With the FCC communications rulings just days ahead (June 2nd), and the threat of media consolidation looming, Code Pink again targeted Portland's Clear Channel headquarters, but not as marchers or sidewalk protesters this time.
A group of three Code Pinks, unable to get an interview with the station manager, obtained an interview (albeit under false pretenses) with the Sales Manager of Clear Channel (in the true style and spirit of Michael Moore). At first the questions were of a general nature, about the history of Clear Channel in Portland. The ladies listened and learned about Portland Clear Channel's 21% of the market shares (advertising) locally and its 17% listener share. Early on, the sales manager suspected the intentions of his interviewers. All parties carried on as if this were a regular ol' interview by sweet ladies (and they were sweet), who wanted to learn how those guys run our information world. Before long he asked if this "interview" had something to do with "consolidation". The women admitted, yes, that was much on their minds.
That said, they gradually introduced more challenging topics until they were actually debating media monopoly, profit as the basis for news decisions, and the issues of local control. All participants rolled around the complex question as to what degree television and radio influence public taste, opinion, and buying habits vs. to what degree of the media merely responds to the will of the public... . which was the view of the marketing and sales manager. Someone mentioned "Wag the Dog".
One of the interviewers asked the sales manager if he had read the recent column in the New York Times by William Saffire, right-wing pundit writing on the upcoming FCC rulings. Though the interviewers rarely agree with much of anything that William Saffire writes, they are in complete agreement with him on his warnings about the new FCC rulings.
The manager was asked if he agreed or disagreed with the opinion of William Saffire who writes: "We've already seen what happened when the F.C.C. allowed the monopolization of local radio: today three companies own half the stations in America, delivering a homogenized product that neglects local news coverage and dictates music sales."
The manager said he did not agree with William Saffire. He believes that the increase in Clear Channel stations in Portland since the big deregulation in 1996 proves that deregulation increases diversity. His idea of diversity, apparently, was in the sense of a plethora of stations playing national music, catering to lots of different music tastes.
"That kind of diversity is like having 189 shampoos to choose from" said one of the interviewers. "But that's not the diversity we are here to talk about." We're talking about a media climate that perpetuates a rich and robust democracy, nourished by diversity in the expression of opinion. It's a diversity that gives a voice to various minorities groups and to the powerless. It's a diversity that reflects community interests, fosters open dialog and a free exchange of information." This gets to the very heart of a Democracy.
"It is important that you know that we don't trust Clear Channel to guard our rights for us. What we want to protect is a democracy based on broad participation in information and control of natural resources like the airwaves. That is why we are here."
And then these cool and graceful ladies told him how much they appreciated his attention and humor. At this point, in closing the interview, the woman in the black business dress told the sales manager that since the group was unable to speak to the manager, would he pass along something from the group to the man at the top.
At that moment she delicately lifted her black dress waist-high to reveal a pink slip that said, "YOU'RE FIRED! From Code Pink" Yes, they had accomplished their mission... to deliver a Pink Slip, the "calling card" of Code Pinks across the nation!
The shocked, stunned manager then leapt over his desk and said, "You ladies are right about everything! I'm fed up. I can't take it any more!!!!! I'll gladly quit my job and join the male auxiliary of Code Pink!"
Oooops, sorry folks. That isn't what happened. I just got carried away by a fantasy. It could be I was heavily influenced by the video I rented last night, "Network" with Peter Finch and Faye Dunnaway.
What really happened is that they presented their pink slip and left.
An attempt at impartial reporting from a "Fly on the Wall".