By Lauren Peckler
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Having never heard of the left-wing activist Amy Goodman or her show Democracy Now!, I bravely attended her speech promoting both independent media as well as her new book, "Exception to the Rulers."
Casually walking into a Centennial Hall packed with brooding Democrats and liberals, I felt out of place immediately. Not that I wondered who was pro-choice or how many burned their bras in the '60s, but somehow I never developed into the protester arrested for disrupting the peace. I'm the closet liberal who hasn't come out yet.
It's easy for me to be a border liberal - one who supports and advocates the issues, but has trouble stepping into a crowd of die-hard conservatives dead-set on changing their minds.
As I sat in the packed hall waiting for them to introduce Amy Goodman, I almost felt like I was the newcomer at a cult meeting. It's all too creepy when you're amongst a crowd who cheers with its fists when Michael Moore's name is said. Not to mention that a video was played beforehand promoting Tucson's independent TV network, Access Tucson while an eerie voice in the background chanted "Find Your Voice... Find Your Voice."
Democracy Now!'s staple is to criticize mass media like CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and ABC - I couldn't help but feel like Amy Goodman was about to dispose a handful of biased facts in hopes that the leftist community might take over the world someday.
After a shockingly informative two hours, all I have to say is never hesitate to listen to someone because of your own prejudices or naiveté. I was taken aback by her honest and heart-pounding speech that felt more like my grandmother telling stories of her youth.
Unlike so many horrible politicians you hear where every comment is preplanned so that they sound vague, noncommittal or just plain ridiculous, Amy Goodman held nothing back and only gave the truth.
Bush-bashing and war-hating were not topics on her agenda when she elaborated on issues like American generals on the CNN payroll, forgotten immigrants who died on Sept. 11, 2001, or the U.S. funding the deaths of 200,000 East Timorese.
What we hear from the media tells only half of the story. Corporations own most media outlets, and you better believe they won't fund say a newspaper that disparages them in any way at all. In fact, weapon-making powerhouse General Electric owns the NBC network. You think information about peaceful anti-war protests will consume the evening news?
Goodman appropriately compares deliberate tailoring of the news by CNN and CNN Worldview. These stations are owned by the same company, but each presents remarkably varied images to its viewers. Think about it - CNN relays to us, as Goodman puts it, romantic photos of soldiers against sunset backgrounds in times of war.
That's not what the rest of the world sees though. Photos of limbless men, burned babies and mass graves crowd their minds every time they switch to CNN Worldview. Sadly, what they see is much closer to the truth. As viewers, what we should realize is that mother company, Time Warner, consciously decides to feed these bowdlerized images to the United States.
Some of you may be thinking, "Eh, I hate the news anyway. I know it's a bunch of lies."
Beware, most media is subject to censorship or bias to their parent company.
How about the risqué and limit-pushing MTV we all love? MTV carries the stigma of baring-it-all women, banned music videos and, of course, sex in all corners of the television screen.
I guess "sex" doesn't mean "liberal" anymore, because in the last year MTV Europe decided that anything related to war will not air on the station, and recommendations of the same nature were given to MTV U.S. as well.
The wall between the truth and the tidbits of what we get occurs everywhere. Anything owned by a larger company will have slanted views or views that reflect the parent company. I wonder who owns MTV?
A bumper sticker from Antigone Books on Fourth Avenue, naturally an independent bookstore - "The media are only as liberal as the conservative businessmen that own them" - pretty much sums up the general problem with mass media.
I don't know about you, but don't you ever wonder what the whole story is? Amy Goodman does, and for that she just might become the female equivalent of the all-knowing and über-logical Noam Chomsky one day.
Lauren Peckler is sophomore majoring in English and sociology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.