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.

1 Comments:

Blogger Phil said...

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

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2004_11/005172.php

10:39 AM  

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