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||Since 1996, Metzger's Disinformation.com has been the source for controversial news "overlooked"by corporate controlled media outlets.
AMY: Do you think that you've got the truth on
RICHARD: Please, please. No.
If an article has a ring of truth
and it's worth further investigation, we post it.
AMY: So what do you
hope people will get from the site?
RICHARD: A healthy sense
of skepticism about any news source, including Disinformation.
I tend to imagine it as a gauge, like a Geiger counter. It gets
you closer to the truth than just reading the New York Times or
the Wall Street Journal would.
AMY: Has it been difficult
to find an audience?
RICHARD: No, not at all. The rise of Disinformation coincided with the rise of X-Files and the millennial madness of the late '90s. Now that kind of new-age thinking has a foothold in the culture. Our site gets a half-million visitors a month.
AMY: It's got a cross-cultural appeal. One of the items on it this week was about the Remdem Corporation running these strange operations against Iraq.
I think it came from the Asian Times.
RICHARD: The Asian Times is probably comparable to LA Weekly or The Village Voice.
We look through these alternative newspapers to find stories
that don't get mainstream
attention, then we post them all
in one place. Disinfo is like a Drudge Report for news. But
it's not a soapbox our
information comes from both
left- and right-wing sources.
AMY: Is it particularly
important to check out
Disinformation now when we're being inundated with pro-war propaganda?
RICHARD: When something like September 11 happens, a kind of group-think takes over, not only among the general population or Fox News viewers, but also among journalists. I have friends who write for the New York Times and various magazines, and they're not immune. Neither am I. It's like the population has been hypnotized.
AMY: I was at a luncheon where a journalist asked somebody who's involved in selling the war if the public is a little more sophisticated than they're being given credit for. He said, "I think they're a little less sophisticated."It was a terrifying moment. The government
is banking on the public
not knowing anything.
RICHARD: And it's not just coming from Washington, it's also Tony Blair. Ever since Iran-Contra,
politicians clearly don't believe
the public has a bullshit detector.
AMY: Are people really that gullible?
RICHARD: Thirty years ago,
you only had ABC, CBS, and NBC all the news flowed from a very narrow channel. Now there are so many outlets, they
just fling whatever they can against the wall, so the waters quickly get muddied. The news has become white noise, and
people end up tuning it out.
AMY: So how is your site
different? Aren't you
just adding to the glut of
RICHARD: We're not just piling
on random facts. There's an
editorial filter. Let's say we post a dossier on white supremacists. We will link directly to a white supremacist's site. The mainstream news may be telling you, "These white supremacist and militia groups are gaining power, they're a really big problem."But some
of these people don't even know how to make their own websites. With Disinfo, you see the source, and you can say, "This is a threat? These people don't even know how to use spell check."
AMY: I just saw Bowling for Columbine. In the film, Michael Moore leads you to the NRA, and lets the NRA speak for itself. His approach allows viewers to draw their own conclusions about Charlton Heston.
RICHARD: Here's the thing
it doesn't matter how objective the film looks if a different filmmaker had made it, the message would be different. The famous quote is, "It depends which side of the picket line you're on."You can make the protesters look like lunatics, or you can shoot from their side and make the cops look bad.
AMY: So what are you going after next?
RICHARD: I've done the whole underground culture thing. I'd love to do a TV show called Everything You Know Is Wrong. Something that's not a freak show, that's more hard-hitting, like a next-generation 60 Minutes. There's definitely room to improve that formula.
Honestly, the Disinfo website is just a minor part of the business.
AMY: It's the books?
RICHARD: Yeah. We've found ourselves unexpectedly becoming an independent publishing
concern. The internet was a
cheap way to establish the Disinfo brand, and now we're actually making money with our books. We printed six thousand of our first book, and there are almost
a hundred thousand of them in print now. And the longer you're around, the more credibility you have. From publishing one book a year, we're going up to twelve books next year.
AMY: That's amazing.
RICHARD: Karl Marx said, "Freedom of the press only belongs to those who own their own printing press."But it's easy to publish a book these days. It does not take unlimited resources. In our case, it leaves us on a disk, gets FedExed to China for printing, and then it's shipped to our distributor's warehouse in Minneapolis.