It happens everyday in the relatively new world of mega-media-corporations, and it began with the FCC approved media mergers of 1996. That gave those with money the right to buy all the media outlets they could afford, thereby controlling agendas and conversations in a democracy. They are now so powerful they have no fear of retribution and therefore few ethics. The "People's airwaves" are now owned by arch conservatives. You want more proof: Here's my story. I will deliver it in headlines:
I wrote and produced a story on Ringling Bros. Barnum & Baily Circus and its abuse of the endangered Asian elephants performing around the world. The abuse is well documented by a few brave members of the USDA and Ringling workers as well.
Ringling is owned by Kenneth Feld, who according to documents in two lawsuits against him, is a bad dude indeed with friendly ties to not only the Las Vegas Mafia but just about every conservative media corporation in the country -- including News Corporation. (ala Judith Regan) Kenneth Feld and Michael Eisner own Disney on Ice together. Disney owns ABC.
I won a National award for the elephant abuse story. In that story I used the Circus' OWN video to make my points. Hard to argue with that -- one might say! But that does not stop the Corporate media or corporate Cronyism.
Next thing I knew, high profile Ringling Bros. attorneys flew into The San Francisco Bay Area and complained to my bosses that their eyes were playing tricks on them. What viewers witnessed in my reports did not really happen. In other words, viewers did not really see what they saw. That took a lot of nerve since the video was taken by RINGLING ITSELF and obtained by me through my sources.
This was the head smacking moment when I began to understand what I had blithely stepped into. Lies and deceit so intense it would make Machiavelli blush. I found out about a lawsuit against Kenneth Feld by Jan Pottker who claims Feld ruined her journalistic career by bugging her home, having her followed and interfering with her publishing efforts in unfathomable ways. See: The Greatest Vendetta on Earth by Jeff Stein.
Kenneth Feld had the former head of covert operations Claire George on his payroll at the time. Claire George is another bad dude whose worship of money and power makes all things duplicitous possible. Feld's former CFO admitted under oath during a deposition that Kenneth Feld did some horrifying things to Ms. Pottker. Nine year later, and millions of dollars spent to postpone a trial -- Pottker waits for justice and Feld continues to manipulate the press and disregard the first amendment. He can -- he's got the corporate media on his side.
I found out most of Ringling Bros. endangered Asian elephants traveling the world have been exposed to or have full blown M-Tuberculosis. The same strain of tuberculosis human beings carry and contract. TB in elephants is unheard of in the wild.
I tried to tell my Fox affiliate station of this huge public health issue. I was told "We do not see the story."
I lose my girlish enthusiasm and become completely void of anchor charm.
Meanwhile, in the nation's capitol, Ringling's attorneys are asked to release medical records in Federal court that would later prove my t.b. story to be correct. Patrick Ryan of the Los Angeles County health department says "Elephants exposed to M-TB should never be around the public--because there is no way to tell when they are cured." Don Francis, a world renowned epidemiologist who help discover AIDS and ran the Centers for Disease Control first AIDS division, looked at my evidence and said, "Ringling showed reckless disregard for public health by taking these exposed and infected Asian elephants around the country."
Washington based attorney Katherine Meyer is representing several of the largest animal rights groups in the country and suing Feld for abusing the Asian elephants including knowingly covering up the fact that most of them tested positive or had M-Tuberculosis. That case has been pending for almost eight years. Ringling's attorneys have filed enough delaying motions to make Linda Blair's head spin.
Ringling attorneys claimed in federal court that they should not have to release the medical records of the elephants (which include evidence of horrible beatings) because the information would be miss-used like it was by "The reporter in San Francisco." That would be me.
I am voted best anchor in Oakland magazine.
Shortly after that magazine is published, an anonymous half page defamatory article is written in The Oakland Tribune calling me a "dumb blonde." My recently hired Fox affiliate bosses begin to wonder -- between the Ringling attorneys, the Oakland Tribune article, and my increasing disillusioned attitude, if there's something amiss. They also notice Ringling has not been advertising with the station since my stories began.
As far as I know, the Oakland Tribune article was the first of its kind in any major newspaper.
It was unsigned-outside-an-editorial-section and written by an anonymous source called "The grump." "The Grump" had never written anything negative about anyone before. Previous to the article about me, he wrote mostly about things such as duck poop around our lovely lake Merritt sticking to the shoes of joggers.
Kenneth Feld's M.O. was all over that story like shit on tennis shoes.
A genetically close member of Feld's family called to tell me Kenneth Feld planted the "Oakland Tribune" story. I ask for an investigation by my Fox affiliate. They refused. "Just ignore it," they said. I later found three other reporters, sans Jan Pottker, who have been through similar adventures with Kenneth Feld. See: "The Scary Circus."
One extremely well known reporter had his fiancé stolen away by a muscle bound babe who apparently had a lot of Kenneth Feld's money to throw around as enticement.
I quit my high-profile-high-paying job now that I understood the propaganda and corporate cronyism and greed involved.
Kenneth Feld, who at first called my stories about M-TB in his elephants a lie, has just sponsored a Ringling Bros. conference on TB in Asian elephants positioning himself as the endangered species savior. He invited the world's experts to Florida and pretended the t.b. was shocking to him. Despite very clear evidence he tried to hide it from the public since 1993.
I got an e-mail from the same Feld family member who said "I had guts" for telling the Ringling Bros. tuberculosis story and Kenneth Feld's subsequent 15 years of covering it up. In other words be careful! Feld would still get me in some nefarious way. As a journalist, I can only say I hope the elephants will now get help. But media corporations with stockpiles to lose in commercials by reporting the truth are rare -- if not gone forever.
When I was just 26, I reported from Moscow. The Cold War was still silently raging. Reporters writing anything negative about the government did so underground. If they were caught, they lost their jobs and their reputations. That's if they were lucky. If they were unlucky, they got thrown in jail. Today, in America, substitute government for corporation then sadly in the land of the "free" add media corporation.