lbo-talk-digest V1 #2326

John Halle john.halle at
Mon Jan 3 06:02:41 PST 2000

> Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000 23:35:12 -0500
> From: "Chip Berlet" <cberlet at>
> Subject: Re: Populism (as shown in *The Progressive Populist*
> Hi,
> Always delighted to see the non-answer answer in action.
> Halle claimed PRA discovers:
> "some far-right group with ties to the campaign of the centrist Repug
> challenging the centrist Dem. Liberals will be certain to drop
> whatever flirtation they may have been having with a third party alternative."

If you read the posting you will find that I made no claim that the "PRA discovers" such connections. Your insertion of the phrase is a deliberate distortion of my original posting. Rather, the claim is that the moderate center needs to create and has successfully created, a climate of fear in which far right boogeymen lurk behind every lamppost. Any "research" group whose focus is on documenting the activities of the extreme right and their inroads into mainstream conservatism will be used, whether willingly or not, for this purpose.

> I assume from your response regarding the Waco video that any lie told against
> the goverment must be defended in the spirit of challenging the status quo?

No, my response was that the media will make ample use of whatever they have at their disposal to discredit a serious and radical critique of governmental conduct. The response to Waco was an impressive display of damage control of this type. If the "research" and documentary evidence used for this purpose emanates from a "progressive" organization with the reputation for honesty, so much the better for them.

On the other hand, you seem to think that your appearance under their auspices is because of your record of "accurate prediction." This, in my opinion, is indicative of a hopeless naivete about the function and operation of the mass media.

> someone who has been a paralegal investigator on lawsuits against the FBI, CIA,
> Military Intelligence, and local police Red Squads, I assure you I take
> government misconduct seriously, and resent sloppy research and conspiracy
> theories posing as investigative journalism. It is easy to criticize the
> government misconduct at Waco without resorting to leaps of logic and
> conspiracist speculation. PBS has done a very good job at this. The same
> problems plagued the Christic "Secret Team" theory which sucked millions of
> dollars out of the left in pursuit of Danny Sheehan's mythical vast conspiracy
> and sank a perfectly good legal case based on the original solid allegations of
> Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey.

Agreed. It was a waste of time and money by many who should have known better.

> Yes, facts and logic do matter. No, we should not remain silent about
> scapegoating just because the big bad corporate media usually defends the status
> quo.

Agreed. But one has limited time and energy and must choose where to best direct one's expressions of outrage at lies and distortions. The point isn't the "big bad corporate media usually defends the staus quo" but that they willingly lie and distort, in a manner not much different from the far right when necessary, to defend the status quo. This fact needs to be firmly implanted in the public consciousness. I'm not sure whether its been implanted in yours.


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