Oh yes, I know what you're going to say -- the Willamette Week is the perennial "not-so-bad" print news source in town, and we shouldn't get on their case. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard an activist start an apologist sentence with the phrase "Compared to the Oregonian..." or "Compared to KATU...", I could've started my own print publication by now, or better yet, donated it to the Alliance so they could print weekly. But it's the truth, folks -- the Willamette Week is no better than the Oregonian, and might in fact be worse for clothing itself in such hip threads as it lies to us. Oh sure, Nick Budnick can cop an attitude that sounds like he's on "our side" even when he's being scolding but all he's doing is copping; that is, being a cop of another kind, whose actions result in a worse place for all of us to live, no matter how well-intentioned he might be. If Budnick thinks he's helping the movement for peace and justice and against war and tyranny, he's sadly deluded. |
(Of course, anyone who supports the Willamette Week or Mercury, including the lowliest interns and their regular readers, is supporting one of the root causes we are fighting to liberate ourselves from: Patriarchy. Both publications [and the Eugene Weekly too] would go out of business if they didn't carry all the sexist, objectifying, misogynistic advertising that comprises so many of their back pages. Anyone who is serious about respecting women and shutting down the male power structure should be boycotting both publications and the businesses that advertise in them.)
Budnick's article is full of lies and mischaracterizations throughout. Such writing is not merely inaccurate; it is dangerous. By perpetuating falsehoods about activist violence when none occured -- and under-reporting or justifying the police violence that did occur -- Budnick is helping to create a public perception in which it is okay for the police to beat, pepperspray and falsely arrest people. With his disinformation, Budnick is threatening the health, safety, and liberty of dissenters of all stripes in the area, regardless of the tactics they use. When I and other people refuse to talk to him or other corporate media people, or stand nonviolently in front of their cameras (which is a completely legal act, as proven on the 25th) it is because we see the connection between their pen and the police's baton, their ink and Rowley's pepperspray, their snideness and the city's aggression. Without the empowerment of the corporate media, governments would not be able to commit the heinous acts they do, from the bombing of babies in Baghdad to the beating of teenagers on Burnside. Budnick is complicit in these deaths and injuries for his past hack-journalism, and can be blamed in part for future violence that occurs. The "stream of whitish goo" vomit that Budnick describes as issuing from the mouth of a peppersprayed man last Thursday on the Steel Bridge came from the bile typed by Budnick in his regular WW stories.
Budnick's account of what happened on the Steel Bridge differs from every other one I've heard. I was present on the ramp, though not close enough to see the action, but I spoke with participants shortly after, including a woman old enough to be my mother who was still squinting and shaking from pepperspray in the face. Budnick specifically claims that a portland indymedia post about the events there is false, but does so in an article that itself contains fallacies. I'm sure Budnick believes what he wrote, but that is the nature of corporate media work; one comes to believe one's own lies after awhile. When those lies are tied to a paycheck, it's necessary. Don't forget -- Budnick and all the other corporate reporters will not write anything that threatens their monetary mainlining. When the truth is a casualty, so be it.
Budnick's defense of KPTV's Beth English is pathetic. The fact that she was peppersprayed during the A22 Bush Protests does not give her a free ride for life. How has KPTV's coverage of protests or politics been since then? Have they ceased being a propaganda arm of the government? Has English seen the error of her ways and started reporting the truth? The fact that she still has a job at KPTV means that she has not. English deserves no special dispensation from activists because she got peppersprayed if she didn't learn anything from the experience. As it is, she is still working for the enemy, and if those working for peace and justice feel her dirty work needs to be nonviolently blocked, more power to them.
Budnick then goes on to quote another corporate media hack, writing:
"I think any observer would have to say that there's more antagonism toward the media than there has been in past years," said Rod Gramer, KGW's news director. "We hired the guards to keep our crews safe, to make sure that they could do their job without being physically attacked."Budnick does not explore at all why there might be more antagonism toward the media, though the answer is obvious: in the past few years, the topic of corporate media ownwership and bias has been recieving more attention, from books by McChesney and Chomsky, to rants on indymedia based on personal experiences. The truth that Budnick would apparently not like to share here is that more people are catching on to the fact that corporate media is not objective. The commercial interests of General Electric-owned NBC and its affiliates, for example, are transparent to more people now. The veil, in other words, has been getting tattered, and more are seeing through it. That's what's causing "more antagonism": more awareness.
Budnick then sheds any pretense of "journalistic standards" when he passes along a police version of a recent event, with no other point of view provided:
On Nov. 17, police had to intervene to rescue KOIN reporter David Okarski, who, according to police reports, was attacked by a hostile mob of "peace" protesters in front of the Justice Center.This is a favorite technique of corporate media people. The phrase "according to police reports" is tucked in there, to show that maybe it's not the only "side" of the story, but the clause disappears into the disinformation cloud that the rest of the sentence produces, with the result that no other version seems likely. His snide doublequoting of "peace" and irresponsible use of "hostile mob" tips his hand, too, revealing his bias against the crowd of people outside the justice center that day, who included people of all ages and wardrobes who were at the peace rally that day, and who were rightly concerned about the safety of a 16 year old boy who had been grabbed and manhandled by the Portland Police. (The pain compliance holds used on the protester are clearly visible in videos of the event that were shown around town afterwards, at pdx indy video collective showings.)
The key verb, "attacked" is the hub around which Budnick's fabrication revolves, and his choice is very irresponsible here, too. Eye witnesses to the the situation report that the corporate media reporter, who had waltzed into the middle of the crowd like royalty and was looking for a passionate quote or energetic face to feed his lies that night, was not attacked. Rather, he was upset at not being given instant deference, did not know how to deal with people who were calling attention to the fact that he's a liar, and wasn't smart enough to get out of a place where he clearly wasn't welcome. According to the reports I've heard, any pushing or shoving that might have occured was mutual, and was between him and one other individual. That individual ended up down on the ground, and the reporter walked away, with police assistance. If anyone was attacked here, it was the person in the crowd, and if anything was attacked, it was -- once more -- the truth.
I don't know if Budnick needs to have his eyes checked, or if his immersion in corporate media has damaged his perception to the point of blindness, but the lies he tells about Deva, a portland indymedia contributor, are beyond the pale. Budnick writes that Deva "aggressively bumped [a KGW cameraman] to block his path". I know that this is not true. I know this because I know Deva and I know how he works. It's simply not his style to aggressively bump. If any contact took place (and considering how inaccurate Budnick is on other accounts, I have no reason to believe that it did) it was the result of being jostled in a crowd of moving, excited people.
I did however, witness and experience many instances in which the hired "security" of corporate media reporters aggressively bumped, grabbed, pushed, and otherwise assaulted activists at the protest that night. In some instances, it was people trying to nonviolently block their cameras. In other instances, it was when they were trying to get a "good shot". Budnick leaves these accounts out of his story. If he didn't notice any of these incidents, then he wasn't paying attention, and we know we can't trust his eyes; if he did see them and didn't report them, then his bias is even worse than this article reveals. In either case, readers of future Budnick articles should keep their brains on high alert and be aware that he has a specific agenda and is in no way objective.
(As a side note, Budnick's in-print correlation between the name I currently go by, "spArk" [which he misspells, though that's always the way it is written anywhere he would have seen it, if he had bothered to fact check], and my legal name, is another act of endangerment. There is a rich history of government suppression of dissidents and independent journalists, and using different names is one form of self-protection. By blowing that cover, Budnick has placed me under a brighter light than I was already under, against my will. Budnick is not making the choices I am making to speak out in the way I do, and either does not understand the potential personal costs [harrassment, imprisonment, etc.] or does not care. In any case, this choice, too, was irresponsible and he has at least theoretically put me one step closer to bodily harm or loss of liberty. Thanks, you fucking asshole.)
"Professional journalists" know that a lot hangs on the last word. How you end an article goes a long way towards the total impression you are making. Budnick chooses to print a highly misleading quotation from a corporate reporter:
"I have a problem if they physically assault our people or go after our equipment" says KATU news director Mike Rausch. "I just think that's fundamentally wrong."The impression unmistakably meant to stick with the reader after this quotation is that protesters in Portland have a history of violence towards corporate reporters. (That sound you hear in the wind right now is my exasperated sigh.) I've been to a lot of protests in Portland and I have never seen anyone "physically assault" a corporate reporter or "go after" their equipment. Has Budnick? And I mean with his own eyes; police reports don't count. If so, why doesn't he list those incidents here? Budnick does not have the facts to back up Rausch's inflamatory statement, but includes it anyway, and in the key last-sentence position. With this choice, he casts aside all pretense not only of objectivity but of factualness.
Budnick is a two-bit propagandist, and a petty servant to the executioner, whether he sees himself that way or not. Work such as his "All Bets Are Off" article serves to create false impressions in the public mind, excuse police excesses, and further marginalize activists. His actions go beyond irresponsibility to reckless endangerment. If at some point in the near future, you get chemicals in your eyes, a club on your head, or are sitting in a cell, know that one of the people you have to thank for this treatment is Nick Budnick.
piece of shit "All Bets Are Off" article