Local corporate media coverage of the Sarah Palin book-signing event in Norman Thursday was overhyped and lacked perspective.
Local television stations gave it live coverage, and even Ed Kelley, editor of The Oklahoman, weighed in with his opinion that Palin, the former vice presidential candidate, is (drum roll, please) a “political rock star.”
Here’s the problem with all the hype: The crowd at Hastings in Norman was estimated at around 1,000. What’s the big deal? I bet more people show up at The Lost Ogle’s Snuggie Pub Crawl Saturday night. So will the snuggies get as much coverage? Also, compare that 1,000 number to the crowds of 75,000 and even 100,000 people that President Barack Obama would draw at speeches and events during his 2008 campaign.
The local media elites, including Kelley, also made a big point that the crowd showed up despite the cold, but, really, it wasn’t that cold. There wasn’t a huge ice or snowstorm looming. People who lined up outside the store needed coats, some gloves and maybe some ear protection because, well, it’s almost winter here on the prairie. No one was going to die of exposure. It can get cold in December.
Yes, Oklahoma is an ultra-conservative state, and, yes, Palin undoubtedly has support from tea baggers and birthers here, but her stop in Oklahoma simply didn’t warrant all the breathless coverage. She got the coverage because the local corporate media has a right-wing bias that continues to skew the news to favor conservative ideology and the GOP agenda.
Here’s a question that went unasked by the corporate media here: Why does a GOP political rock star and a possible 2012 presidential candidate only draw 1,000 people to an event in conservative Oklahoma?
Fittingly, Palin wouldn’t even talk to the local media types that so adore her and her family, but no one seemed to complain. Why get tangled up in questions and facts and policy positions with a rock star?
You realize how corrupt our political system has become when Frank Keating is actually mentioned as a viable candidate for president.
Keating, a two-term former Oklahoma governor, has resurfaced in media reports recently as someone who is considering a run for the presidency in 2008. Keating, a Republican, now works as president of the American Council of Life Insurers, which is based in Washington.
The media reports are of the “will-he-or-will-he-not?” variety, and are meticulously manipulated by the Keating camp to make him seem like a viable candidate. Do not believe a word about Keating in these mainstream reports, especially any information about Keating from The Daily Oklahoman.
(Here is a revealing site about Keating.)
The larger issue with Keating, glossed over by the mainstream media, is this: As a public servant, Keating accepted some $250,000 from a quirky financier, Jack Dreyfus, to promote the drug Dilantin. Dreyfus thought Keating, first as a federal employee, then as governor, could help him get the drug used widely in the nation’s prison systems. Considered somewhat of a kook by some people, Dreyfus thought Dilantin was a wonder drug that could help society. Keating took money “gifts” from Dreyfus and later set up a meeting between him and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
When the alleged political bribery scam was revealed in the national press, Keating returned the money to Dreyfus.
Some pundits speculated Keating was passed over as a running mate for President George Bush and then later as a nominee for attorney general because of the Dreyfus scandal. Keating was a major Bush supporter.
So Keating will have to deal with the Dreyfus scandal and his earlier, unwavering support for an extremely unpopular president if he decides to run. In addition, Keating has a short temper and is inclined to make nasty public comments. He once said “homicide” was the best way to deal with a teacher’s organization, for example. This also makes him the perfect candidate for the anti-intellectual, right-wing GOP base, but political moderates outside of Oklahoma will find him corrupt, misguided and mean.
These are the only real issues about a possible Keating run for the presidency, and everyone knows it, especially important GOP strategists, but you will have to hunt down this information in the mainstream media, which has become complicit with political corruption in the country.
(Go Wireless OKC is a series of blogs dedicated to creating a wireless Internet movement in Oklahoma City. On occasion, Okie Funk will blog from unique wireless locations in Oklahoma City and the surrounding area. Have a wireless location you want Okie Funk to visit? Leave a comment on this blog.)
Inside a cool oasis on one of the first really hot days this year in Okie Town, I sit sipping iced mocha at a tiled table right in front of two large windows that overlook a killer patio. Outside, the patio's flowers brace themselves against the shimmering prairie heat; inside, soft classical music plays in the background.
I just checked email and discussion posts at my online Beat Movement class, and here I am blogging again from one of the city's important wireles hubs.
In front of this business, a jeep is impaled on a huge pole, but Classen Avenue traffic goes by as usual on this Tuesday afternoon. Nothing unusual here. (Yes, you read those sentences
Got it yet? That's right, folks, Okie Funk comes to you live today from the Back Door Coffee House on Classen Avenue between 31st and 32nd Streets. This is a wonderful coffee house with laid-back people, an interesting ambiance, and great coffee and food. And, of course, it wireless
connection, so I can work or play on the Internet right here, right now.
Oklahoma City needs more insightful businesses like the Back Door where the wi-fi flows and the intellectualism grows. All businessess and institutions in Oklahoma City need to go wireless, and the city needs to launch a major wireless initiative in the tradition of Austin and Philadelphia. Why not?
Ah, well . . .
So, can you take some more Okie Funk commentary on the demise of the mainstream media? (Every time I write about the mainstream media the hits at Okie Funk go down. But "hits" or readers or customers mean nothing to me when placed against the truth. I wonder if any mainstream newspaper or television station or radio station can say the same.)
The New York Times published an article Sunday about how it was challenging itself to become more responsive to readers. The article was about a report a committee at the newspaper produced in the wake of the href="http://slate.msn.com/id/2082741">Jayson Blair scandal, the over-zealous, pro-war reporting of the careerist Judith Miller, and the general mistrust the general public has about the mainstream media in particular.
The committee came up with ten recommendations for the newspaper. Five of the recommendations are complete and utter bureaucratic nonsense, such as establishing "a system for evaluating public attacks on The Times's work . . ." What does that mean and who really cares?
Four of the recommendations are right on the money: "Make reporters and editors available through email," use the online site to provide readers with complete documents related to stories, "consider" creating a reader-friendly blog, and encourage software development to detect plagiarism.
One of the recommendations seems so politically loaded and weird, though, it defies understanding. Here it is in its entirety: "Increase coverage of middle America, rural areas and religion."
It is the "religion" part of the recommendation that seems politically motivated to me. Is this The Times throwing a bone to the country's right-wing religious folks and, if so, why? Certainly, I want to see The Times cover more issues and stories in places like Oklahoma, but if that means watered-down, rah-rah stories about weird fundamentalist churches, then The Times can count me out. Notice how the "religion" issue is linked with "middle America
and rural areas." Does The Times really want to validate the new, right-wing religion of
hate and death that pervades our country these days?
For months now, I have ended blogs with a warning to coastal progressives that the religious right is marching strong from middle America to the coasts. Maybe The Times's "possible" capitulation to the theocrats is yet another frightening indicator of the coming Christian fascist government in America.
Here are two things The Times does not address. As usual, The Funk will put them in numeric order for your reading pleasure.
(1) Print or hard-copy versions of newspapers are dying out for a number of reasons.
Certainly, the free, online model is beginning to make a dent. So why wasn't there more about this issue in the recommendations? The Times has a great online site, but it could do a lot more in terms of offering more to intelligent people who read "and click and write" these days.
Interactive discourse is the new intellectual standard for anyone who wants to consider themselves in touch with what is going on in the world. The print version of The Times does not click or link or allow for extensive comments. The reason The Times will not commit itself completely to the online side is because it is a huge monopoly that wants to get your last dime, your last penny, from subscription sales. Individually, the newspaper has some great reporters and
editors, but the controlling side of the paper, the business side, does not care about anything but its bottom line. It does not care what you think or who you are. It wants your money, money, money.
(2) Print or hard-copy versions of newspapers are tied to archaic technologies. Newspapers are produced by cutting down trees and hurting our environment. Once these "trees" are printed by huge industrial presses, the product is carted away by huge trucks using immense amounts of fossil fuels. Once this was the only way to disseminate news and knowledge to a broad group of people, and so these ancient technologies helped advance our culture in an immeasurable way. But now that we have the Internet and other computer-related technologies, we need to leave these technologies behind to (1) respond to the new, electronic discoursive methods of communication, and (2) to help save the environment from our waste and greed.
I also need to say this to The Times: It was the American liberal intelligentsia that created you, and if it comes to it, it will be the American liberal intelligentsia that abandons you when you trade in intellectualism and rhetorical depth for the validation of the country's right-wing religious nuts. There is no thriving New York Times without the smart
These are serious times in our country's history. The quasi-fascists, the theocrats, are upon us with their anti-intellectual, anti-rational, anti-science agenda. Are you going to go with a vision produced by a business monopoly tied to technologies that hurt our environment? Or are you going to go with the plurality, diversity and openness of all the new Internet voices rising up even in the heartland, even in Oklahoma.
You decide. I made my decision a long time ago.
Speaking of decisions, I making another one right now: I'm coming back to the Back Door Coffee House whenever I get the chance. Also, I just asked someone who works here why the jeep is impaled on the pole, and the answer seems to be that it is an overall attention getter, which it is.
Meanwhile, people come and go, "talking of
Michelangelo." (Did you get this reference? Bonus points for the first one who comments and gives the reference source.)
See you soon at the Back Door. Don't forget your laptop.