Hunter S. Thompson, who I consider to be the greatest journalist that ever lived, once wrote: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity.”
Thompson, who has served as an inspiration for me, became famous for never entertaining the idea of joining the D.C.-media horse race in a self-obsessed effort to climb the ladder of the journalistic echo chamber. Instead, he created his own journalistic world where the main goal was to expose bad people and to deliver justice and truth—and to hell with the consequences.
Today, he’d be sick over what’s happening—and not happening—in Flint, Michigan.
When I first arrived to Flint a year ago for my first reporting trip, I was taken aback. Like the majority of the country, I assumed the situation had drastically improved for lead-poisoned residents. All of the headlines said so, and I hadn’t really seen it much in the headlines. But, as is often the case, those two signs were the tell-tale signals that things were not as they seemed. Things had gotten WORSE in Flint since the disastrous April 25, 2014 switch from Detroit’s water system to the toxic Flint River.
In a matter of three days there in a steamy hot August, I realized that Flint was no different than one of those Middle East countries America pretends to “spread democracy” to, instead, kills or injures thousands, and then permanently occupies.
In Michigan, under the guise of trying to save money for Flint, the water was recklessly switched to a toxic source without adding proper anti-corrosion controls. And we all know what happened.
NOTICE: I didn’t write, “the State of Michigan, under the guise of trying to save money for Flint.” Reason: the decision to do this was not made by an elected official of Flint, Michigan.
It was made by an un-elected Emergency Manager appointed by the privatization-obsessed Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder (which, in reality, means it was made by Snyder and not the elected representatives of Flint). This isn’t all that different than America seizing control of others countries, killing or maiming innocent civilians all in the name of knowing what’s best for them. TRANSLATED: what’s best for America, i.e., OIL.
And corporate media wants to huff and puff about our Democracy under attack?
And like those war zones in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, Flint’s wreckage has been ignored by the politicians and complicit corporate media that inflicted it on the people. After eight reporting trips, one town hall I moderated, and hundreds of interviews and conversations with residents, I can tell you: Flint is a war zone.
And for TATM’s purposes, the journalistic story of a lifetime.
As Carly Hammond and Chelsea Lyons have shown in their amazing reporting, Flint is a city where the corruption is transparent for all to see. Serve as a public official and a CEO of a privatized water company simultaneously-no problem! Make hundreds of thousands of dollars as a privatized water pipeline CEO off of shady contracts while pushing decisions as a public official to make that privatized pipeline happen…democracy!
When Governor Snyder and Democratic officials (and federal government policies) bankrupt Flint over the last 30 years through deinvestment; big-bank written trade deals; rezoning laws that drive investment and commerce away; and the usual goodies of billions in tax cuts and deregulation (while cutting schools and healthcare), conservative and neoliberals proposed solution for day-to-day financial shortfalls: place tax liens on poisoned residents’ homes who don’t pay for the still-poisoned water.
TRANSLATED: America, land of the poisoned, who pick up the tab.
That’s not Democracy—that’s an evil Con Job on levels the world hasn’t seen since the 1930s.
All of this isn’t to mention the highly suspect and inconsistent science the EPA and state of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (the same brainiacs who refused to add anti-corrosion controls into the water) are pushing.
So, the state claims lead in the water is down to 7 parts per billion city-wide—falling under the “allowable limit” of 15 parts per billion—yet doesn’t provide any information on how many homes they test; what parts of the city they test (newer vs older homes, parts that were hit worse by water crisis than others, etc); and only test the sink water on cold—which will deliver a lower trace amount of lead than on hot.
All of this excludes the fact that the city claims drinking tap water with a filter is safe even though there’s no scientific evidence to confirm shoddy water filters eliminate ALL LEAD and there IS EVIDENCE that these filters create bacteria.
Oh, and did I mention that the EPA nor the MDEQ don’t test for the full spectrum of bacteria and other toxins? Or that they don’t have ANY measurement or standard for showering or bathing, yet claim it’s safe to do both? Or that independent water investigators—who send their water samples to EPA-ACCREDITED LABS THAT THE EPA USE—have found lead, chloroform, and other horrors in the SHOWER water that the EPA DOESN’T TEST?
If your journalistic juices aren’t flowing yet, let’s throw in the Game of Thrones-esque misinformation; potential state-paid moles dispersed into the city of Flint to sow discord and misinformation—and tensions—among residents; and threats and harassment made toward brave activists/residents by state lawmakers and EPA-funded scientists.
And the corporate media tells us the Flint water crisis is improving. TRANSLATED: leave us alone, we’re combing through Trump’s tweets.
It is with this, that I happily report that Truth Against The Machine is seeking two reporters in Flint, Michigan to pursue leads on all the aforementioned stories—and new ones you uncover. Interested applicants must live in that area and be able to cover city council meetings, protests, and other events. Some journalism experience preferred but not mandatory. Reach out to email@example.com or me directly on FB. And if you can’t do it yourself but want to contribute to the funding of this reporting, please consider SUPPORTING TATM.
If you join us, maybe we can show the world that inhumanity will be met with justice—or as close to it as we can get.