You are my heroes. As always, you do the best investigative work in North America ( I have just read some more of Mokhiber and Weissman [Focus on the Corporation] and as soon as I finish this letter I’m going to my local bookstore and buying their book.)

About the Shell ads, I have to admit I was a little confused at first. I had recently noticed their major spreads in Saturday Night Magazine (It’s a Canadian thing) and was appalled. Then I saw your banners and wondered what the deal was … THEN, I noticed the editor’s note

Awesome! Take as much of their corporate gazillions as you possibly can, and provide — alongside their blahblahblah — all of your articles. Brilliantly executed!

Like I said, you are my heroes.

Sandy Wolofsky

Defending DC

RE: “Deconstructing DC

Every now and again, I feel compelled to remind people who love to slam the entire city of Washington, DC (for example, “In which our man Durst explores the crookedest little town in America.”) that there really are two cities here. Yes, we do have the political city — the Federal City — of which the slamming is justified. But there is also the local city of thousands upon thousands of people who have little or no daily contact with the other city.

Trust me, you don’t get “marble poisoning” in the local city. There are literally thousands of non-profit agencies working to make this city a better place. It’s frustrating that they commonly get lumped in as part of the “crookedest little town in America” or could be considered “Beltway Bandits.” The District of Columbia is so much more than just the National Mall….

Mark Roberts

Why Vote at All?

RE: “Deconstructing DC

A beautifully written article until the author blames Americans for not voting. While my wife and I vote in every election, we hold our noses while doing so. Look at the last presidential election. What a choice. A philanderer was running against a Viagra salesman. When they start putting “none of the above” on the ballot more people will turn out.

J. Philip Schediwy

The Men Behind the Monsters

RE: “Top 10 Worst Corporations of 1999

I always appreciate being informed of the illegal, immoral and unethical acts of corporations. However, in spite of their legal status as “persons,” corporations are nothing more than inanimate pieces of paper.

What seems to be lacking is any mention of the names of key officers, board members or major shareholders of these so-called “criminal” corporations. This is a matter of public record, after all, and we need to start making better progress towards “piercing the corporate veil” and shining a spotlight on the primary beneficiaries of indecent conduct.

Jeff Bakke
Key Largo, FL

Yay and Nays on Shell Ads

RE: “Shell Ads

Thank for you confessing to hypocrisy in an unusually public and honest fashion. When most radical publications are caught in hypocrisy, they attempt to hide it by pretending to be objective pursuers of truth. You took the unusual step of pretending to pretend to hide your hypocrisy.

At least, I hope that’s what you were doing. Because running Shell ads on the same page on which you have a listing of all the negative coverage you had offered about Shell is just to transparent for such a respected publication as yours.

Not to mention — running ads that try to make Shell look like a modern day crusader for truth and justice in the same publication that carries “The Corporate Century.”

Aaron Bennett

I think it’s great that you are running the ads (as long as they are paying for them, of course!). It shows everyone the value of freedom of expression, and how important informed debate is in sustaining a democracy. And it’s great that you’ve included your articles on Shell along with your editor’s letter!

Carter Bell

Being young and relatively inexperienced in this world, especially in matters of the media, I do not have much of a position to speak on your recent decision to feature advertisements for Shell. But since you asked, I am disappointed.

1. All media is biased.

2. People will believe what it is in their interest to believe.

The only way for people to decide what to believe is through critical comparison of perspectives, with consideration of each perspective’s bias. People believe the ‘mass media’ is not to be believed only because of the testimony of thousands, if not millions, that their experience is that the ‘mass media’ does not share their interests. And they believe this multitude of voices because they have many varied biases, whereas the ‘mass media’ all share a corporate bias.

By joining the ranks of the corporate-sponsored and corporate-biased media, you cast doubt on your interests. Unfortunately, you also cast doubt on all those that share your perspective. You have done more than just give Shell an ad banner on your Web site, more than give them an opportunity to speak to your readers. You have blurred the line between their enemies and their supporters.

Furthermore, it is not an issue of free expression. There is a big difference between free expression and paying to speak, as there is between free expression and sharing your opportunities to speak with others. If you truly felt obligated to give Shell the opportunity to express themselves in your publication, then you would let them without payment. And you would let everyone and anyone else who wanted to. The right to freedom of expression does not entail a right to publish, or if it should, it would not be a right to publish in whatever publication you wish. That would directly contradict the freedom of the press, which is the freedom to publish or not to publish whatever the press pleases.

I hope that you will soon reconsider and change your decision, as your publication has been a strong and important voice speaking for the interests of those who are not often spoken for.

Edwin Marinaro

I would like to be able to applaud Mokhiber and Weissman’s article on the selling out of history to corporate influence. But it’s difficult to give praise when the banner above their article is an ad lauding the environmentalism of Shell.

A multi-national oil conglomerate? I’m sure Greenpeace is bursting with glee for their new found environmentalist friends at Shell. Not.

Come on guys. You can do better than that. Practice what you preach.

Tom Wilhelm

Yeah, Yeah, We Know ..

Interesting publication. I really enjoy it. Too bad one of your domain names, “mojones,” in Spanish means, precisely, “big pieces of dung.” (I put it nicely but you get the point). Seriously. When I bumped into it I thought it was a Spanish Joke page. Mojones is plural for Mojon which is a [piece of] excrement.

Jose De La Cruz