Now is the time to change how the media covers shootings

Andy Parker looked into the camera and spoke directly to CNN’s Chris Cuomo and the media covering the live shooting of his daughter Allison.



“I know how you guys are, this will be a good story for a couple of days and then it will move to the back burner.”

This astute comment really stuck me. I don’t know his background, but he is exactly right about how the media works.

Parker wants change and is urging people to call their senators. That’s great, but because of his daughter’s profession I think he could also lead a change in how the media covers gun violence.

Here are some suggestions on what he could do and how you could help if you are interested.

Have Parker contact the media directly on follow-up stories about shootings

This is the reality of our celebrity culture. Parker now has standing as a type of celebrity. Journalists will take his calls. But he needs to offer more than just another interview with a shooting survivor or grieving loved one. What new story can he bring the media?

Parker can talk about the barriers to change he is seeing. This is an important topic since all shooting follow-up stories now ask, “Why didn’t the Sandy Hook shooting bring change?”

Stories don’t move forward unless some new information is revealed or an event happens. Now is the time to ask different questions that can reveal new information. He can also talk to the media about how they cover other non-shooting gun-related events. I have some ideas about that, but I’ll save them for another piece.

It’s not news and not their job–anymore
Most journalists aren’t aware of all the ways the pro-guns activists have blocked change in multiple areas. That’s because it’s not news–until the next shooting.

In the olden days it would be the job of journalists to answer these question, “Why did this happen? Why was there no change?”

Now it’s up to our activists to connect the dots for the journalists, to reveal the corrupt process that blocks sensible laws, then show how funding is cut or how enforcement is lacking. They also need us to name names. These could be interesting stories for the print media, but isn’t dramatic enough for TV. That needs another tact. Make it personal and local.

Dealing with the “It’s too soon” problem

Following each mass shooting, there are cries of “It’s too soon to discuss this!”

The NRA knows emotional stories like Parker’s are especially powerful right after a shooting.  They have already criticized Parker for being too emotional.

The NRA doesn’t have a problem using people’s emotions, just the kind they don’t want happening when they don’t want it.  As we know, emotional stories to the base leads to action. The NRA’s brilliant marketing move is to use each shooting event to trigger gun sales. “THIS time they will come for your guns! Buy more now!”

The NRA counts on the media’s short attention span. They also know the media has a problem covering the long game played at the state level by lobbyists and politicians. But what if we used one media problem to solve another?

Each new shooting is an media opportunity to see why previous proposed changes either stalled or were blocked in different states.  This gives the media a current news hook to use but without the, “It’s too soon” attacks. They also have a local angle to follow up on.  It moves from a “too soon” national story, to a “what happened to this?” local story.

A politicized story doesn’t mean politicians are in it
Politicians are often asked to comment on big news events. They know to give the usual safe comments about shooting, “My prayers go out to the families.”  But instead of asking about the current shooting, the media can ask them to explain their previous actions, or lack of actions–in light of current events. Again, this moves from a generic question to a specific one and can reopen doors. Examples:

 “Congressman, you led the fight to block the bill that would make it harder for mentally ill people to legally get guns. What is your comment on that in light of this recent shooting?” or

“Congresswoman, last year you proposed the bill to make it harder for mentally ill people to get guns. It died in committee. Who stalled that? What was their reasoning? Any plans to do bring it back now?”

Be the media
Now if I wanted to really push the envelop I’d like the media ask the people who blocked previous bills to explain their reasoning to survivors from Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook or other big local shootings. “Why can crazy people can still legally get guns in our state?”

This idea is probably too risky for broadcast TV, but it could be done. Maybe somebody will set it up and put it on YouTube. I mean seriously, most of us have the power of a portable TV studio in our pockets, learn to use it in ways other than hilarious cat videos. The point is to get answers to the question they ask now after every shooting, “Why was there no big change following Sandy Hook?” Listen to the answers and then figure out how to do something different this time around.

I understand why people get overwhelmed by this issue, even when it happens to one of their own the media throw up their hands and say, “There is nothing we can do.” But there is. We can take advantage of the medias’ own coverage formulas to move the issue forward. We just need to act. I’ve laid out several suggestions here based on real experience. I have more for other media, but now is the time to help the broadcast media do their job better.

There is hope. Positive change in how the media covers gun violence is possible.

What Good Can Come Out Of The Ashley Madison Hack?


Hey, did you read that Josh Duggar was on the Ashley Madison list? And it wasn’t a fake email address either! He confirmed it!

I know that some people get a feeling of joy or pleasure seeing Duggar suffer more misfortune. That’s nice for them. But with all the genuine suffering that this exposure will be causing innocents, can we at least get something good out of it?

The media are already using it for their headlines, therapists and divorce lawyers will be using it to get new clients. But can we get more out of this hack than media hits and billable hours?

What’s the opposite of Disaster Capitalism? Disaster Socialism? 

We know that some people use disasters to profit, others to push an agenda. “We are going to turn Iraq into a free market paradise using these Heritage Foundation interns!”

I propose we have a couple of items to push on our agenda.

First, increase the importance of privacy in both private governments and corporations. Second, use this data to show the problem with passing judgement on the private lives of ordinary people.

As Glenn Greenwald pointed out in his piece, The Puritanical Glee Over the Ashley Madison Hack,

[None of us should cheer when . . . → Read More: What Good Can Come Out Of The Ashley Madison Hack?

How will campaigns use Ashley Madison data? How will media?

Here is some interesting information compiled by @dadaviz taken from the illegally obtained Ashley Madison data dump. Link

34% of Ashley Madison Accounts are Fake

Yesterday I could have downloaded the 10 gigs of illegally obtained Ashley Madison customer data. The idea was kind of thrilling.  I could see which associates of politicians, lobbyists or corporate executives are on the list, prepare it for oppo research, political leverage and/or public shaming.

I didn’t do it but lots of people can and will.  Prepare for the onslaught. I’m trying to get ahead of the curve a bit. Partly to help people see who and how this might be handled. Partly to wonder how it might be used, abused or leverage by others. And finally, I’d like to reinforce the importance of figuring out how to maintain privacy in our current surveillance state.

I keep thinking about two comments I’ve heard in the past around privacy, sex and cheating on a spouse.

“If you haven’t done anything wrong you don’t have anything to worry about.” 

“It’s not about the sex, it’s about the lying.”

I wrote about privacy and this breach back in July, Why I care when people with ‘something to hide’ . . . → Read More: How will campaigns use Ashley Madison data? How will media?

Let’s help GOP billionaires attack each other 

“When your opponent is drowning, them ’em an anchor.”

–old phrase from some famous person you admire

I’m angry today. Maybe it’s because of watching the GOP “debate” or the BLM protests or maybe it’s because of the Planned Parenthood attack. But as I thought of all this I started getting angry. You’ll like me when I’m angry. Because when I get angry I get strategic. Then tactical. Then I take a shower.Then I write a blog post.

You know what? Screw the Kochs and their billionaire buddies. Screw Fox News and their staged “debate.” Screw sitting back and laughing at the mockery they are making of our representative democracy.

Lots of people are happy to sit back and let the billionaires on the right fight it out. I get that, but in the the process we let the right wing institutions and methods continue.

When we let them set the rules puppets fight puppets, not puppet masters fighting each other. (Presidential politics is a game with low stakes for them, since 95 percent of the players give them what they want.)

I say it’s time to help the billionaire backers destroy each other–while they target their opponent’s chosen candidate. . . . → Read More: Let’s help GOP billionaires attack each other 

Who helps shooting survivors deal with the media?

The day before the GOP presidential candidates were on TV ignoring the issue of gun violence, there was another attack in a theater in Tennessee. We saw the now standard scenario unfold:  ID of assailant unknown. First reports –assailant is white male and 51. Killed by police. Theatergoers injured, but alive.

Then as details came out we found out the assailant was a 29 year-old white male who had been committed four times for mental illness. He used pepper spray in the theater and had an Airsoft gun, not a real one.  Details from The Tennessean here 

What struck me about his story was the response of one of the survivors. He asked the media to leave him alone. It got me thinking about how people cope with the media blitz following a shooting.  I wrote a post on the issue (below) and then asked some experts.

.@everytown Do you have people who help shooting survivors deal with the media? Need show:

— Spocko (@spockosbrain) August 7, 2015

Following big shootings the media swarm to get comments from survivors, witnesses and officials.

When there is a high body count the official NRA spokespeople lay low. In . . . → Read More: Who helps shooting survivors deal with the media?

Tenn theater attack survivor: Grateful to police. Asks media to leave him alone.

Following big shootings where people die the official NRA spokespeople lay low. In comments sections or on twitter we are told, “It’s too soon to push any agenda, the bodies aren’t even cold!”

However the one group of people that it’s deemed appropriate to hear from following an attack are the survivors.

But what is the media to do when the survivor isn’t ready to make a statement? In general most people don’t know how to handle a media onslaught, but following a traumatic event it’s even harder.

Yet they are expected to answer questions, first to the authorities, to understand what happened, and then to the media.

In this case one of the attack survivors knows enough about how shootings play out to ask the media not hound him and his family. Above is the video from the Tennessean.

Since Steven doesn’t want to talk anymore, who will fill in the void? NRA gun loving types. But will the papers reach out to people who survived Aurora?

I know the NRA hides after shootings and we are told, “It’s too soon after deaths” but I think now is the perfect time to jump into this with a “political . . . → Read More: Tenn theater attack survivor: Grateful to police. Asks media to leave him alone.

Rubio: It’s the media’s fault we have to take billionaire’s money 


#SignsYoureRightWing No matter how powerful or rich you are, you are the real victim.

— Spocko (@spockosbrain) August 4, 2015

All Things Considered did a story yesterday about a Koch event attended by GOP presidential candidates. It’s really stunning to listen to some of their quotes.

Here is the link. Here are two audio bits I highlighted in the transcript below: From the story:

“The biggest contributor so far is hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer. He sent $11 million to a super PAC backing Ted Cruz. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told the Koch network the candidates really have no choice about raising money.”


MARCO RUBIO: As long as newspapers and television stations keep charging people to speak out on politics, we’re going to have to keep raising money to pay for it.

Great narrative flip Marco! You are the real victim here. You had no choice but to accept the trucks of cash dumped on your doors! And besides, why should you have to pay for your “free speech?”  (Hey, does this mean he wants the fairness doctrine back? )

“And Carly Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, said the media isn’t nearly . . . → Read More: Rubio: It’s the media’s fault we have to take billionaire’s money 

Roddy Piper Dies. Rewatch his SF film “They Live.” Almost a documentary

‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper, WWE legend, dead at 61

    – CBCNews Saskatchewan 

In honor of Roddy Piper’s life rewatch They Live. It showed greedy, ugly aliens taking over the media.Turns out it was a documentary. #Murdoch #Fox

— Spocko (@spockosbrain) July 31, 2015

One of my favorite films in the 80’s was “They Live.” Not just because of the science fiction aspect of it, but because of the biting satire.

On the surface it’s a standard “Aliens take over Earth” story, but underneath that it showed how some in the media and government really see Americans and what they want us to do.

When our heroes put on special glasses they could see the messages that were embedded in our media, all in black and white. (Video link)

Frank: What do these things want?

Gilbert: They’re free-enterprisers. The earth is just another developing planet. Their third world.

The main character, Piper, comes to town looking for work. He is directed to a camp of other men and women looking for work. His interview:

Female Interviewer: Last place of employment? Nada: Denver, Colorado. I worked there for ten years and things just seemed to dry up. They lost fourteen banks in . . . → Read More: Roddy Piper Dies. Rewatch his SF film “They Live.” Almost a documentary

Why I care when people with ‘something to hide’ are hacked

“Privacy” by Melanie Feuerer used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 United States License

It’s all about the Privacy. 

Do some people deserve it less than others?  Who decides?

Online Cheating Site AshleyMadison Hacked — Brian Krebs, @briankrebs Krebs on Security July 19, 2015

When people who are supposed to protect someone’s privacy fail, what should their responsibility be following the failure?  How do you make “someone whole,”  as they say in the insurance biz, following a privacy breach?

Hacks of OPM databases compromised 22.1 million people, federal authorities say     — Ellen Nakashima, @nakashimae, The Washington Post, July 9, 2015

 What are the valid reasons someone’s privacy is violated? National Security? Public safety? Potential violence? Donating to the wrong cause?  Who gets permission? Who oversees this?

“I don’t care if the government listens to me, I don’t have anything to hide. If you don’t have anything to hide, what are you worried about?”

— US citizen comment I read in response to Snowden revelations

Are there standards and regulations that organizations should meet? Who enforces them? What are the penalties if they don’t?

If they don’t follow the standards should there be additional sanctions? Who decides?

“JPMorgan Chase Hacking . . . → Read More: Why I care when people with ‘something to hide’ are hacked

Fighting Evil Corp. There’s an App For That!

I’m a crappy chess player. This became clear to me when my 8 year-old nephew beat me while explaining, “The horsey piece can only move in an “L” way Uncle Spocko!”

One of the things they say you learn from chess is thinking several moves ahead, anticipating your opponent’s responses and acting accordingly. I learned this skill from life experience.

Right now I’m watching Mr. Robot. They are looking at the personal reasons people fight big institutions, as well as the human cost of those fights. That’s the part people don’t see, and it can be exhausting.

When I went about the process of defunding RW talk radio, I knew I needed to anticipate how they would respond to my actions.  Then, how they would respond to my responses.

When I started alerting advertisers to the violent rhetoric, sexism and bigotry coming from the RW radio hosts I knew the radio station would use multiple excuses to keep the advertisers. First they discredited me, and then the information. Next, threats of arrest from law enforcement agencies, then hints of exposure of my identity. Finally legal threats, which they carried out. They threw around phrases like libel, tortuous interference with contract . . . → Read More: Fighting Evil Corp. There’s an App For That!