I have to wonder, when Tim Russert asked Dennis Kucinich about his UFO sighting, he was aiming at pulling a Dean Scream media hit on him. After the Iowa Caucus, when Dean let out a whoop, and a videographer with a mike on Dean over amplified the sound, the three second clip was shown thousands of times to mock Dean-- at a time when he was in a position to win the election-- something none of the major networks or mainstream media wanted. Dean had threatened to re-regulate the de-regulated media, forcing them to dis-own radio and TV stations where they had a monopoly, or just too much control of the media in a given metro area.
Now, something frightening has happened with Kucinich-- frightening to the mainstream media. He's not only made it past their cut-off requirements-- the ones that cut Mike Gravel out of the debate circuit-- he's actuall pulling strong in polling-- fourth place in New Hampshire, first place in the 100,000+ vote DFA poll. He's pulled to the top of the second tier in a a number of polls and in California's latest straw poll, he came in second, after Edwards, ahead of Obama and Hillary.
Mocking, and laughing at candidates is a common strategy used by all the mainstream, lamestream media. That's how they knock down the candidates who have the character and independence to stand out. Expect to see them do it more and more as Kucinich and Ron Paul both stand out-- totally against the war, totally for the constitution.
There are huge differences between Kucinich and Paul, but they will both be facing more mocking than the other candidates.
I want to talk a bit more about Kucinich's UFO experience and his relationship with Shirley McClain. I like that he's had a UFO experience. I like it a lot more that he tells the truth about having had one. I like that he has a relationship with Shirley McClain. She's an unusual person who has expressed interests in the edges of what it is to be human. I believe it is good to have a candidate who is not afraid to look at the edges of ideas about the human experience. When you go to edges, you find that in some places there is more room to go, and in other places, you are at a limit. If you take the conservative approach, and stay within the well known, safe territory, you never discover WHERE there are new spaces, new directions.
It takes courage to explore edges of ideas of all kinds. It takes more courage to stand up and say you DO explore those edges, when there are plenty of smarmy critics who don't have the guts themselves to go out on those edges.
Part of the courage about going out and exploring edges is the courage to face the critics-- the people who live the ordinary, everyday lives, the people who will never take the risks of exploration.
At one time, explorers sought out new lands, new trade routes, new territories. Now, some explore new technologies, others explore new sciences, and still others explore new ways of living, of experiencing, even of seeing. Actually, artists have been doing a lot of those things for centuries, maybe even millennia.
Being an explorer-- a risk taker who looks beyond the ordinary and everyday to expand our view of the world-- can extract a high price. Many explorers, now lost to history, died on their quests. Some sought to find edges where nothing existed and perhaps they were mocked and never survived the mocking. Then we have brave souls like the Seward in Seward's folly, who took a bold step that proved wise, not foolish.
In today's world of three second soundbites and cheap media jokes, it is common for 100 IQ news anchors to mouth the mean-spirited jokes of slightly smarter, out of view writers, attacking people of courage and character for doing something that is just plain different.
Tim Russert is not in that category. He's in the other category-- the don't let anyone who thinks differently or threatens the status quo get an inch ahead. Howard Dean told me the other day that Ken Russert "Does what he does the best." Well, one thing he does is stand for the mainstream way of thinking. And he mocks when he sees behavior that doesn't fit that mainstream's "compass." It doesn't have to be that way. It's time for the thought and culture leaders of our time to set new standards. Exploring new technology is honored and respected. Exploring new ways of seeing things is okay, if you're an artist. It's time that people with the courage to explore new ways of being human, of seeing our behavior, new ways of finding solutions also be treated with respect, even honored and awarded for being the visionaries they truly are.
Meanwhile, Dean was attacked, I think, because he announced he was going to take the power away from the mainstream media. Watch a day's worth of TV and you'll see that one of the biggest sources of advertising money comes from the healthcare industry. (ALmost on cue, as I wrote this, an ad for health insurance appears, synchronicitously on MSNBC.) Drug advertising has increased more than tenfold in recent years, as Right wing deregulation has unleashed the beast. That makes the media ever more dependent upon them.
It is no wonder then, that, when Dennis Kucinich calls for true "non-profit" Universal health care-- of the single payer variety-- he is mocked, marginalized and brutally attacked with media sarcasm and smarmy humor. It's the way to derail a rising candidate.
When you see supposedly unbiased reporters making jokes about Kucinich's UFO experience, be assured, they're not just cutting a cheap joke. They're supporting the undermining of a courageous candidate who's taken a stand. Don't stand for it. Send the anchor or reporter an email, then change the channel and let the advertisers know how you feel.