Thursday, May 19, 2016

GOP and Big Sugar target social media: one visits Facebook and the other visits a Gannett editorial board ... by gimleteye

Big Sugar took its grievances over social media to the Treasure Coast Palm editorial board yesterday, a USA Today-owned newspaper serving Martin and Palm Beach counties.

US Sugar Corporation -- the biggest sugarcane grower in Florida -- is spending hundreds of thousands in newspaper and TV ads in the industry's effort to fend off citizens using social media; a place where explaining away pollution cannot be diluted by false equivalencies.

On the same day US Sugar sent its A team to the newspaper's editorial board, top GOP operatives and conservative thought-leaders visited Facebook at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters, as a result of a furor created by a Gizmodo story alleging liberal-leaning FB staffers hand pick trending stories.

This grumbling about "fair and balanced" by those who manifestly succeed in message framing "unfair and unbalanced" in public forums, spawn in the same water.  Historic rainfalls in January and flooding during Florida's dry season washed away Big Sugar's historic advantages, proven in March after social media helped disrupt the Florida Republican presidential primary.
Florida Crystals Pepe Banjul first to hug Marco Rubio
following Rubio's announcement to run for president in 2016
In Florida, social media has become a potent organizing tool to fight Big Sugar's rampant pollution and water management practices designed, funded and implemented at the root level to benefit political benefactors.

For its part, Big Sugar and media organs like Sunshine State News and the South Florida Water Management District, have lashed back at "misinformation" without addressing the single indisputable fact raised by critics: more land needs to be removed from sugarcane production to be used as water storage and treatment to protect Florida's coastal real estate values, quality of life, rivers and estuaries, Florida Bay and the Everglades.

For the objectors, there is safety in numbers. In the cities, there are far more voters than Big Sugar can muster; a point proven by Marco Rubio's defeat in the Florida presidential primary. Big Sugar offered its financial clout, and after Republican districts flooded in January, shunting polluted stormwater runoff through coastal estuaries, voters -- through blogs and Facebook pages -- decided they had enough.

Jan. 2016: Miami protesters rally against US Sugar
and the Charles Stuart Mott Foundation
Big Sugar's fusillades against social media were backed by a disinformation campaign waged through its government umbrella agency, the water management district. The water managers used taxpayer dollars against taxpayers, supporting Big Sugar's claims: web-based sources of news are "misinformed", "spewing allegations", that pollution is from septic tanks or other sources, that their runoff is cleaner than rainwater and so forth; everything but the salient point -- that growing sugarcane where water should be stored is tearing the state apart.

Big Sugar acknowledges how the urbanization of Florida threatens its traditional control of political levers. That is why Big Sugar funds social and political programming in South Florida's African American communities, far from its sugar fields. It is also why Big Sugar strategizes to isolate, to divide and to minimize the impact of traditional environmental groups by promoting an imagined center, where compromises inevitably accrue to the advantage of a status quo. Defending its turf across one of the nation's most politically influential states is Big Sugar's business.
Florida Crystals Pepe Fanjul greets Hillary Clinton

Civic protest through social media is a way for citizens to by-pass advertiser-driven news. Dis-intermediation serves Florida's Arab Spring roughly the same way that corporations achieve their ends of maximum profit using power aggregated through unlimited campaign finance to sidestep government.

Government regulation to protect Florida's waters, rivers, bays and Everglades fails for a reason: it is designed to fail. By that yardstick, Big Sugar gets what it pays for.

Social media has the potential to overcome that obstacle -- failure by design -- , if electoral districts are fair, if elections aren't manipulated, if good and qualified candidates can be recruited independent from special interests like Big Sugar, and if citizens understand the power of the democratic vote.



That pretty well sums it up... and well put, too! Facebook and other social media are now under attack for LETTING us use their 'airwaves' for purposes not in line with the corporate-bought-and-sold line... SugarDaddies gonna scream, and nobody cares anymore... boo hoo hoo... & BRAVO! for us!!!

Julie said...

The key is to identify the big sugar politicians like Rick Scott, Ken Pruitt, Marco Rubio and others and find qualified local people to run against then at EVERY level- local, state and Federal. Adam Locke has stepped forward to run against Ken Pruitt for St Lucie County Property Appraiser. He needs grassroots support from all over Florida to counter the massive amounts of money flowing in to Pruitt from Big Sugar. We need to support Adam and we need other local people to step up to remove the other Big Sugar politicians.