On This Day Pre-Y2K

Confused by any of the jargon you see below? Check the Y2K Glossary!

March 27, 1999 Permalink

I received this report in my mail box today. It reports on an upcoming Y2K broadcast on the Montel Williams Show.

My expertise on the Montel Williams Show is about 60 seconds, which I watched in a motel room a year ago. When a man’s career goal for life seems to be limited to becoming a shaved-head Geraldo Rivera, he should raise his sights.

Back in 1960 or thereabouts, TV confrontation broadcasting was pioneered by a Los Angeles broadcaster named Tom Duggan. The format was copied and made more abusive by another L.A. broadcaster named Joe Pyne. (Both men were smokers and died of lung cancer.) There were other imitators.

My father-in-law warned me, “Never go on one of these shows. The free publicity is never free.” I took his advice.

If you want a taste of what the Joe Pyne Show was like, watch the classic 1970 TV movie with Glenn Ford, The Brotherhood of the Bell. The character played by William Conrad is a Pyne knock-off. (This was a very important movie, now long forgotten. I believe that it was based on Yale’s Skull & Bones. This is also the opinion of Ford’s son, Peter, who sells a tape of the movie. In a movie about a college’s secret society that has great power outside the college, the only real-life college mentioned is Yale. Watch for the Yale pennant on the guest bedroom wall of the college’s board member. Note: this movie was made seven years before the September, 1977 Esquire story on Bones, a decade before the Bones connection with George Bush became public. And, yes, William F. Buckley is a member.)

As an aside, I saw Malcolm X for the first time on a 1961 or 1962 broadcast by Duggan. Duggan had a kooks-of-the-week format, and Malcolm was one of them that week. Duggan was the only white guy I ever saw who handled Malcolm. After listening to the standard guilt manipulation that Malcolm was turning into a fine art, Duggan replied: “My great grandfather fought in the Civil War to free your people. Malcolm, you are an ungrateful man.” Tit for tat, guilt for guilt. I can remember it as if it were last year. Tom, may your media-savvy soul rest in peace.

Y2K preparationists suffer from a bad case of “we’ve got to get the message out.” Like so many media amateurs, members of these unfunded groups seek an outlet for their message -- any outlet. Don’t be tempted. See what the format is before you get sucked in. The shock TV journalists play on the altruistic dreams of amateurs.

* * * * * * * * * *

Hello. My name is Robb Ware and I organize a Y2K Awareness and Preparation Group in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We started out as a very small collection of individuals and have rapidly grown to about 70. Because of the publicity our group has received, the Montel Williams Show invited me, along with three families from around the country to be part of a Y2K Preparation Show. We were informed that the show would center on encouraging Y2K preparation across the country and would allow us to share with a national audience the efforts we have put forth in our communities.

The reason I’m writing this email is because I feel that there is an enormous surplus of misinformation in the media today. Rather than portray Y2K for what it is, a computer, economic, societal, and global problem that is unprecedented, with its many effects and failures unknown, the media chooses to either make a mockery of those who have genuine concern or ignore the issue completely. No one knows for sure what kind of problems we may face, and it is always best to put a little insurance aside so that it is there if need be. We are not harbingers of doom waiting and hoping for an inevitable breakdown. If Y2K concern turns out to be a false alarm, we will sigh in relief with the rest of the world.

Summary of Show:

The show begins with Peggy, Michelle and Doug Ryan from Ohio who are preparing for Y2K and have insulated their home with straw since straw is a good insulator. Montel refers to the house as the “straw house” from here on out. Next is a couple that bought a tugboat eight years ago and has lived on it since then. They have a couple years of food for their whole family and a good supply of fuel on the tugboat. If the Y2K problems get really bad, they are prepared to take the tugboat out to sea away from the local problems. Montel thinks that the fact that these people are preparing for something unknown is ridiculous. To back up his opinion on this, he presents Ellis Henican, a journalist for Newsday. Ellis says that Y2K is a situation created to sell computers and IT (Information Technology) contracts. He further states that the Senate Report issued by the US Senate was written to help the computer companies and that nothing in the report will cause any problems. He refers to the people on stage as “nuts” for believing that problems will happen. Montel says that he has researched the Year 2000 problem a lot, but in the first five minutes of the show he referred to the Year 2000 problem as “YK2” three times (until his director came over and corrected him during commercial (they may voice-over the YK2 with Y2K, but read his lips)). Anyone who has read a single article about Y2K should know the acronym by now. This whole Y2K segment is filled with unsubstantiated opinion and not one fact. Both Montel and Ellis poke fun at these families’ preparations but do not offer any reassurances that problems won’t happen.

During the next segment, Peggy Ryan stands up and confronts Montel about having them on the show under false pretenses (remember this was supposed to be a pro-preparation show), and about having them onstage with a white supremacist. Montel says that there is no white supremacist onstage and proceeds to make her look (to the audience) like she has no idea what she’s talking about. At that point the Ryan Family leaves the stage and Montel subtly mocks them (pretending to wipe tears from his face). I am sure that this entire portion will be edited out of the final show, as it would remove Montel’s tasteful and understanding facade and reveal his true rating minded morality. Thus, when you see the Ryan Family disappear from the stage, you’ll know why.

Next Montel brings out Stefan Paulus, author of “Nostradamus 1999: Who Will Survive?”. Paulus believes Nostradamus predictions indicate a large asteroid will hit the Earth in mid September 1999 (similar to the concepts illustrated in the films Asteroid, Deep Impact, and Armageddon). To substantiate this belief, he refers to Revelations Chapter 8 in the Bible. Just another way to dilute the seriousness of the real problem, Y2K.

Lastly, to our extreme shock and disgust, Montel reaches the finale of his circus by introducing Randy Gains (I believe he uses an alias on the show). Gains is a white supremacist (the audience finally realizes that Peggy Ryan wasn’t wrong after all), who believes the Year 2000 will usher in an age of race wars and the eventual triumph of the white race. Whites and blacks will be at the center of this war and if any white man sides with the black man and he denies his people, then the white man will be charged with treason and ostracized, physically harmed and possibly even killed. His supreme faith lies in the “White Man’s Bible” which preaches that the white man is the superior race. When asked how this bible compared to the standard Christian Bible, he expressed that he only believed in one book, his “White Man’s Bible”.

I could not believe that a supposed Y2K pro-preparation show could turn into such a typical Talk-Show-Circus, finally ending with the Year 2000 being highlighted as a race issue. This is something that I would never expect from Montel Williams, and after being in his audience, have lost all respect for his show. Even if he is against the white supremacist movement, he chose a completely inappropriate show topic to highlight his platform. In closing, I must say that Montel did a serious disservice to the population of our country and those in other parts of the world that may watch the show. What I feel was a noble effort to enlighten and inform may become a dangerous pitfall for those now left laughing and sadly unaware.

—Gary North, garynorth.com, 03/27/99

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