Occupy the Media
On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court dealt a major blow to Democracy by finding in favor of Citizens United v. FEC. This decision opened the door for corporations and private interests to use the media as a way of convincing otherwise uninformed voters to vote against their own best interests and against the best interests of the nation and world. The decision says that the First Amendment prohibits government from censoring political broadcasts in candidate elections when those broadcasts are funded by corporations or unions. While we are actively seeking an amendment to the constitution to reverse the Citizens United decision, we will do everything we can as citizens to fight back against this perversion of democracy, this destruction of our nation and world.
Fast Action Summary:
When you see an ad that is propaganda, deceitful, lying or repetitive, just take note of the channel and time, and if you can, who the ad is from and what is the ad’s ‘theme’. Look up that channel in a phone book or on the internet by typing the channel info plus your city / state. You should be able to find it easily with Google. Take down the phone number, website and email as well as physical address if possible for writing real letters to the management. For quick activism, just get the number and call the station and leave a message for them to call you back. Always be considerate and non-confrontational. If you can’t disguise your anger about the ads, then try to make a point to the person on the phone that you are not mad at them, just frustrated by the inflammatory attack ads. Even though the results of your efforts may be mixed, never doubt that the your hard work will have an impact, and increase your activist skills at the same time.
Step by Step:
- Get a pen and paper and place it where you normally watch television or listen to the radio so you are ready to take notes whenever the ads appear.
- Use Google to identify your local TV and radio stations in advance.
- Google “[Your City] Local Television Stations” (you can also use whitepages.com or your phonebook).
- Write down a list of your stations including their phone numbers, email, website, facebook, twitter, and address. If you are in the United States, you can click on the following links to access by state:
When you see or hear the offending ad, you’ll need to write down the channel/station’s call letters, the sponsor for the ad, and any content notes. In the picture on the right you can see the notes I took above the line, then the results of my google search and expanded notes below the line.
Step 2: Get contact info of the media outlet
Look up the channel in your phone book, on whitepages.com, or just Google the station letters, name, or channel number with your city, state.
Calling the station will have the greatest impact. Get the phone number, the email address, mailing address and any other website, facebook, or twitter information. You will most likely need to leave a message for the management to call you back, so if you are concerned about privacy, you may just want to use email or any website contact form they may have.
Step 3: Get Ready to Make Contact
Prepare your persona
When ready, call the main number and explain to the operator you have a complaint about an ad and would like to speak to the manager.
Be respectful. No matter how upset you may be, never allow it to overtake your mouth and cause you to utter violent or threatening words. It is imperative to maintain your composure in order to have the greatest positive impact. The person to whom you speak must always be treated with utmost respect or the slightest chance of your message being shared will be squashed. If you project a positive attitude, it will amaze you how successful your efforts will be.
Prepare your message
Before you contact the station, you will want to prepare your message. It can be a short message or a couple of paragraphs. Whether you are upset about the repetitive attack ads and smear campaigns or have a specific issue with an ad, you’ll want to prepare at least a little bit. Write down a couple of words on your note paper or keep an electronic file through word or excel. These notes will come in handy later as you progress. You will also want to notate the outcome of the call, such as if you left a message and are expecting a callback or were able to deliver the message. You will want to have some blank space to take a few notes from the person who calls you back, such as their position and name.
Keep registering your complaints daily (or at least every time you see one of those ads)! Repetition and volume of unique complaints is where the power is at. The ‘other side’ isn’t going to quit trying to destroy liberals, democracy and the government, so if you give up, they win.
For a Recent Example: Lowe’s Pulls Advertising from Muslim Reality Show After Bigots Complain
Try writing down your own message using this script for inspiration, or just highlight and copy it right into an email
Thank you for taking my call. The reason I am calling is frankly I don’t know what to do about these political attack ads that have completely gotten out of hand. Since the Citizens United decision in January 2010, it’s been a bombardment. Honestly, watching Janet Jackson and Nancy Grace have wardrobe malfunctions is preferable to these ads. Back in 2010, it was new, it was exciting in a way. It felt like football – our team versus their team. It was a little irritating because of the frequency and negative tone, but now it has become very traumatizing – I have mild panic attacks when one of those attack ads slip into my regularly enjoyable Wheel of Fortune. Now instead of enjoying my meal with the Wheel, I have to keep the remote control right by my fork just in case one of those inflammatory attack ads comes on. You hear these ads and what they are trying to sell is intentionally misleading and untrue. Unfortunately, it takes a political news junkie to actually be able to tell fact from fiction these days.
I know that your station can’t simply stop showing these ads, but it’s more than just a negative experience for me and my family. It’s worse than being flashed pornography at this point. The attack ads from Americans for Prosperity and Crossroads GPS are particularly fast and furious with the misinformation. To tell you the truth, I don’t want to see ads from either side, all it does is raise my blood pressure and turn a good night into a bad night from all the stress and anger I experience knowing that millions of people are being brainwashed with falsehoods.
Look I realize you can’t just stop them, but there’s no other option I have except a constitutional amendment. From what I’ve read, there is a movement gaining strength to amend the constitution to remove corporations’ personhood, and end money as speech. Of course, that might not ever get passed in this political climate. So until the political season is over I have three things I can do: stop watching this channel that I usually enjoy thoroughly, flip the channel when those ads come on, and contact this station to report ads that are lying.
I understand you can’t just pull the plug on those ads, but I just wanted you to know that this is a very painful experience for many of your viewers and viewers across the nation right now. We’ve even created several facebook pages and blogs to help us organize to get that amendment passed and to work together to try to monitor these political messages in all of the media.
I appreciate your time very much and for letting me vent a little about this issue. If you might pass along this message, I would appreciate it very much. Thank you and Have a great day!
Representative: But we haven’t starting showing those ads much yet! / We can’t simply stop showing them, it’s out of our hands…
I’ve seen those ads myself quite frequently around Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, and I realize you cannot simply not show them. I’m still traumatized from the 2010 campaign season. It felt like we were being constantly invaded by personal attacks that has pretty much left me in the same emotional state as a person with post traumatic stress disorder.
Representative: But that would cost our company jobs and people’s livelihoods!
That’s the worst part about it. I know myself how hard it is to be unemployed for over two years and nearly evicted from my home, so I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. The truth is these political attack ads have psychological effects on the viewers. The fact that most television viewers are not political news junkies or have a degree in civics indicates that there is a very real chance of influencing the viewer. Why would this manipulation be needed? Because they are attempting to influence people to vote against their own best interests. They say they are pushing an agenda to change America into a more ‘business-friendly’ nation, but in reality, the goal is and has been for decades to eliminate the power of the people and unleash private power to run free without any regulations or protections against abusive practices. For now, my biggest problem is that I have to be ever vigilante with the remote control so I can do everything I can to keep those out. It’s turning into a phobia and causing much stress. It feels just like psychological abuse, and it isn’t something I can easily escape without shutting the television and sit in a dark corner until 2012. It’s truly traumatizing.