AOL and Time
Warner's marriage of insecurity
BY SCOTT ROSENBERG
The Net on
AOL's Time Warner deal
BY JANELLE BROWN, DAMIEN CAVE and LYDIA LEE
When the Fort Worth chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union investigated complaints
of censorship and anti-minority hate in user profiles on
America Online, AOL's news search engine failed to find a single
reference to this nationally reported story.
(See Wired Strategies.)
Our public posts in AOL discussion groups seeking information
from others censored by AOL resulted in my AOL account being
cancelled for "commercial solicitation." AOL's "community action
team" told me that I could not receive copies
of my own customer records, and I was hung up on.
The thought of AOL chairman Steve Case in charge of Time magazine
and CNN is indeed chilling.
-- Frank Provasek
President, ACLU Ft Worth Chapter, Texas
Scott Rosenberg's article was an interesting discussion of the AOL-Time Warner merger. But amid all the
of "missing the broadband bandwagon" and increasing "market share and
power," a much more fundamental question emerges: Why are we handing
the lifeblood of democracy -- information dissemination -- to corporations?
Rosenberg notes that "Corporate media power really is getting
concentrated." It's not "getting," but has been concentrated since the downfall of the
independent labor press. The Net was developed with taxpayer money
the Pentagon high-tech industry welfare system. That a company like AOL
should reap profits by charging for access to a product that the public
already paid for is an absurdity. And for Salon to moan about how
like AOL are getting too big misses the point -- the truly "scary" thing
that they exist in the first place.
-- Damon Poeter
The AOL-Time Warner deal is another brick in the wall of making big
business too big for anyone to regulate or stop. When the Exxon/Mobil
merger went through I asked myself, How in the name of all that's
will this benefit anyone but the stockholders?
There is an increasing tempo of big mergers, which only
more economic control in fewer hands while reducing price and product
competition for consumers. It seems to go almost unnoticed that the
resulting huge businesses have a disproportionate effect on government
regulators, and government itself through lobbying and the almost
unregulated political fund-raising which is rapidly eroding the last
of fairness in our political process.
The SEC and other federal regulators are not being allowed to do
jobs because the political will to allow them to function has been
co-opted by the increasingly evil political
campaign funding, which threatens to exchange the American oligarchy for
-- John Barker
The government should first make AOL clean up its own
before it even considers approving this merger.
AOL cannot take care of its own subscribers now. They censor all
of speech with their TOS ("Terms of Service"). The spam AOL'ers receive is unreal and many times the amount a person
receive with a normal ISP account.
Try signing up for a free trial period and see how much you get in the
hour you are online. Most of it is for MFM ("Make Money Fast") schemes or
pornography. Then try and cancel and see what happens. This merger
be good for anyone except Steve Case, the former toothpaste salesman.
-- John Hozian
Well, damn. Many of us who -- for reasons unknown -- still use AOL are
getting miserably slow service, with regular bootings. (In AOL's case,
"Internet service provider" is almost a malaprop.) So, if AOL buys Time Warner, does that mean my Entertainment Weekly
show up late or not at all, too?
-- Regina Deavitt
BY ERIC BOEHLERT
BY JODY ROSEN
I was afraid that Curtis Mayfield's passing would be overlooked amid
the end-of-the-century hype. The fact that he died only a few days
the end may be an omen. Thanks for Eric Boehlert's on-the-money essay on
idiocy surrounding the popular trend in black urban music. Mayfield's
was filled with such pain and dignity that it's a crying shame that
and the like are his successors. What's even worse is that these
contemporaries are likely achieving much more popular success than
and his contemporaries ever obtained, without even a fraction of the
and artistic vision.
Artists like Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye so
eloquently brought the suffering of urban blacks to the rest of America
paved the way for a new generation of musicians. The result? Benefactors
like Puffy can flaunt jewelry and live out B-movie fantasies and
the hard-earned tracks that they laid down. What a shame.
-- Alex Perez
Salon is at it again. It seems that over the last year it has become
at a supposedly "liberal" magazine to criticize and rebuke black
people for any instance that does not conform to the limousine liberal
standard of behavior -- i.e. Maxine Waters, Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson
now Jay Z. I suppose the black poster child for Salon is Colin Powell.
wonder if this is a Clintonesque move to establish credibility by moving
closer to the center through public spankings of outspoken blacks. From
David Horowitz to Debra Dickerson, it seems that Salon's intent is to lash
black person who wanders out of the mainstream with the editorial whip while simultaneously reassuring the white audience that they have
to fear from these exceptional black people.
Boehlert employs a few
of Jay Z's lyrics to brand his entire work as glorification of violence
misogyny. In fact, Jay Z's reputation as a thinking rap artist stems
his clever lyrics, use of word play and his attention to the consequences of one's actions. Does he
suggest that no rappers preach against the use of drugs on the basis of
rapper's lyrics? Try Outkast, Goodie Mob, 8Ball & MJG, Public Enemy,
Sense and the Roots.
-- Josh H.
Eric Boehlert's article about Curtis Mayfield's influence on hip-hop
clearly illustrated the main problem with hip-hop music. Too bad it
the point he was trying to make. It's ironic that someone who covers
music industry chooses to focus on the negative acts of a few isolated
individuals like Puffy, Eminem or Jay-Z, while ignoring all of the
creativity that flourished in hip-hop in 1999. Perhaps Curtis
legacy lies in the musicianship of the Roots, or in the creativity of
Prince Paul, or in the poetic nature of the lyrics of Mos Def or
The real problem is members of the mainstream press not giving coverage
the real talent in the world of hip-hop while wasting ink on the
likes of Puffy, Jay-Z, et al.
-- Nick Adams
Eric Boehlert focuses on the text, or "lyrics," when comparing today's
rappers to the late great Curtis Mayfield. But let's also mention the droningly obvious: Rap, in general, is a
rant, devoid of lyricism and a medium that would only have thwarted
Mayfield in exploiting the uniqueness of his singing voice, much less
own harmonic and melodic compositional style. The general musical nastiness of rap nullifies the sensual and advocates a nihilistic approach to music in general.
-- Charles Greenberg
Glad to see a Curtis Mayfield
obit/retrospective that finally mentions his wonderful
eponymous album of the early '70s. It stands up well to the
justly praised "Superfly" album. I still find myself humming "Move on
Up" and "Wild and Free" all these years later. R.I.P. Curtis !
-- Henry Balke
stake in the 2000 elections?
BY MICHAEL ALVEAR
Until today I've been a big fan of Salon.com. I enjoy reading Garrison
Keillor and find that in general Salon's coverage in all areas is
refreshing and thought-provoking.
Now I'm going to have to consider finding some other source of good
online. Why? Because this publication has chosen to give David Duke a
stump for his anti-Semitic, inflammatory rhetoric. This man is not a
serious journalist and the only possible reason I can think of why the
otherwise discerning editors and publishers of Salon would provide him
this forum for the hate that oozes out of his diseased cortex is that
have finally succumbed to the profitable lure of sensationalism.
Perhaps the editors of Salon believe that the views of David Duke are
far removed from what we now consider sane and reasonable that they can
provided as a sort of self-parody. Ladies and gentleman, that is a
mistake, for even if no reader takes his poison seriously, the
legitimization of these bitter, pernicious and vile throwbacks merely
encourages them to continue their warped crusade against all social
progress and justice; surely if we continue to encourage the
of this vileness we'll still be seeing tragedies like the dragging
of James Byrd Jr. at the end of the next millennium.
David Duke certainly has a right to say what he likes and promote his
as he likes, even though those are views I find personally abhorrent.
Salon certainly has no obligation to provide him with a forum, as I
obligation to read it.
-- Thomas K. Burkholder
The remarks of David Duke and Matthew Hale certainly add a freak-show
element to Salon's political coverage. However, I trust the magazine
be adding them to its regular stable of political pundits.
It's probably better to stick with the toothless bluster of Camille
-- Mark Carlson
I think it's vile that Salon would choose to voice the opinions of this
man [David Duke]
who has incited racial hatred. While free speech is a cornerstone of
Constitution, this editorial decision is unspeakably wrong. I will
all those I can to protest this decision and to no longer read this Web
-- Michael Nathanson
Show me the hungry
My gratitude to Salon and Arianna Huffington for bravely parting the
bullshit "prosperity" sea to reveal the growing divisions between rich
and poor. Huffington's words on this issue will carry far more weight than
liberal like me shrieking for no apparent reason.
I recently had the chance to ask a panel of Internet millionaires
at the Columbia School of Journalism about the growing divide between
and poor, and where the money of this new gilded age was going.
Gardner of the [investment advice site] Motley Fool said (and you can look this up in the
Voice): "I don't think there's a problem with the gap between the rich
the poor." That cost the panel what little credibility they had.
went on to attack investigative journalism, calling it bad for
I'm glad Huffington sees the problems that men like Gardner do not.
-- Brian Lyman