Edge of Apocalypse: pages 160-167 (Chapter Twenty-Nine)
We’re back at the Roundtable, and we have an interesting first paragraph:
“Telling the truth had become a risky business.”
To the extent that this book explores media concentration and how it distorts political discourse, it’s quite interesting how spot-on the book is about the problem: too much media in too few hands.
But the problem is, this book should have had a footnote on ‘truth’ which would read: “for certain values of truth”.
Because the definition of truth in this book is subject to the bizarro nature of the world-building by LaHaye and Parshall. It’s a world where back is front compared to our own, where Democrats supposedly act worse than Republicans and where Muslims somehow have more religious privilege than Christians do.
The book goes on to explain the details of the media concentration issue:
“For years, America’s digital-based news belonged to the white-knuckled grip of a handful of corporate moguls, and they were not going to let go easily. Everyone in the Roundtable knew that. All the more reason, they figured, for their revolution to be launched immediately.”
As commenters and myself have pointed out, this AmeriNews thing will be a direct competitor to GNN, and even without any political shenanigans going on, GNN should be all over this already, because you don’t go around building a news infrastructure without anybody sitting up and taking notice. To the extent that Parshall realizes the problem, he’s done this:
“Phil Rankowitz had spent the better part of the day going back and forth on the phone with the lawyers, ironing out last contract terms with the World Teleco, the huge telecommunications company whose satellite would carry the news service.”
Now that is actually feasible – using a telephone company’s infrastructure to carry television, since there’s been convergence between what cable can do and what telephone wire can do, as witness things like Shaw Cable’s digital phone service, or Telus’s television service (for those who don’t know, I live in British Columbia).
Parshall has also used the same basic idea I noted, which is to use a dummy corporation for the purposes of obscuring the true ownership structure of AmeriNews:
“The project would be structured through a shell corporation called Mountain News Enterprise, MNE Inc., which had already been set up for that purpose.”
As far as the financing goes, the book notes that Beverly Rose Cortez has been lining that up as well as Roundtable members committing their own money.
This next part’s kind of funny, actually.
“The challenge was to avoid tipping off the telecom company that this news network would be radically different. After all, World Teleco was a Corland administration supporter and was in tight with the existing news services.”
Ok, and they’re negotiating this contract with this telephone company for what reason? The USA’s telco market isn’t that oligopolistic though it is regionally divided by local carrier to some extent, and long-distance carriers can freely provide service to anyone who asks.
So they could always get the contract negotiations done through a competitor if they really had to, though the geographic limitations might prove a problem. Then again, if AmeriNews is as jazzy as claimed, the free market will end up forcing World Teleco to end up carrying it anyway in order to make money (advertising, perhaps).
Oh, but I forgot. This is a bizarro world where the evil big government censors and slants the news. That wouldn’t happen to resemble anything like an Administration starting with the letter B and a news agency starting with the letter F, now would it?
Gosh no. 😛
“By contrast, AmeriNews would be a new breed of reporting, one that was willing to stand toe-to-toe with the existing news giants and would challenge the current political status quo. AmeriNews would cover hard-hitting issues that the mainstream Internet-driven TV and radio networks refused to cover. And it would be delivered right to the Allfone cell phones used by half of America’s citizens. If all went well, within ten months the plan would expand and provide AmeriNews to nearly every American with a cell phone.”
If this doesn’t sound like a paid product placement for Fox News, I don’t know what is.
And say – apparently not everyone has an Allfone. I’m shocked. SHOCKED, I say. So the half of the US’s citizens who have cell phones not worthy of being called Allfones are probably the same ones who vote for the Democrats. 😛
(Which also explains why Cal Jordan isn’t cool enough to have an Allfone, either)
So how do they plan to make this thing work? Hello hella infodump from Rankowitz courtesy of Senator Leander “hammering the group” about the viability of AmeriNews.
“‘The idea isn’t complicated,’ Rankowitz explained to the group. ‘We cover the national news with no holds barred. I’ve got unemployed news directors and reporters laid off their jobs from failed print newspapers and magazines lined up to do the investigative reporting and to write national news copy. At the same time, local newspapers in key geographical areas are given free space for their local news. When someone with an Allfone equipped with our AmeriNews service comes within fifty miles of a city or county covered by a local digital newspaper that has signed up with us, then bang, that local news automatically shows up on their Allfone. […] ‘”
Remembering that the nominal unemployment rate in the USA of this era is 15 percent, which, translated by the SGS Alternate Measure, means a “true” rate of close to 30 percent, the notion of unemployed media staff is actually not a bad idea as a pool to draw from.
But this gives rise to criticism of the worldbuilding here, similarly to how LaHaye and Jenkins don’t flesh out their post-apocalyptic world very well in Left Behind.
A 30 percent true unemployment rate in a 1970s stagflation scenario should be a lot more visible than it is in this book. But because these Roundtable people are so wealthy and so disconnected from the world around them, there’s almost no actual “visual” evidence, if you will, that unemployed people dealing with fuel rationing and the grind of steadily rising prices are a potential flash point for danger. We saw a little bit of this on a television screen in Corland’s office, but that’s not the same as being shown the problem.
Hell, Josh Jordan and his cronies have a perfect reserve army to threaten the administration if they want to go MAD over it; they could slant their AmeriNews coverage to appeal directly to these people, and within weeks, the Administration would have to basically draw all of them into the military or risk city-destroying riots.
But the problem with that would be that it would make Josh not a RTP, but rather a leader of a secret cabal cynically using the unemployed as a method by which to grind his ax against the US government.
As it is, this AmeriNews agency is not intended in good faith to offer alternative news sources; it’s intended as a vehicle by which to prove that Josh is an honest upstanding God-fearing man who’s being beaten down by those horrible Democrats.
And I was right, it seems, about AmeriNews basically being a Fox News stand-in. Note the bolded part:
“‘[…] Readership via Allfone gives us entree to the whole country from the ground up. We break through the media monopoly of silence on our issues. For the first time in years, the American people will start getting the real facts.’
But Leander was still worried about leaks. ‘What if the Allfone telecom company, World Teleco, suddenly gets cold feet? Finds out that your news is going to challenge the big mainstream media that they already have as customers? That you’re planning to bust up the news monopoly? I’m old enough to remember how the Fox network shook up the media establishment for a while and how the folks in the Senate with me had to be looking over their shoulders. It was healthy. Back when controversial radio talk-show hosts could actually challenge the White House. […] ‘”
That bit about the talk show hosts? They couldn’t possibly mean the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, could LaHaye and Parshall? Because those are not very sterling examples of people you want to use, L&P. Limbaugh and Beck have made their careers pushing wildly inaccurate viewpoints about how the world works and have, in the process, plumbed the depths of indecency and lack of good taste in discussing their political opponents.
There is then some discussion about the problem, but Judge Rice reminds the group that the dummy corporation doesn’t have anyone from the Roundtable in the leading positions:
“Judge Rice raised a finger. All the eyes went to him. ‘I’ve looked over Phil’s contract structure,’ Rice said. ‘I don’t think there is any way that World Teleco is going to know that this group or any of you people are involved. They’ll think this is just one more news service. Phil very smartly has hired former general-market newspeople to be the front men in the contracts. What World Teleco doesn’t know is that these people are media folks who quietly believe the way we do. Folks, I think we’re okay.'”
Then Josh gets his oar in:
“Joshua had been pensive. Now he decided to put a capstone on the discussion. ‘People, this gets down to trust. Several of you are backing this with your own money and your own credit. But everybody here agrees on one thing: until we get the truth to the American people, this country will continue to unravel.'”
As I mentioned before, Joshua’s notion of truth and unravelling is very subjective. It’s basically a sop to white people who feel threatened by a black President and a changing world.
LaHaye and Parshall would have us believe that the US government under Democratic control is not qualified to lead the American people. They do this through creating unrealistic scenarios involving United Nations interference in domestic affairs, and the US Government actively giving up state secrets as well as purposely mismanaging the economy.
Each item of the above list is a Republican bugaboo often brought out to mislead Americans about who is better qualified to help make ordinary peoples’ lives better, and it’s at the very least saddening that LaHaye and Parshall are basically following those talking points in their book.
Now we have already been told in previous chapters that AmeriNews will be used as the vehicle to make Josh’s case before the American public. Here’s a nice executive summary of what they’ll do:
“Phil Rankowitz was tapping his pen on the table with nervous energy, and his face was lit up with the kind of grin that a boy takes with him to the circus. Gesturing toward Joshua he said with an electricity to his voice, ‘We want to launch this new cell-phone-based news network with a headline series on your RTS story. Get the true facts out on why you won’t turn your design over to Congress. And how Congress and the news media has been falsely painting you as some kind of traitor. Also, one more thing on that subject. We want to expose the White House’s cover-up about what really happened inside the Oval Office the day those North Korean missiles were heading our way. Something stinks to high heaven about the president’s explanation. The Pentagon brass that Rocky Bridger has been talking to privately have given a different story. They say that the White House knew full well that our military was going to use the RTS system to turn those missiles around and never objected. The Corland administration saying otherwise is just plain bull…'”
LaHaye and Parshall seem to really love this cell phone television thing. Now I’m wondering if Jenkins’s telephone fetish in Left Behind convinced LaHaye that phones need to be part of all of the books produced under his aegis.
Note the cutesy trailing off after “bull”. Parshall, just use the letters “BS”, all right? Then I wouldn’t need to see another abuse of ellipses.
This next is a bit hokey, in my view. But LaHaye and Parshall clearly want the readership to imagine the Roundtable, full of wealthy, comfortable people, as the latest group of rag-tag revolutionaries to grace the world’s landscape.
“For a few seconds there was a hushed silence. As if it had finally dawned on them how big this really was. In one bold stroke they would be challenging Congress, the White House, and the American news monopoly.”
After that, Bridger calls for a vote to approve this thing and it’s done, except for Leander, who’s the lone holdout.
Then there’s some chit-chat about golf and horseback riding between Bridger and Jordan, and some foreshadowing comes up:
“‘[…] Then I’m off to Pennsylvania. I’m really looking forward to that. See my daughter, Peg, and my son-in-law, Roger.’
Joshua was trying to place the name. ‘Roger…Roger French?’
‘That’s it. He’s a commercial insurance broker in Philly. A good man. Ever since Dolly died and I’ve been on my own, family has really become precious to me. Can’t wait to see them both–and my granddaughter as well.'”
Then after that, Josh meets with his buddy Strong Rice.
“Fortis Rice gave a little grunt and nodded in a way that struck Joshua as particularly unguarded and open, especially for the judge.
Rice said, ‘Darley told me last night that she had something she needed to talk with me about. But said it could wait until after our meeting. Just got me thinking…'”
GAH PLEASE STOP ABUSING ELLIPSES PARSHALL.
“[Rice] said, ‘Also, I was thinking about that lawyer, Allen Fulsin, that I was going to recommend bringing into the Roundtable to replace Fred Myster, to work in the legal subgroup. Fred’s cancer treatments are progressing well, by the way. I’m hoping they got it in time. But the point is that I need to follow up with Allen Fulsin. I’ve already broached the subject with him personally, about our group. I tried to be as discreet as I could, of course.'”
Incidentally, we also learn in this chapter that Fulsin may have fudged on his CV by omitting his work with a law firm in which a former White House legal counsel is senior partner.
Anybody watching Rice chat with this Fulsin guy, who, we learn, used to work for the solicitor general and clerked for a Supreme Court judge, would probably start smelling a rat. Sure enough, see below:
“Joshua keyed into Rice’s concern, so he asked him pointblank: ‘Did you say anything to him that you regret? About the Roundtable I mean?’
‘No. I didn’t give him anything specific. I didn’t give him the name or the particulars of our members. Just a little about what we do. You know, to feel him out. I think I may have mentioned that we were working on a media project. I did mention World Teleco to see if he had ever represented them. He said he hadn’t.’
‘You think he’s shooting straight?’
‘I got that impression.’
‘And his politics?’
‘Very gung-ho about our position on things. Says he’s been wanting to do something for the future of America.'”
In any world but this bizarro world, a conversation like that, in which one participant is part of a shadowy, secret group, would be consdered a possible invitation to sedition.
There are open and above-board reasons to discuss political viewpoints. This is not one of them. In a multi-party democracy in which party and state are separate, there is no need or reason to clandestinely oppose the legally constituted government of one’s country. Elections are how power is legitimately transferred from one leader to the next, and from one party to another.
Jordan et al, however, have no intention of contesting any election. Instead, like the Generals in Seven Days in May, they plan to clandestinely grab control of the media to soften up the American public for an illegal coup to take power away from the legal President of the country.
It has been bandied about in this blog before that LaHaye and Parshall may be openly inviting military readers of this book to support the ideas put forth in it, with expressions of contempt for civilian oversight, contempt for civilian Democratic leaders and support for the primacy of the military. The military is run on fundamentally different lines than the civilian world, and it is precisely because of the tight inculcation of command and control in the ranks of the military that every stable country in this world has mandated civilian oversight of the armed forces and insisted that ultimate authority for orders goes not to the highest military officers, but to their civilian superiors in the government itself.
I may be reading too much into this book and the comments made on this blog, but I cannot help wondering if, in fact, LaHaye and Parshall are effectively calling for sedition among a sector of the US population with the means and opportunity to accomplish seditious objectives.