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Journalists at the RNC Either Suck Up To Power, Or Risk Attack…

When billionaire brats attack! 

One thing I learned from watching last week's RNC: Being a reporter with a video camera at a GOP convention and doing anything other than sucking up to power . . . well, that just might be the most dangerous journalism job in America today. Hell, people are in danger of being lynched just for reporting while being black.

That's what CNN's Patricia Carroll found out on the second day of the convention. The 34-year-old African-American camerawoman came under attack from a couple of racist Republican attendees, who pelted her with peanuts and shouted racial slurs, yelling that "this is what we feed the animals!” The whole thing could have very well gotten out of hand, but security quickly grabbed the offenders and kicked them out of the convention. Carroll tried to downplay the attack, but she was clearly rattled by the experience. And why wouldn't she be? The place was packed with with racist baggers, hicks, cowboys, larded up retirees—all of them bussed in to show the Republican base watching at home just how white and pissed off was the GOP. Malice was in the air. Old white people on Medicare and Social Security have had enough; they just ain't gonna take it anymore!

Sadly, there's no video footage of the incident, or at least none has been released to the public. But it still got a good amount of media coverage from the AP, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and even Slate, which produced a weirdly sleek and cheeky animated news clip, complete with a floating cutout of a bloated Chris Christie in a Superman pose.

Another incident that was caught on tape but never made it to the mainstream news involved an unidentified daughter of casino multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The young oligarch-heiress went on a rampage against Democracy Now! senior producer Mike Burke as he attempted to interview her father in a crowded backstage hallway. She body-checked Burke, threatened to hit him, grabbed his partner's video camera, threw it to the ground and then brazenly attempted to seize the evidence of her attack by hiding the camera in her billionaire father's private RNC skybox. Realizing his camera had been knocked out of commission, Burke whipped out his Android and started recording what was going. But even then, one of Adelson's guards tried to grab it out of his hand.

It's not clear which one of Adelson's daughters she is (he has at least three), but judging by the video it could  be Sivan Ochshorn. Not much is known about her, other than she "studied astrophysics and business administration" and gave a cool half a mil to Newt Gingrich's super PAC.

Adelson was America's third-richest billionaire in 2008. . . now he's just a weak old man

Burke had been doing an amazing journalistic job throughout the convention, trolling the RNC backstage, asking hard questions about the corrupting influence of the oligarchy and even managing to snatch a quick, uncomfortable interview with David Koch, before the casino multi-billionaire Adelson scuttled into a side passage for safety. Burke was doing what real journalists are supposed to do—challenge power, make the powerful squirm, and reveal to the American public what was really happening behind the PR curtain of the RNC show. Burke was just about the only journalist of the thousands who showed up who was actually doing his job, and a great job it was—right up until the moment Adelson's daughter psychically assaulted him and his camera operator.

Good for us, the whole episode was caught on tape. It clearly shows Adelson's daughter assaulting Burke unprovoked. And yet despite the hard video evidence, the news majors buried it. It never made it to print, TV or cable broadcast news. The only coverage, to the extent that there's been any, was restricted to a couple of short blog posts. New York Magazine, Politico, New York Times and a couple of other outlets blogged the incident, but their reporting was so shallow and "balanced" that it ended it up trivializing the attack and letting Adelson and his petulant oligarch heiress off the hook.

For example: New York Times' Caucus Blog referred to the attack as a "confrontation between a television producer and Sheldon Adelson’s daughter" and said the "producer appears to collide with a dark-haired woman." Notice the use of neutral verbs, which falsely imply there was no aggressor. The New York Times printed a statement made by an Adelson family spokesman that alleged Burke shoved Adelson's  daughter, not the other way around, and let the lie stand unchallenged.

It was a sad day for journalism.

None of Burke's gutless colleagues had the common decency to stand up for one of their own against a billionaire brat who thinks she can act with total impunity against the press. And clearly she's right . . . because today's journalistic motto seems to be "The oligarch is always right!" More so if the oligarch is a vicious union buster and a warmongering Zionist-supremacist with a nasty reputation for going after critical journalists. According to Rolling Stone's Rick Perlstein, Adelson is also paranoid billionaire freak: "His company spends more on security for him and his family than any other publicly held corporation, $2.5 million – two and a half times more than Dell, Oracle, and Amazon spend on their CEOs. He usually ambles around with an armed former agent of the Mossad, Israel's spy agency."

No doubt about it, Adelson is a scary man to approach. That's why Burke deserves praise and support for bravely going behind enemy lines and doing his job without flinching.

The question is: With the tens of thousands reporters swarming the RNC in Tampa and DNC Charlotte, why is it that no other member of the press try to ask Sheldon Adelson or David Koch or any of the other rank oligarchs something challenging, rather than slobber and grovel at Master's feet? Or maybe that's the real reason why the media snuffed this story—because Burke, by doing his job, made every other journalist look bad.


Yasha Levine is co-founder the S.H.A.M.E. Project and author of The Corruption of Malcolm Gladwell

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