In Minneapolis, Barack Obama supporter John Nichols brought "media reform" activists to their feet on Thursday night with wild and strident attacks on the Bush Administration. "George Bush was not elected," said Nichols, working himself into frenzy.
Nichols is the Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine and a member of the board of the Free Press, the official sponsor of the National Conference for Media Reform.
Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, "seized" power and launched an "illegal and immoral war," Nichols continued.
"Send them to the Hague," shouted out one conference participant, referring to the location of the International Criminal Court. "After we're done with them," Nichols countered.
He urged conference participants to prevent the "theft of our democracy" in this election year and said we need a "democracy cocktail," much like the AIDS cocktail of drugs used to treat AIDS patients, in order to save our "sick" democracy. He departed the podium with a clenched fist salute.
The suggestion that the 2008 election might be stolen from Obama seems to be a developing theme of this event. One of the weekend activities is the advance screening of "Free for All!," a documentary that "uncovers startling evidence of varied schemes to steal the national elections in 2000, 2004 and 2006 and explores what we can do to take back our election in 2008."
Meanwhile, Amy Goodman of the "Democracy Now" radio and TV program announced that she would soon interview former Bush White House press secretary Scott McClellan, who has turned on the President and has written a book opposing the Iraq War. "This year can be a turning point," she told the crowd.
While the conference is designed in part to create the impression that the "progressive" media have been discriminated against, Goodman told the crowd that her radio/TV show is on 700 stations and she claimed a bigger audience than Larry King on CNN or the MSNBC cable channel.
Information distributed during Goodman's talk, which largely focused on racism in America and the Bush foreign policy, said that her radio show was carried on two local stations and her TV program was carried by six local stations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. In addition, her programs are carried by satellite TV. Her personal production company gets hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from big liberal and left-wing foundations.
She urged people to confront the "corporate media" and challenge the renewal of licenses of radio and TV stations which do not serve the public interest.
Nichols and Goodman spoke at what was labeled a pre-conference event, part of "Democracy Day," at the Hilton Hotel, just a block from where the National Conference for Media Reform officially opens Friday morning.
Another such event, sponsored by Consumers Union, concerned "International Media and Human Rights" and featured an ACLU official and a Ford Foundation-funded activist. A literature table included a brochure from "Free Speech Radio News" referring to anti-American ruler Hugo Chavez as "The Poor People's President" of Venezuela and portraying U.S. troops in Iraq as murderers.
"Free Speech Radio News" is governed by a non-hierarchical Steering Committee that strives for diversity in ethnicity, race, gender, class and sexual orientation in its staff and reporter pool, the brochure stated.
Meanwhile, conference participants have been invited to a "Code Pink happy hour" on Friday night to discuss how to disrupt the upcoming Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
On Saturday night, Arianna Huffington will be signing copies of her book, Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe.
She is insisting, of course, that the "lunatic fringe" is on the political right.
Conference participants were provided copies of The Nation magazine, In These Times, The American Prospect, and Ms. Magazine.
An official conference exhibitor, Adbusters magazine, provided a special "Media Democracy Issue" paying tribute to Dan Rather, Amy Goodman, Arianna Huffington, and others. Rather, forced out of CBS News after he faked the news against President Bush, is portrayed as someone who believes that the news is a "public trust." Rather is speaking to the conference on Saturday night.
Adbusters takes various ads appearing in mainstream publications and purports to pick them apart for inaccuracies and distortions. One ad that is examined urges people to travel to Israel during its 60th anniversary year of 2008. A "ranch on the Golan Heights" is corrected to read a "ranch on the occupied Golan Heights," since the land was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 war.
But an article in the magazine goes further, examining "Israel's Architecture of occupation" against the Palestinians. Israel is depicted as a government that has taken Palestine away from its rightful owners while former President Jimmy Carter is portrayed as a wise statesman for calling the Israeli policy toward Gaza a crime and atrocity and for meeting with the terror group Hamas, which backs Obama for president.
Articles like this reflect the far-left perspective of virtually all of the conference speakers and participants.
Nevertheless, Minnesota's liberal Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar is scheduled to help kick off the conference on Friday morning.
There's no official word as to whether comedian Al Franken will show up. He is trying to secure the Democratic senatorial nomination in Minnesota and hopes to run against Republican Senator Norm Coleman. But Franken's jokes about raping women and his pornographic writings for Playboy have come back to haunt him.