Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

Publicity of shutdown attempt says a lot about the evolution of news

| October 15, 2013

The Ride for the Constitution fiasco of last weekend brings to mind the quote often associated with war reporting: “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” That’s  California Sen. Hiram W. Johnson, addressing the U.S. Senate in 1917.

Truth was also a casualty in the free-for-all publicity surrounding the planned trucker mega-protest that peaked at about 30 trucks.

Consider this Fox News headline, posted Thursday afternoon, when it was obvious that the next day’s event lacked any widespread support: “Watch Out D.C.: Thousands of ‘Fed Up’ Truckers Are on Their Way.”  And its lead sentence, an unattributed brash falsehood: “Some 10,000 truckers are on their way to Washington to gather peacefully this weekend …” Other news outlets were less gullible, though many stories failed to question the organizers’ wildly divergent predictions.

The number of trucks needed to lock up the Capital Beltway — one of the intentions of the Ride for the Constitution — is 17,000. And to fuel that many trucks? $13.5 million.

This hashtag (truckers to shut down America) was used to spread the word on the Ride for the Constitution.

Such unprofessional reporting, as well as the social media-inspired buzz that led up to the non-event, show the good, the bad and the ugly of how the Internet has changed news reporting.

It’s no secret that news has moved away from the official filters – professional gatherers and producers – and far more into the hands of the audience. The change started before social media ascended, but now it’s wide open.

Most people find the amazing diversity of media channels and voices refreshing. Even many ink-stained newspaper guys, like me, do. Though that’s not to say it’s been a bloodless revolution.

In older days, truckers would complain over the CB or in a letter to the editor of Overdrive about how they should shut down. They’d show America a thing or two when the grocery shelves are empty.

In rare cases (1979, 1983, 1993), there was enough focus (fuel prices, fuel taxes) and momentum to stage partial shutdowns that merited notice. Otherwise, shutdown talk went nowhere.

Now it’s easier to gain traction. A “Truckers to Shutdown America” Facebook page helped launch last weekend’s demonstration, following television commentator Glenn Beck’s mention of it on one of his broadcasts. The Ride for the Constitution.org website also helped.

Multiply these by thousands of Facebook, twitter and blog posts, as well as sharing via email, text, etc., and it’s easy to see why the talk evolved into stories not only in trucking outlets, but also mainstream national consumer media.

Were organizers prepared for such exposure? No. There was no one designated spokesperson, at first no clearly defined trucking issues, and ridiculous, often vague non-trucking issues. One organizer, Earl Conlon, admitted his extremist remarks were lies intended to spark interest. It was more than a stretch to take the movement seriously.

One of my newspaper newsroom mentors often said, “Any fool can say something. That doesn’t mean you have to print it.” Still sage advice, though the new reality is that the fool can self-publish, and there are no shortage of willing fools to magnify foolishness.

That puts a bigger responsibility on the audience to separate the wheat from the chaff. It also puts more responsibility on those of us who have some role in continuing to filter and refine information that serves a particular audience.

In the case of the Ride for the Constitution, Overdrive chose to cover it closely because it was clear that our readers were very interested in it, even if they had no intention of participating. We tried to present all sides and let readers reach their own conclusions.

I’d like to hear your thoughts about the protest and how we reported it. 

  • guest

    Sure…news agencies all have their “marching orders”, agendas, etc…..some WILL report a protest and others not..some will SLANT the news to fit their Polical persuasion etc…..so what??? Whoever want to be on the sid eof AMERICAN TRUCKERS is Welcome……tell the truth…we are Not Ashamed…..we done good!!!!! Cosidering we had no help from anybody and we are all Working Folks with minimal resources and TIME…..we did GREAT!!!! The Country FELT our presence and heard our Position. This is a Beginning….Not the End Game……More protests is what we need…and soon!!!! 10,000 trucks or 500…….AMERICA KNOWS damn good and well that WE are PISSED OFF!!!

  • Sed

    It’s to bad that news and more drivers did not take part in this to help drivers

  • g

    If you call them “news” agencies….actually they are agencies of THE STATE…controlled by Murdock…a puppet for the REGIME……..edited and censored like RUSSIA. We had to rely on internet news agencies..JUST TO BE HEARD!!!
    This DOES say ALOT about America’s news coverage…tells us that we are being LIED TO CONTINUOUSLY.

  • Stormy

    If, and that is a BIG IF… the truckers had wanted to make any impact they would have focused on a cause. They would have listed what the trucking industry is upset about.
    I followed this from the beginning and the more I read I t the faster I backed up. It turned into a redneck zoo and our leader, Zeeda Andrews, didn’t help a bit with her nutcase, racist ranting. Impeach Obama, drag Reid and Pelosi out of the White House in handcuffs, remove all Muslims out of the government was about enough BUT THEN we were battling Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg because Zeeda spread the word that they closed down their website for saying God bless America. No the website was temporarily shut down for hate speech.

    As I tested the waters I discovered nobody commenting knew of or had heard of Zeeda the Cowgirl singing at he Petro fuel pumps but far worse than that nobody mentioned Anne Ferro or Anthony Foxx and some even asked who they were. Seemed destined for failure before it ever started… If you could drive to DC to run circles around DC for 3 days why not pull those 10,000 trucks into the next FMCSA listening session. But please don’t have Zeeda as the spokesperson

  • Darryl G Evans

    check DML daily on facebook for videos from many of the event.

  • jim stewart

    We have many trucking issues that concern all of us. I’m sure the majority can agree on the top five most important ones which cause everyone the most grief. Picking a specific time or date to mount a true all out trucker protest is only part of the process. We also need a clear cut plan of action once that date is chosen. I say let’s make it happen during the 72 hour FMCSA road campaign like one reader suggested. I’m sure if 90% of drivers were missing in action that week it most certainly would be a news worthy event for the national media to pounce on! Maybe we would actually get our point across during the process. We must make sure our most important issues take center stage at the proper moment. I would volunteer my time to help owner/op’s or drivers who want to seriously prepare in organizing such an event. That is, any event other than block major highways. That’s just plain ignorant. I took part in those road warrior blockades back in the early seventies. We got lucky in most cases. I got arrested and towed at one incident. With the even-odd tag gas rationing ordered by authorities Joe public was just as damn mad as the rest of us so their anger was directed away from our short lived highway disruptions. Most were actually on our side! Loaded oil tankers sat off America’s coast while the Saudi’s held us hostage around the country with their clever black gold embargo. That same type radical action by truckers won’t fly today! Doing something stupid like that again doesn’t have a prayer of any public support nor the support of any key lawmakers that we need in our corner. Like it or not we have to manage some type support from the general public in order to succeed in a win/win campaign. We need our voice heard loud and clear on the hill representing real truckers. If not we’ll continue to be trampled by the special interest lobbyist who decide what’s best for this profession or for truckers they could care less about…. NOPE, that representation is surely not coming from the ATA (the carriers own lobbyist group) and sorry, OOIDA die hard fans, but they can’t fix everything either? There needs to be another national trucker support group to even the odds!!!!!

  • http://huggyboo2u.wix.com/truckers-unite Earl Conlon

    My comments were not LIES they were my goals but Zeeda and Pete didn’t want to go thru with them but i spoke them any way to the media to gain coverage to insure this rally would NOT be covered up by media as they TRIED to do with the Bikers.. If this Plan had went as i Planned it we would have done More then smile and blow horns.. we would have met with the head Law enforcement and presented evidence. and demanded Arrest.. but Ride for the constitution took that as Non peaceful… There is nothing wrong or illegal about Demanding your Law enforcement do their SWORN DUTY.. and there is NOTHING wrong or illegal about having a citizens grand jury.. BUT NO WHERE IN HISTORY HAS A TYRANT EVER STEPPED DOWN PEACEFULLY..So now the rally is over. BUT I have not given up.. I will fight for liberty and hold our Gov to OBEYING the CONSTITUTION.. i will find a away to make them answer for their crimes against the people and freedom.. and I will do it PEACEFULLY but no matter if the fight is Bloddy or a peaceful civil fight it still requires having a SET OF BALLS..

  • James Jarmon

    This was a joke. Who ever expected a bunch of unskilled laborers to do anything. You want to make a difference, start with the company you work for. If they don’t require a year or more of experience, quit.

  • Craig Vecellio

    James Jarmon, that didn’t even make sense. this was done by owner operators.

  • Proud American!

    Say what you want about the strike, cause what you say are only words. Several Truckers and Other Americans, Including Veterans, this past weekend put their money where their mouth was! They Stood for what they believed in. Thats what makes this country work. We can ALL sit here and Talk about whats Wrong with America, but in the final analysis, thats all it is-Talk! As a Trucker since 1972, I Firmly STILL back those Participants in that Strike and Always Will because at least they tried to make a difference! What anybody SAYS about them, in my opinion, is just Garbage!

  • guest

    Great Work you did Earl…of course YOU Did something where others didnt do a damn thing to help Truckers….they can only bitch and moan.
    Hopefully this Protest is the first of Many…Politicians SHOULD have been dragged out of the White House and Horsewhipped!! Maybe next Time!!! Congrats on a Great Protest!!!!!

  • USMC 69-75

    Unskilled laborers??? Hum, I’ve been in trucking probably longer than you’ve been alive, college grad with a 4.0, a 6 year Marine vet, own my own truck and trailer (paid for) run under my own authority…..so I know the rule and regs that most company drivers haven’t a clue about, they just piss and moan about their dispatcher……so quit! Now! Whose the joke?

  • Proud American!

    You’re the joke, sitting there talking about what could be done instead of being out there doing it.

  • g

    I Agree!! They did a Fine Joband in the RAIN too!!
    Others sat home and complained…..I salute ALL those Brave People that went to DC and Raised HELL!! Bravo!!!!

  • g

    What an XLNT Job those truckers did!!!! 3 days battling rain slicked roads and angry cops and No Major Media!!!
    OUT Truckers did a damn fine job!!!! The guys who sat at home and NOW want to bitch and moan are a DISGRACE!!

  • g

    Man it was a Grass Roots efffort with little advance time to Prepare….they fformulated a Huge group and headed to DC!!! They organized and brought their Own Media!!!
    They did a damn fine job……NEXT time let one of these complainers lead the CHARGE???? Maybe next month??
    One of these bitches could do a BETTER JOB!!! Bring it On!!! These were Real Men making do with what they had in MEN and Resources……these cry babies that stayed at home should STFU.

  • g

    Arm Chair Cry Babies who didnt even GO to DC are NOW going to complain????? How disgusting.
    Those were REAL MEN with REAL VETERANS at the Whitehouse Gates!!! The only thing the Truckers and Vets did Not do was beat the shit out of the congress who richly DESERVE it. Look on the News right NOW..they are still playing GAMES and Wasting time and Money….OUR position as Truckers is About Trucking Issues but AMERICA is FED UP with these politicians and rightfully SO. I can see why Zeeda was soMAD that she had to be restrained!!!
    Millions of Americans feel the same and WORSE!!!!

  • cjmarley

    Hard to listen to a woman who believes that lizard people are taking over our government and that Obama is a free mason.

  • g

    So True! James Jarmon is probably a dispatcher over at Mega Fleet never drove and never will…thank goodness!

  • cjmarley

    So tell us Earl…how much of the donated money was handed out to the truckers for fuel?

  • Proud American!

    LOL! You cant convince a buch of wimps they are wrong, theres too many of them!LOL

  • Proud American!

    LOL That Lizzard Lady you are talking about wasnt leading that convoy, one of your fellow truckers were, where the heck was you? Sittin home talking about it, thats where you were!

  • Proud American!


  • Proud American!

    How much did you donate?

  • cjmarley

    None because it was a politically motivated “movement”. Had you stuck with purely trucker’s issues I would have gladly donated.

    And where was I? I was working to pay my bills. Not everyone had the luxury to take time off.

  • http://huggyboo2u.wix.com/truckers-unite Earl Conlon

    i do not know anything about fuel money/donations i had nothing to do with that..also cj it was not politically motivated it was American motivated.. keeping the Gov. to it’s sworn Oath to Obey and uphold the Constitution is not Political it is ethical!

  • Proud American!

    So really, you have no horse in the donated money race? Shouldnt concern yourself about it.
    and youre right, a lot of us dont have the money or luxury to take time off. Some did anyway because they care about where their country is going.
    Have a good day.

  • William McKelvie

    Hey Earl, no offense meant, but you know you sounded just like the LAST one’s back in what year was that? They said the same fish food. They were going to storm the whitehouse and congress houses and arrest congressional leaders. Yeah I knew it sounded familiar. Plagiarize much? You want people to back your efforts, try making it your own deal. People who knew what you said sounded just like the other previous same deal attempt, already knew it was more fluff than action.

  • Dave

    Stormy is exactly right! This was suppose to be a protest for the rules and regulations that we are pounded with. I’d like to see Obama out of office to. But, if the majority of the country can’t do it. What the hell are truckers going to do. It started out to be about the rules and regulations and all the other problems forced upon us. Then it became a lynching. The Muslim thing is old and that wasn’t the goal. Washington knows he is a damn Muslim. Nothing is going to happen with that until 2016. Once again truckers turned in to dumbasses and got nothing right. People laugh at us. Stormy is also right about drivers not even knowing who Anne Ferro and Anthony Foxx are. Which are the people that set all this crap on us. REALLY? I’m not a union man. But, a lesson needs to be learned from unions. They set a goal on the existing problem and stand strong on it until they get what they want. I was caught in Canada one time. When the Canadian truckers decided to strike. They formed a brotherhood and shut the country and borders down for trucks. We use to be like that. Now everyone believes the BS on the CB and listens to a big boobed truckstop singer that has know clue. By the way, a traffic jam doesn’t prove anything in D.C.. Its always a traffic jam. Get a spokesperson(that is behind you on your beliefs and not donations).They go to D.C. and you load up freight on a Monday.Then strike for main reason set forth in the first place. The big corporations start complaining to D.C.. Because your shutting down assembly lines and shelves getting empty. Then someone will start listening. COMMON SENSE!

  • http://maddadkeith.smugmug.com/ Keith Birmingham

    I told ya so: )

  • Debieve

    Since when is it a luxury to take time off? More like a sacrifice of your time to stand up for your rights!

  • Debieve

    Right on Brother!

  • Debieve

    Yeah and an unskilled laborer delivered that computer to the store you bought it at so you could sit on your fat duff and complain Jarmon!

  • guest

    Our “media” is more concerned with Trans Gender Illegal Aliens Refugees. They were holding a rally for themselves and major media coverage feels THIS is what is Important and of VALUE. Rupert Mudock tells HIS media boys who to cover…….none of this fair and balanced news coverage..its about Rpert and his Cronies who OWN the media.

  • g

    Yep occasionally you have to get off yer knees and tell yer Masters that you have RIGHTS or some day you will wish you would have.

  • g

    We dont have much of a JOB to go to..thats why we are protesting….make sense???

  • GetReal

    Dave- This was NEVER about the rules and regs of the transportation industry. Nobody seems to get that these people tried to mislead truckers.

  • guest

    Yep he is aMooslum allright…I wish just Once that crooked jerk would come to the Podium with his TOWEL wrapped around his head…….just once Obama Hussein…….native of Kenya…put into office by Special Interests to enslave humanity…..

  • 3milmilers

    We commend and support all those who stuck it out and made the run to D.C..Unfortunately the days of this country backing up each other for any common cause has long since past .The truck stops are full of those who would complain and condemn, and do nothing. We are retired and very much miss the road and the few out there who represented what trucking once was. For those of you out there, who are the few, we wish you the best of luck in your endeavors to make things better. You are in our prayers. Be safe out there.

  • Ron

    Earl you were quoted in that article as saying that the protest was a hoax.

  • William McKelvie

    Well, I doubt that anyone sitting at home will cause FMCSA or DOT to listen if all you are going to do is sit at home. Want to make a presence? Show up at the next MCSAC meeting. Dec 9 to 11, in VA. Want more information? Just ask.

  • steve4447

    My Trucker Rant!!

    It’s sad that Drivers just never seem to be concerned about getting paid for the work that they do and the hours that they put in….

    Drivers are honest hardworking folks who just can’t seem to be able to help themselves when it comes to giving away their time and work for free….Nobody else in America expects to WORK FOR FREE….Everybody else expects to get get paid…

    If Drivers would dust insist on getting paid for their time and ALL OF THE WORK THAT THEY DO…The Hours of Service Problem Would Just Go Away….

    Every Time You Work and don’t Get Paid for it….Somebody Else Is Getting Paid For Your Work Without Doing The Work…..It IS A ZERO SUM GAME!…Think about it The price of fuel has gone up from 15 or 17 cents a gallon to 3 and 4 Dollars a gallon…Somebody had to absorb the increases….The price of trucks and their registration and insurance has gone up and somebody had to absorb it…Why should Drivers be the ones that don’t get paid just someone else can make more money?…

    Just as long as you will work for less than me or even free…Why should anyone pay me any more???…That’s just not good business….Drivers should have long ago stopped giving it away…..People tend to value thing based on what they pay for them….Under the current system the only way to waste a driver’s time is not to use it….It’s FREE..And So is Using his truck as free warehouse space that you can charge your customers for…And so on….You know far better than I do what you are giving away every day…..STOP GIVING IT AWAY….Stop loading and unloading for free….Stop waiting for free…Stop checking and maintaining your
    truck for free…For God’s Sake…Any Job Worth Doing Is Worth Getting Paid for!..

    Unless and until Drivers stop giving it away the companies the shippers and receivers will never stop taking it…Why In The Hell Should They….Most of the Drivers that figured it out either became Brokers or Dispatchers or Trucking Company Owners or just left the job…

    If you just do the math…Add up the hours….Most of you are lucky to be getting minim wage…The job is worth more than picking up trash and butts in the parking lot of a fast food joint…Stop whining about not being allowed to work 20 hours a day 7 days a week….And Start Demanding To Be PAID For Your Work…

  • http://huggyboo2u.wix.com/truckers-unite Earl Conlon

    Don’t believe everything you hear in the news.. I never said it was a Hoax.

  • http://huggyboo2u.wix.com/truckers-unite Earl Conlon

    You people are friggin Jokes.. I NEVER admitted my comments were LIES.. I said (get it right this time) ” I wanted to shut down the loop bumper to bumper trucks and flood the city with those with no trailer.. and Zeeda and pete Said NO we would NOT lock down the city No we will NOT demand arrest. they convinced me to tone down my Rhetoric. stupidly i did. BUT once I did YOU the media reported it was a Hoax. and because of you people and Pete. Most of the truckers coming to this rally BACKED OUT because YOU the media reported or should i say Parroted each others stories.. I NEVER SAID IT WAS A HOAX NOR DID I SAY I LIED… I did however say I told the Media I said what i said to GET THE MEDIA’S FEATHERS IN A UPROAR. and that was true. I did want them in an uproar so they would NOT try to bury the story like they tried to do with the Biker Rally. Now Next time I do a TRUCKER RALLY. there will be NO PETE, NO ZEEDA, NO GENERAL LEE, NO J.B. SHAFTER.. it will be Me in charge and anyone willing to follow me …IF THERE IS ANOTHER RALLY” and IF there is I will state my goals and I WILL NOT BACK DOWN NOR TONE DOWN MY RHETORIC !!! and the Media can kiss MY ASS!
    As for you OVERDRIVE either your on the truckers/peoples side for freedom and Liberty or your in bed and on the Governments side for Controls and oppression of the people.. Last TRUCKING RALLY you were NOT on OUR SIDE… Perhaps I can convince you to try talking to the People and the truckers and see who’s side they are on?…..Ps. i went to DC, I walked in the rain that Friday morning. I was the only trucker in DC that day. (wonder why?) I had evidence in my pocket to present to Law enforcement, i went there to DEMAND ARREST of all who committed TREASON! the Trucker rally may have flopped but I have NOT given up I am still SEEKING THE CRIMINALS ARREST!!

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