By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Indeed, says the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force's Urvashi Vaid, "No situation in which a group is receiving corporate money can be pure. And you have to remember that corporate giving to the movement is not something that's been happening for years. Most companies don't give anything, because they're afraid of controversy from the other side."
Still, Vaid says, "These days you see a number of gay and lesbian organizations sacrificing principles for short-term gain--I'm thinking of HRC's endorsement of D'Amato--and this situation with Coors strikes me as another illustration of that. NGLTF has also made mistakes accepting corporate donations. There was an uproar after we accepted money from Nike last year, because of their labor practices, and that wasa mistake. I don't think we would do that again."
Seomin adds that though GLAAD did not consult the boycott committee before accepting Coors support, staffers plan to meet with committee members next week. They are likely to get an earful. "The anger is beginning to build on this," Kilhefner says. "If they don't give that money back, their credibility is zilch." Already Bay Area activist Michael Petrelis has begun an Internet protest campaign. And Kilhefner says activists have come up with an award to match GLAAD's own, handed out each year to acknowledge positive media portrayals of gays and lesbians. The committee's prize is called the "Coors Whore Award," and, warns Kilhefner, "If they do not agree to return the money, we're going to present it to them."
Among last week's more noxious--if predictable--phenomena was the conservative howl that rose in response to General Augusto Pinochet's arrest. An editorial in The Washington Timeslamented the "foolhardy" arrest of "a complicated man" who "prevented a Communist revolution in Chile." The Wall Street Journal's editorialistas hailed Pinochet for spearheading "the coup that saved his country," then retreated to the passive voice to note that, er, "some 3000 people died." William F. Buckley went even further, casting doubt on the number of dead ("It is charged that 3000 people lost their lives") before blithely consigning the murdered to the dustbin of history: "To avoid civil war, extreme actions are taken."
Just as noxious as right-wing reaction was centrist equivocation--and amnesia. Perhaps the most oblivious example was The Washington Post's Tuesday editorial: "[Pinochet] did remove a democratically elected government and see to the killing of thousands and the detention of thousands in 19731990. But he also saw to the rescue of his country from a chaos to which he was only one contributor, and to its controlled evolution into a prosperous Latin democracy."
One contributor to chaos--the United States in the form of the CIA--is nowhere to be found in the Postedit. But that omission turns out to be widespread. As syndicated columnist Norman Solomon found when he searched the Nexis database last week, of 806 major English-language news stories on the subject, only 34 mentioned the CIA.
My own search turned up this measure of media amnesia: In the week and a half since Pinochet's arrest, Richard Helms, who as Nixon's CIA director encapsulated U.S. policy toward Chile with the inimitable phrase "Make the economy scream," rated only two mentions in the U.S. press--and both times, his name was raised by alert letter writers.
Forget Brill's Content. The folks at the Welfare Reform Network have a more grassroots vision of media criticism in mind, so they've launched Bully Pulpit, a newsletter devoted to challenging mainstream media misinformation about poor people and welfare programs. The premiere ish is devoted to the benighted work of Heather Mac Donald, who has been inveighing against welfare programs and remedial education from her perches at the Manhattan Institute's City Journaland on Rudy Giuliani's CUNY task force. You can get a copy of Bully Pulpitby writing Cristina Di Meo at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, 281 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010.