Idiocracy: Why the Media Is Not Protecting the People

Oct 23, 2007 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

If you have not seen the movie Idiocracy, you should. The dumbing down of the masses is a problem in this country and it's the only real way to keep Americans etherized. We all know who benefits from that -- monarchs and dictators. But why isn't the press helping to wake us up? Here's a story that might help you understand.

I was in my kitchen listening to the radio when the headline made me drop both my mouth and the pre-packaged meal in my hand: "The World Health Organization said today there is concern that a new form of drug resistant tuberculosis is spreading across the country and the world."

As a journalist who worked for a large media corporation, I had tried to warn people of this possibility for the previous two years. I knew TB positive and TB infected elephants were one reason there was a drug resistant strain of TB. I also knew why the story was kept a secret, and the reporter (me) had been silenced. The corporation potentially spreading the tuberculosis is considered "an American Institution." That corporation, Feld Inc., owns Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and at least 25 other corporations, including part ownership of Disney on Ice.

As far back as 1993, an endangered Asian elephant owned by Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus was diagnosed with tuberculosis, the same kind of tuberculosis humans contract. Since tuberculosis is unheard of in the wild, humans had to give the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M-TB) to the elephant. Five years later, Ringling's own documents indicate the herd was devastated by M-tuberculosis. All had been exposed, so all had to be treated. Ringling did not act swiftly according to USDA documents. I know of at least 30 of these exotic creatures who were diagnosed with tuberculosis after their deaths -- even after years of treatment. Here stands the elephant in the room. It's impossible to tell if Asian elephants have TB until they die and the necropsy is done. There is no definitive test and of course X-raying the lungs is not possible. These are animals weighing up to ten thousand pounds!

All the evidence indicates that for the last 14 years TB positive and TB infected elephants have been traveling the country and performing in closed arenas full of little kids holding cotton candy and squealing with delight. People with compromised immune systems and the elderly are circus patrons. It's a family tradition in some homes to go to the circus when it's in town.

For epidemiologists, here's the most frightening fact, and the reason I nearly dropped my pre-packaged meal that night. Many of the elephants became drug resistant. Resistant to the same drugs humans take to try and cure tuberculosis. The World Health Organization and other partners launched are spending billions to tackle drug-resistant TB.

I called the CDC to inform them of this. I never got a call back, but on one occasion I did manage to talk to a researcher there who told me that the CDC had never considered a connection between circus attendance and people who contract TB.

I know of five Ringling Bros. elephant trainers who have tested positive for TB, and the head of the Health Department in Los Angeles County Dr. Patrick Ryan says "any elephant ever tested positive for TB should never, ever be around crowds."

So, I called every "agenda setting" media in this country and told them. They were amazed. They could not believe I had the documents to back this story up. So I showed them. The media -- charged with protecting the public -- ultimately refused to publish this public health story that could potentially save lives.

Ringling Brothers is owned by Kenneth Feld, who by all accounts is a nefarious guy. For example, when one reporter tried to tell his family's story, he hired the former head of covert operations for the CIA to stop her, and he did. After nine years of legal wrangling, her case has still not come to trial. (See "The Greatest Vendetta on Earth" by Jeff Stein,, 2001)

Americans wonder why these stories aren't told. In my case, Feld's attorneys flew in, made threats and my story was killed. The story about tuberculosis in his elephants is potentially devastating to his multi-million dollar profit making enterprise. That commercial money paves the way for silence. Kenneth Feld spends millions of dollars to hide a public health story that the press has a responsibility to tell. So, if you wonder why your local news is no good anymore, this is why. Enough money appears to be able to stop any story, even one regarding public health. I still laugh when people refer to the Liberal press!

I was threatened; my corporation was threatened and I was referred to in court documents by Ringling attorneys as incompetent. He and his attorneys try to ruin the careers of reporters who attempt to speak truth to power and do their jobs.

When no one is looking, bad things happen. In the end, published the story. Bravo for them. They don't take corporate money, so they can actually report the news.