Welcome to Truth Against The Machine

In October 2015, I was ready to call it quits. On year 10 of dead-end, soul-sucking corporate media jobs, I realized I couldn’t lead a fulfilling life making so little impact and simply serving as part of the problem.

I’d worked inside the belly of the beast, having booked guests and produced segments at RNC television—I mean Fox News (one day I’ll write a book)—followed by a year-long stint at MSNBC. After three-and-a-half years in cable news, I knew I couldn’t spend the next 20-30 years pushing false narratives and substanceless drivel.

After a 2-year-hiatus in the non-profit world (hence my distaste for all things meetings and bureaucracy), I took a major risk at 27, leaving a comfy digital producer position in favor of becoming a full-time writer.

The $25,000 pay cut was a tough pill to swallow, but it was now or never.

Over the next two years, I wrote about media and politics for TVNewser.com and then TheWrap.com, but again, I was trapped in the bullshit-substanceless-clickbait-drivel vortex.

I knew I had a unique voice and determination within—I just couldn’t find the platform to unleash it.

Then one November night in 2015, I pushed through the flu to go watch Cenk Uygur give a talk about his career in New York City.

We spoke after as I groveled at his feet for a janitor job at The Young Turks.

As if the universe was finally ready to stop fucking with me and throw me a bone, Cenk called me a month later to offer me a first for The Young Turks—a reporter job, covering the presidential campaign.

A year and a few months later—and a whirlwind campaign mixed with witnessing corruption and searing injustice nationwide—I can honestly say I’m the luckiest journalist in America.

In a country with very few left.

What drapes TV screens and fills up newspapers and websites on a daily basis isn’t journalism—it’s infotainment (and frankly, not very entertaining).

I remember spending a day in a Portland, Oregon houseless community, covering the growing population of working people who get paid such poverty wages, they can’t even afford to put a roof over their head.

But when I turned on the TV in the hotel, CNN was having a “debate” over the latest series of tweets from then-candidate Donald Trump.

Yup, I know.

This plays out every single day: real issues, real struggle, REAL stories lay silent as overpaid, glorified PR-spinsters put on makeup, hold up a microphone, and claim to be “holding the powerful accountable”.

The only thing they are holding is a fat wallet and a meaningless career.

And when I say real stories, I’m not simply talking about what I personally think is important.

I mean life and death situations that without the proper spotlight, can get people killed: faulty big oil pipelines; communities with toxic water they don’t even know about and the media ignores; banks STILL illegally tossing families on the streets; politicians voting against making life-saving prescription drugs cheaper.

The list goes on (and doesn’t even touch on the military industrial complex and total propaganda “journalism” that launches us and keeps us in perpetual war, crippling our families, economy, and very way of life).

So, if you’ve read this far, you probably agree with me (or at least have an open mind).

Experiencing all this injustice up close and personal has both drained me, at times depressed me, and at times—made me extremely hopeful.

The hope appeared from the dozens of aspiring, fearless independent journalists I’ve met: in Standing Rock, Flint, East Chicago, and dozens of other cities and communities I’ve covered over the last year or so.

These folks have the potential to do great, impactful things, but due to the digital diarrhea we currently live in, they’re often crowded out or have their work buried underneath all the clutter.

So why not bring everyone together in one place?

That’s my concept for Truth Against The Machine.

The name is simple. Everything in me starts with truth. I’m a no bullshit, keep it real kind of guy. I don’t believe in talking or acting one way when the camera rolls and another when it’s off.

I also believe that if we’re going to be depended on for facts and truth, we have to make sure we have the facts right. Sure, sometimes we’ll mess up. We’re human. When it happens, we will correct it and move on.

Against the Machine represents my healthy dose of anger and determination toward the revolving door that has hijacked our country: the corrupt cabal of banks, big corporations, lobbyists, corporate media, and politicians, all working together in one, big, corrupt circle-jerk.

Together, through a collection of independent journalists telling the stories happening in their communities—ones the local and national media won’t touch with a 10-foot pole because it might make the powerful or moneyed interests look bad—I truly believe we can create a thriving journalistic platform that creates the REAL journalism stars of today and tomorrow.

And if we do it right, maybe even change.

Because make no mistake about it: makeup doesn’t make you a journalist. An iPhone or a microphone doesn’t either. And having a nationally popular media outlet behind you doesn’t mean you are some type of journalistic icon.

To me, a journalist is everything those old, stuffy journalist 101 professors told you NOT TO BE.

I’m NOT neutral. I’m a progressive who believes rich people should not run our country and money should not be hoarded by them. My BIAS is for justice, truth, and equality (economic and social).

I didn’t get into journalism to simply tell you what one side says vs. the other. Find a stenographer for that.

I got into journalism to CREATE CHANGE.

And if this site does anything, my hope is it gives other talented, hungry journalists the platform to do so.

This will be a total community effort. If you believe in our purpose and the stories that are being told, please DONATE what you can!

With my full-time reporting job keeping me very busy, I’ll have dedicated folks running the website, editing, vetting stories, doing social media, etc.

Also, call me old-fashioned, but I believe in paying folks. Won’t be much (unless you surprise me and donate millions!), but I’d like to contribute to the journalists contributing here.

In the end, this country has a very long way to go and it’s not going to get turned around by faux progressives tossing out platitudes. It’s certainly not going to be turned by corporate media giving them the endless platform to do so unchallenged. And, of course, those super duper awesome “job creators” Republicans love to fantasize about aren’t running toward us with relief.

It’s going to get turned around by you, me, and us.

Today is a bit of a soft-launch. Click on dispatches and video to see what we have so far and some of the faces who’ll be bringing stories to you.

Please join me to wage Truth Against The Machine.

Sincerely,

Jordan Chariton

Westlake Landfill Update

Graceanne Parks shares latest news about the injunction to violate peoples’ right to protest.

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support GRACEANNE and TATM with a donation– Every $1 keeps us fighting for TRUTH and JUSTICE!

 

Donate To Truth Against The Machine

Marquis Ealy on Medicare for All and the Dems

Marquis “talks trash” about establishment Democrats and their jumping on Bernie’s Medicare for All bandwagon.

 

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support MARQUIS and TATM with a donation– Every $1 keeps us fighting for TRUTH and JUSTICE!

 

Donate To Truth Against The Machine

Irma Aftermath and Opportunism

Paula Martinez-Benge discusses lack of climate change coverage, Irma aftermath in the Caribbean and PREPA in Puerto Rico.

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support PAULA and TATM with a donation– Every $1 keeps us fighting for TRUTH and JUSTICE!

 

Donate To Truth Against The Machine

DETROIT: NAN protest at Kid Rock Concert

Theresa Joy attends the protest outside a Kid Rock concert in Detroit MI. The protest was organized by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support Theresa Joy and TATM with a donation– Every $1 keeps us fighting for TRUTH and JUSTICE!

Donate To Truth Against The Machine

 

Trumpers and Juggalos hold simultaneous rallies on Capitol Mall

Jenn Dize was on the ground at the pro-Trump rally and Juggalo March on DC.

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support Jenn and TATM with a donation– Every $1 keeps us fighting for TRUTH and JUSTICE!

 

Donate To Truth Against The Machine

 

Climate Change and the Colonization of Puerto Rico

Paula discusses the real impact of Hurricane Irma, Climate Change, and the Colonization of Puerto Rico.

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support PAULA and TATM with a donation– Every $1 keeps us fighting for TRUTH and JUSTICE!

Donate To Truth Against The Machine

The Juggalos March On Washington To Tell The FBI: “We Aren’t A Gang”

A Juggalo in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
A Juggalo in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

In attending the Juggalo March On Washington on Saturday, September 16, you could learn a lot about their counterculture, apart from that they are fanatics for the band Insane Clown Posse (ICP). The Juggalos held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial to protest an FBI policy that categorizes the group as a loosely organized, hybrid gang.

Jon Cantu (Left) and Evan Lace (Right) at the Lincoln Memorial for the Juggalo March On Washington. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
Jon Cantu (Left) and Evan Lace (Right) at the Lincoln Memorial for the Juggalo March On Washington. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

I learned that the Juggalos habitually drink a Detroit-based soda called Faygo, that many of them are Christian, that they refer to themselves as, “Ninjas”, and that some of them play “Morton’s List,” a 30-sided dice game that they describe as being like a real life Dungeons & Dragons.

They also love each other and believe in spreading love. One woman, attempting to explain Juggalo culture to three older women, pointed at me and said, “You!” before opening her arms, walking over to me, and embracing me. “That’s what this is about,” she told the women.

Their event attracted around a thousand juggalos and hordes of media over the course of the day. They came with an impressively unified message. “We are not a gang!” and variations of this message were on the lips and signs of the group all day. Their numbers were boosted when ICP played a show in the evening.

The Juggalo March On Washington stage, facing the Reflecting Pool. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
The Juggalo March On Washington stage, facing the Reflecting Pool. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

Jon Cantu is a 29-year-old Juggalo and a father who came to the march to protest the impacts of the 2011 FBI gang classification of people who identify as Juggalos. Many of them have the silhouette of a person running with a cleaver tattooed on them. Cantu called it Hatchet Man. He told me that his brother is often pulled over because of the ICP bumper stickers on his car, and that a friend of his lost her job because of her Hatchet Man tattoo.

“I’m standing here for people who can’t be here, or people who are in jail, or people that want to go to the military but because they listen to ICP they can’t be in the army,” said Cantu, who was attending his first protest, “I don’t think it’s right for us to be judged for what we like to listen to.”   

The Alt-Right associated Mother Of All Rallies happened about a mile away at the same time and was marginally smaller, but the Alt-Right rally did not bring the world’s premier clownface rap group onto one of the most recognizable American landmarks.

Stephen Barton holding his Juggalo flag. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
Stephen Barton holding his Juggalo flag. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

A video on the website for the march features the painted faces of ICP, Joseph “Violent J” Bruce and Joseph “Shaggy 2 Dope” Utsler. Farris “The Juggalawyer” Haddid breaks down the more complex details about permitting and behavior guidelines for the rally. In an expletive-filled eight minutes they tell viewers about an uptick in venues refusing to host them and towns denying their permit requests. They ask their followers to travel to the rally, and remain civil and sober while there.

The Juggalo fanbase are dedicated. I spoke with Miranda “Triplesix” Edwards and Steph “Vivid Virago” Mayhall about their fandom. The 34-year-olds have a three decade friendship in which they have been to over 100 ICP shows together. It takes Triplesix two-and-a-half hours to don her gothic style, and the Juggalos apparently see her as a minor celebrity. While we spoke several groups interrupted us to get photos with her.

Vivid Virago told me that she attended the event because she felt discriminated against. She said, “Abuse of power is my big thing here, I don’t want or feel comfortable with allowing police or our government to decide at their discretion if we should be tried as gang members or not just because of a ridiculous decision that has no basis in fact.”

 Allison Hrabar handing out snacks and flyers for Democratic Socialists of America at the Juggalo March On Washington. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
Allison Hrabar handing out snacks and flyers for Democratic Socialists of America at the Juggalo March On Washington. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

On a hill behind the stage was a group holding the red flags of the Democratic Socialists of America. Allison Hrabar, 23, handed out soda, snacks, and flyers which her chapter of DSA had designed specifically to introduce the Juggalo crowd to Socialism.

“We decided to come out here and show some solidarity with Juggalos today because we don’t believe that anybody should be targeted by law enforcement,” said Hrabar.

“We don’t want to march, we don’t want to pretend like we’re Juggalos. We just thought we’d offer some information to people so we made up some flyers that talk about socialism, that talk about capitalism, and then hand out snacks and hopefully have some conversations,” she said about their recruitment efforts. The DSA contingent had shipped-in Faygo for the event and ran out before the event was half-way through.

The Juggalo community came to DC to fight against discrimination. They brought their “weird family” vibe, as described by Triplesix, to the Nation’s capital because their community were being marginalized and obstructed from holding public events.

Photo Credit: Rhys Baker
Photo Credit: Rhys Baker

The whole world, or a good portion of it, really was watching. The spectacle of a mass of adults dressed as clowns and goths, with big hairstyles, gaudy colors, and crass signs brought attention to their plight and exposed America to their civil behavior and strange rap. They might need to continue their campaign, but using civil advocacy like this could get them declassified as a gang, especially if the group continues to act in legal, nonviolent ways.

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support Rhys and TATM with a donation– Every $1 keeps us fighting for TRUTH and JUSTICE!

Juggalo March on DC: “We’re a family, not a gang!”

“Are the Juggalos a gang? You don’t need a social scientist to tell you that doesn’t pass the sniff test. The more important question is why the FBI made such a ridiculous assertion? It isn’t hard to figure out. The Insane Clown Posse and its supporters sometimes act outrageously. They offend the sensibilities of the silk suits at the Department of Justice and prim and proper elites in Washington. The ICP and Juggalos are a cultural insult to mainstream America.”

—Professor John M. Hagedorn University of Illinois—Chicago Professor of Criminology, Law & Justice, author of “A World of Gangs”

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support Jenn and TATM with a donation– Every $1 keeps us fighting for TRUTH and JUSTICE!

 

Donate To Truth Against The Machine

Graceanne Parks LIVE in St. Louis

On Friday, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said the state failed to prove that Stockley did not act in self-defense, and found him not guilty in the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. Protests erupted following the verdict and continued through the weekend.

HISTORY
In December 2011, @Jason Stockley, then a St. Louis officer, fatally shot Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, after a police chase over a suspected drug deal. After he pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, he waived his right to a jury trial, meaning the ruling was left to the judge.

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support Graceanne and TATM with a donation– Every $1 keeps us fighting for TRUTH and JUSTICE!

Donate To Truth Against The Machine

TATM Week in Review with Marquis Ealy – 9/11 to 9/17

Marquis Ealy breaks down the highlights of the past week, as well as the clip of the week! Subscribe and watch all our videos to see our reporters in action!

If you want more independent reporting like this, please support TATM with a donation– Every $1 helps us grow!

Donate To Truth Against The Machine