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The WGA Strike For Dummies: It Ain't Over 'til It's Over

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I'd like the Writers Guild strike to end. I'm tired of getting up earlier than I prefer to every morning to go picketing at CBS Television City in Hollywood most days of every week. Even though I don't have a job to immediately go back to, like most other unemployed or underemployed writers I have a stake in the strike's conclusion, because I have several projects which I'd like to pursue, and I can't until we cross the finish line.

Having said that, it's intriguing how the rumor mill builds everybody up and then shoots him or her down. It's unhealthy, and you have to wonder whether it's the WGA Leadership (in consort with its SAG allies) and the AMPTP who are running the negotiations or is it really the media, which have been providing a barrage of supposed insider insights into what's happening?

We hear a lot of things that are contradictory. So who's right?

Is this just another case of wishful thinking that propels an idea or set of goals into a truth of its own making? Throw something out and see if it flies? Like the notion that Giuliani is the national front-runner of the GOP until he doesn't score in the early primaries. Or make Huckabee the front runner, because he wins Iowa, and then push him aside because McCain wins New Hampshire. But wait a minute, don't kick Romney out, because he just won Michigan, the state where his father was once the governor.

And it's the same with the Democrats, every time Obama or Clinton wins a primary. There's no long-term analysis. It's as if the media are composed of fans, and each victory convinces these intrepid reporters that the one momentarily on top is sure to win the marathon. Sadly, it often affects the eventual outcome, because candidates' supporters suddenly desert them, preferring to cast their votes for someone who the media have instructed them has a real chance.

The writers' strike is no different in that there is a competitive spirit among the journalists, and stories about an imminent settlement help sell their papers and bring in oodles of broadcast ad dollars. Maybe they're right this time. Maybe they're wrong. They said it all looked so good when the WGA went back to talking with the AMPTP a couple of months ago, talks that ended up lasting only about a week, with no new talks scheduled for well over a month -- until after the quickie DGA deal was done.

And who are these sources that can't be identified in their newsworthy articles? Are these the sort the State Department uses when it wants to test a theory on the public? A notion that can be disowned if there's an outcry, since there was never an official proclamation given forth?

Are we to believe that our WGA leaders or their surrogates are deliberately schmoozing with key journalists even after telling us there would be a news blackout? A "mum's the word" that is held to in their emails to the Membership, which give out no specifics and urge us to stick to our resolve.

Or is it the AMPTP sending out subordinate minions to whisper to the Times -- New York or Los Angeles -- contravening the taboos to which they agreed?

Maybe all or maybe none. And considering what's being reported, maybe it's so or maybe it's not. If you read or listen to the analysis carefully, very little new is added to the generalities, so that if proven wrong they have covered their asses. The media suggest that certain areas of the contract have been successfully finalized and others are getting close. They use the words "could" and "expected" regarding an imminent end to the strike, even though they repeat that the meetings are being held behind a strict curtain of confidentiality.

But what if they're telling us is the God's honest truth? And if it is, how do they know? Let's see how this might be possible.

You'd have to think, considering the small number conducting the informal sessions that the unnamed quoted leakers were one of these folks or maybe one of their spouses. Who else?

The WGA Leaders? Why would they tell the press it's over before they've briefed the full Negotiating Committee and Board and Council, a meeting not scheduled until Monday? Why waste everyone's time -- not to mention the expense of a buffet lunch or dinner?

So, it might be one of the two AMPTP representatives, Chernin or Iger. Or maybe their secretaries. Or one of their maids glancing at discarded memos while cleaning out the trashcans in their home offices.

Or maybe it was a nod or a smile or, if over the telephone, a discernible cough or chuckle when asked a question by one of these reporters.

Look, any one or more of these scenarios may be right or they may all be wrong. Someone may have correctly told members of various news organizations that it's all over. If it is, I will be happy -- for myself and particularly for my new friends on the picket lines, who lost real income during this mess that could have been avoided had the AMPTP played fair from the beginning. And I will be happy for the so-called innocents -- those in other unions and ancillary businesses who have been enormously affected by our collective ordeal.

However, I'm also concerned that rumors such as these tend to take on a life of their own. They exacerbate the longing of those who've been suffering to the extent that they wind up in a state of expectation that, if it all proves false and the leadership feels it must turn the AMPTP down, and with good reason, that the momentum created by "facts" that have not yet occurred -- i.e. we do have a good deal in the making -- may create an untenable situation compelling all of us in the Guild to accept something before it is right to do so.

The press, in reporting on presumptions and generalities, is acting irresponsibly and we should sit back and hope for the best. We should make no noises to interrupt the deliberations, because to do so might impel the WGA Leadership to take a deal that it might have bettered were the AMPTP not to have heard too much passion -- read that hunger -- from a Membership whose fortitude they perceive is crumbling.

Let's just continue doing what we're doing, picketing in force and the like so that our Negotiators have the best cards in the hand they're playing to effect an Internet deal which we're sure to be saddled with until the next technological breakthrough comes along.

Read more about the strike on the Huffington Post's writers' strike page.