Close to the edge

Nattering nabobs of negativity: It was over 35 years ago that tax-evading American Vice President Spiro Agnew first popularized the phrase “liberal media,” a useful myth that manages to withstand the test of time despite all evidence to the contrary. Forget the Fox News Channel; in the last year, PBS has said farewell to Bill Moyers and hello to Tucker Carlson, CBS has exorcised Dan Rather and a gaggle of 60 Minutes producers, and ABC execs are now dismissing Nightline as “irrelevant.” Now, the last time Bites checked, Ted Koppel was hardly a poster boy for the leftward-leaning—this was, after all, a guy whose show grew out of his nightly “America Held Hostage” broadcast, which relentlessly held the Carter administration’s feet to the fire even as the Reagan campaign was busy negotiating the delay of said hostage’s release. Nor are Southern Baptist Moyers and good ol’ boy Rather exactly raging progressives.

So, Bites was happy to see that at least one media outlet is bothering to indulge in some good old-fashioned muckraking—not on KVIE or any of the aforementioned networks, of course, but on public access (you know, those weird little stations that huge cable franchises had to allow in order to get their monopolies).

Media Edge, a two-hour progressive magazine-style show that debuts on Sunday, grew out of a town-hall meeting held by area activists. From that, a core group of 20 local activists went on to form “We The Media” and set about creating a documentary show with both national and local segments. The first episode—which airs on Sunday, April 3, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on both Access Sacramento cable channel 17 (Comcast and SureWest) and Davis Community Television channel 15 (Comcast)—will include two documentaries on Iraq as well as an interview with Dahr Jamail (the U.S. journalist famous for his Iraq dispatches), which was filmed by local documentarian Mary Brassell. The following week, Brassell will return with a segment shot at the vigil outside the Land Park home of Steve and Virginia Pearcy.

“I like to say that information is the one weapon that even pacifists can get behind,” said Jeannie Keltner of the Progressive Media Action Group, which also will be airing the show on Nevada County and West Sacramento public-access stations. “There will be an opening now for people to bring footage they’ve shot around town, a place where people can show local political video they’ve shot and edited.” To submit video for consideration or to get additional information, e-mail

Sniper schmiper: Speaking of weapons, Bites would have thought the recent threats of rifle fire in Midtown would have alarmed someone—a diner or two, or perhaps, hey, maybe the Sacramento Police Department. But no, apparently Bites is the lone paranoiac.

In recent weeks, the phrase “Vote from the rooftops” has been scrawled on buildings in black paint. An office building at 21st and L streets got hit. It since has been painted over. And the OfficeMax store on J Street—a constant target for chicken-scratchers with paint cans—was delivered the message. At OfficeMax, the tag came complete with a drawing of a rifle scope.

The phrase comes straight out of the phrasebook of military sniper culture, according to the D.C.-based Violence Policy Center: “When all else fails, vote from the rooftops.” To make it painfully clear, if the nice-guy diplomatic stuff doesn’t work, send in the boys trained to shoot accurately from far distances.

The saying is peppered across the Internet on Web sites belonging to gun nuts.

So, now Bites is remembering John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.

The Sacramento Police Department and its graffiti-task-force folks were unaware of the scrawls.

And occupants of a couple of the tagged buildings shrugged off the graffiti, saying that it was only as alarming as any other graffiti. One man, walking from an office building on a recent weekday, said he’d seen the words written on his workplace and thought them to be just another harmless graffiti-artist catchphrase.

Maybe the “artist” is just a kid with a spray can who doesn’t know of what he writes.

But, in the meantime, Bites will continue to look nervously skyward, dive behind bushes and slither down the sidewalk, belly to the concrete.