home | many pasts | evidence | www.history | blackboard | reference
talking history | syllabi | students | teachers | puzzle | about us
search: go!
advanced search - go!

Back to Talking History results

Back to archive list

Date:         Fri, 18 Jun 1999 08:35:00 -0400
Reply-To:     Forum on Women's History
Sender:       Forum on Women's History
From:         Douglas W Sims 

Dear Reader,

     Over the last decade or so, but most especially during the year
1998, and continuing into the present year, a very large percentage
of the citizens of this country have become very deeply disturbed and
indeed alarmed by certain events. However, so far, few enough have given
much open expression to this alarm, partly out of a fear of being taken
for "nuts", and partly out of a nagging sense or fear that perhaps
they really were a little off balance ("Since others aren't speaking
up, I'd best repress these feelings; perhaps my perceptions are off,"
etc., etc.).  This sense of alarm was given rise to by two growing
convictions, which, while being products more of intuition than of
empirical thought, were nevertheless extraordinarily powerful, and
seemingly undeniable.

     The first of these two convictions was that there was under way
an unprecedentadly vicious, pervasive, nasty, unfair, and unrelenting
campaign to discredit, humiliate, and stigmatize the president at all
costs, partly by simply misrepresenting facts, and partly by ceaselessly
and idioticaly fixating on insignificant transgressions on the part
of the president, in a breakneck and absurd attempt to turn peccadilloes
into grave sins.

     The second of these convictions was a paralyzing sense of certainty
that, although such a defamation campaign was certainly in progress,
there was nothing that an individual citizen could do about it, considering
the all-pervasive power of the press and media, and the apparent impossibility
 of an individual to get his voice heard.  Many, in fact, felt that
to even try confronting the media might somehow be "unwise", attributing
to the media and their controllers a forbidding and austere unapproachableness,
a notion given currency by some of the more ridiculous depictions of
media heads in films such as 'Network.'  This second conviction left
people with a profound sense of powerlessness, and a sense that they
were alone in their alarm.

     The first of these convictions is absolutely correct.  The second,
fortunately, is not, due to some recent developments, and it is becoming
less and less correct almost daily.  It is becoming less so because
there is now a rapidly growing number of conscientious, honest and
responsible members of the press who have broken away from the traditional
mainstream media, which latter have come more and more under the full
control of powerful corporate entities, entities which have, to serve
their own financial interests, distorted the business of providing
news to the public to the point that once respectable news agencies
have become littlle more than propaganda vehicles in many areas.  These
breakaway newspeople have taken the initiative of establishing new
non-corporately owned newspapers and journals, mostly online, that
is, a sort of new free press.  They have done this to with the purpose
of restoring to the public the sort of consistently reliable fonts
of information on political issues without which no participatory democracy
can function.  Most of the readers of the present e-mail list are professional
persons, scholars, etc., that is, persons accustomed to casting a critical
eye on what they read.  The ring of authenticity, professionalism and
sincerity in the articles from these new presses, which can be read
quite free of charge at the Web addresses I have provided below will
be immediately obvious to them.  Immediately obvious too will be the
what, the who, the why, and the how of the almost unbelievable campaign
against President Clinton.  This, the real major story of 1998, is
coming to be referred to in mock irony as MediaGate, almost untouched
by the mainstream media, due to their own prominent part in it.  Finally,
immediately obvious will be the enormity of several genuine scandals
which have been suppressed by this mainstream press, scandals of a
non-sexual and really socially harmful nature involving many of the very
persons who led the attacks on Mr. Clinton.

     Start out by reading the two articles for which I have provided
specific article links after this paragraph.  I assure you that, if
you have been disturbed and bewildered by the types of feelings described
above, you will be astonished, but also much relieved, by the enlightenment
they will bring you.  And if you read these two items, I guarantee
you you will then proceed to the other URL's listed at the end here,
and click about in them for awhile, after which you will have a very
clear picture indeed of what has been going on.  You will also be quite
appalled at the depths to which once reliable organs have sunk in only
a few years, organs such as The New York Times, The Washington Post,
The Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, NBD, et al.  When organs such as
these degenerate, they obviously will not do so in ways which will
make that degeneration obvious to readers and viewers, and, until their
unreliability becomes generally exposed, the fact that a great many
people will continue to consider them to be the reliable sources they
once were obviously presents tremendous dangers.  The information at
the two URL's following will put that misconception to rest:



     (This, by Steven Brill, also includes a lengthy response by Kenneth
Starr, as well as Brill's response back.  See also the related URL

     You might also wish, before checking these two sites, take a look
at the site for Harvard University's Shorenstein Center for the Press
and Politics, especially the short monograph, "The Rise of the 'New
News': A Case Study of Two Root Causes of the Modern Scandal Coverage,'
by Prof. Marvin Kalb, who heads the Shorenstein Center.  It is revealing
in itself, and also provides meaningful and helpful background to the
works at the URL's above, and at the end here.  The URL for the monograph
is: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/presspol/news_events/82546_D-34.pdf,
or you can order a hard copy from Harvard's Shorenstein Center, 617-495-8269
(You need an Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the online version, unlike
all the other addresses given here, which are plain Web pages.)

     Our nation, as you will see from these alternate sources, is in
a dire predicament indeed due to big money interests manipulating the
news to their own ends, and due also to a related very recent practice
on the part of news agencies to discard the old rule that a journalist,
if at all possible, should find two confirming sources for any lead
he comes upon before commiting it to print.  Often reporters settle
now not just for one confirmation, but even none at all, putting themselves
on the level of a Matt Drudge.  The term "MediaGate" (or "PressGate")
is coming to be used by the new free press and mediawatch organizations
to refer to the present deploable state of the mainstream media, and,
since MediaGate IS the media, they will say nothing about it.

     The media refuse to change.  Even the government has had very
little success in trying to make them more responsible.  But, thanks
to the rise of this new free press, whose honesty, candidness and,
yes, fearlessness will astound and refresh you (especially after the
mushy nonsense and disinformation we have been offerred of late), this
no longer need be a problem at all.  We can simply go around them,
and, in a fairly short time I think, either eliminate them, or force
them back on track.  The only problem at the moment is that awareness
of the availability of these new presses, and awareness of the depths
to which the traditional media have fallen, has not yet spread far
enough.  That is why I am posting this message to a large number of
listservers (e-mail lists), choosing intentionally those which contain
a large number of subscribers.  The largest publicly accessible lists
to which registered members can post messages have 1000 to 2000 members,
with a few approaching 3000, and there are many hundreds, if not thousands
with memberships between 500 and 1000, and my hope is to reach some
50,000 to 100,000 persons, many of them educated and civic-minded
people.  If you have an automatic dispersal mechanism in your e-mail
program, via which you can instantly send this on to all your e-mail
correspondents, I implore you, as good citizens, to do so.  When an
individual becomes informed about corporate media misdoings, that is
good, but when he also knows that millions of others know, that is
much better, for it emboldens him or her.  Also you might drop a short
message of your own to your e-mail group, and tell them not to delete
this message, but read it, even though it does not deal with the groups
usual topics.  I believe this is justified considering the importance
of the message.

     The articles at the following sites will leave you well-informed
indeed about our situation:

     This is the online journal Salon, the most prominent of the new
presses, founded and edited by David Talbot.  It is as scrupulously
reliable as a news source can get, and many of the most highly respected
journalists, as Joe Conason, Murray Waas, Mollie Dickenson contribute
to it, providing the public with much information which they would
not be able to get out through the mainstream media.
     In particular, concerning both MediaGate and the attacks upon
the president, see the following:

     This is Steven Brill's journal, like Talbot's utterly scrupulous
and reliable.  Its specialty is reporting ON the traditional media
and press, and it also has a list of star contributors, as does Salon.
>From the homepage, click the "ARCHIVE" link, which takes you to a series
of links (clicks) containing the contents of all past issues.  As with
Salon, all the articles can be read or printed out free.

     This is The Nation:  Digital Edition, the online variant of the
much respected print weekly, The Nation.  It is famous for its incisive
reporting.  At the home page, click down to the heading "RECENT", where
click the link "Starr and Willey."  Also, for some startling insights
into some probable truly dreadful activities of the two previous administrations
(activities the enormity of which show clearly the absurdity of a year-long
fixation on presidential sexcapades), click "Search", after which click
in the box and type in:  Contras crack C.I.A. , then click "Go", for
a series of articles exposing not only horrendous doings, but also
the frantic efforts of the major media to discredit the stories, efforts
successful enough to have convinced many discerning readers that the
story probably belongs to the area of urban myths.  You can decide
from this and articles in the following.

     This is The Consortium, founded and edited by Robert Parry.  While
Parry, unlike Talbot and Brill, has been accused by some of overzealousness,
he is generally quite reliable.  He is famous among journalists for
being the reporter who first broke the Iran-Contra affair, and his
several periodical publications are subscribed to by Harvard's Library,
as well as many others.  See especially:

     The Real News Page.  While more a grass-roots production, not
as professional as the above, this is honest and informative.  It publishes
information at its site irregularly, but it provides a wealth of useful
information and useful perspectives.  See especially:

     A good site which gathers information from all over and provides
meaningful commentary on the Web.  The following is quoted from their
site:  "American Politics Journal is the fastest-growing political site
on the Internet.Our daily commentary is  read by America's most powerful
decision makers and opinion makers Five days a week, we tear the lid off
the funny business that passes forpolitics, press coverage, justice and
punditry in America.We pull no punches.  We speak truth to power.  And we
even manage to find a chuckle or two in the process!  Tell your friends
they can subscribe for FREE by filling out the form at

     For some other grass-roots new free press links (clicks), see
the links list at http://www.rain.org/'openmind/stop11.htm, including
sources of varying degrees of reliability, although the above are the
best, and certainly sufficient in themselves.

     For those with no Web access, the following printed works will
be more than sufficient to get a pretty good picture of the situation:

     Bagdikian, Ben H. 'The Media Monopoly.'  Boston, Beacon Press,
1997. (Bagdikian is dean emiritus at the Graduate School of Journalism
at Berkeley.)

     Dershowitz, Alan M.  'Sexual McCarthyism:  Clinton, Starr, and the
Emerging Constitutional Crisis.'  New York, Basic Books, 1998. (Dershowitz
is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and
is one of the country's most prominent legal scholars.)

     Hamill, Pete. 'News Is a Verb:  Journalism at the End of the Twentieth
Century.'  New York, Ballantine, 1998. (Hamill is former editor-in-chief
of 'The New York Post, and a lifelong newspaperman.  The book is published
in the 'Library of Contemporary Thought' series.)

     Lyons, Gene.  'Fools for Scandal:  How the Media Invented Whitewater.'
 New York, Franklin Square Press, 1996. (Do not think this valuable
work is dated, for it makes the background of the events of 1998 much
clearer  Lyons is a former editor of 'Newsweek', and currently is a
newspaper columnist, and a book reviewer for 'Entertainment Weekly.'
The book was co-authored by the editors of 'Harper's Magazine.')

     McChesney, Robert W.  'Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy.'
New York, Seven Stories Press, 1997. (McChesney is Associate Professor
of Communication at the University of Illinois, and a widely-respected
expert in his field, who has written and contributed to a large number
of works on the press and media.)

     Retter, James D.  'Anatomy of a Scandal:  An Investigation Into
the Campaign to Undermine the Clinton Presidency.'  Los Angeles, General
Publishing Group, 1998. (Retter is a freelance writer who has developed,
written and produced properties for NBC, CBS, HBO, and Turner Broadcasting.

     The following two articles are also revealing:

     Kalb, Marvin, "The Starr Subpoenas and the Strange Press Silence."
'Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics,' vol. 3, no. 4 (Fall,
1998), pp. 1-5.

     Korner, Victor A., "Has the Press Succumbed to the Independent
Counel?:  The Secret Law of Compelled Disclosure."  In the same journal
and number, pp. 114-19.


     In closing, I would like to apologize for intruding upon this
mail-list with a communication unrelated to its theme.  I certainly
would not have done so had I been able to come up with a different
means to disseminate this information, which I sincerely believe deals
with a situation which represents a genuine threat to democracy as
we have known it.

     Thank you sincerely for your time and patience.

Douglas W Sims