We hear an address by William Rivers Pitt of Truthout.org on the role of the media in the election and the coming four years. He spoke at the University of the District of Columbia soon after President Bush’s second inauguration. [includes rush transcript]
- William Rivers Pitt, Managing Editor and Senior Writer for Truthout.org.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to some of the events that took place this weekend after the inauguration. Hundreds of people gathered at the University of the District of Columbia, Progressive Democrats of America, to hear various people speak through the day to strategize and organize over the next four years. Among those who spoke was William Rivers Pitt, editor of truthout.org.
WILLIAM RIVERS PITT: We’re here to talk about how progressive media, the alternative media, can get its message out to the people who really need to hear it. I have a couple of quick examples of why this needs to happen. I had a kind of an amusing moment during the inauguration. I was taking a break on a bench with a couple of people who were protesting, one of whom had a sign that read, “Bush lied, thousands died.” Guy comes by and says, well, what did he lie about?
So, I — you know, I sit there and you say — you remember the 2003 State of the Union address? Well, what about it? Well, in the State of the Union address in 2003, Mr. Bush said that there were — what was it? — 26,000 liters of anthrax; 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; 500 tons, which is one million pounds, of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent; 30,000 munitions capable of delivering the stuff; mobile biological weapons labs; and uranium from Niger for use in nuclear bombs. By the way, the page describing all of this is still up on the White House website today. It’s called “Disarm Saddam Hussein.” You can go find it yourself. I said that’s a pretty big lie. His response: That was the democrats lied about that. Miracles of nature, some of these people.
The second moment happened as I was sitting around in my friend’s house the day after the inauguration watching, you know, a moment of total masochism. I turned on CNN. To keep an eye on the — I’m apparently engaged with a footrace with the blizzard trying to get home — trying to figure out where this was, and they were doing a segment on the guys who prepare George W. Bush’s food so he doesn’t get poisoned. So I’m sitting there watching this and they talk to some guy, didn’t really give a title, no big deal. He’s talking about the process by which they do this, over his right shoulder, very visible in the camera shot was a Heinz ketchup bottle that said “Kerry flip-flop.” No comment on it. No nothing. It was just out there. This was perfect propaganda. Perfect. The alternative media, all of the people who are involved in this, need to engage the mainstream media on its own ground. And we have to do it in a number of different ways. First way, I think, the alternative media would do well to help promote in any way, shape or form, internet connections and easy access to internet and easy access to machines in poor and rural communities. One of the best things I saw out on the inauguration route, besides the tens of thousands of protesters, were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of alternative journalists out there with their cameras and their little PDA things, this thing right here, you know? Instantaneous reporting on what’s actually happening. We engage these people on their own ground and we make them irrelevant. It can happen. It is happening.
I’ll tell you something. The best example of that that I saw was in the run-up to the January 6 challenge of the electors. On the morning — on the morning of that challenge, every means of communication with Capitol Hill, email, fax, telephone, was locked, because so many people were calling in to get somebody to stand up, and it worked. It was one of the most impressive displays of grassroots organizing that I had seen in a long time. And it was the alternative media that pushed that. We do have the power to do this. I — when Stephanie Tubs Jones stood up and said, “I do have a senator,” that was proof positive to me that we have the power to do this. We will overwhelm them with data with thousands of our own people out there, actually reporting on what is happening immediately delivering it to the internet, meanwhile, push as hard as we can, to move internet access into the communities that desperately need it, desperately need this information. It’s going to be a bit of a fight, especially considering the Congress that we have, but I don’t see a good rhetorical argument against it. I don’t imagine how anybody could stand up in the House of Representatives and stand against it. So, if you are interested in seeing this happen, if you are interested in taking down this farce of a mainstream media, that’s how we get started. Thanks.
AMY GOODMAN: William Rivers Pitt of truthout.org speaking to Progressive Democrats of America at the University of the District of Columbia, UDC.