Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Anne Nelson's "Shadow Network"

Anne Nelson is an author and lecturer in the fields of international affairs, media and human rights. As a journalist she covered the conflicts in El Salvador and Guatemala, and won the Livingston Award for best international reporting from the Philippines. She served as the director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 1995 she became the director the international program at the Columbia School of Journalism, where she created the first curriculum in human rights reporting.

Since 2003 Nelson has been teaching at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where her classes and research explore how digital media can support the underserved populations of the world through public health, education and culture.

Nelson applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, and reported the following:
From page 99:
"Liberals in the media failed to defeat you," he added. "now they will use carrots and sticks to tempt and to intimidate you. They will define any betrayal of your coalition as a sign of 'growth.' Don't fall for that nonsense."

Your constituency is the coalition. Avoid the filter of the media. It was a winning formula. The CNP could turn to the NRA for a prototype for face-to-face social networking that would be emulated by other organization. In the future the NRA would pioneer new technologies to link Blackwell's trainees and leverage their political activism. The NRA had come a long way from the gentlemen's shooting club cofounded by Mr. Conant in 1871, and it was in good company.
Page 99 is the end of a chapter, so it only contains one paragraph. That said, the paragraph isn't a bad summary of the techniques developed by Morton Blackwell and others connected to the Council for National Policy, to create a multi-pronged political movement to advance the Radical Right in Washington. The National Rifle Association was one of the early organizations to be co-opted. Fundamentalist churches, the Koch brothers donor networks, and the DeVos family are other major players in the movement.

Later chapters of Shadow Network describe how these forces came together with the support of fundamentalist broadcasters, sophisticated data platforms and apps to mobilize millions of conservative voters in swing states. They have effectively installed minority rule, and are seeking ways through judicial appointments and state law to make their position permanent. Along the way, this movement is rolling back LGBT civil rights, women's access to health care, and foiling gun control legislation.

Page 99--quoting a letter from a strategist to a newly elected Congressman--illustrates the way this movement bypassed the professional news media in favor of creating self-contained social networks. As a result, the current political playing field is far from level. Shadow Network lays out the strategy and the mechanics that have made it work. The next year will tell whether it will be ultimately successful.
Visit Anne Nelson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue