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Some Beg, Others Do

Banned by Truthout

by DAVE LINDORFF

Have you even noticed that you don’t see articles from ThisCantBeHappening! running on the Truthout site?

There’s a reason for this. Truthout, over a year ago, decided to ban our publication’s articles from its pages.

They took this ridiculous and incredibly lacking-in-alternative-media-solidarity step not because our work is flawed. Not because we had made some embarrassing mistake. Not even because we demanded payment for their use of our work.

No. They banned us because I had the temerity to question their news judgement when they ignored some breaking stories that we w

Want examples? Well, let’s see — there are so many! — let’s go back to April 10, 2012, when we ran The Potential Killers All Around Us, about the wide-spread use of killer hollow-point bullets by police. It got ignored by Truthout, so nobody read it who didn’t read our publication. I specifically called the attention of several TO editors to the piece, sending it to them individually too, and got no response. Or how about A Conspiracy of Whores, a piece by our war-and-peace beat journalist John Grant which we ran on April 20. John reported on the blacked-out info that the right-wing president of Colombia was calling the U.S. Drug War a bust. Important news right? But because we were the only ones reporting it, and Truthout blacked us out, even when we specifically wrote them and suggested they run it, Truthout readers, like the Americans who only watch the mainstream media, didn’t learn about it.

When Alex Cockburn, co-founder of Counterpunch.org, died after a long carefully hidden battle with cancer, I noticed that TO was ignoring his tragic and untimely death, and so on July 22 I sent them an obit that we ran. That time I did chastize them for ignoring the passing of such an important journalist on the left. They ignored my submission, and only later ran a much less informative obit, written by a columnist for the Nation, a publication that had repeatedly undermined and insulted Cockburn, despite his being the most popular writer for the magazine.

On Nov. 15 last year, when radical journalist Mike Caddell penned a desperate piece about the all-out state government attack on his wife, a doctor who had helped murdered abortion doctor George Tiller in Kansas to provide late term abortions to desperate women and girls who had been raped or victims of incest, I specifically wrote to Truthout’s editors asking that they run his story so sympathetic people across the nation would know and come to their aid. They blew it off. Why? Because we were being banned. In other words, to hell with the victim of right-wing charlatans and fundamentalist Christian witch-hunters in Kansas! The important thing is maintaining an iron-clad ban on a little news organization with an uppity bunch of writers! Also last November, we sent over to TO an urgently important piece we were running about the unconstitutional and unethical behavior of a new Obama nominee for the federal bench written by our own Linn Washington, one of the most respected African-American journalists in the country. TO ignored it too, because of our being banned.

And so it goes. At Truthout (ironically given their choice of name), petulant behavior by fragile-egoed editors comes first; politically important and even urgent news comes decidedly second, or not at all in our case. As for solidarity with smaller alternative news organizations? Forget it! And woe to any alternative journalist who dares to question those TO editors’ judgements by suggesting that they run a time-sensitive and important news article being ignored by the MSM rather than a reprint of an opinion piece by a New York Times columnist whose work is all over the internet anyway, whether they run it or not! That, we’re told, is being “abrasive.”

So, here’s the point: Truthout is begging for money again. They say they need $25,000 to keep their operation going. It’s something they do periodically all year round. And a lot of people do give them money, buying their line about offering up “fearless journalism.” That’s a bit of an overstatement though. If the truth be out, they are a fearful bunch over at TO — afraid of criticism from writers. They screw their own writers too, we hear, who had to form a union for protection, and who still end up having to threaten to take management to arbitration because of unfair labor practices.) And of course, Truthout is not above banning news, even important news that needs to get to their readership.

We at TCBH! believe that what is needed to combat the corporate media propaganda that passes for news these days in America is not so much “news aggregators” like Truthout, but publications like ours that actually produce real, radical journalism, not just reprints of other people’s work — including the work of corporate journalists whose articles are already getting circulated in the MSM. Some larger alternative media organizations — notably Counterpunch, Oped News and Smirking Chimp, support us by regularly running our work. Some, like Common Dreams, run us occasionally. We urge you to support them.

Truthout bans us.

Now to do what we do, we obviously need money. So far though, for three years we’ve been doing our work on a shoestring budget of about $3000, basically by exploiting ourselves, and writing for free. We need your support so that the members of our little collective can give up at least some of our day jobs to pursue this effort on a closer-to-full-time basis. So instead of giving money to a bloated and abusive outfit like TO, which is actually doing very little to push the envelope and combat corporate propaganda, and which is actually actively undermining the efforts of small true radical journalistic publications like ThisCantBeHappening!, consider giving some financial support to us. Of if you insist on giving TO a donation, at least deduct $5 from it and send that to us.

We aren’t asking for much from our readers. There are about 50,000 of you, but only a tiny fraction of you send us any money. If you’d all just give us $5 per year each — the cost of three cups of coffee or half of one movie ticket! — we’d have enough money to all work practically full-time at this business, and everyone would benefit. Hell, Truthout might even have to lift its ban and run some of our stuff.

And we wouldn’t demand payment from them for lifting it. We’d be glad to let them have our stuff for free (though they would have to agree to stop being so hyper-sensitive about inquiries as to why they were sitting on certain time-sensitive news stories).

Dave Lindorff is a  founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He lives in Philadelphia.