Page Two

Page Two
Over the last few weeks, I have been besieged with e-mails on the presidential election. Almost all have been decidedly partisan and overwhelmingly anti-Gore. To call these pro-Bush would be to miss their obvious intent. A passionate hatred of Democrats and liberals, with a thick coat of self-righteousness, drives these missives. In a way, this dose of e-mail was refreshing: the people speaking. But so many were simply forwarded e-mails or some letter copied and recopied that it quickly got boring. Most of them were driven by anger, though the anti-Gore ones were more vicious and the anti-Bush/pro-Gore ones were more humorous. This could just be my prejudice. The anti-Gore bunch had a certain consistent meanness, an anger at an election that could be lost, an indignant desperation. It should have slowed down with the Supreme Court decision, at least with the anti-Gore forces. Even in victory they weren't placated.

I'm willing to concede a liberal bias on the part of some journalists, though whether they significantly outnumber their conservative colleagues I'm no longer sure. Publishers and editors are overwhelmingly conservative, and they have control. The problem is that the media is biased to the easy story rather than any political goal. This deprives it of any consistent ideology and opens it to easy "spin" manipulation. The notion that American media has an agenda outside of attracting an audience is naive. Both sides were angry at the media, but it wasn't biases that drove their agenda -- it was ease. How easy was the story to get and convey? I think the media was ridiculously easy on George W. Bush, because that was the easiest way to tell his story. But I acknowledge the biases from which I operate.

The most offensive of the anti-Gore tirades appeared late in the game. Titled "How Come," this screed kept getting forwarded, by different senders, to a large media mailing list. They've kept coming even after the Supreme Court decision and even after the Electoral College decision on Monday. It is not enough to have won the presidency. These folks want to vanquish the enemy, about half the American population. Bush won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote. Can you imagine what these partisan asses would have been braying if it had been the other way around?

Here is some of the dreck:

"Please pass the following on to everyone you know. Also -- send it along to the news agencies which follow this excellent letter [Ed. note: a very long list, including most national news organizations].

"Subject: How come?

"All that is necessary for evil to rule the world is for enough good men to do nothing.

"I watch TV, and except for Fox, it's all-Al-all-the-time, so I have a few questions about the coverage of the media's month-long telethon for the man who invented the Internet.

"For instance, how come, when the Florida legislature has 58 Democrats among its 160 members, it's always referred to as 'Republican-dominated,' which it is, but the Florida Supreme Court, which includes zero Republicans, is never called 'Democrat-dominated'?

"How come when the Republican legislature says it will follow the Constitution as written it's a 'partisan political ploy,' but when the Florida Supreme Court turns the law upside down to give Al Gore an extra 12 days to steal the election, it's an impartial judiciary just doing its job? ...

"If you're a beautiful person from Hollywood and you suggest lynching Republicans, that's fair comment under the First Amendment. If you're a Republican and you live within 300 miles of a lynching, you may as well have personally knotted the rope. ...

"How come when Bill Clinton gets 60% approval for anything it's a 'mandate' but when 60% of the country wants Al Gore to throw in the towel the caption at the bottom of the screen is 'The Nation Divided'?

"How come George Bush has an MBA from Harvard biz and he's a moron and Al Gore 'dropped out' of Vanderbilt law school and he's a genius? ...

"All in all, this campaign of disinformation is just what you'd expect from these 'impartial' journalists, and it's only going to get worse before their hero gets the job he so richly deserves -- ambassador to Chad."

Remember, I've probably gotten 50 copies of this e-mail. Many in just the last couple of days (two this morning). The above are excerpts; the e-mail is much longer. I've given in to them enough by publishing some of this. I don't want to get too carried away.

Sure there are definitely sore losers on the Democratic side. Rather than angry rants, though, they tend toward sophomorically humorous jabs, including bumper-sticker suggestions and mock paste-ups, including the Time magazine George W. Bush "We Are Fucked" cover and The Accidental President movie poster.

end story

Last week I talked about how I don't like to do anniversary pieces, and this week we celebrate KGSR-FM's 10th anniversary ("The Little Station That Could," p. 76). Keeping in mind what Whitman said about contradictions, the point here is that this story is not a birthday present but rather an assessment of a true cultural phenomenon. KGSR-FM has a great Austin presence and a national reputation. SXSW visitors have always commented on the station. Now they take it for granted, setting the button on their rental car radio before they leave the airport (most of them add KLBJ-FM and KUT-FM as well). The station's enthusiastic support of local music, as well as its deep involvement in the community, has done them well. But I listen to them for the music. end story

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