It has only been a little more than a month since Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster on the floor of the U.S. Senate. But it is looking more and more like a defining moment in American politics. It may be a defining moment in American history.
It has only been a little more than a month since Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster on the floor of the U.S. Senate. But it is looking more and more like a defining moment in American politics. It may be a defining moment in American history.
All eyes are on Grand Island, Nebraska today. Will it be a Soviet style fraud? Or will it be a real convention? Today’s event will be telling. It will provide clues on what to expect at the Republican National Convention in Tampa next month.
This is clear, what happens in Nebraska cannot be blamed on the Nebraska governor, or the strong arm privately financed army he has hired to muscle the masses of people into line. Nor can it be blamed on Mitt Romney’s mean spirited campaign team, the same losers who ran Bob Dole and John McCain’s campaigns, whose motto is “only us.” No, today’s activities will be a clear reflection of how Mittens himself sees the Ron Paul insurgency. And how he will handle it in Tampa.
By now, even the most obtuse politico, at the most isolated, rarified level, would have seen the youtubes of people’s bones being broken in his name and of his own privately hired off duty police arresting people. By now he knows that his captains have confiscated the delegate rolls and run out to parking lots and locked them up in their trunks to make it impossible for roll call votes. He knows that they have ignored voice votes and brazenly declared “Nays have it,” when they didn’t. He knows that his people have had to move money out of GOP accounts to keep it out of the hands of the new, duly elected state chairman, who support Ron Paul.
So what happens today in Nebraska is Mitt Romney’s show. He is responsible. If it happens orderly and fairly? Hey wonderful. We should be very grateful. Mitt Romney, Obama’s Goldman Sachs twin candidate, has agreed to let the peasants play at democracy for a few hours.
But if Mittens is so frightened, so worried about that piggy bank, the Federal Reserve, that he cannot allow the Ronluans to have even a handful of their own duly elected delegates in Nebraska, that they must all be personally approved by the candidate, himself, well then we will all know that he will not tolerate a challenge to the “wars without end” nor to the raiding of the poor and middle class.
If there is violence against Ron Paul supporters, as in the past, Romney and his governor can count on the national media – whose holding companies and advertisers are fattened off of the Federal Reserve – to turn look away. But stay tuned. The internet is not yet shut down. The videos will be coming any second now and we will all get to see the truth.
Ron Paul supporters are used to getting shortchanged. For example, in one debate, Ron Paul was given 89 seconds in one hour, even though he had just finished close in the Iowa Caucuses and had come in second in the New Hampshire primary. In the network’s own polling he was beating all other contenders including Obama with the Independent vote. In another debate, the network gave its moderator as much time to speak as the Presidential candidate. Even though that network’s own recent poll showed Ron Paul tied with Mitt Romney in leading the pack in a head to head contest with Obama.
There are reasons why the pundits and the main stream media exclude him. Ron Paul is taking on the establishment. He is seeking to reform the monetary system, including making the decisions of the Federal Reserve transparent. He wants us all to know how much money they are “printing” and to whom it is given.
Sounds reasonable. The partial audit he obtained for 2008 showed trillions of new dollars being loaned out – interest free – to banks and major corporations. Including corporations who own companies that own companies that own television networks. And including companies that advertise on those networks. And mostly to banks that loan the money that allow those big companies to make their dreams come true.
Whatever happened to “in the interest of full disclosure?” The network talking heads trudge on, never saying a word about the fact that the news they are reporting is impacting their own companies and their own careers.
Of course, there is nothing conspiratorial about most journalists. They follow the herd, running when the herd does and relaxing when the herd stops. God help the poor journalist that strays too far from the pack. Their greatest fear is not to be wrong about a story, but rather, to be different.
The Ron Paul supporters come to him via the internet. That’s why so many are young. They don’t watch television news. They do their own research. Ron Paul doesn’t convert them. The facts do. The just match up the facts to the candidates. Many are even shocked to find that the old man had it right. Some are Democrats and Independents surprised to find themselves agreeing with a Republican. And they are loyal because they have experienced the pride of authorship, the pride of self discovery.
So here is another little story for the Ronulans. Something to add to the collection.
According to the an Associated Press report in the Chicago Tribune and carried worldwide by the Associated Press, “about 40 people lined up to enter the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville, where Paul was speaking Sunday afternoon.” The AP claimed the story originated with the Detroit News but I couldn’t find it there.
The Ron Paul people called the AP and asked that they update and correct the story. The Paul people insisted that there were, in fact, over 2,000 people at the event, but they were rebuffed. Adam de Angeli, the Ron Paul Michigan State Director, had no trouble finding pictures.
So now, for your viewing pleasure, here is the corroborating evidence. Pictures of the “40” (sic) Ron Paul supporters who attended the event. Maybe we need some T-shirts that say, “I am one of the Hudsonville 40.” If everybody who went to the event bought one we could be rich.
Update: I finally found the Detroit News story quoted by the AP. Here it is.
“Hundreds of people lined up for hours to hear the maverick U.S. representative from Texas, and some were turned away. First in line was Erik Varvir, 49, who has been following Paul for 30 years.”
“Talent is hitting a target that no one else can hit. Genius is hitting a target that no one else can see.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer
Perhaps no other persons have had a bigger impact on American society and politics in our lifetime than Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes. Murdoch is the swashbuckling, Australian turned American, billionaire who is the owner of News Corp and Roger Ailes is the president of its crown jewel, The Fox News Channel. Presidents have come and gone. Economic and foreign policies have risen and fallen but the names of those presidents and the shape of those policies have been forever colored by the Fox News Channel paint brush.
What Murdoch and Ailes did is prove to the arrogant elites, inside the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, that true socio-cultural-intellectual diversity works. And I’m not talking about the synthetic facsimile of diversity peddled by the stuffy, politically correct.
Roger Ailes, the creative mind behind FNC, proved that there is money to be made by listening, as well as talking. He showed that the public is not nearly as ignorant as some media executives imagine. He proved that the sense of outrage and insult at being “rolled” runs very deep. He touched a nerve. People long for “fair and balanced” and they know they aren’t getting it. And if it hasn’t always been manifest at FNC, well, at least the network recognizes the problem and “fair and balanced” is the goal. In the process, Roger Ailes made billions of dollars for Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation and he changed America forever.
The Ailes formula is much more esoteric and complicated than at first appears. While the other networks relied on their monopoly, “you have to watch us, we are your only choice,” Ailes understood that the paradigm was changing with a vengeance, more and more, people had choices. It was now going to be a contest. It would be like electing a president, which meant coalitions pieced together, one by one. It was familiar ground for Ailes. His competitors didn’t stand a chance.
When most people think of Fox News, they think of its famous tilt to the right in the American battle between liberals and conservatives. In hindsight, the economics of such a strategy were obvious. Pew Research Surveys showed liberals out numbering conservatives in the main stream media by a ratio of 4 to 1. While most national polls of the American people consistently showed the ratios as 41% conservative to 21% liberal. Give Fox News a monopoly on the 41% and force her competitors to divide the remaining 21% among themselves and there would be a financial windfall in the making. But it was easier said than done.
The idea of bringing some political balance to the media and monetizing the process had been around for a long time. In 1977, conservative Republican billionaire, Rich DeVos, then on the Forbes list as one of the wealthiest men in the world, bought the Mutual Broadcasting System from Mrs. Benjamin Gilbert, the granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller. It represented a major shift of a prominent media property to someone new, someone outside the circle of the Eastern Elite. But DeVos was unable to use the network to influence events in any meaningful way. In 1985, Senator Jesse Helms led an attempt to buy control of CBS “and end the leftist bias.” He called the network the most “anti-Reagan” of all. The attempt failed and the networks only sought bigger owners and became even more entrenched.
The problem was in execution. And it was here that Roger Ailes succeeded where others had failed. He was a television Branch Rickey, touring the country, watching local television stations and monitoring radio talk shows to find his talent. Month by month, year by year, Ailes kept them coming through his farm club pipeline. When a personality had the looks or the brains but not the on-air experience he would use them sparingly, letting them develop, like sending Roy Campanella back to Montreal for a season to get some confidence.
Perhaps his greatest impact was not overtly political but socio-cultural. While seeking to be exclusively secular, the main stream media had long been perceived by many in the country as blatantly anti-Christian.
At one point the atmosphere at ABC, then commonly referred to as “Anybody But Catholics,” became so tense that their talented network news anchor, Peter Jennings, decided to personally step in and solve it. Jennings hired a Christian reporter, Peggy Wehmeyer to help report for the network and in 2000, Jennings embarked on an intellectual journey “In Search of the Historic Jesus.” But the network was so ignorant of the political-cultural traps of a sub culture it had so long ignored that it easily fell prey to manipulation, stirring up a hornets’ nest among its viewers.
“Poor Peter,” George Smiley’s ex-wife, Ann, would have said, “Life is such a puzzle to you.”
The problem is that the network’s anti Christian bias had been hidden in plain sight for years. 400,000 people in the flesh would watch the Indianapolis 500 Mile race, see Jim Nabors sing “Back Home Again in Indiana,” hear the Catholic Bishop pray over the courageous drivers and Mrs. Hullman announce, “Ladies and Gentlemen start your engines.” But when they got back home to watch it all replayed on ABC television the prayer was always censored out. Even today, if one Goggles the key words, “ABC TV and Christians,” one will read all about the pilot for their new series “Good Christian Bitches.”
After 9-11, CNN ran a much heralded documentary “God’s Warriors” which implied that there was little difference between Islamic terrorists in the Middle East and Christian and Jewish fundamentalists in the United States. Even today, the various networks persist in this version of “religiously-correct.” The idea is to treat the issue of faith, if it must be addressed at all, fairly and equally and to do this right in the middle of the war on terror. This sometimes results in ridiculous news footage from wars in Africa where the viewers are forced to Goggle for information since the journalists won’t reveal the sides, lest it be forced to mention that one is Islamic or Christian. The famous Who, What, When, Where and Why of news is replaced with mysterious scenes and vague reports that show nothing beyond the flashing faces of starving, dying people. The producers will not let their own journalists sputter out what is really going on. News is no longer news, if it ever had been.
Once again, the numbers were a no brainer for Roger Ailes. 76% of the nation considered themselves to be Christian. One half of one percent were Islamic. Give a media outlet an uncontested monopoly on the 76% and force its competitors to divide the remaining .5% among themselves is a winning formula every time.
Meanwhile, if the other networks treaded gently with Islam, never offending or making assumptions about the whole because of the actions of the few, they had no trouble stereotyping the whole Catholic Church when the pedophile scandals erupted. All of the networks piled on. FNC too, reported the story for what it was, but without editorializing against the whole religion. It gave the embattled, dazed, faithful a home. Kaching, another 25% of the nation for Fox. Only two modern presidents have been elected without the Catholic vote. “You don’t want the Catholics?” Ailes will take them, thank you.
Then there were the born again Christians, representing 48% of the American population. Yet many of their writers and public figures virtually banned by the television networks. Twenty-two years ago my agent was told by one of the networks that I couldn’t be used as a historian because of my born again, Christian background. Of course, the network in question couldn’t have actually known what I believe about God and life. I haven’t decided all of that myself. How could they know? Just the accident of my birth, was enough to disqualify me.
The complicated effort of the various network sports departments to scrub Christian activists from unfurling their “John 3:16” banners at football games amounted to a ten year, gargantuan, multimillion dollar – legal effort, involving teams of lawyers, mountains of paperwork, contracts with the stadiums and teams of personnel to pull it off.
Roger Ailes would laugh at such angst. “You want to stake me with a 48% advantage? Okay. You don’t want half of America? I’ll take the born againers too.” Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch bought the hot evangelical Christian publishing house Zondervan.
Nowhere did this battleground become more lopsided than with the battle over Christmas.
My own college roommate became a popular playwright for one of the television networks. He wisely kept his faith a secret. One year he was given the assignment to write a script for a Christmas movie with the strict admonition that he could not mention the name Jesus. It was a corporate taboo.
While other networks banned the words “Merry Christmas” out of respect for the 2.2% of the country who are Jewish, and simply said instead, “Happy Holidays,” Ailes fearlessly honored them both, making a special point for his network to declare a “Merry Christmas” to the 76% and afterward, for good measure, a respectful “Happy Hanukah” to the 2.2. He should probably have thrown in a hearty “Ho, ho, ho” to the executives of the other networks who seemed clueless, bound in their strait jackets, unable to budge from their lethargy, unable to believe the numbers they were reading, still pretending that they were operating a monopoly. It was their job to decide what to telecast. It was our job to watch and listen.
Finally, I suppose, this tour de force would not be complete without a comment on the wars. Roger Ailes owned the wars. Any war. All of the wars. While some of the other networks, for example, pretended to be transcendent in the war on terror, noncombatants, loyal to the higher god of journalism, Roger Ailes was shamelessly patriotic and American. Viewers who wanted to feel good about themselves found a home at FNC.
And what about those who want the wars to end? What about the Ron Paul people and the Libertarians? At first, all of the national media, Fox included, spurned them. It would have been a colossal contradiction for Fox to have it both ways, for and against the war. In the recent South Carolina GOP debate, CBS, relegated Ron Paul to 89 seconds of time in the first hour of debate. The network later justified its decision by polling, which actually showed Ron Paul as third among the GOP contenders and beating Barack Obama among independents. Even non Libertarians winced at the treatment.
Ailes has been watching all of this for months. Like a good defensive player who sees a loose ball on the field, Fox News smartly picked it up and ran with it. Don’t want the Libertarians? 14% of the country? Really? Well, okay, if I must. Kaching. Ailes took them. He put them in the Fox Business News Ghetto, where they will have to do a lot of heavy lifting. But at least it’s a home. And with Ron Paul now soaring in Iowa and New Hampshire FNC is finally giving him air time in the major leagues as well.
From the beginning Ailes artfully used sex, humor and provocative headlines to win viewers. You don’t need a remote control when you watch Fox News. Roger Ailes does that for you. It’s addictive. It’s fun. One can just sit and relax and watch him play out the long stream of promos, staying in your seat, watching the shifting Kaleidoscope of four minute segments, on the economy, on a political race in Ohio, on that Hollywood scandal, on the alligator that got lose in a Georgia neighborhood, on the earthquake in Alaska, waiting for the promised story about the mother who got fired from her job in California for changing her baby’s diaper in public.
According to Neilson the top 13 programs in cable news all air on Fox. It has 48% of the prime-time cable-news market, compared to 17% for CNN or MSNBC. If there was a race, a contest, it is over. If there was a war it has been won. Fox News is close to $1 billion in profit for the last fiscal year. It has crushed its rivals.
I take some humble pride in the fact that I saw all of this back in 1988, when I worked for Roger Ailes as one of his shill’s in the presidential practice debates for George H. W. Bush. I saw his genius. When the election was over I strongly advocated that Ailes be brought into the White House and serve in the inner circle. I argued that the presidents five minutes on the evening news should be carefully plotted and choreographed by a master and it was more important for governing and moving legislation than all the other hundreds of paper shufflers in the White House combined. I was convinced that Ailes could change how the country was governed. My argument did not succeed. But in the end Roger Ailes did indeed change how the country was governed and more profoundly than he ever could have done in a West Wing office.
Abraham Lincoln once said that the Union, the North, had the men, it had the industry, it had the supply. If he could just find a general who could understand those numbers, if he had a general who could get the math, then that general could win the Civil War. Rupert Murdoch, the colorful, inventive owner of News Corporation found his general in Roger Ailes. And yes, he gets the math. And yes, he won the war.
Jon Stewart’s now viral analysis of the media exclusion of Ron Paul is an example of how comic’s make us laugh by stating the truth. This was definitely a “look mom, the Emperor has no clothes” moment for America. The emperor in this case being the national media in general and “fair and balanced” Fox News Channel specifically. Look at the numbers and see how Jon Stewart’s views jumped on the day he stated the obvious to the delight of the nation.
During the week leading up to his Ron Paul piece Jon Stewart’s page averaged 43,000 hits a day. On August 16, 2011, the day he posted his Straw Poll analysis he had 223,247 hits. There are two things the American people despise. Presidents who lie. And media talking heads who insult their intelligence by what they say or don’t say.
Years ago, in television, it was a rule of thumb that when you received a letter it represented a thousand people who felt the same way. Today, the national media has decided that it is all reversed for Ron Paul supporters on the internet. They believe that 1,000 Ron Paul emails really only represent one. That it just so happens that all the Ron Paul people are techno savvy and supporters of the other candidates struggle in that area. And so the growing numbers of people who vote or express their support for Dr. Paul in emails must be much less than they appear.
And for those handful of Americans who missed Jon Stewart’s analysis of the Iowa Straw Poll, here you go.
Yesterday I found myself being quoted on the front page of The New York Post. It was a Jennifer Fermino piece all about President Obama’s footwear. He was apparently caught wearing flip flops at a restaurant in Hawaii. The Post story was all about presidential footwear and it was intriguing enough that NBC picked it up and ran it on their evening news. I was telling a story from the Jimmy Carter White House, when First Lady, Rosalynn looked askance at a group of visitors coming through the receiving line wearing sneakers. The White House Social Secretary looked like she was having a stroke.
Well, today I found this message from D. Gordon in my inbox.
“I was the photographer assigned to the Carter campaign in 1976 and 1980 by the New York Times. I shared that duty with George Tames, longtime Washington photog for the Times, and my colleague in the old Washington buro at 17th and K. I had noted that Jimmy Carter often went shoeless, especially when he was in Plains and working at this desk. So, on the occasion that one of the reporters like Rick Smith or Adam Climer would stop by to ask questions of Carter, I made a point of shooting pictures from directly in front of the desk so that I could see the bare feet through the opening.
“I sent the pictures on to New York where they were quashed… more than once. Jody Powell said that it made Carter look like a “redneck” and apparently the Times reporters and editors agreed. Of course it did, that’s why I shot the pictures!
“In the event, Rosalind would often pad through the room with Jimmy shoeless and sockless without being ‘horrified’. So I have to wonder what was going on later?
As you and I know, its ‘staff’ that enforces the rules of propriety upon the President. This Obama staff, it appears, is clueless.”
What a hoot. Hopefully, Mr. Gordon will take the time to w rite about his experiences. He must have seen a lot seen through his lens.
“Blue skies smilin’ at me, nothing but blue skies do I see.”
There is Steve Jobs who gave us great computers and Bill Gates who led the software revolution. There is Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whose Google made it all meaningful and made education free. There is Mark Zuckerberg whose Facebook made the world truly flat. And finally there is Brad Fallon, whose Search Engine Optimization talents showed us how to earn a living with it. But hold onto your hats, there is now Glen Woodfin, who can get you hired, elected, out of jail or just save your name from destruction. Glen Woodfin is the guru and the unquestioned master of ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT.
When I interviewed Glen Woodfin for this piece he was pretty circumspect, explaining that the true geniuses of SEO and ORM are not even visible to the public. “They are too busy making their millions of dollars to advertise themselves. And their secrets are never for sale. You can scour the internet for months and never see their fingerprints.”
So why is Glen Woodfin so open about what he does and how he does it?
“Don’t worry about me, I don’t tell everything I know,” he says with a disarming chuckle. “I’m just giving away some of the goodies because it makes me feel good and I like to see people solve their problems and I enjoy what I do.”
What he does is take a look at your company, your brand, your idea or your name and he shows you how to give it an online “scrub” so your enemies and competitors won’t destroy it. That’s right. He “shows” you how.
Of course, for a huge fee of $50,000 a month, he will take your YOUTUBE to the top of a keyword search but for a much smaller, training fee he will teach you how to do it yourself.
“Aren’t you afraid that you may be putting yourself out of business?” I ask with genuine concern for a nice guy.
Glen Woodfin laughs at that. “By the time you use what I teach you I will be so far ahead of you that there will be plenty more to teach. And you will be back. Don’t feel sorry for me. I have all the clients and customers I can handle.”
When I ask, “What is your most satisfying assignment?” Woodfin is coy.
“Now, you know I can’t answer that question,” he says laughing. “It would defeat the whole purpose of my work. I would have to do it all over again. I will say this. It is especially satisfying to have one of my online heroes, a specialist in some other area, come to me for help with his or her online reputation. That is particularly satisfying.”
This online world has its heroes. Jason Hennesy is up there with Brad Fallon. Leslie Rohde can go into the website of a major company and reshape it to fit their changing needs, all the while making sure that it maintains its hard earned page rank. He studies algorithm. He is a mathematician. John Wilson, in Oregon, is the security master. Companies fly him all over the world to break into their systems and then have him show them how he did it and how to tighten up. And now, as online reputation has begun to equal money, there is Glen Woodfin.
“I’m no big deal,” he assures me. “The best are those invisible people I spoke about earlier. They got into the game early. They teach no classes. The public has no access to them. They run black hat, gray hat, white hat operations. Some of them are spammers. Sometimes they get banned. But they are very, very smart people, making millions of dollars.”
That may all be true but Glen Woodfin is available, touchable, even affordable. And he knows more about Online Reputation Management than 99% of anyone else. So he is enjoying this moment in the sun, as he should. More than one company, politician, movie star, sports hero, television evangelist, businessman or next door neighbor has Glen Woodfin to thank for pulling them out of the fire and giving them a new life.
A false myth persists that alcohol use will extend your life. It is almost an accepted fact that moderate consumption of red wine is beneficial to heart disease.
Today, once more, there is a new study appearing online that claims moderate drinking in general extends lifespan more than abstinence. John Williams alerted me to the report. But readers beware.
First, the sample includes individuals “between 55 – 65 who had any kind of outpatient care in the previous three years.” Yikes. Let’s poll those sick people.
Second, more importantly, there is no information on who financed the study.
The latter can be big. When I worked in the White House I felt the power of the alcohol lobby. While statistics clearly showed that alcohol related deaths and crime were astronomical those facts were always stripped clean from any emerging policy or legislation.
Even when a nationally newsworthy personal tragedy forced the subject onto the front pages and the White House felt the political necessity of hosting a drunk driving event in the Rose Garden, the backroom preparations revealed the corruption of the process. The early more famous anti-drunk driving organizations, usually born out of the pain of loss, were almost entirely financed by the alcohol industry itself. “We care about drunk driving too,” they explained, “It hurts our image.” And so subsequent organizations were formed only to fall on hard times and into the same status. The latest, hottest, most painfully born anti-drunk driving organizations were almost always the only pure ones.
Over the years, the most objective, less biased, scientific studies exclusively show that non-drinking groups such as Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists have the best health, and the lowest rates of cancer and heart disease.
Count me as a skeptic on this new study. I lost two brothers, one at 46 years of age, another at 47. They were both heavy drinkers. I am a teetotaler. So believe what you will. Drink up me hearties, yo ho. But don’t fool yourself either.