-- Benito Mussolini
Of course peaceful protests and demonstrations are still important. So are writing to your congressmen and signing petitions and joining political-action groups. But let me propose another method that I think will be a more effective way for freelance reporters, citizen journalists, and political activists to fight corporate fascism in the age of Donald Trump: Go after the CEO of any company that infringes on democracy and tramples on the rights of average American citizens or minorities or the environment.
When I say "go after," I don't mean to physically assault them, although it's fun to think about. No, what I mean is to dog them, follow them around like the paparazzi do with celebrities, make their lives miserable, find out where they live and work, where they eat lunch or dinner, show up and ask them tough questions, take pictures and videotape them. In other words, ruin their privacy and peace of mind and make their names and faces public and synonymous with greed, malfeasance and fascist oppression.
Then post their responses on social media to spread the word. After you've built up a following on Twitter or YouTube or Facebook, send your videos, pictures, and articles to the mainstream media and shame them into doing their jobs. Hey, New York Times and 60 Minutes, how come I have to do this? How come you aren't exposing these evil characters? Why are you letting them off the hook?
Of course, we know why they let them off the hook. Because the CEOs of the major companies in America are part of the same corporate-fascist club as the owners of the news media and, as such, are out of bounds. Am I saying that the owners of the big media companies specifically tell reporters not to go after the rich and powerful?
Oh, not in so many words, but it's understood there are certain boundaries mainstream reporters or news anchors (especially those who make seven-figure salaries and work for television) do not cross. And one of them is, you don't expose the individual power brokers in America if you want to keep your high-paying job. Just look at what happened to poor old Dan Rather when he tried to expose the truth about George W. Bush's National Guard record.
The idea to go after these despicable characters came to me this week when I went to a demonstration in downtown Sacramento, California, where there were about 500 supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux Indians who are peacefully protesting against the North Dakota pipeline. (There were similar demonstrations in many major cities across America on the same date.) The next day the Sacramento Bee, the only major daily in town, gave short shrift to the rally (ditto with the local TV stations) and placed a cursory article about it on page four.
To their credit, the Bee did mention that the company responsible for the pipeline was Energy Transfer Partners, but did it tell its readers that the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners is Kelcy Lee Warren, a billionaire oilman from Texas? Of course not. And I would be willing to bet that most Americans-- even many activists-- are not familiar with his name.
This is precisely the point. As long as the CEOs of large corporations can remain anonymous and not pay a price for practicing corporate fascism, they will continue to do it. This has to stop! No more free passes for the corporate elite! We must hold them accountable! If we want to regain our democracy, we need to go after the individuals that have taken it away from us.
In the age of social media, this is not as daunting a task as it used to be. If you google Kelcy Lee Warren, for example, you can easily find out these facts about him in Wikipedia: His net worth is $4.2 billion, and he donated $6 million to Rick Perry's campaign for president, but also $103,000 to Donald Trump's campaign. Way to hedge your bet, Kelcy! Also, he lives in Preston Hollow, Dallas, Texas, on an 8-plus-acre estate on Park Lane valued at more than $25 million. In addition, Democracy Now and CounterPunch have done stories on him, although he did not consent to talk to either news source. He did, however, co-operate with some Texas publications that did favorable stories and puff pieces on him.
The point is, there is enough information out there about Kelcy Lee Warren for an independent reporter or team of reporters or activists who live in Texas to track him down. Sure, he probably has bodyguards and lives with plenty of security, but he must go out to lunch or dinner on a regular or semi-regular basis and also attend certain publicized social functions.
I'm not saying it would be easy to get to him, but it could be done. The Occupy movement used these kinds of guerrilla tactics against elite Wall Street investors in New York in 2011 with some degree of success, and Michael Moore has made a whole career using these tactics.
So this is a perfect opportunity for young freelance reporters and activists to make their bones in the field of journalism or social media. Naturally, there is some risk involved, but they would be doing it for the right cause--to help save democracy and strike a blow against corporate fascism.