BOB GARFIELD: We're back with On the Media. I'm Bob Garfield.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I'm Brooke Gladstone. Russ Kick is Mr. Alternative Media. He has written extensively about the lunatic fringe of American culture in books like Outposts and Psychotropedia, and many would say his part of that lunatic fringe himself for giving space to stories that the mainstream press finds too strange, offensive or just plain wrong. Kick currently runs 3 web sites --alternews.com which is devoted to under-reported stories, thememoryhole.org dedicated to preserving quote "knowledge in danger of being forgotten, ignored or suppressed," and disinfo.com -- probably the most popular --which calls itself "the search service of choice for individuals looking for information on current affairs, politics, new science and the hidden information that seldom slips through the cracks of the corporate-owned media conglomerates." And now disinfo has spawned a book: Everything You Know Is Wrong, edited, of course, by Mr. Kick. Russ Kick, welcome to OTM.
RUSS KICK: Hello! Glad to be here.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: You know the very name of the site and the company, Disinformation, would seem to invite a healthy skepticism on the part of the reader. Does an article about human rights get taken less seriously because it's next to a piece about a woman who claims the CIA made her Henry Kissinger's sex slave?
RUSS KICK: Well, that kind of thing is on the site, and I co-edit the site, and-- [LAUGHTER] you know the other people in Disinformation have a big input. So that's more their doing.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Well your first book was called You Are Being Lied To, and the second book is called Everything You Know Is Wrong. A lot of stories in the books seem downright unverifiable although the authors are unequivocal in their assertions. Is it responsible to tell people that China has the capacity to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet?
RUSS KICK: Well I think that charge is backed up because the author, Howard Bloom, is going by for example reports from Jane's Defense which is probably, you know, the source for information about military hardware and capabilities around the world, and he's going by little-noticed stories that have been reported by Reuters, for example.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:One of the most fascinating items in the book was yours: Witness to a Massacre -- Other Participants in the Columbine Shooting. In your article you point to account after account by eyewitnesses who talk about a third person, probably a student but maybe not a student at that school wearing a white tee shirt and jeans. He is seen by a lot of people; he's seen in the same action, throwing something on a roof, and then when the final chapter is written, he's suddenly erased from it!
RUSS KICK: I think it was just very convenient to pin the whole thing on these two dead guys and say that's it. Case closed.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: The mystery is why all the eyewitnesses who saw another participant or more than another participant haven't come forward and said what about these other people.
RUSS KICK: [LAUGHS] It, it is strange to figure out--where the breakdown comes in. You know I've heard that some of them are scared about talking about this, because the other shooters are still out there, and then that would make sense.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:It seems that in the case of some of the items that you include in this book, what you're frustrated about is not so much the media coverage or lack thereof, but the lack of public reaction.
RUSS KICK: Well that's part of it, and-- actually the mainstream media does report some important things, but very often it, it's strange --they're buried. A good example I just noticed was the shooting at LAX where that gunman killed two people at the El Al Airlines counter.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Right.
RUSS KICK:That got a lot of coverage, but there was a story in the L.A. Times where, you know, you're just kind of reading this story about what happened, and then all of a sudden there's one sentence that says: witnesses said the security guard shot the man once at close range after the attacker had been disarmed and was being held on the floor.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Hm!
RUSS KICK:So that would indicate that-- basically he was summarily executed while he was being held down -- disarmed. And it gets one sentence in the middle of the article - and that's it. [LAUGHS] You know, and I think maybe that should have been the headline!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Most of the articles in the book tend to be tilted if anything as a corrective more to the left than to the right.
RUSS KICK:A lot of it has to do with the fact that even though the media is called "the liberal media" in a lot of ways it really isn't; it's better described as "the corporate media." So I think that a lot of the things they miss out on are stories that would be termed more leftist but some of the articles in the book are more what you would call politically incorrect, you know, have a more-- right wing take on things.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: How are the sales going for the book?
RUSS KICK: It's being basically ignored by the mainstream media, but the thing is it's still selling incredibly well.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And the web site is doing really well too, right?
RUSS KICK: Right.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:So is alternative news then moving closer to the mainstream? I mean if you can buy this book at the oh-so-corporate Barnes & Noble while you're sipping a Starbucks-- [LAUGHTER] aren't the stories out there once and for all?
RUSS KICK: That is a victory, but it's not a complete victory. The media still isn't talking about the medical studies done by Yale and the University of Pittsburgh which found that an average of like 10 percent of people who die of Alzheimer's actually have died of the human form of mad cow disease; when President Fox of Mexico last year told a group of reporters that he thinks the answer to the drug problem is to legalize all drugs worldwide. And of course that was reported in the Mexican press, [LAUGHTER] and it even made it into a couple of Canadian newspapers, but I [LAUGHS] have not seen one single thing about it in the American media.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Well thank you very much!
RUSS KICK: Well thank you. I've enjoyed it.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Russ Kick is the editor of Everything You Know Is Wrong published by the Disinformation Company.