Singing the Bite Me Song

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September 23, 2004

Should they send thank you letters to George Bush?

More billionaires than ever in Forbes 400

AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The nation's billionaire's club may not be quite as exclusive as it once was.

There are now 313 billionaires in the country, the largest number
ever and a huge jump over last year's 262 members, according to Forbes
magazine, which Thursday released its annual ranking of the 400 richest

The combined net worth of the 400 rose $45 billion, reaching $1
trillion this year for the first time since 2000, before the dot-com

September 23, 2004 at 12:58 AM in Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 22, 2004

Reuters: Is 'Rathergate' a Watershed Moment for U.S. Media?"

This article is majorly setting off my bullshit detectors. I got to talking with some folks on a listserv about it.

I have one friend who wrote:

This story rather ignores the fact that the blogger who first flagged up the "forgeries" (within minutes of the broadcast) turned out to be a well-known(and I bet well connected) Republican activist.

and another friend who added:

Yes. And no.

If we are adamant about noting the political affiliation of a Republican and framing is as a way to devalue their statements, then we have affirmed that such tactics are appropriate, and the other side has as much right to do so as we do.

That the blogger is Republican *should* be inconsequential. That's the fight that will defeat our current rhetoric of blindly believing those who share political views and dismissing others because they are different.

To which I replied:

I'm considering a possible different frame for analysis, where party affiliation is less relevant, and something much more dark is turning out to be likely.

We've heard about "freepers," an online variation of Rush Limbaugh's dittoheads. What if Rove and Wolfowitz have learned how to "game" the blog system? What if bloggers are merely putty in their hands?

This has more to do with the field of public relations and spin doctors than it does with any party ideology or affiliation. In other words, it may be a developing communications strategy.

I've seen this happen with the so-called alternative press in the late 80s, where the corporate media chains used focus groups and careful imitation to basically "win" in the demographic publication category of "altpress," putting out "faked" alt press papers, with the edgier part of the alt surgically removed, but with enough alt elements to fool audiences. Not for political reasons. For capitalistic business reasons. They made their pseudo alt products look better than the actual alt products, they were managed more professionally, and they used audience tools to mime enough elements to gain or even seize huge sectors of the alt audiences. Many people read some of these alt papers today, not knowing that they are owned by corporate chains and that those companies put out similar publications in many different markets.

Now, consider the blog landscape and spoofing. We see spammers do this on the web all the time, trying to spoof google. You know, where you get a highly ranked page in the results of your "fan-related" search and it is just a "fake" fan page that pretends to have images of some celebrity or whatever, but they are mostly just pages of links automatically generated in categories by some bot? I've hit whole groups of pages like that when looking for the fan sites in other fandoms than just the ones I'm used to.

So how easy would it be for the GOP to have THOUSANDS of spoof blogs? Sure, maybe some real bloggers with real community ethos spin the GOP talking points out within minutes of the CBS report, and then thousands of spoof blogs with RSS feeds jam into the echo chamber, which has its right wing nutjobs anyway, right? But the important thing about rightwing nutjobs is that they aren't THAT good at goosestepping. Sure, they will do it when it suits them, which may be a lot of the time. But they DO take some pride in independence, a fascist, racist, bigoted kind of independence, but an independence nonetheless. That isn't what Rove and company need, so I believe they have undoubtedly supplemented the nutjob quarter with spoof blogs beyond number. That's what I mean by gaming the system.

SO, my question in all this is: Will the Internet resist gaming more so than the pathetic alternative press did?

It is a kind of Turing Test, because on the Internet no one knows you are a dog/GOP spoof site generating fake "grassroots" support for things.

And maybe any system can be gamed.

Come on bloggers! Stand up for yourselves! Are there manipulative spoofers in your midst? Would you recognize and out them if there were? Or are blog spoofers seeking to manipulate interactive and viral media the same way they manipulate and spin mass media? Is this merely another domain for spin doctors to rule and subvert, all the while panoptically observing and measuring the precise rhetorical effects they are seeking?


Is 'Rathergate' a Watershed Moment for U.S. Media?

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Internet bloggers have drawn blood and American journalism may never be the same.

To hear some press experts tell it, CBS's admission on September 20, 2004 that it was duped into using questionable documents about President George W. Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam War was a watershed moment brought on by a small army of Internet-based commentators known as bloggers. CBS anchor Dan Rather is seen in this October 2001 file photo.

To hear some press experts tell it, CBS's admission on Monday that it was duped into using questionable documents about President Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam War was a watershed moment brought on by a small army of Internet-based commentators known as bloggers.

Their insistence, from the moment that CBS aired its report almost two weeks ago, that the documents were fake turned the question into a national issue ending with Rather, CBS and the American media establishment in a state of deep embarrassment.

Orville Schell, dean of the school of journalism at the University of California in Berkeley, said CBS's admission of error after days of stonewalling was "a landmark moment for the balance between the blogosphere and mainstream media."

Bloggers were the first to challenge the authenticity of the documents and the first to publish detailed examinations of the evidence by dozens of self-declared experts, some of them with Republican party ties.

"The credibility of the media has taken another hit, especially when you consider the story is not Dan Rather but President Bush's service in the National Guard," Schell said.

That latter story -- that said George W. Bush ducked military service in Vietnam by entering the Guard and then getting special treatment thanks to his powerful father -- has been lost in the welter of complaints about the CBS story.

It was not the first time that bloggers have stuck.

Often working anonymously, bloggers have fanned the flames of controversies ranging from whether Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry deserved his Vietnam medals to whether Republican Trent Lott should remain a Senate leader after praising a segregationist.


But Tom Goldstein, former dean of Columbia University's School of Journalism, dismissed the notion that CBS's dilemma was a sign that American journalism has become more sloppy in recent years.

Instead, Goldstein said Rather's report was another example of bad things happening to good news organizations. "They had the best in the business on it, and they got duped and there but for the grace of God go you and I."

September 22, 2004 at 08:33 PM in Cyberculture, Democracy, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, Politics, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2004

Wacky Neighbor: Wearing his heart on his navel

This is just too funny not to pass on!


Wacky Neighbor: Flaunt it Baby!: Wearing his heart on his navel


Wearing his heart on his navelPosted by condour at September 12, 2004 01:56 AM September 12, 2004 (perm)
Wow. He really is an idiot.

September 19, 2004 at 02:48 PM in Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 11, 2004

From Mad Magazine, and Eschaton too


It can also be found here:

September 11, 2004 at 12:23 AM in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack