It wasn’t too long ago that that we had three sources of national news: ABC, CBS, and NBC. Print media were limited to the daily newspaper and national news magazines like Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. No more.
The media gatekeepers are few and far between today. The last gate – the biggest gate – is the internet. If it can’t be controlled, the people can’t be controlled. That’s why governments around the world are working to implement ways to control it. A nation like China just does it, but here in the United States the pretense of a legitimate legal remedy must be found.
Congress got slapped down with an all-out internet frontal attack that shut down their phone lines. Republican Senator Everett Dirksen (1896–1969) explains what happens when sustained pressure is put on Congress: "When we feel the heat, we see the light." Gary North comments:
The Good Old Boys learned that they cannot conduct business as usual any longer — not when Internet autonomy is concerned. The Internet can mobilize millions of voters in hours. The Good Old Boys had not yet figured this out on Tuesday. They are slow learners.
Al Gore didn’t realize what he had invented.
Even the leftist New York Times understood what happened. Of course, they’ve seen the effect of the internet on their industry through a drop in subscription rates and ad revenue:
And for all the campaign contributions, Washington parties and high-priced lobbyists the old economy could muster, nothing could compare to the tentacles the new economy can reach into Americans' everyday lives through sites like Wikipedia.
The most encouraging aspect of the protest was the action people took. What politicians count on is a short memory and activist exhaustion. These guys won’t stop. Harry Reid has postponed a vote on the controversial laws. He’s waiting for the outcome of the 2012 election. This is from the “Techdirt” site:
Think the blackouts were just a “publicity stunt” that didn't wake up the American people to a serious problem with the legislative process? Wikipedia has now revealed that an astounding eight million people used its tool to look up their elected officials’ contact info. It’s not yet clear how many actually called, but some information on calls is starting to come out, and it sure sounds like a lot of people called.
We heard from multiple Senate staffers that the phones — both in DC and back home in the district offices — were ringing non-stop with complaints about the bill. Our own calling widget, care of Engine Advocacy, got a tremendous amount of usage — including over 2,000 phone calls per minute at peak calling times. Meanwhile, Google’s online petition scored 4.5 million signatures... and that's the number that was reported earlier in the day. I'm sure it was higher by the end of the day. Anyone think this isn’t a mainstream issue yet? More importantly, can anyone explain why various Senators still want to move forward with this bill?
The battle’s not over. Keep a sharp eye and keep the heat on. Your congressman is counting on you to fatigue of “eternal vigilance.”