In his watershed 1964 work “Understanding Media,” Marshall Macluhan posed a thought experiment. If a new media were established which offered buyers and sellers a free venue for trade, classified advertising in newspapers would collapse. This collapse would eliminate the fifth estate, thus threatening the existence of democracy itself. The advent of “new media” such as ebay and craigslist have now apparently made this thought experiment a reality.

The age of alternative weeklies coincided with the birth of the internet, but with the advent of the so-called “web 2.0” and the ascent of Facebook and Google, print publications of all sorts took a financial hit. Advertisers flocked to the new media and as a consequence, many publications saw a decline in ad revenue. Printing and distribution costs continued to increase while classified advertisers moved to the internet. The mix of advertisers that news organizations depended on to make tight budgets, namely smaller local businesses and larger national campaigns started to evaporate, forcing staff cuts. Local investigative reporting was replaced with cheaper opinion pieces, soon even nominal guest writer fees disappeared. Local alternative journalism simply did not survive the jump to the so-called “gig economy.”

What was euphemistically called the “chinese wall” between news reporting and paid advertising content started to disappear completely in many instances. Various not-for-profit entities crept into the void, but the thousand points of light envisioned by the late George Bush are themselves constricted by the interests of their often times corporate donors. And now a message from our sponsors….The struggle to remain in print made it difficult to maintain a compelling website. As local publications threw in the towel to concentrate on the web, they found that ad revenue there was even harder to come by. The web 2.0 giants Google and Facebook now enjoy a defacto monopoly share of all internet ad revenue in the US. Furthermore the internet has become a vast ocean,
making local news websites evaporate from consciousness, like so many droplets of water.

The slow decline of print journalism mirrors the rise of the internet. Most people in the U.S. now get their news from Facebook. Facebook is not a news organization. It does not fund investigative journalism. Traditional newspapers have sought to stem their losses by putting their copy on the internet behind a paywall. Meanwhile, local newspapers have suffered greatly. They have filled the void of local stories with syndicated national news, and have geared their news product towards what is popular with readers. Their readers are now more of a target market for their advertisers, than a community of participants in a democracy.

Prior to the rise of the internet, free, local alternative weekly newspapers flourished as local daily newspapers consolidated into monopoly dailies. Now all news print publications are being confronted with the loss of advertising revenue. This loss of revenue is not just due to the reduction of classifieds, Google has ushered in a whole new era of internet advertising. Ken Auletta’s 2010 book, “Googled: the end of the world as we know it,” explored this new landscape. Subsequent events have done little to assuage the grave concerns presented in that analysis.

News organizations have yet to find a more effective way to navigate this new landscape than paywalls. Perhaps this is due to the assumption that consumers will prefer to access news sites via a desktop computer. The smart phone era has created a new paradigm. Young people, especially, look to the cell phone as the organizing talisman of their lives. This is consistent with McLuhan’s thesis that the fracturing of “old media,”tends to favor a “new” tribalism.

If we accept McLuhan’s definition of all media as “...extensions of man,” the somewhat frightening increased dependence on smartphone technology can be understood as an historical cycle. At the pinnacle of the commanding heights of the global economy, the new media giants look down on a potpourri of balkanized special interests or “tribes” that are utterly dependent on them even for such mundane tasks as keeping phone numbers, calendar appointments, etc. In the case of Facebook their customers are their actual product. The resistance of any member tribe to this system is actually profitable for them.
In this respect the new media is much like the old in their stubborn dedication to false equivalencies. They condone hate speech in the name of furthering “bipartisan discussion.” They present “two sides of a coin” without any critical analysis.

In his new book released in June, “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now,” tech pioneer, Jaron Lanier is urging people to start opting out. A New York Times review of the book highlights the complexities behind the simplistic idea of breaking way:“Many of his criticisms of social media will feel familiar to distant observers of American politics. Twitter and Facebook have made us cruder, less empathetic, more tribal. Only at the very end does Lanier venture into new territory. His argument, however, is a profound one. He worries that our reliance on big tech companies is ruining our capacity for spirituality, by turning us into robotic extensions of their machines. The companies, he argues, have no appreciation for the “mystical spark inside you.” They don’t understand the magic of human consciousness and, therefore, will recklessly destroy it.”
The question becomes whether the current McLuhan-esque tribalism will continue to be exploited to produce further human misery or rather lead us into a process of reunification guided “ the better angels of our nature,” as President Lincoln said in his first inaugural address.

By John McMahon

In the May 7th issue of Artvoice, columnist Bruce Fisher marked the passing of former Republican Congressman and Buffalo Bills quarterback Jack Kemp  with a highly partisan piece entitled "The Kemp Legacy." 

While some Democrats would probably agree with many of the writers conclusions about the negative effects of Reaganism,  few can argue that Fisher's ad hominem attacks, aimed at casting Kemp as a personification of all the evils of the Reagan era, have any place in a newspaper obituary.

After reading the piece I thought that it said more about the writer than the subject. In order to put the piece in this context I wrote a letter to editor wherein I explained to readers some background information about the writer, Bruce Fisher, so that they might better understand the toxicity of his tone. Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly wrote back saying that while he thought my letter was funny, he didn't think that Fisher "crossed any lines"  in his piece.

Below is my letter to the editor of Artvoice. They essentially refused to publish it. 

             In formulating a response to Bruce Fisher's rather unusual obituary of Jack Kemp let me start by focusing on the positive. It did remind to mix some manure into my garden beds in advance of planting my tomatoes. While I'm told this is most effective when done a month in advance of planting, I'm following the maxim of “better late than never.” Unfortunately, I don't think that same maxim applies to Fisher's partisan screed  against the freshly deceased Kemp.

            Dead people aren't very lively debaters and so writers who launch attacks across the great divide often do so in search of  a straw man as opposed to the truth. Not exactly  profile in courage- type stuff.  but when it comes to mucking about in political dung heaps, Bruce Fisher is quite obviously a man with a golden shovel.

            While Mr. Fisher very astutely criticizes the negative effects that resulted from the policies that the former Congressman and Reagan cabinet member embraced, the nasty, partisan tone of the “Kemp Legacy,” really says more about the writer than the man he is so intent on burying. So before we go any further perhaps we should examine “the Bruce Fisher Legacy.”


"No decisions had been taken, but he (the British defense secretary) thought the most likely timing in U.S. minds for military action to begin was January, with the time line beginning 30 days before the U.S. congressional elections.”

"The foreign secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the U.N. weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.”

"The attorney general said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defense, humanitarian intervention or UNSC authorization. The first and second could not be the base in this case."

The third was a U.N. Security Council resolution, which Goldsmith said "would be difficult." Blair stated "it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the U.N. inspectors…If the political context were right, people would support regime change."

The memo was written by Matthew Rycroft, a British foreign policy aide. It has been confirmed as legitimate and is dated July 23, 2002.

On May 1, 2005, the Sunday Times of London printed a copy of this secret memo to the defense secretary, foreign secretary, attorney general and others. It is a summary of the minutes of their meeting on Iraq with Tony Blair and it states unequivocally America’s intent to invade Iraq under whatever auspices it damned well please, and to the rest of the world in the words of G.W., “you’re either with us or against us.”

89 Congressional Democrats queried the Bush administration with a letter of request following the Times’ revelation, to explain the indiscreet discrepancies. The letter, introduced by Rep. John Conyers, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, stated that the memo "raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war as well as the integrity of your own administration..." Sir Menzies Campbell, Britain’s Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said the leaked memo proved P.M. Blair had “agreed to an illegal regime change with the Bush administration. It set out to create the justification for going to war. It was to be war by any means.”

A rogue (unelected) American administration aided and abetted by an equally corrupt and dissembling British Prime Minister usurped all of the international laws and organizations designed to prevent just such abuses of power and against overwhelming worldwide public disapproval invaded and decimated a non-threatening, internationally recognized sovereign nation, while from America’s imminent imperilment by Iraq’s WMD’s to its artificially alleged alQuida connections, the truth behind their deceits and deceptions have all been unraveled and revealed even as we continue to wage this unjust and illegal ‘war’, yet in the mass mainstream American media hardly a word is whispered about it.

Instead of leading the charge for Bush and Blair being tried in the World Court for crimes against humanity, mass media massaged both these boobs back into the offices they have shamed. Instead of exposing heinous crimes against the international community by two of the world’s leading industrialized nations’ illegal, immoral and unjust use of military might, mass media focuses the public’s attention on the petty fiscal corruption of a handful of UN officials and a preposterous push for denominational ‘sainthood’ for a passing Pope as if either were something earth-shatteringly new or newsworthy.

According to Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), Knight Ridder News Wire Service, The New York Times (5/2/05), and the Charleston (W.V.) Gazette (5/5/05), Cox News Service (5/8/05) and Molly Ivins (, 5/10/05) were the only mainstream (and minimalist at that) coverage of the secret meeting’s memo. The Washington Post’s Michael Getler (5/8/05) noted that readers were complaining about it’s lack of coverage, but the paper continued to ignore it anyway. CNN passed on it as well, and, as usual in the 21st Century communications cornucopia, you have to navigate the blogosphere or weave your way around the web to find out the truth.

Salon Magazine’s Joe Conason queried: “Are Americans so jaded about the deceptions perpetrated by our own government to lead us into war in Iraq that we are no longer interested in fresh and damning evidence of those lies? Or are the editors and producers who oversee the American news industry simply too timid to report that proof on the evening broadcasts and front pages?”
The fact that you’re here reading this shows you already know the answer.

alexander graham

Nixon was extremely interested in UFOs, and so was Haldeman. The
conversation dealt partly with a UFO experience/sighting that I had had,
personally. My family was also friendly with JFK's CIA Director John
McCone, who I definitely met, and who had indicated to me that the
Democratic Party (including LBJ) were behind the JFK assassination. Thus, it
would have been completely natural for me to be in sympathy with the
just-reported break-in at the DNC, and expressing my support (misguided or
not). My family has been friendly (over decades) with several different Presidents'
closest friends and advisors.

Because of my concern, at the time, that McGovern was fomenting a potential
assassination, I actually advised several people that I thought that it
would be reasonable to bug the DNC, and listen in on conversations for any
possible clues about assassination plots. One of these was Otis Chandler, I
believe, who encouraged my effort at protecting the Presidency, despite his
being an ardent "JFK Democrat". Chandler was the former owner of the LA
Times, and quite well-known. Obviously, if my family was acquainted with
the Chandlers, it wouldn't have been very far-fetched to contend that I
could have been placed in verbal contact with Bob Woodward.

No one else, that I know of, has been able to explain exactly why Watergate
even happened, let alone how they know why it happened, so I suspect that my
claim might well "trump" Mark Felt's claim to be a key informant. One key
doubt about Mark Felt is that he couldn't possibly have had any knowledge of
the 18.5 minutes of tape, nor what it was about, since he wasn't a "Whitehouse insider".

Also, it has been pointed out that Woodward couldn't have been correct to
assert (as he claims) that he communicated with "Deep Throat" by placing a flowerpot
on his balcony. Adrian Havill's research proved that no flowerpot could have been
seen from the street... also, Havill pointed out that "Deep Throat" couldn't
have communicated with Woodward by drawing clocks on the newspaper (as claimed in
"All the President's Men"), since the papers were delivered in a stack in
the lobby, and not personally, so Woodward couldn't have known which paper
to pick.

The tape could well have been erased to protect the identity of a minor (I
was 12, at the time), and also because UFOs are considered a matter of
highest secrecy and national security.

I should also point out that my name "Nick Meyler" makes a fairly obvious
pun ("Neck Miler") on Deep Throat... It also makes a pun on "Iran contra"
(Miler/Nicaragua), and I do feel I should point out that I actually invented
the Iran-contra plot (as I claim in my 2004 and 2005 Marquis' Who's Who

In fact, I invented Iran-contra, based on p. 518 of James Joyce's "Finnegans
Wake", partly out of a sense of moral outrage at people like Woodward, who
had exploited me as a minor, and contributed to my delinquency, by giving me
an eponym (i.e. "Deep Throat") which is highly sexual, and obscene. Also, I
saw an opportunity to help protect the United States from Communism, and to
help hostages held in Iran. Note that Ollie North, much better known for
his role in Iran-contra than I, has never claimed to have invented the
concept. If anything, he said he received the idea from Ghorbanifar (which
I of course dispute, since I had sent in a 4-page letter to President Reagan
in 1983 or 1984, outlining my reasoning for this covert action -- since my
grandparents were friendly with some of Reagan's key supporters, I was
listened to, when others might not have been).

Not only this, but the term "Deep Throat" as I understand it, refers to a
phenomenon of speech-synthesis (synthetic voice [or "throat"] by musical
instruments (also discussed in my Who's Who entry, and in my entry in the
1993 Cambridge International Biographical Society's "Men of Achievement").
I am the subject of a considerable amount of musical art "modeling", and,
for example am modeled in the subliminal lyrics of the album "Dark Side of
the Moon" (very popular at the time), and numerous other pieces of music.

The fact that I was only 12 to 14 at the time is irrelevant, since I have an
IQ which has been reported/estimated at 215 (and I did actually score a 195
on one test, though it might not have been my best performance),
certainly high enough to be significantly intellectual at an early age.

"Deep Throat" was probably more than one person, but certainly not mostly
Mark Felt. I feel that my claim to be that more or less fictional identity
(and certainly not a name of my own choosing, at least as I recall) is
sounder, more reasonable, and more accurate than what Woodward and Bernstein
are claiming.

Because I was intuitively aware that Bob Woodward was probably a liar, even
as a 14 year old, I called upon some of my acquaintances to help me
recollect events carefully. As a chessplayer, I was in tournaments ("All
the President's Men is also an allusion to "All the King's Men", obviously),
and had met people like James Tarjan, who was a US Champion. Tarjan's
brother is a world-leading authority on Artificial Intelligence and
Computers, and it is well-known that the most famous computer chess programs
are named after "Deep Throat" (i.e. "Deep Thought" and "Deep Blue"). I
definitely believe that I can remember James Tarjan telling me not to trust
Woodward to eventually tell the truth, and that the scheme of overcoming his
deception could be accomplished by long-range planning (which chessplayers
naturally have a greater faculty for). So, this justifies the naming of the
computer programs, and serves the ulterior purpose of outwitting Woodward.
Parenthetically, dull chessplayers are sometimes referred to as
"woodpushers". I suspect I am a mere "woodpusher" (currently only rated 2040) to James Tarjan, but I am
convinced that I have accomplished a goal of long-range planning, to defeat
disinformation by the American media.

For those (and other) reasons, I think that the "divulgence" of Mark Felt as
"Deep Throat" is a fraud by Woodward and Bernstein. It certainly would make
sense, however, that a journalist would like to keep hidden the fact that he
dubbed a 14-year old "Deep Throat". I have claimed to be "Deep Throat"
before, as early as 2003, in an article I published on "Useless"
To my thinking, Woodward and Bernstein's conduct violates my intellectual
property rights, and my right to publicity on this controversial matter.

There are other instance of Woodward blatantly lying, too. For instance, he
claimed to have interviewed CIA Director William Casey after brain surgery
(Casey couldn't even speak at the time). Casey's widow was quite offended
with his lies, I recall. And, after all, when Felt "came out" as "Deep Throat", Woodward
and Bernstein both initially denied it -- and then changed their stories within
24 hours.

So, clearly, doubting their account of events is extremely reasonable. My
feeling is that I have "force majeur" in demonstrating who more closely
resembles that obscene moniker.

The neo-con puppeteers that pass for the powers behind the thrown these days have gotten so disrespectful of the public they’re pulling around by the nose ring that they don’t even bother pretending to put up anyone remotely resembling a Commander in Chief, and they’re probably right not to do so. No one bothers to even try to assassinate this president because everyone knows it wouldn’t make a lick of difference-like ‘suicide in Buffalo’.

After even just a few moments’ viewing, one was left with the impression that had he been auditioning for the role, he would be laughed out of any real television studio. It makes you wonder what the millions of viewers around the world must be thinking about a society in which this is the best it can do. It makes you wonder what kind of society would put this C grade frat boy kegger lover in the most powerful position on earth. Twice.

Think about that for a moment. Turn it over in your mind and let it settle in. Look at the record. This man has failed at every venture he’s ever undertaken. Ever. From baseball to fossil fuels (who can’t find oil in Texas?) to savings and loans, he’s been a wash out at all of it-even the National Guard. Notoriously so by now, even as a ‘weekend warrior’ he was a no show. It sometimes seems like three quarters of the American public are the only ones in the world unaware of these facts. Now why would that be? Hmmm….why, why, why?

How could so many citizens in the most information accessed nation in the world be so stupid as to think Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11, or was in cahoots with bin Laden’s bunch of radical religious martyrs in any way, shape or form; or that alienating the majority of the civilized world by launching ‘preemptive’ wars against harmless oil producing nations was in their own best interests; or that tax cuts for wealthy corporations and individuals would put money in their pockets as well; or that the national debt this bunch is building will be paid in even their grandchildren’s lifetimes, or any of the dozens of diplomatically dysfunctional diatribes and socially debilitating policies this administration has displayed for the last four years as being for either their or their children’s benefit?

The obvious answer would be that they either don’t pay attention or they’re not being told by the regular sources of news reporting what those of us who look elsewhere already know, and since it would self-evidently be inhumanly irresponsible, moronically myopic, short sighted and self-centered not to pay attention, what are we left with? Warren Buffett? Maybe one or two of the other handful of corporations and individuals who control every form of mass media from television and radio to magazine and newsprint in America?

The problem is, if we concede that point, we have to admit that the same corporations and individuals that benefit from those policies are supplying us the information we use to decide if they’re good or not because those are the corporations and individuals that own and support with their advertising dollars those mainstream media resources we are getting our news from. When you look at it that way, is it any wonder we’re so stupid? And isn’t this man exactly the representation we deserve?

alexander graham