OMG: The Internet Is Making People Less Human, Says Fox News ‘Psycho’ Analyst (VIDEO)

Self proclaimed “Culture Warrior” Bill O’Reilly is very concerned about the harm being done by the Internet. He devoted a segment of the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News to the question: Is the internet creating a culture of hate in the US? Well, as a veteran hate monger, he should know.

Bill O'Reilly

The segment began with O’Reilly complaining about what he called an “online addiction” suffered by eighty percent of Americans. Don’t bother looking for his support for that statistic because it apparently came from the same dark place as the rest of his dubious data. And you don’t want to go there, trust me. After setting up this premise, O’Reilly turned to his guest, “Dr.” Keith Ablow, and asked “Is hatred rising because of social media?” Ablow, a member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, responded:

“Absolutely. Bill … The Internet invites people into it anonymously. It does so via an anonymous technological filter, and therefore it short-circuits empathy. So it favors people who lack empathy, number one, and it threatens to turn just regular folks into less empathetic people as well. So it’s doing that in a two-fold way.”

Why just the other day I received an invitation from the Internet’s anonymous technological filter to short-circuit my empathy. I was too busy translating some pseudo-psychological drivel and had to decline. But no doubt some misanthropes accepted the invitation to relinquish what was left of their ability to care for others. Ablow continued:

“It’s not just through bullying. Because, after all, ISIS and the like use the Internet to recruit. Why? Why is it seemingly so easy? Because people are depersonalized and dehumanized by the Internet. “

Any opportunity to inject ISIS into a discussion on Fox News is mandatory according to the network’s employee contracts. Even if it has nothing to do with the subject at hand. What Ablow leaves out of his analysis is that terrorists are not the only ones using the Internet for recruiting. It is also being used McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Army. All good examples of organizations seeking fresh, dehumanized candidates to join their zombie operations.

Another guest on the program was Dr. Paul Booth of DePaul University. He made the rational observation that hatred has always existed in society and the Internet didn’t create it. But O’Reilly would have none of that common sense crap. He quickly deflected to whining that “vicious people” online were the problem because “there’s no regulation. They can’t stop it.” He didn’t reveal who should be responsible for stopping it or by what means. But Ablow heartily agreed:

“They can’t stop it. And respectfully, what Dr. Booth misses is that there’s plenty of data suggesting that people who use social media more suffer psychological problems more. And one of them is a decrease in empathy and a lack of connectedness. Remember, the Internet cut its teeth on adult entertainment. The lack of humanity has been built in from the beginning. This coaxes people to be less human.”

Ablow is getting awfully worked up about empathy for a guy who literally argued that “Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Exactly What America Needs.” A real doctor would know that among the symptoms of narcissism is a lack of empathy. Why he brings porn into the mix is another of his curious theories. Or, perhaps, obsessions?

More to the point, Ablow’s contention that a “lack of humanity” was built into the Internet from the beginning is just plain delusional. Its actual beginnings (i.e. teeth cutting) were with defense contractors and academics. It then expanded to communications, gaming, commerce, and, yes, porn. Coaxing people to be less human was never on the agenda. Then Ablow drops this psychobabble:

“There isn’t a person alive who’s more human because they used the Internet or social media more. It’s psychologically impossible for that to be the case.”

Huh? What makes a person more human? Is there a person alive who’s more human because they used television or chiropractors or Prozac? If you’re only 81 percent human now, what’s the other 19 percent? Yorkshire Terrier? Ablow is making no sense at all. He is literally blabbering gibberish. Which was the perfect segue into O’Reilly’s summation:

“My main point is this. That there’s so much garbage on it. And that garbage finds its way out into the legitimate media. […] And now we’re having mainstream media quote this stuff. It’s all “Don’t blame me. I saw it on social media.” I mean it’s like nobody’s safe. Who’s safe?”

Bill O’Reilly is condemning the whole reason for Fox News’ existence: Putting out garbage that finds its way out into the legitimate media. What’s more, he just threw Donald Trump under the bus for using the “Don’t blame me. I saw it on social media” defense. After being called out on Meet the Press for posting a hoax video on twitter, Trump admitted that “All I know is what’s on the Internet.” And taking it to the next level is Trump fluffer Rudy Giuliani, who advised Fox News viewers to use the Internet to look up videos about Hillary Clinton’s precarious health. Because that’s where all the best medical diagnoses by whackoids like Alex Jones and Drudge are published.

Since you’re probably reading this on the Internet, be careful to shield yourself from the empathy-draining rays emanating from the screen. You are likely becoming less human even as you read this sentence. That’s if you haven’t already soured on humanity after listening to O’Reilly and Ablow. But if you hope to survive, the only known protection from the Internet’s evil influence is heavy duty tin foil and, yes, porn. Good luck.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

John Oliver Explains “Preventing Cable Company Fuckery” (aka Net Neutrality)

In a hilarious rant on Network Neutrality, HBO’s John Oliver delivers about as good an explanation of the concept as I’ve ever heard (video below). Even better, he calls out the corporations and special interests who are trying to co-opt the Internet for their nefarious purposes.

Oliver hits on every bullet point in the debate including how businesses are already deliberately obstructing access; how the FCC is headed by a former cable lobbyist; how our current system is delivering worse service than third world nations; and how the cable cabal is a working monopoly.

Oliver also notes that the public discussion on the issue is impeded by the inherently dull and technical subject matter, and how opponents of Net Neutrality are exploiting that by having figured out that “the way to do something evil is to put it inside something boring.” So Oliver has a suggestion about how to frame the debate, at least in terms of the yawn-inducing identifier “Net Neutrality.”

John Oliver Net Neutrality

That’s right. “Preventing Cable Company Fuckery.” Now that’s something that can get people riled up to actually do something productive like send comments to the FCC to demand that they protect Net Neutr…er…I mean Preventing Cable Company Fuckery.

Something else you can do is to stop blindly supporting the corporations that are trying to kill the Internet (or usurp it to service their greed). Those of you who use AT&T or Verizon for your cell phone service (and that’s most of you) have another option. CREDO Mobile is a progressive company that supports an open Internet that doesn’t favor wealthy conglomerates who can afford to pay for special treatment and to suppress competition. They also fight for the environment, social justice, and a political landscape free of Tea Party idiocy.

It’s so easy to make the switch you’ll wonder why you never did it before. You’ll get great service and a selection of the best phones. You can keep your current phone number. And they will pay up to $350.00 for any early termination fees your current provider charges. You can even try it for thirty days with no obligation. You really need to check this out because there is no reason for your hard-earned dollars to be working against you by literally funding the Tea Party and the KeystoneXL pipeline and, of course Cable Company Fuckery. And if you use this link, you’ll even be helping News Corpse, who will receive a modest commission for the referral.

So please take this simple step to change the world and free yourself from the shackles of corporations who are working against you and your principles. You’ll feel great for having done so. And send this video (and this link) along to your friends and family as well. We can have a huge effect if we join together for something positive, rather than submitting to the corporate masters.

Fight The FCC’s Phony Net Neutrality Plan

One of the most promising signs of the early Obama administration was the appointment of Julius Genachowski to chair the FCC. There was significant hope that the days of coddling Big Media and permitting more consolidation and concentration of corporate influence was about to end. However, it is now turning into one of the most disappointing appointments as Genachowski appears to be caving on Network Neutrality, one of the most important free speech issues of this decade.

The New York Times is reporting that “Genachowski has decided not to use the commission’s telephone regulatory powers to govern broadband Internet service.” He also seems to be prepared to allow Internet service providers to engage in “paid prioritization,” which could lead to favoritism on the part of the ISPs and discrimination against smaller, independent web enterprises.

This is not exactly the sort of plan that was promised by candidate Obama in 2008. It charts a course that smothers efforts to increase broadband access while giving more control of the Internet to monopoly-minded corporations. Josh Silver of summarizes the ill-effects of this proposal as “a shiny jewel for companies like AT&T and Comcast.”

Net Neutrality has been a target of right-wing disinformation for several years. They wrongly portray it as anything from a new Fairness Doctrine to something out of Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia. That is how obsessed they are with defeating a proposal whose actual purpose is to protect a free and open Internet. That’s how obsessed they are with advancing the interests of their wealthy benefactors at the expense of the American people.

This administration has been notably weak-kneed when it comes to anything remotely controversial. They demonstrated this tendency to bail with Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod, the Public Option in the health care debate, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and presently the matter of extending tax cuts to the wealthy. It seems that any opposition to common sense progressive proposals is met with complete surrender. We can’t let liars like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh drive the debate. And we can’t let the White House cave in to pressure from factions that represent greed and corporate power.

You can fight back by signing this petition from Bold Progressives to urge the FCC to protect free speech online by supporting Net Neutrality. And here’s another from Credo Action. Or you can use this form to contact the FCC directly and submit your comments. But you only have a couple of weeks, so act soon. You will surely regret it if you don’t and you later find that you can’t access some of your favorite web sites because they were blocked by ISPs because they couldn’t pay the toll.

Christian Broadcasting Network v. News Corpse

The Christian Broadcasting Network, home of The 700 Club, has notified News Corpse of a defamatory posting on this web site. I received an email from their legal team that included an attached letter (pdf) from Louis Isakoff, Vice President and General Counsel of Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Isakoff is representing Pat Robertson’s son (and CBN’s CEO), Gordon. The letter said in part:

“It has recently been brought to our attention that your internet site,, has posted comments from Cheryl Spencer which are false, misleading, and defamatory. A copy of that post is included with this letter. The posting accused Mr. Robertson of adultery. Obviously this accusation is inaccurate.”

The letter goes on to demand that I “remove the posting immediately” to “avoid legal action” against me. The posting in question is over two years old and it did not address Robertson in any way. It was about the hiring of the late Tony Snow, former Fox News host and Bush press secretary, by CNN. The offending material was contained in a comment made by a reader. Cheryl Spencer, whom I do not know, made a comment, that I did not endorse, concerning Robertson’s marital fidelity. News Corpse, as an advocate for higher standards in the media, respects free speech and provides an open forum for opinion from all ideological perspectives.

CBN and Robertson are demonstrating a rare measure of sensitivity by bringing down the hammer on a small Internet publisher of opinion over an old article that didn’t even mention their client. Isakoff may be a Yale lawyer and the head of the legal division of a big university and media enterprise, but he is woefully uninformed on matters of new media publishing and free expression. Had he taken the time to research the matter, he would have quickly discovered that US Code Title 47, Chapter 5, Sub-Chapter II, Part I, § 230(c) provides immunity from any cause of action related to comments posted on blogs:

(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

There is an abundance of case law affirming the protection for bloggers from lawsuits stemming from comments made by readers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Citizen Media Law Project have extensive documentation of this. And that protection even applies when a blogger is notified of an allegedly defamatory comment and declines to remove it.

I can’t say whether this misunderstanding of the law is typical of Regent University lawyers, but there are certainly curious circumstances associated with that crowd. The Bush administration hired some 150 of them, including White House counsel Monica Goodling, who took the fifth before a congressional committee investigating the potentially illegal firing of U.S. Attorneys by the Bushies for partisan political reasons. And the presence of 150 lawyers in the Bush Department of Justice from a single Christian law school that was less than thirty years old is startling and unprecedented.

I have no intention of removing the comment posted on my site. I believe that the demand by CBN is without merit and is deliberately intended to harass me and to stifle free expression. This sort of bullying tactic has a chilling effect on individuals and organizations who seek only to exercise their Constitutional rights and provide forums for others to do so as well. It’s disappointing to see a religious institution, who’s rights are protected by the very same Constitutional amendment, exploit their power by threatening innocent authors and publishers.

Dick Cheney: Human Events’ Conservative Of The Year.

Award season is in full swing, and the latest recipient of a year-end tribute is former Vice-President Dick Cheney. Human Events magazine has named Cheney “Conservative of the Year.”

Dick Cheney - The End Is Near

To be sure, this commendation lacks stature. After all, last year’s winner was Sarah Palin. Chosen to pen Palin’s accolades was the professional conservative controversialist, Ann Coulter. In her attempt to praise Palin, Coulter wrote such back-handed compliments as…

[1] Who cares if Palin was qualified to be President? [2] Palin was a kick in the pants, she energized conservatives, and she made liberal heads explode. [3] Perhaps Palin’s year is 2012, but I would recommend that she take a little more time to become older and wiser.

Pretty much the only positive thing Coulter could find to say about Palin was that she was a “genius at annoying all the right people.” While annoying people is a subject that Coulter has some familiarity with, it still begs the question, with friends like Coulter, who needs enemas?

Cheney fared little better with regard to the selection of his advocate. The honor of fluffing Cheney fell to former United Nations Ambassador, John Bolton. Bolton begins his plaudits by enumerating a list of things Cheney is NOT doing:

He is not running for President or any other office. He has not formed a PAC or a D.C. lobbying firm. He is not dishing on former colleagues, not spreading gossip, not settling scores.

Those, however, all sound like things that last year’s honoree, Palin, IS doing, and about which Bolton apparently disapproves. It’s rather telling that Human Events had to settle for someone they admit is so completely out of the political limelight. It speaks to the absence of credible leaders warming up in the conservative bullpen. The rest of the article makes a case very similar to the one Coulter made for Palin. It is basically an argument that Cheney was an effective thorn in the new administration’s side. To conservatives, that is what constitutes qualification for a prestigious award. Not setting policy, or advancing ideas, or accumulating support, but by being a nuisance. Bolton does end on a positive note by summing up Cheney’s attributes as a loyal public servant, saying he is…

“…a very experienced, very dedicated patriot, giving his fellow citizens his best analysis on how to keep them and their country safe.”

I’m not so sure that having Cheney’s “best analysis” is particularly comforting. I mean, this is the guy under who’s watch the nation suffered its worst act of terrorism ever. It’s the guy who led America into an unnecessary war justified by lies. And it’s the guy who has consistently been the herald of doom and worse, a virtual advance man for Al Qaeda. By repeatedly proclaiming his view that our country is less safe under President Obama, and therefore more vulnerable, Cheney and his cohorts are effectively inviting another terrorist attack. How does announcing to our enemies that he believes our nation is becoming weaker make us safer? Does he even care? Or is he just pasting a big bull’s eye on America and hoping for an “I told you so” moment?

In any case, I give you Richard Bruce Cheney – Human Events’ Conservative of the Year. I suppose it’s the best they could do.

All Of A Sudden Fox News Cares About Privacy Rights

For the past eight years, there have been so many intrusions to the civil liberties that Americans are promised by the Constitution that it’s hard to recount them all. Amongst the most significant are the Patriot Act, the removal of Habeas Corpus protections, and Wireless Wiretapping.

Now there is a bill in Congress that poses a new threat to privacy and to the independence of the Internet. The Cybersecurity Act of 2009, introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, seeks to create a new federal authority to respond to threats that may emanate online. It gives the President the power to shut down critical systems in an emergency. It also gives the Commerce Secretary authority to access any and all data it chooses from public and private networks.

While there is a real need to shield our electronic networks from lurking villains, this bill is written far to broadly and it gives the government too much discretion for defining when it would be invoked.

Here’s the funny part: James Osborne of Fox News has written an article that takes the administration and the Congress to task for stepping on the privacy rights of citizens. They never seemed to be too interested in the Bush administration’s incursions into privacy as enumerated above. But now such moves are viewed as power grabs that are on assault on civil liberties. Osbourne’s article doesn’t include any historical context on the liberties Americans have already been forced to forgo, but he does warn that…

“…the proposal to give the U.S. government the authority to regulate the Internet is sounding alarms among critics who say it’s another case of big government getting bigger and more intrusive.”

One of those critics cited in Osbourne’s article is Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I have to give Osbourne credit for including a response from the EFF, a veteran of Internet rights advocacy. On the other hand, Osbourne leans far more heavily on the views of the Business Software Alliance, an industry lobbying firm that, not surprisingly, thinks that business should play the dominant role in efforts to secure the Internet and protect citizens privacy. Presumably that is because they have done such a great job of it in the past (yes, that’s sarcastic).

The last thing we need now is for an industry that is motivated solely by profit to be responsible for systems that impact our national security and personal privacy. The solution can only lie in a cooperative effort that includes business, government, and the public. There is a even a place for Fox News in so far as they are inclined to provide information on this serious matter. It would just be nice if they weren’t so weighted to a tyranny of the corporation. It would also be nice if they could demonstrate some consistency by exhibiting a little concern for privacy violations incurred by the previous administration.

John McCain’s Fear Of The Internets

Cable MonstersLast month John McCain said that Americans are tired of the Internet. It’s highly unlikely that he was actually speaking for all Americans, or even anything more than a small brood of Luddites. It is more likely that he himself is tired of the Internet, or perhaps just tired, period. He has never been particularly fond of it, even as he chaired the Senate committee responsible for regulating it.

Amanda Terkel has authored a pretty comprehensive review of McCain’s tech resume. Her article reveals a man who is both uncomfortable with technological progress and beholden to the big corporate interests who seek to dominate the industry. McCain’s pronouncements on the subject, like the one last month, are laughable. He has confessed that he is “an illiterate who has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance that I can get,” and that he “never felt the particular need to e-mail.”

Terkel points out that the United States has fallen behind most of the world with regard to broadband policy. Our failure to be competitive in this arena will cost us the loss of millions of potential new jobs. It will hamstring our children. And it will insure that we run with the back of the pack in opportunities for business growth.

McCain has led the way to the rear by opposing legislation that would keep the Internet open (Network Neutrality). Plus he has promoted the sort of deregulation that has permitted media companies to consolidate so extensively that there are now only a handful of giant players left. McCain advanced this anti-competitive agenda while claiming to be free of conflicts or personal motive. Unfortunately, Terkel proves that that isn’t the truth:

“In 1998 and 1999, McCain wrote at least 15 letters to the FCC, urging members to take action on issues that had potentially major consequences for his campaign donors. For example, McCain wrote two letters in April and May 1999, asking the commission to make a decision on a $62 billion pending merger between telephone companies Ameritech and SBC Communications. The merger went through later that year. A few weeks before the April letter, Richard Notebaert, the head of Ameritech, co-hosted a fundraiser for McCain. He took in approximately $50,000. Just before the May letter, SBC and Ameritech officials contributed or solicited about $120,000 in donations for McCain’s campaign.”

“The current campaign cycle is also shaping up to be lucrative. U.S. Telecom Association president and CEO Walter B. McCormick Jr., Sprint CEO Daniel R. Hesse, and Verizon chairman and CEO Ivan G. Seidenberg have each raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for McCain’s campaign. AT&T executive vice president for federal relations Timothy McKone has raised at least $500,000.”

Maverick McCainMcCain’s association with lobbyists is well documented, if not well reported by the media. He was embroiled in his own scandal some years ago surrounding the corrupt banker Charles Keating. Next week he is attending a fundraiser hosted by Ralph Reed, a prolific lobbyist and an associate of convicted scammer Jack Abramoff. And in this week of tabloid revelations about John Edwards and his mistress, it should be noted that McCain also had speculation swirling about his relationship with telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Unlike the bulldogging National Enquirer, the New York Times dropped the Iseman story after getting yapped at by angry Republicans. But the more salacious elements of the Iseman affair are not really that important. What is most relevant is that she is another lobbyist for closing off the Internet to everyone but her wealthy multinational clients, and that she was indisputably chummy with McCain. Curiously, she has since vanished from the face of earth. She has been so well hidden that even milk cartons don’t have a picture of her. Has the McCain camp shuttled her off to Dick Cheney’s fabled “Undisclosed Location?”

Terkel’s article, along with the other evidence cited here, should cause anyone who values the Internet to be suspicious of McCain’s plans. He is not merely ignorant, he is aggressively antagonistic toward an open, accessible, World Wide Web. He must not be given an authority over it.

Big Media: We Are The Sioux Nation – Google Is Custer

As the giant multi-national media conglomerates continue to grow, they are becoming even more brazen in their ambition and arrogance. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., in the midst of a proposed acquisition of Dow Jones, doesn’t intend to slow down. The president of Fox Entertainment, Peter Chernin, spoke at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association conference yesterday and declared that

This is a market that Murdoch and his ilk do not intend abandon to the unwashed hordes of a free blogiverse.

“You’ll see more acquisitions. This is a world where the big get bigger. You’ll see increased consolidation.”

That statement should not be construed as an executive assessment of future corporate activity. It is a threat. It is a loaded missile launcher aimed at free thinking, independence minded citizens of America and the world. These words must be taken as seriously as the man who uttered them.

Even as Chernin spoke, his boss News Corp. was in the process of gobbling up Photobucket, an image storage and sharing web site. While this may not be as consequential as the Dow Jones deal, it does give Fox’s Interactive Media group another 41 million users and advances the imperial interests of its MySpace division. The impact of this should not be underestimated. In this morning’s, release of its quarterly earnings, Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers predicted that

“…consumer Internet traffic will surpass corporate traffic for the first time this year ‘because of next-generation services such as blogs and wikis.’

This is a market that Murdoch and his ilk do not intend abandon to the unwashed hordes of a free blogiverse. Time Warner CEO, Dick Parsons spoke at the same NCTA conference where he boastfully vowed that he and his corporatist troops will not surrender ground to upstarts and insurgents:

“The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation. They will lose this war if they go to war. The notion that the new kids on the block have taken over is a false notion.”

It is somewhat beyond ironic that Parsons would align himself analogously with the oppressed and overwhelmed nation of Native Americans when he has so much more in common with a clueless general fighting for an aggressive and imperialistic state. His words reek with hostility toward a new media world he seems incapable of comprehending. This is not the first eruption of Parsons’ cluelessness. He was quoted in Siva Vaidhyanathan’s book, The Anarchist in the Library, defending corporate dominion over creative and intellectual property and making the absurd and repulsive assertion that such authority is a requirement for the advancement of culture:

“This isn’t just about a bunch of kids stealing music. It’s an assault on everything that constitutes cultural expression of our society. If we fail to protect and preserve our intellectual property system, the culture will atrophy. And the corporations won’t be the only ones hurt. Artists will have no incentive to create. Worst-case scenario: the country will end up in a sort of Cultural Dark Age.”

If Parsons thinks that the reasons artists create is for material compensation, he has no business running a company that represents artists. His astonishingly ignorant point of view deserves an extended essay all its own. For now I’ll just link to this well articulated response from The Future of the Book.

Unfortunately, the Cultural Dark Age to which Parsons alludes is a very real possibility, though not for the reasons he suggests. It is corporations like the one he heads that will lead us over that cliff. Big Media still has more in common with Custer’s army than with the Sioux. The difference is that in today’s theater of war Custer’s reinforcements would be a phone call away and the Sioux nation would be reduced to rubble. That’s kind of the way it turned out anyway, it would just happen faster today.

The commoditization of culture is much more harmful to open societies than is its free distribution. The American Idolization of America presents a truly nightmarish scenario that trivializes creativity and expression. And as the media behemoths expand beyond all proportion, there is a risk of the bubble bursting like a car bomb in the marketplace of ideas.

Murdoch’s Senior Moment In Davos

Since Saturday, when I first posted this article, Murdoch Confesses To Propaganda On Iraq, the news has been defying Mark Twain’s axiom that “A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on.”

The truth’s boots are on and it is logging miles like crazy. Rupert Murdoch’s admission that he tried to use his media empire to shape the agenda on Iraq is spreading like wildfire. Newshounds, Crooks and Liars, Huffington Post, Carpetbagger, Juan Cole, Raw Story, and scads of lesser known but just as dedicated bloggers are trumpeting this surprising shard of honesty that escaped from Rupert’s lips.

I’m still trying to figure out how such an unguarded comment could have occurred. Is he just so brazenly arrogant now that he thinks he can come clean without repercussions? Is it a coded appeal to his neo-con audience for help to reverse the downward ratings spiral he’s engulfed in? Was it a run of the mill slip of the tongue by a 77 year old with weakening cognition skills?

While I can’t explain what was going through his diabolical mind, I can point to the reason that this story is getting so much play. And, ironically, it’s also something that Murdoch said in Davos. Referring to the Internet, he said that:

…traditional media are also “put right immediately” these days when making mistakes. […] Similarly, Murdoch said “government now has to be much more open” because of the Web

Indeed, the Internet has proven to be the conventional media’s fact-checker. And it isn’t just government whose openness has to be reaffirmed. It’s getting more difficult to use the propagandistic arts because there now exists a public forum over which the message controllers have not yet imposed their domination. I emphasize “not yet.”

The Internet is a powerful medium and the most significant contribution to a democratized media since Gutenburg. But it is not impervious to attack or capture. There is a reason that the Big Media megaliths want to kill network neutrality. There is a reason they want to remove ownership caps for television and newspapers. There is a reason the right wing elements at the FCC, the FEC, and other government agencies relentlessly push for deregulation. These are all ways of transferring the brute force of the Internet into the hands of corporatist elites who will lower its volume and polish its edges. When they are done it will no longer be fit for discourse or dissent. But it will serve nicely for comfort and commerce.

The manner by which this story has been propelled by bloggers and citizen journalists should serve as a reminder that the people still have a voice. But we, the people, must not get complacent either. Events like this will surely stir the media bears, and they are still the most dangerous beast in the forest. Be vigilant and be active because, if you are not, this medium will be lost to us – like all other media before it. Think about that.

Blame The Internet – The Predators Feeding Ground

In the wake of the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley (FL-Perv), the Internet’s culture of free speech and access could be swept under along with a few deviant and corrupt Republicans.

The fact that the offending behavior of Foley was acted out on the net could become impetus for his desperate colleagues to renew their pursuit of restrictive and censorious legislation such as the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA). This bill would ban social networks (and much more) from any computer in a school, library, or publicly funded facility.

Foley himself was a sponsor of the Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s Youth (Internet SAFETY) Act, a bill that the Center for Democracy and Technology says…

“would have a profoundly damaging chilling effect, deterring bloggers, artists and even health advocates from posting legitimate information that could expose them to jail time.”

Foley’s own comments in support of the measure have an eerie drone to them now:

“Sex offenders are not petty criminals. They prey on our children like animals and will continue to do it unless stopped.”

In honor of Internet Safety Day (July, 28, 2004) Foley warned that the Internet…

“provides a new medium for pedophiles to reach out to our most vulnerable citizens-America’s children.”

Hopefully one of them was stopped this weekend. But we must not allow a pack of super-righteous hypocrites to dictate the future of access to the Internet. We need to be on our guard, because they will attempt to exploit this scandal to provoke fear and confusion about the Internet. They will characterize it as dangerous and unsupervised. Indeed, Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), the author of DOPA, has already declared that…

“…this new technology has become a feeding ground for child predators that use these sites as just another way to do our children harm.”

Make no mistake about it. They will come after the Internet. They will seek to explain away their political difficulties by shifting blame to other matters. They will exploit a scandal to further the establishment of their extremist theocracy. By covering up the abhorrent behavior of their colleague, they have demonstrated that they care more about partisan advantage than about children. So what would make anyone think they care about free speech or the Internet?