Dear TMZ "reporters,"
Thank you SO MUCH for mocking my protest. Your segment gives me the perfect opportunity to illustrate what has happened to journalism under corporate rule, where profit and entertainment are more important than giving people the information they need to make decisions in a democratic society. In case you didn't study the history of your profession, as if we can even call what you do "journalism," this was the reason you were given freedom of the press in the Bill of Rights when our country was founded. It is really quite sad how you have abused this privilege.
Harvey Levin, who founded and runs TMZ, once knew that. As a real journalist, he covered the OJ Simpson murder trial. But he went over to the dark side long ago when he saw that the American public was too dumbed down after years of defunded educational systems and celebrity infotainment substituting for news and too tired after coming home from working three jobs just to stay afloat to watch and understand stories about the real issues of the day. He saw the immense popularity of People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight and decided he would do an internet version of that. Oh, you have occasionally broken a few important stories, like the Donald Sterling one. But most of the time, your content is completely worthless.
Let's deconstruct your video hit piece on our "puzzling protest." If your reporter was so confused about our message, why didn't he interview me or any of the other protesters? That's the first thing a real reporter would do. We were all very clear about why we were there. We went to protest the anointing by the Hollywood 1% of a neoliberal, corporatist Democrat, Hillary Clinton, over a real progressive Democrat like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as the next Democratic nominee for President.
I am not going to get into the whole definition of neoliberal. I doubt any of your reporters took economics or political science in college, if any of you even went to college. So let's just focus on one of our chants that you aired. "Monsanto, Walmart, Goldman Sachs, these are the companies Hillary backs" refers first to her support of Monsanto, which makes these things called GMOs. I am going to explain this to you, because with all the time you spend covering Lindsay Lohan's exploits and breaking important stories like today's piece about the director of "X-Men" becoming a father you probably have little time to research this stuff. And hey, it's boring science anyway.
Maybe you've heard the term Frankenfoods? It's not the latest movie from Stephen Spielberg.
Monsanto is a multinational agricultural chemical and biotech company that makes very harmful pesticides that go into the soil which harm the environment, our food and our health. They also make GMOs, genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered organisms. They insert genes, often from other species, into the DNA of plants, so they can resist pests. Maybe you've heard the term Frankenfoods? It's not the latest movie from Stephen Spielberg. Then they patent the seeds. And if farmers have the audacity to replant their own seeds, an age old farming practice, instead of buying Monsanto's, Monsanto takes them to court. They have put many small family farmers out of business.
64 countries label GMOs and 17 have banned their cultivation. For three years in a row, thousands of people have joined Marches Against Monsanto in many cities and countries. California tried to label GMOs in 2012 by ballot initiative and this year through legislation. But Monsanto and other corporations flooded the airwaves with misleading commercials and inundated the campaign coffers of legislators and succeeded in defeating both measures. Hillary not only supports GMOs but she gave the companies advice at their major biotech conference this year saying all they needed to do was market them better to the public .
As for Walmart, as a young lawyer, Hillary Clinton represented Walmart and then served on their board of directors. I'm sure you've heard of Walmart. It's the largest corporation by revenue, the largest retailer and the largest employer in the world. Maybe you all wouldn't be caught dead shopping there. After all, they don't sell Jimmy Choos! But most Americans have to because of their low prices. You see, adjusting for inflation, the wage for the average American worker has not increased in the last 35 years.
People are working harder and are more productive than ever before. But the only ones benefitting from this are the corporations and their CEOs. In 1980, CEOs made 42 times what the average worker made. Now the figure is 380 times.. Actually the Walmart CEO Doug McMillon made $12.6 million this year or $13,333 an hour while the average Walmart worker makes $12.83 an hour. He makes over one thousand times his average worker.
Most Walmart workers are forced to apply for food stamps and Medicaid, because they cannot make ends meet on their Walmart salary, costing American taxpayers $6.2 billion a year. Here's another statistic. I know you love them. How many stories have you done on the number of pairs of shoes Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton own? The six Walmart heirs are worth $145 billion which is the same amount as the bottom 42% of Americans. That's right, six people who didn't even work for their success, they inherited it, own the same amount of wealth as 130 million Americans. We protesters think that is obscene.
Hillary Clinton actually represented Walmart when she was a young lawyer in Arkansas, and she served on the Board of Directors for the company for six years. According to this ABC News story, she was completely silent on the effort of unions to organize Walmart workers. In 2008, she said that she changed her views about the company's practices and returned a contribution of $50,000 from Walmart's political action committee, but she kept $20,000 from Walmart executives.
While Clinton may have renounced Walmart for political expediency, she continues to support free trade policies that will severely reduce good union paying jobs in this country. As Senator, she voted for every free trade agreement she could, except for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA.) As Secretary of State, she advanced the pivot to Asia, a key part of which is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a secretive free trade agreement with 12 countries in the Pacific Rim. The TPP will not only be bad for workers but for also for consumers and the environment and make corporations more powerful than governments. How? Corporations can sue governments in International Tribunals, if they pass any law interfering with a corporation's "expected future profits" in that country.
Maybe in between covering Beyonce and Jay Z's shenanigans you heard rumblings about how the banks blew up the housing bubble and when it burst caused the financial collapse in 2008.
This is already being done through the World Trade Organization. Lone Pine Resources has sued Quebec for passing a ban on fracking. (More on fracking in a bit.) Now just to clue you in, this is much more serious than Perri "Pebble" Reid's lawsuit against TLC for portraying her as a liar and a cheat in their latest TV movie. That exclusive story made your front page today. (Who the fuck is Perri "Pebbles" Reid anyway? And why should Americans give a shit?)
Finally we come to Goldman Sachs. This investment banking firm is one of the too big to fail banks. Maybe in between covering Beyonce and Jay Z's shenanigans you heard rumblings about how the banks blew up the housing bubble and when it burst caused the financial collapse in 2008. Not as important as Pamela Anderson's removing her fake boobs, of course. But it did cause hundreds of thousands of Americans to lose their jobs, their homes or their entire life savings.
Well, not only does Clinton not condemn Wall St. banks, she repeatedly makes money off of them, charging them and other corporations $200,000 per speech. In October of last year, she made $400,000 off of Goldman Sachs in a six day period. And in 2008, Goldman's CEO Lloyd Blankfein openly supported Hillary for President and held fundraisers for her.
It is very clear that Hillary Clinton is Wall Street's favorite candidate. According to Politico, an internet outlet that actually covers important news, if the GOP should nominate a Tea Partier like Ted Cruz or a libertarian like Rand Paul, even Republican bankers will end up supporting Hillary in 2016. She is very cozy with Wall Street and always has been.
In contrast, Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts have spent their entire careers fighting against the banks and for the middle class. You might have seen our signs for Bernie and Elizabeth or heard me excoriating the 1% guests for not supporting either of them. Yes, I know, excoriating is a big word. You might have to look it up.
Fracking and Tar Sands
As to why I called out Eva Longoria's Tesla, perhaps you did not hear our other chant. "Hillary Clinton is not green. Fracking and tar sands is her scene." If you had not cut off my remarks, you would have heard me say that anyone who drives a Tesla has to be concerned about climate change. And when I talk about climate change, I don't mean when Kim and Kayne get sick of their house in Beverly Hills, they can go to their house in Aspen. I mean the climate change that is the biggest existential threat to humankind. But maybe Eva just likes the fact that her car goes zero to sixty in 5.1 seconds.
Perhaps you've heard of Bill McKibben or James Hansen, two people who brought the term global warming to the attention of the country 30 years ago. They were both at the People's Climate March last month in New York along with 400,000 other people in the streets. Certainly that was as impressive as the DC march you showed from "Forrest Gump." I did a search and TMZ didn't cover it. Perhaps the idea that we need to keep 80 percent of the carbon in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change is also too "puzzling" to you.
You see, while you were reporting on Ashton and Demi and then Ashton and Mila over the past few years, there has been an explosion in extreme techniques for fossil fuel extraction including fracking for oil and natural gas and the mining of this thick gooey petroleum product called tar sands. Well, both of these practices can contaminate air, water and soil and harm the health of those working in and living around these projects. Fracking also causes earthquakes and the industrialization of suburban and rural landscapes and uses excessive amounts of fresh water in drought prone states. Fracking and tar sands extraction also contribute to climate change.
Instead of keeping the carbon in the ground, the frackers and the tar sands extractors are taking it out and we are burning it. Fracking produces methane which is 84 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20 year period. Uh oh! Science terms. May have to look those up too. So fracking has increased exponentially since 2000 leading America to recently surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's number one oil producer. I think you missed that one, because that was the same day you were documenting every second of Gwyneth Paltrow's trip to the Starbucks in Brentwood.
Isn't it more important that they learn about the actual policies of the person who may very well be the next president of the United States than whether or not Kris Jenner got cheek implants?
Where does Hillary fit into all this? She merely sold fracking to foreign countries as Secretary of State as part of the Global Shale Gas Initiative. Hillary, like many neoliberal politicians, will always come out on the side of fossil fuel extraction and energy independence over the environment. She refuses to oppose the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline which, if built, would be "game over" for the planet, according to climate scientist James Hansen. However, both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have opposed the KXL Pipeline, and Bernie's state of Vermont has even become the first state in the country to ban fracking.
Finally, Hillary Clinton is a warmonger who as Secretary of State was more gung ho about military interventions than even the Secretary of Defense. I won't get into the details of this, because I know I have already exceeded your attention span by about 15 paragraphs.
Suffice it to say, if you had carefully listened to what we chanted and what I said into the megaphone or read our signs or just interviewed us since you were so "puzzled," then maybe you would have been able to do your readers a service and actually educate them. Isn't it more important that they learn about the actual policies of the person who may very well be the next president of the United States than whether or not Kris Jenner got cheek implants?
As Naomi Klein says in her excellent new book "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate," we don't have a lot of time to turn this situation around. It is imperative that people who have the ear of the American public, as you do, take your role more seriously. Stop providing bread and circuses. I am reprinting Wikipedia's entry to define that phrase as it is so apt.
"Bread and circuses" (or bread and games) (from Latin: panem et circenses) is metonymic for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the generation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered "palliative." Its originator, Juvenal, used the phrase to decry the selfishness of common people and their neglect of wider concerns. The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the commoner.
You can still use humor. You might take a page from John Oliver who is the master of educating his viewers about important issues in a humorous way. However, your piece on my protest wasn't even funny. It was just sloppy. Just saying.
For those of you who want to see a better short video of our protest and learn how you can help to stop the Hillary juggernaut, watch the video just above.