Baseball91's Weblog

September 6, 2008

The Powers That Be

Nervous.  Nervous. It has been a nervous week in St. Paul.  The 4500 delegates have gone home, along with the national media.  The barriers are being removed.  More than 800 people have been arrested overall, including some 17 journalists and innocent bystanders.

“You’re always going to have demonstrators,” said Maria Cino, who has been to every Republican National Convention since the early 1980s. “Most of the delegates inside the convention didn’t even know what was going on outside.” 

Most of the national television media did not either. 

The lack of coverage of the four hour clash during the last night on the streets of St. Paul, not broadcast to the nation, was a story? Were there not enough protesters to justify a real story?  Is it about the numbers?  

Were their televised stories true or not?  Comparing 1968 to 2008 and the coverage then, were there not enough numbers?  Were there not enough protestors?  Were there not enough broadcasters?  In Iraq, were there not enough troops?  Had not enough Americans died?  Had the cost of the war not made this an issue?  Was it just about ratings?  Were these television people true journalists.  Was it about commercial time and sponsors? 

What had changed in the the creeds of the news division of the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company?   What had changed in 40 years?  These were national television stations, under the authority of the FCC.  And if they did not care, why should the American public?  Why should anyone tune in?

Was the creed of CBS News, ABC News, NBC News about revealing the truth and transparency?  Where was the Public Broadcasting System?  Where was C-span? 

Conventions could be seen as a national retreat, to reflect on identities.  Instead the platforms of the two parties are not focused on.  Who care about creeds, if there are any creeds left?  

There was a tension between the known and the unknown.  I for one was nervous when the reporting was muted.  Of blackouts.  Or when there was no reporting. 

On Thursday evening at sunset, a volley of 24 shots was heard in the vicinity of the capital building as authorities battle demonstrators, with at least 2 helicopters in the distance, with 2 more audible overhead.  All this, audible by me.

The last 4 shots appeared to have been closer to the Cathedral of St. Paul, which had concluded by 20:18.  There was no live coverage of the goings on.  Bushville, where at least 100 of these demonstrators are staying in tents, was about 7 blocks from where all this was happening.  None of this was picked up by the traditional television media as a national story. 

Is there a sense now about political conventions, in Washington, in New York, of just going through the motions?  That this was just an exhibition game?  That conventions were just a commercial?  How did a news division of CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, go about presenting stories?  Were George Stephanopoulos, Jeff Greenfield put into roles as cheerleaders rather than reporters or analysts?  With the paid narrative inside, are they instructed to ignore protestors like they were fans who had tried to enter the playing field?  The Republican National Convention was just a halftime show of a football broadcast in prime time? Was this just a mid-summer’s night dream called an all-star game of political leaders, with little or no meaning? As cheerleaders created all-stars who would renew the licenses to broadcast for another four years?

 I think the websites of the protesters this week raised a valid question about what the “S” stood for in CBS.  Was it the “system?”  There was a story here.  It was missed.  Where was journalistic integrity this week in St. Paul?  Why were there young anarchists who had lived through the most affluent times in all of history?   

Behold the tension between the known and the unknown.  Behold a detection of totality if not Totalitarianism. And the reporting was so muted.

The convention was over.  I now am gonna read both Bob Woodward’s new book as well as Naomi Wolf’s book, The End of America, which takes a historical look at the rise of fascism and, according to Wikipedia, outlines the 10 steps necessary for a state to take control of individuals’ lives:


  • Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy. 
  • Create secret prisons where torture takes place.
  • Develop a paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.
  • Set up an internal surveillance system.
  • Harass citizen groups.
  • Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
  • Target key individuals.
  • Control the press.
  • Treat all political dissent as traitorous.
  • Suspend the rule of law. 

Bob Woodward’s new book indicates that President Bush conceded: “This war has created a lot of really harsh emotion, out of which comes a lot of harsh rhetoric. One of my failures has been to change the tone in Washington.”  

The quote that best summarized who these people were that came to town is: “Most of the delegates inside the convention didn’t even know what was going on outside.” I going to also be checking the tone on my telephone.  



  1. What has changed in eight year, but the growth of unlicensed journalists, at least when it comes to the Federal Communication Commission that grants licences to broadcast. In the wake of seven days of chaos around St. Paul, Minnesota a news source called Unicornriot Ninja has been, as described by the current pope, smelling like the sheep, doing a much better job bringing the public up to date than the institutional media. There is nothing uniform about Unicornriot, except the fact their reporters feel as if they are the high priests of truth who should not be injured as the reporters walk alongside the protestors on the one side of the great divide, more conspicuously than the networks’ stay on the other side.

    Naomi Wolf’s book certainly defines in too many cities the atmosphere which has grown over eight years since the political convention held in a fifteen minute walk from my house. As the host, things will be worse in Cleveland.

    Designated as a National Special Security Event by the US Department of Homeland Security, the city of Cleveland is entitled to the same $50 million federal grant toward its security plans the city of St Paul had been in 2008, for the imminent Republican National Convention. The city recently upped its protest insurance coverage from $9.5 million to $50 million. The city had put out to bid a tear gas contract, according to the Washington Post.

    “The police department that was found to use excessive force a couple months ago,”Jocelyn Rosnick, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild’s Cleveland office, told Mother Jones concerning the ninth months of oversight to-date by the justice department over the use of force by the Cleveland Police Department, “is still the department we have today.”

    There were 800 arrested eight years ago. There have been 10,000 handcuffs ordered by the city.

    Comment by baseball91 — July 15, 2016 @ 6:04 PM | Reply

  2. “States officials have prostituted their offices to gain favor from the Steel barons; federal officers sell their souls for a nod; county officials cringe to the buccaneers and village and city officials kiss the feet of the task-master.” – from The Mesaba Ore and Hibbing News, August 19, 1916

    The current generation coming out of schools know, if their parents and grandparents have not figured it out, that the media in the way of networks have become shills for the Powers That Be.

    Control the access. Issue a press release and the television anchors will run with it. . . after all the cutbacks in the news room staff. Manage the news like Joseph Goebbels professed. Vilify the other side, when you privatize more and more the resources of the land. Until the masses lost confidence in a leadership, like has been seen this year in Germany with the political party of Angela Merkel in a place like Cologne where the city and the police release statements about a peaceful New Year’s Eve.

    Media like unicornriot becomes necessary when The Powers That Be betray the public trust. And that trust should be lost everywhere, until a guy like Matt Drudge doubts in a Hurricane the severity of wind, as reported by a government agency. [Does Drudge understand the threat of storm surges and the extent of flooding?] The entire system is out of balance, when people begin to believe a guy like Matthew Drudge but it has happened because of the management of Mass Media over the past fifteen years, because the young quit buying the news.

    Behold our public spectacle, in the New World. WHAT DOES HE CARE ABOUT OUR CITY? OUR STATE? OUR NATION? WHAT DOES SHE CARE ABOUT OUR shared belief? She/He/they are only some guy with enough money to buy commercials, like on an MTV reality show, or to send in their private security forces or their public ones, to take over the White House and the resources of this land.

    To actually believe that I am safe to write, beyond what is going on all around me? Did you perceive the invisible threatened public safety, in this election? Mostly, this has happened because an entire generation has quit reading books, vying instead to just watch.

    Comment by baseball91 — October 8, 2016 @ 7:48 PM | Reply

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