A21: Who pays for our public services, streets and why doesn't the media tell the truth?
Independent media first given Secret Service Clearance to attend Dubya soriee and then denied access by Portland Police. Portland's KGW/NBC Channel 8 Steve Redin assaults indy videographer, because he had to get his prise-winning shot through a chainlink fence. What does the real media look like? You, me or NBC? Who paid for this propaganza fundraiser and who owns the streets? Lane County Commissioner Peter Sorenson and other elected officials want a true healthy forest and safe communities, while Bush wants old growth timber for his timber wealthy donors.
A22 Bush Round Two
Who pays for our public services, streets and why doesn't the media tell the truth?
Amy Pincus Merwin
A22/Bush Round Two began as mild, August day driving along a North Portland bluff overlooking the Willamette River. I dropped my partner and daughter off at Columbia Park for the protest, while I followed a labyrinth of police tape and barricades through this middle-class neighborhood until I found the media parking area.
I walked the half-mile to the University of Portland's Chiles center where my press credentials for KBOO, KWVA and Community Cable Access of Lane County were accepted, but I was not allowed to bring in my audio or video gear. A media pool had been established for local press, thereby allowing only one television, one radio and one photographer with recording equipment to record the event and required them to give dubs to all other media who requested it.
Once I received my press pass, I trekked the half mile back to my car passing through the 'secure area' on Portsmouth St through which Bush's motorcade would pass. As I paused to catch my breath, I realized that Willamette St. had been barricaded on both sides of Portsmouth with 8' high chain link fences. Police were everywhere and the media with their satellite trucks were on one side of the Willamette St barricade while the protesters and the majority of the police were on the other. I couldn't resist pulling out my video camera and tape the police, the protesters, the media, and in the background the snipers on top of the Chiles Center.
My slow progress through the secure area apparently irritated the Portland police and suddenly I had a police 'escort' out of the area to the media side of the barricade. They angrily told me that I could not return to the Chiles Center, but I checked with the Portland policewomen holding a master list of all cleared media and because my name was on this list she said I could still return.
I put my gear into my car, and checked in with the KATU/ABC press pool to ensure that I would be able to dub the Dubya later and began to walk back to the Chiles Center. Another block down around the chain link fence I was stopped and nearly arrested for trying to enter the 'secure area' after I had been re-assured that I could re-enter. Of course, the policewoman with the master media list was no longer in sight.
I resigned myself to video from the media area, where I found a small nook between two other video camera people near the chain link fence. I was videoing through chain link fence facing protesters holding signs against the human barricade of multi-jurisdictional police in riot gear and helmets listening to the chants of "Bush Go Home" reach me across the antiseptic buffer of Willamette St. Suddenly I was yelled at by one of the videographers that I was in his way. I explained that I was a small person handholding a small video camera and that the street belonged to everyone. Then I felt strong hands on my arms and shoulders trying to yank me out of the way, while he yelled that I was in his shot. I looked around and began to video this fortyish, physically-built cameraperson. Zooming in on his credentials I read that he was Steve Redin from KGW/NBC Channel 8-Portland. I turned back to the street to try to film, and felt Redin jam his huge tripod and camera into my back and legs forcing me up against the chain link fence. I am a 5'2", 50-yr. old recent, cancer survivor. I began to yell that he was hurting me. I turned to video his credential and face, and he knocked my camera out of my hands. I turned to him again and videod as he began to pull on my media credentials and denigrate my independent, media producer status. I then repeatedly insisted that he had no right to touch me and that I did not give him permission to touch me.
When I turned my back and ignored him, a radio personality, Neil [Pendel?] from KEX Radio-Portland put a microphone in my face and told me that I was completely rude. In my experience, I have received Secret Service clearance five times, and covered dozens of events with lots of other press, including the White House Press Corps. I have ALWAYS just found a nook to film in, set up my gear, made room for other press, accommodated their needs to share hook-ups or sound or whatever. Yet, I had apparently stumbled into KGW's 'territory' (as if anyone on the street can claim territory) and therefore Redin felt confident in assaulting me to get his shot. Yet, I held my ground.
While this conflagration was occurring, I continued to video as Bush's motorcade, complete with motorcycles, police cars, limos, ambulances, sirens, more motorcycles, police cars, etc. zoomed by to the chants and angry roar of the several thousand protesters compressed behind the chain link fences across the street. If this is what democracy looks like, then I just experienced a Bush-style civic lesson.
I left KGW's street 'territory' and found myself face-to-face with Neil, the obnoxious radio personality, who began to harangue me again. I began to video his vituperative spewing and then he knocked my camera from my hands as well.
Throughout the next forty minutes I found another more welcoming spot where I could actually video between the chain link gate rather than through the links. I caught a little protest action from across the vast antiseptic Willamette street buffer but began to wonder, "How does the media portray the protest that they don't even get close to?" and then "If the media doesn't get close to the protestors, but shoots them from across two barricades from the 'secure' top of the satellite trucks or through two chain link fences as I was doing, then I was receiving another civic lesson about 'freedom of the press' and, more importantly, how was the protestors' message being communicated to the average person.
Realistically, media needs contact with the people making the news to communicate what the news is to the viewers. But instead what I heard being reported was inane assumptions drawn from chants and signs, such as the following: "You can see the different views represented here today by these two signs, "We support you!" (scrawled on cardboard and barely visible from four feet away) and "Impeach Bush!" (on a 6' x 4' cloth sheet with 2' high, painted letters). Of course the major media does not bother to mention that the only pro-Bush supporters are either the 520 donors inside paying $2, 000 for salmon and salad, or $10,000 for a picture with Dubya, or being outnumbered probably 100-to-one by anti-Bush protesters outside.
An example of true independent media was the fact that my partner, who is not media and who was enmeshed in the protest directly across the street from where I had been cordoned off with the media, had been phoning in reports about the protests, as I had, to KBOO 90.7 throughout the day. Apparently during the protests, protesters demanding that the major media, "Tell the truth" confronted some of their camerapeople.
Later after I was done dubbing Dubya's 26-minute remarks from KATU/ABC, KGW's Redin approached me again. I pulled out my camera and began to video as he backed me up against the tailgate of KATU's stepvan. I asked him point blank on tape if he admitted to trying to forcibly remove me from my camera position, if he physically assaulted me, and if he tried to knock my camera from my hands. He stared into the camera and told me, "You were in my shot. I would anything to get my shot." Of course, he had to do anything to get his shot because he had been confined outside the event. I had overheard major media reporters who were confined behind the chain link fence complaining that only one of their media outlet's reporters had been allowed to get inside the Bush event. How else would Redin's work stand out, in this brutally competitive environment, unless he pushed me out of the way, so he could get his 'prize-winning shot' through a chain link fence?
As Redin was denying his aggressive behavior, he began to follow me to my car. I told him I was leaving and asked him to let me go, but he again grabbed my camera and tried to yank it away from me. When I called him on his behavior he finally walked away. Relieved I got into my car and left.
I went to pick up my family at the park, as the busloads of donors were leaving the luncheon. When the Black Block saw the busload of donors coming down the street they moved out to block it. The horrified and frightened faces of some wealthy donors recoiled from the bus windows while other's pressed noses to the buses' windows in disbelief and disdain. That was when Portland's finest—Vera Katz's boys—moved in. And on cue, both sides complied with the script, yet only ten people were arrested. But I wonder, who will pay for their defense, and if convicted who will pay for their incarceration. And I wonder if the day's theme should be, "Whose streets are these anyway and who pays for them?"
Another theme should be: Who is paying for Vera's boys to protect the wealthy donors, who have just dropped a cool $1 million on the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign. Will some of that cash trickle down on Republican Congressional hopefuls Tim Phillips and Jim Zupancic? Or who's paying the cost for the use of the Portland and Redmond airports, the clearing of and control of the streets, and all the related costs of people taking time off from work to demonstrate their freedoms? Perhaps another theme to be considered, would be what rights does independent media have in comparison to the major, or in their minds 'real' media?
How can any Oregon taxpayer accept, any smidgen of cost burden of this excessive fundraising soiree considering the funding crisis in our state schools, and in providing social services for the poor, disabled, elderly, homeless and mentally ill? And considering the massive loss of jobs in Oregon and the economic strife our state is experiencing? And while we shamefully remain the No. 1 hungriest state in the nation?
Upon my return I interviewed Commissioner Peter Sorenson, who wrote a statement with other public officials from around the state who hold every level of public jurisdiction, in regard to Bush's Healthy Forest 'promotion' agenda. This statement questions how Bush's plan to cut old growth trees will protect the fire-threatened communities that our now unemployed forest workers live in. Sorenson and the others believe that we could create jobs by putting forest workers into the perimeter forests surrounding our vulnerable communities to clean up forest debris, dry brush, and dead wood, thereby reducing the flammable fire load. They also advocate creating a long-term plan for our future generations by leaving old growth intact, thinning forests to create healthier, diverse forests that will mature and nurture, all the while keeping our communities safe from fire. According to Commissioner Sorenson, we could be creating sustainable jobs, a healthy forest and protecting our communities. Why isn't Bush considering these ideas? Instead he cultivates Portland donors whose wealth is forest-based, and subsequently demands, "Get that legislation on my desk." That legislation is, of course,
that old growth timber (which is fire-resistant and not a threat to our forest perimeter communities) be cut to feed their insatiable mills.
And in the end, America really only wants to know... "Who wants to be a millionaire?"
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