purported "great liberal media conspiracy," which is continually working overtime to keep them down. This, of course, is a myth, and its perpetrated by people who should better, like Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Now, Newt, to me, is not the pure essence of evil like, say, Randall Terry or Bud Selig (who actually has a good idea starting the 1996 season a week early so the Series doesn't go into Thanksgiving) -- how could he be, when he stopped the Exon bill cold? There it was, all ready to chill free speech in cyberspace, and Newt nixed it faster than people are deserting the Democratic Party.

That's why his most disingenuous thing of all is his constant excoriation of the big bad media. So, with a given that poll after poll shows that a majority of reporters, writers, etc. lean towards the left, here is a couple of reasons as to why there is no Left-Wing Media Conspiracy.

  1. The Owners. Disney just bought ABC. Rupert Murdoch owns Fox. G.E., who made bizillions of dollars with defense contracts (extracted through right-wing paranoia of Commie world-wide domination) owns NBC. And so it goes. So while the employees might lean towards the left, their bosses lean far towards the right. And where you work, who makes the policy decisions, the bosses or the workers??

  2. The Stars. Rush Limbaugh. Pat Buchanan. G. Gordon Liddy. George Will. William F. Buckley. Bob Novak. John McLaughlin. William Safire. Name me one, just one, liberal commentator who has a profile nearly as high as any these gentlemen. If there was truly a conspiracy, none of them would be able to express their opinions 24-7 on TV, radio, cyberspace, and syndicated newspaper and magazine columns coast to coast. If there was truly a conspiracy, none of these voices would ever be heard.

I mean, imagine Michael Kinsley or Sam Donaldson making as serious of a run for the Presidency as Pat Buchanan? One more thing: when the Pat Buchanan web site first went up, there was a section entitled "News the Establishment Media Won't Print," but now, since there have been numerous favorable mentions of Pat in the so-called "Establishment Media," the section has been changed to "Other News You Might Have Missed," and they quote Time Magazine's compliment on their web site right up front. Funny how the media is always the enemy when its mean but your ally when its nice.

Which Newt knows, as he's a past master at using the press. Had the recent series of articles in Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, New Yorker and Esquire been complimentary, he'd be toning down the anti-press rhetoric, but since they weren't (and a couple were downright nasty), one of the most powerful men in America will continue his "ohhh, look at poor little beleaguered me" act for the punters.

In fact, if anything, one could claim that there's really a great Conservative media conspiracy. But there isn't, just a bunch of rich white guys trying to make more money -- and they'd eat each other's balls for breakfast if they thought it would give them an advantage.

Inspired by the somewhat spotty, somewhat informative and somewhat inaccurate (especially in Rob Sheffield's entries -- claiming that London Calling "hasn't worn well," is just misguided revisionism, but quoting The Jam as singing "reality's so hot" rather than "reality's so hard" when it was plastered all over the inner sleeve of the In The City album suggests he doesn't always know what he's talking about), SPIN Guide To Alternative Music, I compiled a list of my favorite albums from 1980 -- 1994. Warning: if your browser doesn't support tables, this will look like a mess.

Is it me, or is our National Nanny, Bill Bennett, fast becoming a parody of himself?? Fresh from a victorious drive-by on Time- Warner's Interscope Records for its gangsta rap (its soo much easier to attack the messengers than to try to reverse the message, and as far as Time-Warner . . . who'da thunk that one of the biggest media corporations on the planet would turn out to be such wusses?), he's now going after talk shows. Talk shows, for chrissakes. Ooooooh, scaaarrry.

I mean, the only people who take talk shows seriously are the people on them. Most of the rest of us watch them with vacillating horror and amusement, but at the same time, they're not a bad reality check on the dark side of America. For better or worse, these people and situations and lifestyles and viewpoints do exist, and while I choose not to watch talk shows (even Talk Soup got real old real fast), I wholeheartedly support their right to exist.

But not Bill Bennett would rather sweep it all under the rug. That's right Bill, let's pretend that these people don't exist, and maybe they will go away, and the only media images that permeate your nice, safe, cloistered world will be the ones that replicate your world-view. Or, better yet, when confronted with shows and songs and movies you don't like, turn the TV and radio off.

Why I'm rooting for Atlanta in the Series: The Indians' shoddy, shitty treatment of future Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield. After two decades in the bigs, he should have garnered enough respect to at least be on the post-season roster, barring injury. I'll admit I have no idea of the circumstances and reasoning behind the decision, but from where I sit, it looks terrible. Of course, I've always liked Winfield, from way way back in his Padres days.

So, I read where Willig Freight Lines is folding. Bankrupt. Kaput. Normally, this wouldn't even register the tiniest little blip on my radar except for their trucks. Perhaps you've seen them -- they are yellow, with twin smiling clocks on the back. The clocks, I guess, were supposed to represent that from 12:00 to 12:00, their trucks were always running.

But those twin smiling clocks always freaked me out. There was something creepy about them. Back when I was a kid , on late-night drives home from Bakersfield up Highway 99, we might end up behind one of those Willig Trucks, and I'd stare and stare at the clock faces, expecting them to move, or worse, speak to me like some evil moon in an ancient fairy tale. That's what they reminded me of -- evil moons, trapped on the back of a truck hauling lampshades or something, just waiting until the spell that held them to the back of the truck was broken and they could break free and get me. Maybe I had an overactive imagination.

Who gives a fuck how many people were at the Million Man March?? Why does it even matter? If the morals and ideas and concept behind it were good and right and real (and story after story I've read tells me that they were they were, regardless of what you think about Farrakhan), then let's not distract from them with the endless quibbling about exactly how many people were there.

This isn't new -- it's a given that organizers of all stripes always claim more people showed up to their rally or demonstration or march than the "official" count. It's all a part of the controversy, and how the "they" who are being marched against are trying to keep the "us" who are marching down.

Even if, in a democracy, "might makes right" ("might" being defined in terms of numbers as opposed to firepower) (and which I don't believe is demonstrably as true as "money makes right," -- look at the NRA) it seems to me that these organizers -- be they pro-choice, pro-life, pro-gay, pro-gun, or whatever -- are trying to create support by manufacturing support. Their reasoning seems to be that the right they have to their agenda is directly proportional to the amount of people who show up at their rally.

This bugs me, because I'm not really sure if it matters: if you can get tens or hundreds of thousands of people to disrupt the daily rhythms of their lives to show in-your-face support for your cause, then there are no doubt millions more who are there in spirit. And that's far far more important than the exact count. And by squabbling over the exact count, they're going off message.

But I guess its just human nature to want to be surrounded with as many believers as possible. People need that validation. That's why annoying people knock on my door asking me about my deepest personal beliefs and trying to get me to change to theirs. They don't give a rats ass about my soul, they're just trying to make themselves feel better about their own choices. 50,000,000 Elvis fans can't be wrong, you know?

Speaking of insane people, as I write this, I'm listening to the Smashing Pumpkins new two-hour set, Mellon Collie and the Infinte Sadness, and I'm just counting the days until some reviewer calls it Melodrama and the Infinte Sameness. I mean, this is even longer than Sandinista! (though not as long as the Use Your Illusion twins, but those could be purchased separately.) At first blush, I don't even know whether I like it or not. And I'm almost wondering if I'll be able to get a grasp on it or not. When do I have two hours in a chunk to listen to it? Not very often, especially with album running times inching ever upwards. But more on that at some other time.

Finally, its all very well and good that Bob Dole has apologized for returning the $1000 donation from the Log Cabin Republicans, but I don't think its enough. Just to make him put his mouth where their money is (so to speak), they should re-donate. Loudly and publicly. Hey, it's only a grand, and it would be mucho fun to see if he accepts it. Otherwise, Dole gets to pander both ways -- to the right, he gets to point out that he refused the money from the faggots, and to the moderates, he gets to point out that he's not really anti-gay, but rather his panicky staff made him do it. It would be a great litmus test to see if he'd accept their money again. But they probably won't offer it. Too bad.

This space is available for advertising. I am so ready to sell out to corporate America for some decent money.

Love,

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This rant written on 27 October, 1995.
I was listening to Smashing Pumpkins -- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness