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Faking It: How News Broadcasts Treat Paid-For PR Spots as News

This article was pulled from the Folio archives. It was originally published on May 9, 2006. 

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In early April, a 10-month investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy provided the first nationwide look at the "epidemic" of fake news. The study found 77 television stations in markets of every size, including Jacksonville, aired pre-packaged, advertiser-subsidized PR materials, and passed them off as real news. Not only did the stations not disclose the source of the "news," they didn't even bother to verify whether the reports were accurate. Jane Akre looks inside the promotional machine.

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Losing weight is one of the New Year’s top resolutions, according to WJXT-Channel 4’s morning newscast. Fortunately, help is on the way — from a man who lost 245 pounds in one year eating Subway sandwiches. 

If it sounds familiar, it is. Jared Vogel — the now-slim and well-groomed if geeky spokesman for Subway, has become a pop culture cliche. The once-super-sized Indiana University student ate nothing but Subway sandwiches, then parlayed his enormous weight loss into a steady gig shilling for the sandwich chain. Usually, his visage is wedged between syndicated daytime shows. But Jared in a newscast? 

On Jan. 2, 2005, Jared appeared on Jacksonville’s independent station’s morning program in footage taken directly from a videotaped press release. The video news release — known in the industry as a VNR — was produced for Subway by New York-based public relations firm DS Simon Productions, and was intended as a marketing tool. 

But it looks like news. B-roll video shows Jared standing over a counter filled with fresh vegetables and shots of people exercising. There are also three interviews, professionally staged and lighted, featuring Jared and a dietician. Jared promotes the virtues of Subways Fresh Resolutions menu as a way to maintain a weight loss regimen. “I know personally when I was losing my weight I had a support network of friends and parents,” he explains. “Hopefully with Subway Fresh Resolutions program, it will give people the support network they need.” 

The segment is remarkable not for what it says, but for what it doesn’t say. 

And that’s the point. 



If corporate America has its way, VNRs and their covert sales-and-promotion tactics will permeate every newscast in America. It’s already happening. According to Diane Farsetta, a senior researcher at the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy, Jared’s pitch on Channel 4 was just one instance of an insidious PR tactic. Using slick VNRs and skilled promotional teams, “product placement moves secretly, unfiltered from the boardroom to the newsroom and then straight into our living rooms,” Farsetta says. “It’s shocking.” 

She ought to know. In early April, the Center for Media and Democracy joined the nonprofit media watchdog group Free Press in announcing the results of a 10-month investigation, “Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed." The study was the first nationwide look at the practice, and the groups found an “epidemic” of fake news infiltrating local television broadcasts across the country. In all, 77 television stations in markets of every size, including Jacksonville, used 98 separate VNRs, passing the PR materials off as real news. And the agencies believe the investigation represents less than 1 percent of the VNRs distributed to local newsrooms in the last year. 

The investigation found that fake news reports reached more than half of the U.S. population, delivering seamless under-the- radar corporate sales pitches to three-quarters of the U.S. adults who rely on, according to a Harris Poll, the public airwaves for their news and information. 

VNRs aren’t just a dubious news source. Under Federal Communications Commission rules, they may be illegal. Stations are supposed to disclose a video's sponsor when its contents are political, controversial or when money has changed hands. Though most VNRs are portraits of corporate blandness, the transaction is clearly of “value” to stations. By providing a slickly produced and tightly edited segment ready for air, they are literally worth tens of thousands of dollars to stations. 

Beyond that, the FCC has ruled that using a VNR without disclosing its origins violates sponsorship identification rules and could jeopardize a stations license. 

FCC guidelines aside, VNRs violate basic tenets of professional journalism. But PR professionals, many of whom earned their chops in TV newsrooms, are practiced at finding an angle that blurs the line between advertising and news, be it a health angle or a “personal finance” concern. Once they’ve found a news hook, they beam the “news-like” package to stations through satellite feeds. 

And TV stations are letting them do it. Three other TV newscasts outside of Jacksonville allowed Jared to appear as news without disclosing Subways sponsorship. 

Channel 4 isn’t alone, of course. All local news stations that pay for the satellite feeds receive the same VNRs. Whether or not they’re “caught” using them is mostly a function of how obvious the segment is. Almost 90 percent of VNRs were produced by corporations as part of PR campaigns, among them General Motors, Intel, Pfizer and Capital One, and some are quite slick. According to the Center for Media and Democracy report: 

  • In December 2005, Sinclair Broadcasting’s WPGH in Pittsburgh aired a “news” story featuring Internet Mom Robin Raskin praising four safe high-tech gifts for children. The story was actually created by a public relations firm representing Sony, Namco and Techno Source — major video game producers. Raskin, actually a PR professional, endorsed those companies’ products while warning parents about unsafe games such as Apple’s Video iPod, a direct competitor of the VNR sponsors. WPGH was one of seven stations that ran the VNR. Not one disclosed its source.
  • At Clear Channel’s WSYR, in Syracuse, N.Y., in December 2005, health reporter Carrie Lazarus reported on a “major health breakthrough” — a dietary supplement for arthritis sufferers. Lazarus failed to tell viewers that the maker of the supplement supplied the video and interviews. 
  • Margie Elisor, a reporter at KTV1 in St. Louis, retracked a two-minute VNR word for word from a public relations firm working for Master Foods and 1-800- Flowers. Passing it off as Halloween safety tips for parents, the story featured product shots of M&M’s, Starburst and Snickers — made by Master Foods — and suggested decorating your house with flowers, courtesy of 1-800-Flowers. 

Florida broadcast journalists didn’t fare much better in enforcing the journalistic firewall between news and promotion. Corporate propaganda infiltrated TV newscasts in Miami, Ft. Myers and Lake Mary, as well as Jacksonville. 

  • “The Daily Buzz,” a syndicated morning program produced in Lake Mary, ran a minute-long segment featuring underwear-clad supermodel Gisele Bundchen hawking lipstick and eyeshadow for Victoria’s Secret. No disclaimer or labeling accompanied the piece. 
  • In March, CBS-owned WBFS Channel 33 in Miami ran a re-voiced VNR promoting the management-consulting firm Towers Perrin as an expert in workforce efficiency. In the tag, a perfect opportunity to name the sponsor, the anchor says, “that survey was conducted by a management consulting firm.” No other disclosure accompanied the video. 
  • WBBH, the NBC affiliate in Ft. Myers, owned by Waterman Broadcasting, folded a Capital One ad into their Consumer Beat” segment under the “Stopping Scams” headline. Turns out the scam is that Capital One sponsored the video in order to drive viewers to its Website. 

As deceptive as these practices seem, the Center for Media and Democracy doesn’t blame PR professionals for the explosion of fake news. After all, they’re just doing their jobs. Instead, center officials blame broadcast journalists for failing to observe a higher standard. 

“They [the public] are told they’re getting reporting they can trust,” says John Stauber, co-founder of CMD. “Then they find out it’s not even reporting. It is provided government and corporate propaganda.” 

The “Fake TV News” study found without exception that the PR firms clearly and accurately divulged the complete client funding information, often in an opening slate. For instance, the St. Louis Halloween VNR arrived at the station with this opening disclaimer: 

This video is for your free and unrestricted use. Funding has been provided by Masterfoods and 1-800-Flowers.

“As far as I know, the VNR companies are very explicit,” says Ben Scott of Free Press. “They never send a VNR that doesn’t say Panasonic or Sony.” 

The fact that TV stations fail to disclose advertiser information appears to be deliberate, according to Diane Farsetta of CMD. “One of the things we’re finding is that TV stations perhaps excuse themselves by saying, ‘We didn’t see the funding information: It got separated from the video footage,”’ she says. “But with the information in a slate contained within the video, stations would have to intentionally edit out that information." She adds, “the likelihood of missing the material is extremely unlikely.” 

In each case cited in the report, the 77 television stations actively disguised the source of the sponsored content and passed it off as their own. In some cases, they ran the PR piece using an actor hired by the agency to voice the message. In some cases, stations re-voiced the story with in-house “talent" (as anchors are frequently called), using the VNR script verbatim. 

Of the 98 separate incidents, only two stations partially disclosed that the story was prepackaged. None disclosed that it was subsidized by a private corporation with a sales agenda. 

As for the credibility of the information contained in the VNR, not one station bothered to check. In the case of the miracle drug VNR aired by WSYR in Syracuse, even a basic Google search would have revealed that the National Institutes of Health found the supplement barely out-performed a placebo. 

Said Daniel Price in an interview on CNN, “It doesn't get more one-sided than that.” 

VNRs aren't new. In the 1980s, public relations professionals began knocking on station doors, offering VHS rapes promoting their clients’ wares. Since then, most stations say they’ve developed policies to prevent the use of VNRs. Lynn Fleider, News Director of FOX 30/CBS 47, owned by Clear Channel, says its corporate policy not to use VNRs without review by management. She says there might be legitimate uses for VNRs, like if a hospital shot video for a breakthrough operation. But she insists that if the station used a VNR, it would disclose the video's source. “You want to go the extra mile to make sure your reporting is balanced,” she says, “and [that] you are maintaining editorial control.”

Ken Tonning, general manager of First Coast News (WTLV and WJXX), concurs. “We have a very strict policy: Any time there is a proposed use of VNR, it must be signed off on by the news director ... to make sure its properly credited.' 

 

Tonning adds that the station wouldn’t use VNRs during nightly broadcasts, which he considers more substantive and serious. Instead, they’d run in lighter segments, like midday newscasts. Tonning also differentiates between VNRs that come from outside advertisers and so-called satellite media tours, which might have Howie Mandel promoting his show, “Deal or No Deal.”

“'It’s promotion for the station,” Tonning says. “They’re not asking anyone to buy anything.” 

On the network level, CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs e-mails the network-wide prohibition. “CBS’s policy states that if and when using material from a VNR, the station must clearly disclose on the air the origin of the information and identify all material provided by outside sources.” 

Despite the policy, one of the stations cited in the report was the CBS corporate flagship station in New York, WCBS, which aired a supplement pitch funded by the product’s manufacturer. 

“The policy wasn’t adhered to in these particular cases,” admits Jacobs. 

Steve Pontius, General Manager of WBBH in Ft. Myers, where the station was caught running a VNR from Capital One, defends his station and criticizes the Center for Media and Democracy report. “Over 10 months we will do 75,000 local news stories, and they are busting my chops over one thing?” he asks. He says the station has a policy against VNR use, but declined to release it. 

Mai Reddington, assistant news director at Jacksonville's Channel 4, say’s his news director has reiterated a prohibition against VNR use “under any circumstances, unless you get approval from a manager. We do discuss the material that goes out on our air,” he says. “We take this role more seriously than viewers would think.” 

Alan Gionet, former First Coast News anchor and now weekend anchor at WCNC in Denver, says he views VNR use as newsroom laziness. “If you let somebody else do your job for you, you are not a reporter,” he says. Gionet can’t remember a single instance at Channel 12 where a VNR made it on air, and he says the news director at his new station recently sent out a reminder to staff not to use them. 

What bothers Gionet more than the VNR trend is the lack of hard local news of any kind in the standard 30-minute news cast. “When news operations don’t devote time to issues of local government that affect people every day, and balancing out those issues, those are the biggest things for me." he says. “I don’t like a newscast full of fluff.” 

"There is no line anymore,” says Marcia Ladendorff, former anchor at CNN as well as at Channel 12 from 1986 to 1993, who now teaches media literacy classes at University of North Florida. (Ladendorff has also written media columns for Folio Weekly.) 

Ladendorff and others in the news business believe more VNRs are slipping through at stations with fewer experienced journalists and larger news holes. 

 

Jacksonville the No. 52 market in the country’ — tends to have younger behind-the-scenes producers on their way up. 

“It’s all about economics,” she says. “Companies like Clear Channel, which are big around the world, made their money by cutting their overhead and increasing the production of programming. When you have a lot of newscasts, you have to fill that time with something. And when you have a reduced staff, why not?” says Ladendorff. 

Indeed, the CMD survey finds more than 80 percent of the stations snared in the investigation are owned by large conglomerates such as Sinclair Broadcast Group, Clear Channel Communications, News Corp/FOX Television, Viacom/CBS Corp and Tribune Company. Jacksonville could be considered the nation’s test case for consolidation. Clear Channel owns and operates WAWS TV-30, the Fox/UPN station and the CBS station, WTEV-TV 47. Gannett owns and operates W1TV TV-12 and WJXX TV-25, the NBC and ABC affiliates. However, none of these stations was named in the survey. Ironically, it was Channel 4, the city’s only independent station that was identified in the study. Asked how the Jared piece made it on the air, Reddington of Channel 4 makes a distinction between nightly news and the morning shows, where the Subway bit aired. 

“The morning has a lot of news, chat and cooking,” he says. “People understand that ‘The Today Show’ is a different show than Brian Williams, don’t they?” 

But Ladendorff says that, no matter when they’re aired, VNRs fly in the face of journalistic standards. “VNRs are wicked and deceitful and fraud,” she says. 

When President Bush landed on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in May of 2003, the nation was treated to orchestrated news at its finest. The fact that he appeared before a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner was not a stroke of coincidence. The Commander-in-Chief and his staff have become masters of media management. 

This became clearer in early 2005, when conservative columnist Armstrong Williams admitted receiving $240,000 from the Bush Education Department to promote No Child Left Behind on his TV and radio appearances. The deal was part of a $1 million contract with Ketchum public relations to produce VNRs to slip into newscasts. 

The White House even began making its own VNRs. PR publicist Karen Ryan taped several “reports” on the new Medicare bill in 2004 on behalf of the administration, segments she invariably concluded with the words, “In Washington, I’m Karen Ryan reporting.” The segments aired on stations across the country. 

Lynn Heider of Channels 30/47 was bothered by that practice. “I can see where some producer without oversight would think that’s a legitimate story, especially when they started appearing on the servers sent by CNN.” Though Heider says she never could determine whether her stations used the Bush VNRs, she can understand how they might have. 

The faux news scandal blew up when Ryan and the Bush administration were outed, first by a New York Times editorial, and then by a General Accounting Office probe that looked into the use of taxpayer money for political propaganda. The administration got a slap on the wrist. 

In a March 2005 story, the New York Times summed up the administration's use of propaganda as news. In the “New Age of Prepackaged TV News” investigation, the paper found VNRs ranging from jubilant Iraqi-Americans telling a camera crew, “Thank you, Bush, thank you, USA'' after the fall of Baghdad, to Medicare reform. 

At least 20 federal agencies were named as the source of hundreds of television news segments since 2001. Most were broadcast on local stations with no comments about source motives or reliability. 

One month later the FCC came out swinging. The use of VNRs, without identifying the source, violates the Commission’s sponsorship identification rules intended to inform viewers of die source of the information so they can reasonably judge its accuracy and credibility. Failure to disclose the funding source of promotional or propaganda video, the FCC said, could lead the agency to revoke die stations license or issue a fine. 

To date, the FCC has fined stations following indecency complaints, but has issued no fines for the use of VNRs. 

Scott of Free Press says the FCC is too much in the thrall of broadcaster lobbyists to truly crack down. But on April 6, his agency delivered a formal complaint to the FCC, urging it to take immediate action to stop VNR use and abuse. 

“It’s a fundamental betrayal of the public trust,” says Scott. “It’s fraud.” 

And while a journalist’s ethical code tells professionals to expose unethical practices, Ladendorff says the world of TV news has been particularly silent on newsroom transgressions. 

“The gatekeepers are the last ones to tell you what’s going on inside their newsrooms.” 

 

Folio Art Box Contest

Northeast Florida artists: we’re looking to update our art boxes with your work. 
Send us your name, your idea for a box, and examples of your past work. 
Winners will have their art displayed on an art box for years to come and will they be featured in our July issue. 

The contest goes through June 6.

We’ll reveal the winners on June 7 painting will go from June 10 - 14. Folio will provide tools and paint to all artists!

Enter at the link below. Good luck!

https://folioweekly.secondstreetapp.com/Folio-Art-Box-Contest/rounds/1/gallery

 

Night Crawlers: A Look At the Dark Side of Northeast Florida

This feature was pulled from the Folio archives. It was originally published on December 9, 2003.

Insomnia, crime, sex, and caffeine: The four food groups of after-hours life in Notheast Florida. For one 24-hour period in late October, a group of local journalism students canvassed the region's nocturnal landscape, interviewing its denizens and exploring its underbelly. 

What they found wasn't a city that never sleeps, but one that sleeps fitfully – the perfect playground for a restive view. 

 

BennY RevivaL's cycle of sin and repentance

The past decade gave rise to platforms in which artists create and promote their work independently of labels and managers. Truth exists online for its own sake, with each of us choosing to exhibit or evade identity, to take a profit or a loss.

Coming up at the height of the Internet age, BennY RevivaL curated a cryptic persona that could only exist in a time of SoundCloud rap and Twitter virality. He poses in various locations in full costume or a sweatsuit and a mask. He’s a loner, he says, so most of these photographs are taken by strangers. Captions of eschatology and personal anecdotes are fully capitalized, punctuated only by ellipses. Mr. RevivaL remains completely anonymous—his hands are the only exposed area of his body.

He swears it’s not for show, though, that he’s not hiding anything, that his music and his posts are indeed tied to his true identity. The feeling he gets from wearing a mask is what he imagines others feel when putting on earrings or a watch. To show his face and post it online would fall in the category of selfies,  which he says he's not about. 

BennY RevivaL is about prophecy. He’s got a sharp awareness of biblical scripture, evangelizing in songs and captions. Mr. RevivaL’s religion is straightforward: he studies the word of God, prays, and repents. He denounces anything occult: chakras, astrology, and mysticism are satanic to him. 

“Anything kept in secret I hate and I despise,” said BennY RevivaL, “I despise keeping knowledge and wisdom and your opinions to yourself.”

As such, BennY RevivaL’s music is remarkably candid. Over high-tempo house-funk beats, BennY documents a cycle of sin and repentance. His tapes interpolate biblical scripture with hip-hop’s classic tropes of sex, drugs and delinquency. An air of shame hangs over every verse.

In his 2018 album HIV Positive, he faces the diagnosis of a chronic illness, reflecting on the consequences of sexual depravity. LAURA chronicles his conversations with an imaginary friend from a house on the prairie. NORTH FLORIDA hits close to home as Mr. RevivaL explores Jacksonville’s culture and crime in a spirit of love for the city.

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His North Florida upbringing informed this religious anti-occultist complex. He spoke to Folio on the way that the Bible Belt constricts the holy scriptures’ core, and how notable Jacksonville preachers are less than righteous in their rise through the ranks.

“I feel like if you were really reading the word and meant it, you wouldn't have those handshakes, you wouldn't be wearing those rings,” he conspired, “There will be no true gospel coming out of a place that is involved with things that have nothing to do with the gospel. I’m here to expose it because I was involved.”

Though he’s quick to condemn others’ sinful ways, Mr. Revival isn't a saint himself. He showcases his sins in song, “as if Jeffrey Dahmer was praying through what he was doing,” he told Folio, “And letting you know what he did was wrong instead of trying to justify it.”

“I don't want to bring anybody to hell. I want to display myself and tell you not to be me. I'm gonna tell you the ending to this story, and the ending to BennY RevivaL living like this is hellfire and brimstone, and that should be the only thing on my obituary.”

“If I die like this, know I'm in hell burning,” said BennY RevivaL, “But I want to go to heaven.”

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BennY has dodged several felonies – he lives a life of crime that started in his early youth, when he said he started seeing demons. He was troubled growing up and attended five different Duval County high schools as a result. Mr. RevivaL told Folio that he surrounded himself with people who are in prison now. Growing up in the segregated south, being around criminals throughout his life, he sees wickedness in this city and its murky waters.

“A lot of people were murdered and chained coming through the St. Johns River. A lot of bodies right now as we speak are dumped and not found in that river. I know personally,” he said with a chuckle, “I’ll leave it at that.”

BennY’s love for North Florida is palpable beyond the baggage and the curses. Jacksonville shaped everything from his speech to his style. He’s turned down almost every press opportunity, but agreed to an interview with Folio because it’s Jacksonville-based.

“People like me, that talk like I do, don't make it that far in life. Let alone anything entertainment or Hollywood. So me getting interviewed by Folio is very special,” said Mr. RevivaL.

A character so outlandish with such undeniable talent would surely be picked up by a label and sold as a product, one would think, but he’s not after money or notoriety. BennY admitted that he could be very wealthy right now, but turned it all away to live authentically in service to God – again, BennY RevivaL is about prophecy.

“I believe it that sincerely, to where I'll turn away money and I'll turn away opportunities for what I believe,” he said.

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BennY RevivaL’s internet presence outside of his personal accounts, forums, and blogs is minimal. He doesn’t follow anyone on his social media accounts to limit public information on him. He releases music across several SoundCloud accounts on a principle of non-aggression: in his words, “Mr. RevivaL forces nothing and shows the utmost respect.”

He was featured on Blood Orange’s 2019 album Angel’s Pulse. The R & B icon referred to BennY as one of his “favorite artists ever.” Last year, he was featured on the B-side of Frank Ocean’s vinyl release for In My Room. These collaborations are the only works with BennY’s name on them that are available for purchase. 

“Anything you’ve gotten from me was free,” said BennY, “I don't follow you, I don’t sell you anything, I don't have a song on Spotify. Other artists that I worked with put it out. I don't have no music videos out, I don't have no books out, I don't have anything for purchase from Mr. RevivaL.”“Please don’t get mad at me for something I gave you for free,” he continued, “Cause I ain't going nowhere. It don’t matter if I'm 60 years old, this music is gonna pump, these pictures are gonna pump.”

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The following interview was edited for clarity. Mr. RevivaL's  style of writing was left as he typed it. 

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Your music is deeply personal, but it’s not tied to your real-life identity. Is anonymity a strategy to protect or release your ego?

ANYTHING I EVER WRITE OR SAY IS INDEED ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ATTACHED TO MY REAL IDENTITY .. NO SERIOUSLY .. THERE IS NO ALTER EGO OVER HERE .. BennY RevivaL IS THE TRUTH .. NOT MY TRUTH .. BUT THE TRUTH .. ANYONE THAT HANGS AROUND ME LONG ENOUGH OR ALREADY HAS WILL SAY THIS IS FACT NOT PLEASURE .. EVERYTHING THAT Mr. REVIVAL PUTS OUT INTO THE WORLD IS WHAT HE REALLY BELIEVES & REALLY DOES FOR THAT MATTER .. THAT KIND OF EXPLAINS MORE TO WHY A DARN MASK COULD HAVE ZERO EFFECT ON ME MENTALLY .. ALL OF ME IS WHAT I SPEAK & WRITE .. NOTHING ALTER & DARN SURE NO EGO .. IN REAL LIFE I SPEAK LIKE THIS & TALK LIKE THIS .. BOLDLY ABOUT DIFFERENT TOPICS MOST ARE INTIMIDATED OF .. NO COSTUME OR MASK I WEAR HAS EVER SCARED SOMEONE LIKE MY MESSAGE DOES .. BUT BACK TO THE MAIN QUESTION I GUESS MY ANSWER IS YES & NO .. HELL I CAN NOT JUST SAY NO BECAUSE HERE IN THIS ANSWER I SAT HERE & SPOKE ABOUT MYSELF IN THIRD PERSON .. REMEMBER .. WHEN SAYING SOMETHING ABOUT Mr. REVIVAL PUTTING STUFF OUT INTO THE WORLD THAT HE REALLY BELIEVES & REALLY DOES .?. SEE .. HOW THE HELL CAN I SAY THAT THEN TURN AROUND & SAY THERE IS NOT A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF ALTER EGO RELEASING GOING ON OVER HERE .. SO SILLY .. NAH BUMP THAT .. THAT SEEMS SO PRIDEFUL & MYSTICAL WHICH I DETEST BOTH OF THOSE THINGS .. MY FATHER MADE ME AS ONE IN HIS IMAGE .. NO CONFUSION INGREDIENTS ADDED .. THEREFORE I WILL STICK TO MY FIRST RESPONSE AS THE FINAL ONE .. NO ALTER EGO RELEASING GOING ON .. THANKS FOR BEARING WITH ME THROUGH THESE LAST TWO QUESTIONS .. WE GONNA MAKE IT TO THE END HONEY .. HOLD ON .. 

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Does anyone know your real-life identity?

SEE .. MY IDENTITY IS REVEALED TO EVERYONE .. ANYONE I EVER PULL UP ON IT IS IN BARE FACE .. HERE I AM .. IF YOU WANT A MASKED FRIEND GO GET AN ACTION FIGURE OR A TEDDY BEAR .. THAT IS OF COURSE NOT MY THING TO SPEAK THE WAY I DO & THEN HIDE WHEN CONFRONTED OR CALLED UPON .. SEE .. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY ZERO ULTERIOR MOTIVE WITH MY DRESSING & MASKING UP .. IT IS NOT A GAME WITH ME OR AN ATTENTION SEEKING  PLOT .. JUST MY REAL STYLE .. THIS STUFF IS AMAZING TO ME & I AM AMAZED BY IT SO OF COURSE I WOULD ADD THAT ELEMENT TO ANYTHING I DO .. IT JUST SO HAPPENS THAT I PLAY DRESS UP DAILY .. WHETHER IT IS SOMETHING RELAXED OR SOMETHING LEFT FIELD .. IT IS WHAT WAS FELT THAT DAY .. SAME GOES FOR ANY MASK CHOSEN .. IT IS JUST HOW I WAS ROCKING THAT MORNING WHEN GETTING DRESSED .. COME SHOPPING WITH ME .. SIP TEA SIP COFFEE .. COME HIKING WITH ME .. COME GROCERY SHOPPING WITH ME .. MY IDENTITY IS REVEALED .. LOOK AT A PICTURE OR VIDEO OF ME .. WELL THEN OF COURSE YOU ARE ONLY GOING TO FEEL OR SEE MY STYLE .. WHICH IS COSTUMES SWEATSUITS & MASKS .. SO SILLY .. NONE OF US KNOW EACH OTHER .. WHY SHOW EVERYONE WHAT I HAD FOR LUNCH OR WHO I AM FIGHTING WITH OR WHAT BILL IS DUE .. SWEETHEART OUR STYLE & OUR CREATIVITY IS ALL WE NEED TO WITNESS FROM ONE ANOTHER ONLINE .. IDENTITY IS REVEALED TO ANYONE WHO CARES FOR IT .. BUT BE HONEST .. DO YOU REALLY WANT IT .?. CALL ME BACK .. 

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How does hiding your face affect your psyche?

ME DOING SOMETHING LIKE PUTTING ON A MASK IN PUBLIC OR PRIVATELY FEELS EQUAL TO AN EMOTION FELT BY SOMEONE PUTTING ON A WATCH OR EARRINGS .. MY WHOLE EXISTENCE THINGS LIKE THAT SEEMED QUITE NORMAL .. IF DONE CORRECTLY & WITH RESPECT OF COURSE .. NEVER WOULD I ENDANGER OR PURPOSELY FRIGHTEN A CHILD OR ANYONE FOR THAT MATTER WHO NEVER CONSENTED FOR MY MASKED PRESENCE .. SO SILLY .. WHEN MASKED UP IN PUBLIC I AM IN MY OWN CIRCLE .. MY OWN SQUARE .. AVOIDING EYE CONTACT & ANY GESTURE THAT WOULD MAKE ME FEEL INVITING .. YOU CAN BET I STILL GET DIRTY LOOKS SOMETIMES OR STRANGE LOOKS TO BE FAIR .. BUT THEY CAN NEVER SHOW TOO DEEP OF OFFENSE BECAUSE IT WAS THEIR EYES FEASTING WHEN INSTEAD OF WALKING AWAY .. ALMOST LIKE THE FEELING OF WATCHING A BRUTAL KILLING OR FIGHT ON VIDEOTAPE .. SWEETHEART YOU ARE INDEED THE ONE WHO PRESSED PLAY ..

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Name your musical and cultural influences.

GOOD & THE BAD .. GENIUS & THE DISABLED .. SAINT & THE SINNER .. LITTLE TO NONE OF THESE ENTITIES THAT MOST CONSIDER AS CULTURAL INFLUENCES DO I EVEN PAY ATTENTION TO .. ESPECIALLY IN POPULAR ART .. MODERN OR CLASSIC .. AT ALL LIKE SERIOUSLY .. GIVE ME A CLEAR BLUE SKY DAY IN THE MORNING & THEN BY NOON IT IS HAZY FROM LINES LEFT BY AIRCRAFT .. THAT INSPIRES ME .. GIVE ME A FOOD PRODUCT THAT HAS THINGS IN IT WE NEED A DICTIONARY TO INTERPRET .. THAT INSPIRES ME .. GIVE ME CASES WHERE PEOPLE ARE FOUND ORGANLESS IN DITCHES .. THAT INSPIRES ME .. ARTISTS .?. NAH .. SPIRITUAL BOOKS .?. NAH .. PROPHECY FULFILLED .?. NOW THAT IS ABSOLUTELY INSPIRING & INFLUENTIAL ..

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What does Jacksonville mean to you?

NORTH FLORIDA SHAPED DARN NEAR EVERYTHING FOR ME .. FROM MY STYLE TO MY RELIGIOUS PRACTICE .. SO SILLY .. BUT NO REALLY .. NORTH FLORIDA SHAPED IT ALL FOR Mr. REVIVAL .. NOT JUST DUVAL .. BUT ST AUGUSTINE .. MIDDLEBURG .. CALLAHAN .. YULEE .. FERNANDINA .. WALDO .. STARKE .. GREEN COVE .. THE WHOLE FIRST COAST & ANYTHING BORDERING OR SURROUNDING IT .. BEING OUT OF THESE REGIONS REALLY LETS ME KNOW HOW ATTACHED I AM TO HERE .. FROM THE VIBE TO THE FOOD TO THE LINGO .. FROM THE DRESS CODE TO THE PREJUDICES THAT LIES DEEP HERE ON THE FIRST COAST .. IT IS IMBEDDED IN ANYONE WITH ROOTS HERE I BELIEVE .. SOME OF THE OLDEST HISTORY IN ALL OF AMERICA RESIDES IN THESE PARTS .. WHICH COMES WITH A WHOLE LOT OF BAGGAGE & WHOLE LOT OF CURSES .. SAY NO MORE .. JACKSONVILLE COME GIVE ME A HUG .. 

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Which one did you like best: Jackson, Sandalwood, or Paxon?

JACKSON BY FAR .. I WAS TROUBLED IN HIGH SCHOOL & LET ME TELL YOU .. THERE IS ALOT MORE TO GET INTO OUT EAST & ON PEARL STREET THAN ON ST JOHNS BLUFF .. SO SILLY .. WELL THAT IS .. IF YOU WERE INTO WHAT I WAS INTO DURING THAT PERIOD OF EDUCATION .. I WENT TO WOLFSON FOR 3 MONTHS BEGINNING OF MY FRESHMAN YEAR .. FIRST REPORT CARD IN HIGH SCHOOL WAS D D F B .. RIGHT THEN I KNEW THINGS WERE CHANGING FOR ME MORALLY .. SWEETHEART I RARELY GOT MORE THAN ONE B IN MIDDLE SCHOOL & DEFINITELY NOT IN ELEMENTARY .. HIGH SCHOOL WAS WHEN THINGS GOT DEMONIC TO SAY THE LEAST .. NEVER MADE IT PAST TENTH GRADE .. SANDALWOOD CAME DUE TO ME BEING KICKED OUT OF JACKSON .. WAS ONLY ONLY THERE FOR A FEW MONTHS BEFORE BEING KICKED OUT DUE TO ATTENDANCE .. JACKSON WAS BASICALLY MY MAIN HIGH SCHOOL & WHERE I STAYED THE LONGEST .. OH .. PAXON WAS NEVER ATTENDED .. MY OLD MAN HAD THE KEYS TO BOTH THE MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL GYM DUE TO HIS JANITORIAL BUSINESS PRACTICE .. 

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HIV Positive tells a poignant story of sexuality, chronic disease and repentance. Would you have released something so raw without an alias?

ONCE AGAIN .. THERE REALLY IS NO ALIAS .. I SAID WHAT I SAID & MEANT EVERY WORD .. NOW IF YOU TAKE THAT AS IT BEING A TRUE STORY ABOUT MY LIFE OR SEXUALITY OR REPENTANCE  THAN IT IS TOTALLY UP TO THE LISTENER .. DEFINITELY SERVED ITS PURPOSE & THAT TAPE IS A ONE OF ONE .. DID NOT KNOW HOW AMAZING OF A CINEMA THAT COULD BE WHEN I MADE  IT .. IT WAS A TOPIC THAT I DO NOT THINK MANY CAN SAY THEY HEARD MUCH ABOUT IN MUSIC .. JUST TAKE A LOOK AT ANYTHING TITLED FROM ME MUSICALLY & YOU WILL SEE WHAT IS BEING SAID & WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN MISSING .. WHEN IT CAME TIME FOR ANOTHER LOWERCASE SERIES THAT DEALT WITH LIFE & DEATH .. HIV Positive CAME INTO PLAY .. THAT MOVIE NEEDED TO BE TOLD IN MUSIC .. IF ONE CAN WRITE LYRICS ABOUT IMAGINARY WEAPONS & MONEY .. IMAGINARY LIFESTYLES & LOVE .. WELL NOW IT IS MY TURN .. COULD HAVE SWORE [sic] THAT IS WHAT CINEMA WAS ..  Mr. REVIVAL IS JUST CAPABLE OF TAKING IT TO A LEVEL WITH UNCOMFORTABLE TOPICS LIKE WHAT WAS SAID IN THE FIRST ANSWERED QUESTION .. OH .. HOW ABOUT I EMBODY A CASE OF HIV FOR 2018 MENTALLY .. FIRST SENTENCE SPOKEN ON THAT TAPE EXPLAINS WHAT I WAS DOING .. MY FATHER BORE EVERY SIN & EVERY SICKNESS FOR US .. THE LEAST I COULD DO IS MAKE AT ATTEMPT AT TAKING ON ONE OF THOSE THINGS .. AS YOU LISTEN TO IT THE MESSAGE IS CLEARER & CLEARER .. MY FAITH IS CONTAGIOUS WHILE THEIRS IS UNDETECTABLE .. GENIUS IF YOU ASKED ME .. WHICH IS WHY IT WAS MADE .. SWEETHEART THIS EXPLANATION IS DRAWN OUT BUT REALLY WANTED TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT ARTISTICALLY I AM SPECIAL .. WHETHER THE VIEWER SAYS IT IS SPECIAL NEEDS OR A SPECIAL BLESSING .. WAS CREATED TO SAY THESE THINGS .. ABSOLUTELY NO DISRESPECT TO THE COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE DEALING WITH THAT DISEASE .. HONEY THIS IS JUST HOW MY MIND WORKS .. MOVING WHEN THE SPIRIT TELLS ME TOO ..

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How does your life of sin inform your work?

HONEY I AM THE GREATEST SINNER ALIVE .. ALL OF US ARE CAPABLE & UNDERHANDEDLY WILLING TO BE SICK IN EVERY WAY .. DAHMER OR GACY IS IN YOU .. JEZEBEL OR DELILAH IS IN YOU .. PUT THE CHRIST IN YOU TO OVERTAKE ALL OF THAT FOOLISHNESS .. TRUST ME BABYDOLL .. OR NOT .. CARRY ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF THEN .. 

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Your work carries a wavelength of occult mysticism. What informs these religious themes? Do you partake in any spiritual practices?

OCCULT .?. MYSTICISM .?. SPIRITUAL PRACTICES .?. RELIGIOUS THEMES .?. WELL WELL WELL .. ALL OF THOSE THINGS I DESPISE & SO DOES MY FATHER .. QUIT GOING EVERYWHERE .. QUIT TOUCHING EVERYTHING .?. WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE NAKED .?. ALL THOSE THINGS DID .. TRYING TO BE A GOD WHEN WE COULD NEVER CARRY THAT CROSS .. SEE .. ANYTHING HIDDEN & KEPT IN SECRET WHEN PERTAINING TO WISDOM IS BORDERLINE BLASPHEMY .. NO SMALL PERCENTAGE OF NO ONE DESERVES ANYMORE THAN THE OTHER .. THAT GOES FOR WISDOM AS WELL .. KEEP THAT ENLIGHTENMENT TO YOURSELF THOUGH .. TELL THE WHOLE DARN STORY .. YES YOU GET BY WITH THAT HANDSHAKE BUT WHAT DOES IT COST .. ETERNITY IS MY ANSWER .. YOU ARE IN BODAGE WITH THAT ATTITUDE & WILL BE RECYCLED IN HELL FOR PRACTICING MYSTICISM INSTEAD OF TRUE GOSPEL .. YEAH I SAID IT .. SEE .. I HOPE TO BE MORE CUT & DRY IN THE FUTURE .. ANYONE THAT EVER COMES ACROSS ANYTHING I DO OR DONE NEEDS TO KNOW FIRST HAND .. NO SAGE BURNING NO OCCULTISM & ABSOLUTELY NO MAGIC IN MY CORNER .. THIS DISTANCE IS MUCH DEEPER THAN SOCIAL .. SEE .. I REBUKE & BIND THOSE REALMS .. SWEETHEART THAT IS NOT YOUR DEAD AUNT OR DEAD UNCLE COMMUNICATING WITH YOU .. THAT IS A FAMILIAR SPIRIT .. SUGAR PLUM THOSE SPIRITUAL PRACTICES YOU PARTAKE IN WILL OVERTHROW YOU LIKE IT DID OUR ANCESTORS .. GET IN THE WORD .. LOSE CULTURE & WHAT MOMMY & DADDY INSISTS YOU BELIEVE IN & SEEK TRUTH .. A NEW REVELATION IS BEING REVEALED DAILY .. THAT IS ALL I WANT ON MY DAY TO DAY & WHENEVER ANYTHING IS RELEASED FROM ME .. WHETHER IT BE A SIMPLE PICTURE FROM A CELLULAR DEVICE OR A TUNE FROM A SIMPLE SOUNDCLOUD ACCOUNT .. MY DESIRE IS THAT YOU REALIZE IDEAS OF MORTALITY  WILL NEVER EMBODY ME & I PRAY THE SAME FOR YOU .. NO REALLY I DO .. BLESS YOUR HEART ..

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isa@folioweekly.com

@isa23b

Categories - Main
ALPHABET SOUP Edition

A GHOST IN THE CROWD
On Feb. 10, 2017, a white Nashville police officer fatally shot 31-year-old Jocques Clemmons, a black man, once in the hip and twice in the back, after he ran a stop sign. The officer was never charged, sparking outrage and protests for months. In December, while compiling its annual In Memoriam issue, Nashville Scene made a chilling discovery in its archives: an unpublished 2009 interview with Clemmons for a now-defunct feature called “Face in the Crowd.”

In the interview, which reportedly was never published, the then-23-year-old Clemmons, who was helping his grandparents at a farmers market that day, remarked on how he viewed the recent inauguration of Barack Obama as an example of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream being fulfilled, talked about the minutiae of his young life, playing high school football, his favorite fast-food spot. He also shared an insight he’d learned: “A fool is as bad as his wisdom, so one thing I would teach,” he said, “use caution and judgment with everybody, and keep your head up and thank the Lord for everything.”
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BUT IT’S JUST GAS
In a move that makes one wonder if New Mexico is trying to mimic Old Mexico, the state’s environmental department is taking heat over its proposed revision to the permit approval process for building oil and gas facilities. Weekly Alibi writes that environmentalists say the proposed regulations would “make the state’s air quality standards some of the worst in the country.”

The New Mexico Environmental Department defended the proposal, saying it combines two existing permit processes and removes outdated language. But environmentalists were having nunya, clapping back by reiterating criticisms of the oil and gas air quality standards, noting that it would eliminate any limit on methane gas releases and allowed only four days for public comment. To which the NMED was like, oh, jk, you can comment all month.
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CRAFTING A CO-OP
Well, Worcester, Massachusetts might also be out of the running to give all their tax dollars to a billion—we mean, be the site of Amazon HQ2—but they’ve got something Northeast Florida ain’t got as far as we know: their very first community-owned brewery. Worcester Magazine reports that 3cross Brewing Company, which opened as a private company in 2014, announced on Jan. 9 it was converting to a cooperative ownership structure and becoming the state’s first community-owned brewery.

The brewery, which is changing its name to 3cross Fermentation Cooperative, will be owned by workers and consumers, the latter being sold memberships for a one-time fee of $150 starting Jan. 26. Thereafter, the business’s direction will be determined democratically—one vote/member. “From the outset,” said founder Dave Howland, “I really wanted 3cross to be very much a community-focused venture. Opening ownership to anyone in the community really reinforces that, I think.” We think so, too.
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DISASTER EVERYWHERE HE WENT
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton is one of the targets of activists determined to influence government by sharing their thoughts with their representatives. Well, Cotton prefers his constituents laudatory and docile, not critical and agitated. And he’s cotton-pickin’ going to do something about it!

The junior senator reportedly sent a letter to numerous citizens warning them to “cease and desist” all communications with his office, according to Arkansas Times. Several members of Ozark Indivisible were reportedly sent such letters, possibly due to their unwillingness to grin and bear Cotton’s tomfoolery, which includes denying anyone in the White House has evah used the word “shithole,” holding up a dying woman’s ambassadorial appointment to “inflict special pain” on then-President Barack Obama, undermining foreign policy by spearheading a letter from 47 senators to the Iranian government during negotiations for a nuclear deal, and screwing his own people by being the ONLY Arkansas House Republican to vote against a farm bill in 2014. He makes Marco Rubio sound like un hombre del pueblo (a man of the people).