What’s “News,” Anyway?

right wing  militia groups

I spent most of my working life in the news game and I thought I had a fairly good “nose for news.” But as I scan the “news” on the web this morning I wonder. Surely it should be news if “10 to 30 million” protesters are swarming in Washington DC and at least as many gathering at the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada?

That’s the number promised by retired Army Colonel Harry Riley, on a web site titled “Operation American Spring.” He said the protest would “remove Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, and Attorney General Holder from office.”

So what happened? Did the millions march on Washington? Did millions more gather in Nevada?

Or is the promised militia revolt a bust? Enquiring minds want to know.

But I’ve seen nothing about the event so far on the internet or on TV.

The “news” this morning is dominated (still) by Donald Sterling’s racism and Karl Rove’s slimy remark about Hillary Clinton being brain damaged. The drought in California also gets a mention. And there are maps showing how climate change will make the sea level rise and swamp parts of North America. Some of it is important. Some of it – like the breathless description of Blake Lively’s dress –  is inconsequential. (Who is Blake Lively anyway?)

I don’t watch Fox News so I have no idea what they’re focusing on. Probably the Benghazi “scandal.” In the world of Fox and friends Benghazi is a real issue and they feel duty bound to explore whatever conspiracy they imagine lies behind the death of those four American diplomats nearly two years ago.

There’s the real world and then there’s the fantasy world in which the militias and right-wing media exist.

Their world is rich in conspiracies and plots of all kinds. The United Nations is sending black helicopters to enslave Americans. Barack Obama was born in Kenya and with amazing prescience his parents planted birth notices in Hawaiian newspapers so he could run for US president some day. Muslims have infiltrated the federal government and are planning to impose Sharia law on Americans. President Obama is a dictator who must be impeached. Patriotic Americans are organizing to launch the Second American Revolution. And on and on and on.

The mainstream media mention these notions from time to time without putting them in context. So we can’t tell what facts – if any – sparked such phantasmagoric delusions. And the media only report on the right-wing militias when confrontations like the recent one at the Bundy ranch take place.

Reporters seldom take the trouble to tell us how much of a threat these crazies really are.

I understand that militia members are still plaguing the residents of Bunkerville, Nevada, swaggering about with guns on their hips. But I don’t see the media following up on the recent standoff between the thugs and federal agents trying to enforce a court order against Bundy, who has been grazing his cattle on federal land for decades without paying a dime.

Have any arrests been made? How many militia members still haunt the area? And what do they plan to do next? What is the government doing about them? What is the government doing about Bundy’s outstanding fees?

And how much of a national movement does this white-power crowd really represent?

I know Sterling’s comments are outlandish. I know Rove’s remark about Hillary is tasteless (and absurd). I know Hollywood starlets are sexy.

But there’s something else that’s worth looking into. Something dangerous is going on behind the scenes in America. And it has nothing to do with the UN or black helicopters.

Someone should alert the media.

Click for more on Operation American Spring.

Click for more on the militia movement.