Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

The Best Democracy Money can Buy. Greg Palast in interview.

His style is distinctive and passionate. Reading The Best Democracy Money can Buy, or indeed one of his reports, is part black humour, part outrage, and a whole heap of facts to substantiate each. It's gripping stuff, but does he ever worry that his aggressive style will give people ammunition to discredit his findings? &ldquoI see the dark humour of it all. I write because this is how I am. I can pretend to write in a deep serious New York Times voice as if 'this is very serious so I'm going to write in a very serious style' manner. Well, what's happening is that most journalists in America are confusing serious and solemn. The knuckleheads standing outside the WhiteHouse are saying 'This is so and so reporting from the WhiteHouse', but they're not really reporting: they're just repeating some crap that's come out of a press conference. That's not serious, it's just solemn. I'm very uninterested in this fake solemnity – it's bullshit”.

He has another point – his humour manages to bring in readers and to get the point across: &ldquoBy seeing the weird dark humour of the apologists for the power structure, it really gives you a resonance. You don't forget it. It digs into you and you don't forget the material. I don't want to write 'good for you' stuff, I want to write real stuff. Then what happens is I get some of the solemn guys to rewrite my stuff and pick up on it. Stuff gets picked up that way”.

For Palast it's very much about getting the story out there. He's enthusiastic about the internet, seeing it as a way to avoid the 'Pravda' of the American mainstream media. He's also optimistic about community radio, citing the example of the Democracy Now programme that's broadcast through a network of over 240 small community radio stations. &ldquoSome of my stuff goes out as mp3's as well, with my stuff read over dance tracks. If I can't get my BBC stuff aired in America I put it out as a DVD Bush Family Fortunes, you can get it and watch it in your basement, with the shades rolled down so that John Ashcroft can't get you”. And what of the boom in passing on these types of movies through file sharing, illegally? &ldquoI think it's great. Obviously if they can support the work by paying for the original great, but if they can't? Let's get the word out. I'm getting things like Flash animations out there to get the word out. I'm not in it for the cash. It's about whatever I can do. We need cash to survive, sure but let's get the word out there.” He laughs for a moment, and continues &ldquoI'll obviously get some contract problems if I urge people to download the stuff, and there's an advantage to getting the DVD in so far as you get all this inter-active stuff, but on the other hand it's spreading the word, that's what's important. I'm not concerned with intellectual property rights”.

Accusations by his critics that he's partisan miss an important point. He's got it in for corruption wherever he sees it, not least within the Democratic party. He's scathing on both Clinton and Gore: &ldquoWhen Clinton was in, he committed some of the worst evil on the planet. Everyone talks about Al Gore the tree hugger, but he did more to damage, through his attempts to 'blairise' policies and to suck up to big business, did more damage to the environment than Richard Nixon, so there are no miracles”. But he does reserve the right to suggest that, as with most things, there are levels, and that George W. Bush's administration gets the lion's share of his contempt and attention. &ldquoto say that Kerry and Bush are the same is a big crock of shit, but to say that there's a big difference is a delusional evil.” He says, talking about the degrees of separation between presidential candidates, &ldquoit's like with my buddy Michael Moore who was saying &ldquoit doesn't matter who the hell is in”, four years ago when he was supporting Nader, I was saying 'that's because you're a rich white guy, of course it doesn't matter to you who gets in!' “.

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