Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Heat & Light, Continued

Yesterday a friend wrote in response to my last post:

You seemed to suggest that Beverly Harris has not been particularly effective. She is one incredibly dedicated, very hard-working citizen. She has to depend on you and me for funding. I admit that she is like a mosquito trying to get the attention of an elephant, but I sure appreciate what she has done.

I agree with you that we need to turn up the heat, but frankly I don’t know on whom. Starting with the witch hunt for Bill Clinton and then through the 2000 election I have written letters, made phone calls, donated money, sent faxes and emails to my representatives and to anyone else who I thought had some power in the situation. Talk about a mosquito … So I would love to hear your ideas about who should be pressured, and in what way, in order to wake up the media or the Democrats.

First, I meant in no way to diss Bev Harris. I am a big fan of her efforts to bring transparency to electronic voting. But I do think her site and her communications style could use more polish. She desperately needs the services of a good Webmaster, designer, and PR consultant. Anybody out there willing to volunteer their services?

Second, I wish I had a magic solution to the ‘how to turn up the heat’ problem. But I don’t think there is a quick fix. I think the answer is to continue to do what many of us are already doing—challenging stupidity and arrogance and willful blindness everywhere it appears—only more of it. I think the answer is to pump up the volume, both in terms of how loud we are and how many of us are doing it.

An example: Yesterday I wrote a letter to a columnist in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review who wrote a snide, poorly-researched piece about how Keith Olbermann’s coverage of the voter fraud story is turning into another ‘RatherGate’. His claim: a “real journalist” would have called elections officials to debunk the story. I don’t know what this guy’s politics are, but it’s typical of the hit pieces that come from right-wing trolls. I said a real journalist would look at all the facts—including the many sophisticated statistical analyses available on the Web--and not just chat up a handful of 90-year-old poll monitors in the Florida panhandle.

As someone who gets letters from readers on a regular basis, I can confirm that they do have an impact. I ignore the “F U a**hole ones,” of course, but a well-reasoned letter can get me to reconsider something I’ve written. And if I get a lot of email chiding me about something, I know I’ve probably screwed up. I’m not saying it will work in all instances – the right wing media machine seems particularly inured to criticism – but it’s a start.

One mosquito is a nuisance. Fifty million of them are much, much harder to swat.


Blogger Phil said...

Kevin Drum at Washingtion Monthly (a wonky kind of blog) is finally talking about turning up the heat.

10:39 AM  

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