Friday, August 03, 2007

Kangaroo Jack-Off


So now Rupert Murdoch owns my old newspaper.

Not The Wall Street Journal, though the right-wing media-mashing mummy owns that, too. I’m talking about the Pocono Record, where I spent five years of my life, from 1988 to 1993.

Since Murdoch was allowed to buy Dow Jones—huh?—he gets all of its subsidiaries, including Ottaway Newspapers, which owns the Record.

So, in addition to snagging a national newspaper, Murdoch’s oily tentacles are reaching right down to the small and mid-sized markets.

Now the man who helped George "Mission Accomplished" Bush sell the lie in Iraq will have an even greater reach, a tighter hold on news outlets. What a country.

Upon hearing the news, I fired off an e-mail to a fellow Pocono Record survivor, which was slugged “Headless Corpse Found in Topless Hot Tub.”

I wasn’t very happy at the Record, which, in the area of understatements, is like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground. I’m no longer associated with the place, so I could say “good, let Murdoch have it.” But it bothers me.

I hate what Murdoch and his mutts have done to journalism, pushing that "fair and balanced" crap while spewing the rabid Republican line. And we still have zipper necks walking around reciting the "liberal media" mantra, as if it were actually true.

I wish the goddamn media were liberal. Then reporters might have stood up to these clowns and exposed the war for the pack of lies it really is.

But no, the mainstream media rolled over and repeated the Bush Abomination's falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction and links to Osama.

A few years ago I entertained the thought of working for the Record again as a web editor. I was out of work at the time and desperate to find a job, but I later found employment elsewhere.

During my interview there the editor told me that Dow Jones had been taking more interest in the Ottaway newspapers because the home office realized they were bringing in a lot of money. I expect that sort of pressure to intensify under Murdoch.

Like pretty much the rest of the world, I under-estimated Rupert Murdoch at every turn. When he bought The New York Post back in the Seventies, I figured it would go belly-up in no time and we'd never hear of this loser again.

I didn’t believe a paper that ran headlines like “Headless Corpse in Topless Bar” would last long in this or any other town.

The Post is still here, of course, even though it’s losing money. And the Pox News empire is spreading like some awful disease, with the cable network and the soon-to-be-launched business channel--which will benefit hugely from having the Journal under its belt.

There used to be laws against this kind of thing, before, apparently, Murdoch threw wads of money at politicians—the ones who are supposed to represent us—and made those pesky regulations go away.

The Murdoch gang are the idiots who gave us front page images of “weasels” and “surrender monkeys” for those not stupid enough to believe Bush’s fabrications about Iraq.

Brass City Bounce

When I left the Pocono Record, I went the Waterbury Republican-American, a family-owned newspaper in Connecticut. Here is where I learned to loathe the expression “family-owned.”

This was a dysfunctional family, which had inherited the paper from a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, but who were not journalists themselves. The publisher was a cranky old nutcase who dressed impeccably and screamed like a mental patient whenever he didn't get his way.

He used to give the business to one of his sons on a daily basis, shrieking and yelling about God knows what, while the poor schlump just stood there and took it.

Once I was talking to my father back in Brooklyn and he heard the old bastard right through the phone lines.

"Hey, tell that guy to shut up," he said.

This was rather ironic as my father was a pretty good yeller himself. I guess he resented the competition.

None of the upper management ever mentioned this man by name. They would always say "The Publisher," like some people say "The Pontiff." I've never seen that at any other paper I've worked at and I'm wondering if it's just a New England thing.

The Publisher was a staunch Republican, as the name of the paper implies, and he thought nothing of slanting or distorting the paper's coverage to suit his political agenda.

Stories that management didn't want to see were routinely scrubbed, rewritten or ignored.

Prior to my arrival, a group of reporters got together and tried to reason with this old dinosaur--oh, Jesus--and told him that they were concerned about the paper's coverage of the upcoming elections.

The Publisher's response? Why, he started screaming, of course. From what I'm told, he went on about the paper being "my rice bowl," which only served to confuse the matter. I wonder if Rupert Murdoch says things like that.

Since the mayor of Waterbury was a Democrat, the city hall reporter was expected to dig up anything and everything about the town's chief executive and make him look bad.

It got to a point where Connecticut Magazine dubbed a negative article about the mayor's landlord as the worst news story of the year. Then The Columbia Journalism Review included our paper in their "Stars and Darts" section--under "darts" of course.

In response, one the editors, a four star loser who gave incompetence a bad name, wrote a letter defending the Republican's atrocious "reporting."

Nothing to See Here

The CJR dutifully printed the letter and then included a response essentially saying that, no, your paper really does suck and here's a few other reasons we forgot to mention before. Gosh, we were all so proud.

I arrived at the Waterbury paper just after the management had successfully driven out the union representing the reporters. I knew nothing of this and the editors neglected to tell me that during the interviews.

During the holidays, a former reporter who was hated by management came up from Florida and we all went out to a local bar to have a good time; or so I thought.

The only trouble was several editors showed up, too, and just stood there watching us, like KGB agents taking names of potential traitors.

The atmosphere in that bar was so toxic, I told a friend that it was like Christmas in Bosnia.

The place was really Fox News in miniature, only I didn't realize it then. I didn't think this kind of blatant mangling of the facts could exist anywhere else but in a small town. Now it's happening on a national level.

I was popular with management there for a while, but that faded. There was a definite "your turn in the barrel" atmosphere about the place.

The chief henchman--we'll call him Bill--created an environment of fear and resentment. They didn't want to fire people and pay unemployment, so they instead drove people out by making them so miserable they would quit.

They did this to a good friend of mine, with this Bill character actually telling her "nobody here likes you." So we're back in junior high, are we? Being disliked by those pricks was something to proud of, like winning a Purple Heart.

Management had a bloated lackey who helped break the union and was rewarded with some kind of IT post, even though your average high school geek knew more about computers than this lowlife.

If this pig--we'll call him Chris--wanted to smear somebody, all he had to do was say they were trying to bring back the union. That's it all took, a little bit of small town McCarthyism can work some real voodoo.

Every day this blimp would waddle into the office with a huge Taco Bell bag clutched in his paws. I believe he was driven out of the place, finally, like some evil spirit, but not before doing a great deal of damage to good people.

Reporters who covered City Hall quickly looked to get off the beat, rather than carry out management's attacks on the Democratic administration. City Hall is arguably the hottest beat at any paper, but here people were bailing from it like it was made of radioactive material.

The paper did everything it could to influence elections. This resulted in the election of John Rowland as governor, who was later convicted of corruption charges; and to the installation of Phil Giordano as mayor, who is currently serving jail time for having sex with an underage girl. Way to go, Republican-American.

I still remember that election day when Giordano was elected. The atmosphere in the newsroom was miserable; morale was so low it reached down to Rupert Murdoch's home country.

Bill, who by that time had been diagnosed with some form of cancer, was telling the Publisher that the police would be pulling reporters over and yanking them out of their cars in retaliation for the paper's fair and balanced coverage. Very scary, very dramatic, and also completely untrue.

Even though he was dying, Bill kept dragging himself into the paper. I hated the guy, but I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Of course I mocked him behind his back, referring to him as "Jiffy Pop Head" because his face had been bloated by medication. God forgive me.

One time I watched Bill literally stagger to his office, listing to one side of the hall and then to the other because he was so weak. The Publisher saw this and said to me, "Gee, Bill isn't doing much dancing, is he?" I couldn't come up with a response.

I'm sorry to say I lost my temper with my boss, the business editor, because I had complained about being reassigned to the boondocks for two days a week. I got so angry I started pounding the table and shouting.

"I've seen more tolerance among fundamentalist mullahs than I've seen around here," I bellowed.

That was cowardly, as the editor was only trying to survive in this madhouse. And this was part of the problem. People were afraid to fight the power because they didn't want to be the next one on the hit list.

There was a woman there who was always, I mean, always sucking up to management. She actually told Bill at a lunch time meeating that "I have a roof over my head because of this paper."

I was waiting for her to fall to her knees and shout, "Oh, Lawdy, I thanks you so much Masta Bill!"

When we asked her, "hey, what the fuck...?" she'd get all defensive.

"I've got a kid and a mortgage," she'd declare.

Yeah, you're really setting a great example for that kid, aren't you, honey? Don't have talent, just brown-nose your way to the top of this hellhole.

I eventually got transferred to the Naugatuck office, Bill finally died, and I got the hell out of that awful paper. And Rupert Murdoch went on to buy the world.

That rice bowl is looking awfully dirty lately. I think it needs to be flushed.

2 comments:

Calamity Jen said...

Is there such a thing as fair and balanced reporting? It's frightening how biased the media are, and how so many people accept the "news" as facts.

Speaking of frightening, I just learned that an American acquaintance's young kids are being brainwashed by their nutty right-wing grandmother. One of the first things they asked my parents when they met them recently was, "Are you Republicans? No? Then you must be Democrats. Democrats murder babies." This from an EIGHT-YEAR-OLD. Apparently their grandmother is trying to get them an autographed photo of Bill O'Reilly. I don't even know how to react to that.

Rob K said...

Don't know how to react? How about puking!??!

And I thought Hitler Youth was out of business.

Yours truly,


Baby-Murdering Rob