“To comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable”
That creed is seldom adhered to in moto journalism, and all too frequently forgotten in journalism, period. Back in the 60s I admired Car&Driver for their forthright style, only to be let down when I found that they had pulled a whole issue because Porsche didn’t like their review of the 914. American truck mags were the worst, full of badly rewritten press releases glorifying the latest from IH, Freightliner, et al… I’d later drive the same noisy almost out of control gutless truck and it was obvious the mag’s paid by the word writer had never driven it. Same with the glowing reviews of motorcycles and farkles, neatly correlating with the maker’s ad spending in the mag.
And then came the internet and bloggers… Amateur and even a few pro journalists owing nothing to much of anyone, but with the occasional axe to grind. Thus we are seeing a return to the Upton Sinclair and more lately Steven Brill style style of muckraking that keeps democracy sharp. An excellent example is Cory Heidelberger, author and publisher of the Dakota Free Press, the go-to authority on South Dakota politics. Now Cory leans to the political left, but his investigative journalism is so good that republicans read and even buy ads on his blog. And if it wasn’t for Cory, I and most of South Dakota wouldn’t know what “EB-5″ is, ’cause the mainstream media didn’t cover the brewing EB-5 scandal in South Dakota until Cory covered it so much they couldn’t ignore it.
So what’s an EB-5, and what does it have to do with anything with wheels? EB-5 is an immigration loophole that allows any foreigner to buy green cards (residency permits) for themselves and their family by investing a half million bucks in a U.S. business and creating a few jobs, at least on paper. Now that sounds all well and good, with foreign investors helping to capitalize startup businesses here in the good ‘ol USA… Problem is, despite all this capital flow, a lot of these businesses seem to strangly go belly up after feeding on all those EB-5 dollars. In South Dakota these spectacular bankruptcies have befallen a string of mega dairies so big they can probably be seen from space, and most recently a massive beef packing plant plopped down in Aberdeen, thousands of miles from the mass markets for it’s beef.
Well, EBR was a receipent of EB-5 funding too, and EBR is now insolvent too. I should have been suspicious when I was thrown off a Buell forum just as Erik Buell was launching EBR just after HOG(NYSE) shut Buell down. I’ve been through a plant closing before, and was starting up the usual “community organizer” strategy of finding out what all suppliers and communities were affected by the Buell shutdown and thus might be brought together to bring Buell back. Perhaps I was interfering with the EB-5 scheme? I don’t know, but I’m gonna stay on this story and follow it to truth.
Thus I’ve learned to be a bit suspect when an organization suddenly tries to censor this little ol’ blogger. Couple years back I was thrown off of the American Truck Historical Society forum when they were trying to cover up some fiscal stupidity, largely involving taking on too big and expensive a headquarters building, then sweetheart leasing part of it to some buddies. Since then the crap has hit the fan, and ATHS has a new director and hopefully they can put the past scandal behind them.
So when I thrown out of BMWMOA today, I took notice… Why pull the free trial membership of this same little ‘ol blogger because I disagree with how they run some aspects of their organization and have questioned the reliability of their favorite motorcycle? I mean, they’d be smarter just to take my money and ignore me… So I’m beginning to smell something suspect at BMWMOA too. But BMWMOA will have to wait while I dig through the rubble of EBR, and not being of the BMWMOA caste, I won’t have the money to renew my membership ’til the first of the month anyway. If I’m lucky, I’ll have enough to buy some new work/riding boots with my stockholder discount at Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting/looting of Omaha. The BMWMOA Brahams in their stylish imported moto boots will sneer, but who cares?
So ya, I’m making room for some muckrakin’ motojournalism… In between the ride and rally reports, and whatever else fits will get printed!