OK

I've been thinking about how the story that John Gorenfeld has been following for months concerning politicans' close ties to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and in particular the bizzarre ceremony this March where Moon was crowned messiah, has suddenly burst into the open in the past several days.  It has been a fascinating process to watch, because I have been following it closely since Gorenfeld's first piece that appeared in Salon last September detailing Republican's close ties to Moon and some of the more outrageous things Moon has said and done.  Since then I have checked his blog regularly, and Atrios frequently posts links to John's latest updates.

Before this week, John couldn't get anyone to bite on this story.  No one was interested.  He would frequently post in the Atrios coments section describing his frustrations, and people would throw out suggestions to him as to who might be interested.  The mainstream media was completely silent and utterly indifferent.  Even those in the know didn't know -- I just did a search through the diaries here, and the story kept coming up anew every couple weeks.

Then came his article in the Gadflyer a couple of weeks back, and it started to pick up some steam, you started to see articles here and there.  But what really sent it over the top was this week's Salon piece.  Suddenly it hit the St. Paul Pioneer Press, from which it spread to the Knight-Ridder wire, the Chicago Tribune, and, today, the front page of the Washington Post.

All of the sudden you can't miss the story -- even if you don't read, since it was apparently on ABC and CBS news.  And Gorenfeld, who couldn't get anyone to pay any attention to him, is suddenly in hot demand.  He is mentioned in the WaPo story, quoted in the NY Times (the Gray Lady, natch, pulled up the rear, just putting out the story in tomorrow's edition), and the moment I knew this was the tipping point was when I heard him being interviewd on All Things Considered.

The point of my going through all of this chronology is that it is an incredible case study in how the media echo chamber works, and therefore an experience very much to be learned from.  The media in our country has lost its bearings, it has no sense of what makes a story important per se.  The mainstream media couldn't get itself to touch this story, and John Gorenfeld was just some outsider, who maybe had a piece or two in Salon, but that wasn't enough to get them to pay attention.

Then there is a combination of events, a perfect storm:  the Moon the Messiah ceremony is just so incredible, that it begins to pick up steam.  Gorenfeld is on Air America and other radio outlets, he has the piece in the Gadflyer, and a couple of papers start to talk about it.  Then this week's Salon article comes out, the WaPo finally jumps, and all of the rest of them follow like sheep.  Unbelievably so.  Newspapers and broadcast media outlets alike only became convinced that it was a story when they read about it in the Washington Post and Knight Ridder.

What's also interesting is how the story gets reported in the same way.  Some of the details John G has been stressing concerning the utterly insane nature of Moon's speeches (in particular the Stalin and Hitler reference) have been getting picked up by these stories and reported as is.  But the SCLM (the WaPo article in particular) has focused on the Democrats that were at the meeting and almost completely elided the fact that the overwhelming majority of Moon's support goes to Republicans, his recent courting of African-American Churches and the Congressional Black Caucus notwithstanding.

Still, annoying though this is to a certain extent, at least associating with Moon is on its way to becoming politically radioactive, which is needless to say how it should have been all along and has been, I think, one of Gorenfeld's goals in pursuing this story with such tenacity.  It will be interesting to see what the fallout is.  Will Moon money be dirty money?  Will people begin to call for politicians to stay away from this sexually obsessed, homophobic, anti-semitic megalomaniac?  I emailed the ADL shortly after the first Salon piece appeared last September asking why they hadn't demanded that politicians renounce all ties to this man who has suggested that the Holocaust was just retribution for Jews killing Christ -- as they've done with great energy vis-a-vis Farrakhan.  I received no response.  It will be interesting to see whether they will be more vocal now that the story can no longer be ignored.

Originally posted to sdf on Wed Jun 23, 2004 at 10:20 PM PDT.

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