Bloggers vs. Old Media: Who Wins and Why

Marcello Ferrado de Noli

Two weeks ago, I contrasted in this space the growth of Arianna Huffington’s Huffington Post with Rupert Murdoch's hacking scandal within his ”old media” empire. Today, Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli, the eminent medical school professor and a longtime human rights activist, asked permission to republish my column in Europe on the Professors Blogg he edits from his offices in Sweden and Italy. My introduction for that column is below, with minor revisions.

I was thrilled to hear that such an eloquent voice for human rights as Dr. de Noli, right, has returned refreshed from a vacation and his recovery from a serious bicycle accident this spring. Freedom lovers throughout the world are inspired by his voice and experience. As a reminder of Sweden’s bizarre WikiLeaks investigation that brought us together last winter at his site, a big part of the story is the usually hidden alliance between “old media” and the leading political parties. They have worked out powerful mechanisms through the years to control the limits of debate on all manner of issues. We see that in the United States now where almost any discussion of restoring the Bush tax cuts on the rich is largely verboten as an option to restore financial balance. Nearly all discussion is on cutting spending, even though opinion polls provide clear majorities for taxing  the wealthy.

But bloggers have the ability to change debate, whether armed by secret official information (as in WikiLeaks revelations), or simply providing a megaphone to one reasonable person’s insights. It’s not easy to do, of course. A story propounded by Murdoch reaches millions, whereas even the most notable bloggers would be fortunate to reach a few thousand. Nonetheless, the distortions of reality by the “Power Structure” have gotten so extreme that even a few isolated bloggers can disrupt evil schemes, especially if we as bloggers occasionally take time from our own writing to try to recognize others doing important work.

For that reason, my column reprinted below discusses two regional U.S. bloggers, Roger Shuler in Alabama and George Gombossy in Connecticut, who is a Hungarian-born journalist building what he hopes to become a nationwide consumer affairs, web-based news network. They are not famous, like Huffington or Murdoch, but are part of the larger story spanning our continents. Shuler and I worked closely to break the story that the noGeorge Gombossytorious U.S. political strategist Karl Rove not only called for the death of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange but has been a political advisor to Sweden’s governing Moderate Party. Gombossy, right, founded and pubilshes the CT  Watchdog consumer affairs website. He took the daring but appropriate step of reporting a story about a CIA tie to the law firm of Assange’s accusers. That paved the way for Sweden’s news websites to report these developments. This broke the highly selective reporting on the case by Sweden’s traditional print and broadcast media, as Professor de Noli’s comprehensive analysis illustrated earlier this year.

Frankly, the treatment below may be too long for all but the most devoted researchers, To shorten the item, we’ll eliminate the research links, which are available at the bottom of the original column. Yet there is an important one worth highlighting here: Entitled, What Rupert Murdoch Means For You Personally, author Russ Baker provides 12 important points about what the scandals in the United Kingdom really mean. Number one on this list is “He has transformed world politics for the worse.”

The expression “baker’s dozen” usually means that someone has added one more item to usual 12 to ensure that the customer gets good value. In that spirit, I add one more reason to Baker’s list regarding the importance of the Murdoch “hacking” scandal in the United Kingdom. In my view, the scandal provides hope for what we’re all trying to do in providing basic information and free-thinking commentary. Here’s why: For Murdoch and his minions, even their many millions of readers and viewers are not enough. They needed the additional advantage of illegal surveillance on politicians, celebrities and even ordinary people.

Surveillance on politicians is a particularly dangerous practice in terms of jeopardizing freedom, Surveillance leads to blackmail, which leads to public policy helping the blackmailer and not the public. These enemies of freedom are weak, and they have been exposed. Stay tuned for more.

Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment

Below are significant articles for this week on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by clicking the link.


News Corp. Hacking Scandal

Rupert MurdochOpEd News, What Rupert Murdoch Means For You Personally, Russ Baker, July 26, 2011. Rupert Murdoch has had a profound influence on the state of journalism today. Here are 12 "take-away" points that are being obscured in the daily rush of revelations, and the related specialized coverage (his wife's wardrobe and demeanor, the effect on his company's stock price, etc.): 1) He has transformed world politics for the worse Click above to read more.
White House Chronicles, Murdoch is felled by a disease he once cured, Llewellyn King July 25, 2011. In the 1960s, even to an old union man like myself, British newspaper unions had reached a point at which they were a threat not only to the newspaper industry, but also to the freedom of the press itself. It took someone as ruthless and sociopathic as the unions to find a way to break their hold. That man was Rupert Murdoch and he did it with outstanding courage, cheek and military-like planning. So there is a fine irony that the Murdoch’s News Corp. now stands accused of many of the sins of the unions he disciplined: sociopathic arrogance; a desire to control the news as well as cover it; and a thuggish corruption that reached into the highest levels of at least three British administrations, Thatcher, Blair and Cameron; and has brought low the world’s largest and most storied police force, the Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard.
Huffington Post, News of the World Hacked Into Phone Of Sara Payne, Mother Of Sarah Payne, Abducted And Murdered Girl, Jack Mirkinson, July 28, 2011. The News of the World hacked into the phone of Sara Payne, the mother of Sarah Payne, an abducted and murdered 8-year-old girl, the Guardian reported Tuesday. It was the hacking of 13-year-old Milly Dowler's phone that turned the long-simmering phone hacking scandal into a full-blown crisis for the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. Yet the news of Payne's hacking is, in some ways, even more shocking, because it was her daughter's murder by a pedophile in 2000 that led News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to launch a crusade for a sex offender's law in Britain known as "Sarah's Law."

Electronic Election Fraud

Op-Ed News, Bob Fitrakis on New Evidence of 2004 Stolen Election in Ohio, Joan Brunwasser, July 28, 2011. My guest today is Bob Fitrakis, author, journalist, editor and publisher of The Free Press. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Bob. We last spoke back in April after you wrote a powerful piece called: Ohio Republicans pass new Jim Crow "voter ID" law to disenfranchise 900,000 voters. Things seem to be going from bad to worse. There are more revelations regarding the 2004 Ohio presidential election, which you've written about extensively over the years. For many of our readers, 2004 is the distant past. Can you walk us through it, Bob?  Why does it matter now, all these years later?

Judge Protects NY Times  Source

New York Times, Judge Agrees to Limit Writer’s Testimony, Charlie Savage, July 29, 2011. A federal judge dealt a setback on Friday to the Obama administration’s crackdown on the leaking of government secrets to journalists, sharply limiting what prosecutors can ask the author of a book about the C.I.A. in court. July 29, 2011. Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., issued an order that had been sought by the author, James Risen — who is also a reporter for The New York Times — restricting his testimony in the trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency official, Jeffrey A. Sterling, who is charged with providing classified information to Mr. Risen.  Specialists in media law portrayed the ruling as highly unusual, saying it could set an important precedent. While many states have so-called media shield laws that allow judges to quash subpoenas ordering reporters to testify about their sources by balancing the needs of prosecutors with the public interest, the federal government has no such statute.


Taxpayer Funds to For-Profit Schools Helping Washington Post

John BoehnerHuffington Post, John Boehner Backed Deregulation Of Online Learning, Leading To Explosive Growth At For-Profit Colleges, Chris Kirkham, July 29, 2011. With a mere eight lines buried in an 82,000-word budget bill passed in 2006, Congress eliminated legislation that had for more than a decade limited how many students colleges could enroll in online courses -- rules aimed at protecting students against dubious programs. Those eight lines have proven a potent fertilizer for a for-profit college industry that has since grown to enormous proportions, collecting most of its profits via federal student aid dollars.


U.S. Debt Crisis

July 29

Michele BachmannNational Press Club, Bachmann won’t support debt-limit plan that fails to revamp federal spending, Terry Hill, July 29, 2011. Video. With the hours quickly dwindling before the U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on raising the national debt limit, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told a National Press Club audience on July 28 that she would oppose any effort to raise the debt ceiling that did not revamp U.S. spending policies. (Bachmann is shown at left in a Press Club photo by Sam Hurd.)

OpEdNews, Disastrous Outcomes From An Orchestrated Crisis, Paul Craig Roberts, July 28, 2011.. While the world media fixates on the orchestrated debt ceiling crisis, the US government continues to bomb civilians in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia and continues with preparations to do the same thing to Syria and Iran. The off-shoring of US jobs, GDP, tax base, and consumer demand that has eroded away the US economy and the government's tax base, thus elevating the deficit, is somehow not a crisis. The fake orchestrated crisis can easily turn into a real one. Americans need desperately to ask themselves why they put into political office such utterly irresponsible and incompetent people capable of creating such a totally unnecessary crisis loaded with such disastrous potential outcomes.

New York Times, The Cult That Is Destroying America, Paul Krugman, July 26, 2011. Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling crisis — a wholly self-inflicted crisis, which may nonetheless have disastrous consequences — it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system. So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. What would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will. This is a moral issue. The “both sides are at fault” people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray. Our nation will pay the price.
U.S. Comment on Norway Tragedy
Salon / Unclaimed Territory, An un-American response to the Oslo attack, Glenn Greenwald, July 28, 2011. Over the last decade, virtually every Terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. -- whether successful or failed -- has provoked greater security and surveillance measures. The reaction to the heinous Oslo attack by Norway's political class has been exactly the opposite: a steadfast refusal to succumb to hysteria and a security-über-alles mentality. there are other values besides security that matter a great deal and that pursuing security above all other values, in a quest for absolute safety, is both self-destructive and futile. This realization was once not only common in the American political ethos, but its defining feature. Patrick Henry's decree -- give me liberty or give me death -- resonated for generations precisely because it underscored that Americans were willing to subordinate physical security to other values (such as freedom and privacy).

JIP Logo