Disrupting Life as Usual at 'Real Time' and Beyond


by Janice Matthews and Michael Berger
October 22, 2007

America's Congressional approval rating is currently at record lows, and even those who believed a Democratic majority would rein in a rogue imperial Executive have finally succumbed to the realization that things are definitely not getting better. Congress has failed in its duty to exact any accountability, and continues to do so, capitulating to Executive authority at every turn. Millions of Americans who have persistently lobbied their elected officials, signed petitions, or visited congressional offices find that their concerns consistently fall on deaf ears.

Millions have taken to the streets to protest abhorrent policies and failings of this government, believing that a significant show of numbers would have impact. Their demands have been ignored and dismissed, and their numbers incorrectly reported low by the media, often by tens of thousands, if reported at all.

Likewise, those who have turned to the Judiciary find they've been unable to achieve accountability there, either. 9/11 families are still being derailed six years later, and 9/11 responders' lawsuits are similarly waylaid at every turn, federal whistleblowers have been summarily dismissed and gagged, and active duty military and veterans are unable to pursue legal recourse when needed. Even attorneys with the courage to represent "enemy combatants," who are few, have been harassed and threatened for their efforts.

When we pressure the media for accurate reporting and investigation, they churn out articles, talk shows, and "historical" documentaries dismissing the messengers out of hand, while ignoring facts or evidence that undermine the veracity of what's accepted to be true; for instance, the assumed truth of the official story on 9/11. In this way, what used to be known as the Fourth Estate persuades media consumers to dismiss their troubling questions and get on with "life as usual." Because they control our public airwaves, they shape the national discourse by relegating these concerns to "kooks on the fringe." In reality, however, one look at polling demographics proves the millions of people who actually are discussing these important issues, well outside the media-ordained constraints, represent a broad cross-section of Americans for whom the accumulation of haunting doubts about the direction of our country is fast reaching a powerful crescendo.

Imagine if Bill Maher entertained a panel of guests on "Real Time" to have a reasonable, open discussion of why so many Americans harbor continuing doubts about 9/11 events, the basis for the very things Maher finds so objectionable about this Administration. Instead, he suggested 9/11 skeptics "Ask your doctor whether Paxil is right for you." On Friday night, his show was interrupted by 9/11 truth activists in the audience, frustrated by his refusal to address the issue. This followed on the heels of a recent Youtube video response to his Paxil suggestion.

Perhaps the truth is Bill Maher would like to host such a discussion, but can't find anyone willing to take the "other side," as has been the case for Thom Hartmann of Air America and the former producer of CNN's "Showbiz Tonight" who contacted us last year to see if we could help locate someone, to "give the show balance." Imagine having a reasonable, factual, conversation about 9/11 questions, about the war in Iraq and WMD lies, about the use of depleted uranium or why 78,000 military members who served in the Gulf War are now dead.

Americans have tried every "acceptable" venue within the system. We've tried to "properly" pressure our representatives and lobby congress. We've written letters to editors, and submitted interview requests for television and radio talk shows. Is it any wonder incidents such as the recent disruption of Bill Maher's show are beginning to increase? Similarly, Code Pink, after lobbying Congress with no response, has resorted to disrupting "life as usual" in Congress in order to be heard. Troops Out Now Coalition lay down in Constitution Avenue to demand Washington DC pay attention to the Iraq Veterans speaking out. The Occupation Project is occupying legislators' offices in a dramatic insistence that their concerns be addressed, and Courage to Resist is assisting active duty military courageously resisting illegal and immoral orders. Calls for a national boycott and general strike, while not yet garnering the numbers needed to have the necessary impact, are growing rapidly in strength. What we are now seeing is not generalized, anti-establishment rebellion. This frustration is rooted in very specific, valid concerns and fears for the future of our nation and the world, as leadership continues to play politics.

"Sanctioned" means of expressing dissent have been made invisible by the media. What option do we have other than to make our point directly to the American people and decision makers, by disrupting life as usual?

A producer at the Glenn Beck show called 911Truth.org this morning, inviting us on the show to discuss the question, "How dangerous do you think people like those who disrupted Maher's show really are to Americans?" (see the poll at his site now). Our reply? The real danger to Americans is television "news" hosts such as Glenn Beck, who continue to portray those who voice their dissent as if they are to be feared while promulgating stories that justify ceding ever more power to the fear mongers themselves.

Therein lies the real danger to our Republic, and the very reason people are becoming so frustrated. There is no longer a valid outlet other than disrupting life as usual. The steam valve no longer works.

The majority of Americans who still want an independent investigation into 9/11 won't be silenced by name calling or "entertaining" theatrics threatening violence. In fact, they may be emboldened by journalists' staunch refusal to acknowledge and pursue answers to their questions. After all, what other means do we have to register our genuine concern, when all forms of media perpetuate the fear-mongering tactics of this administration's War of Terror? In reality, the urgency displayed by so many passionate citizens should motivate a resurgence of investigative journalism. Short of that, we must expect more of the same. Dismissing the valid concerns of millions of people won't make them simply go away.