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In Memory of Bartcop: Seedcorn, Pioneer, Patriot -- William Rivers Pitt

Society & Culture  (tags: americans, culture, education, freedoms, honesty, humor, law, media, politics, safety, society )

- 1776 days ago -
The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green. - Thomas Carlyle


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Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 10:25 am
Image: Bartcorp Logo

The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.

- Thomas Carlyle

If there was any single event that pushed me into chronicling politics in America - in combination with the Reagan years, the Bush Sr. coda, the 1994 midterm election calamity, and the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich - it was the impeachment of President Clinton. Beyond the gaudy opportunism of it all, the hatred for the sake of hatred practiced by the Republicans in an all-too-eerie preamble of the last few years, was the absolute and utter collapse of any semblance of journalistic integrity on the part of the "mainstream" news. Smoke had been pouring from the engines of big-time journalism for years at that point, but it was the Clinton impeachment that finally crashed the plane into the mountain. The wreckage has been there ever since, rusting in the sun.

And so, sixteen years ago, I took to my keyboard and wrote what I thought and gave it away to anyone who might be interested in publishing it. Very few were, but there was one guy who decided to put me out there, and for me, that's where all of this began. His name was Terrence Coppage, he lived in Tulsa, and his website was

Back then, our correspondence was about the impeachment, the ultimate failure of same, the odious antics of Rush Limbaugh, bad journalism in general, the 2000 presidential election, and the general state of derangement evident within the GOP. Looking back, it almost seems quaint...until the evening of December 12, 2000, when the Supreme Court handed the White House to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and unleashed 2,922 days of mayhem at home, mass murder abroad, and brazen theft all around.

It is difficult now to describe the sense of full-spectrum horror many of us dealt with in the aftermath of that despicable ruling. The entire "mainstream" news establishment - print and broadcast alike - bent their combined will towards convincing the country that "this is an orderly transition of orderly transition of power...all is well..." when a whole lot of us knew down to our bones that it was anything but...and then 9/11 happened, and then Iraq happened, and everyone who wouldn't or couldn't swallow the line of nonsense being peddled came to feel perfectly insane.

It is no understatement to say that Terrence Coppage and salvaged my sanity, and the sanity of many others. David Allen, co-founder of the forum Democratic Underground, said it best: "Back in the days when there was no 'liberal blogosphere' or 'netroots'; there were only 'anti-Bush websites.' Before DU there was Buzzflash, Smirking Chimp, and BartCop. That was pretty much the entire liberal presence on the internet." Those sites, along with Media Whores Online and later DU, were a lush oasis in a desert of bad information and blind hyper-patriotism.

But in truth, it all began with in 1996. Terrence Coppage raged every day against the lies being peddled by the Right, against the lapdog media that empowered and protected them, and by publishing comments, articles and emails from regular everyday folks, he gave us a voice we would not otherwise have had. Terrence Coppage helped teach us to think clearly during those dark days when clarity was hard to come by. A fairly impressive list of now-known bloggers and commentators - Digby and Atrios leap immediately to mind - earned their stripes through Bartcop, especially after Salon's Tabletalk started charging for participation. He was the seedcorn, a true pioneer, and even though he probably pissed off every segment of his readership at one time or another by way of his brashly-stated opinions, there is not a single voice within the online Left community that does not owe him a debt.

Coppage was, in his way, the Charlie Parker of liberal bloggers. Every saxophone player who has followed Parker is blowing notes Bird had already blown better. So it is with Bartcop; he was playing those changes before the rest of us had our pants on.

On Friday, I learned that Terrence Coppage passed away. My participation at had slacked off considerably - thanks in no small part to the exposure he provided me, I joined Truthout in January of 2002, an association that has become all-encompassing in the intervening years - but news of his passing hit me in the heart. He never became famous, and never sought fame. He put his shoulder to the pile for 18 years, and moved it. I am, because he was, period. End of file.

Terrence Coppage's final words remain on "Since you're reading this, I'm either gone or I'm too sick to get to my computer...Thanks for the life you gave me."

No, Bart: thank you. May your Chicano Anejo never run dry, and may your Truth Hammer ring on and on. Take your rest, old friend. You've done enough, and more besides. We've got it from here.

By: William Rivers Pitt | Op Ed | Truth Out |

William Rivers Pitt is Truthout's senior editor and lead columnist. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know," "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence" and "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation." He lives and works in New Hampshire.


Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 10:28 am

It might be that only those who were around the Internet before the big explosion knew and loved Bart Corp and soon after Smirking Monkey and slowly more sites grew. I have followed and admired those early pioneers since all this began and since a young writer named William Rivers Pitt began sharing his thoughts.

Sue Matheson (79)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 10:31 am

Regan Copple (16)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 11:37 am
Terry Coppage was a friend of mine (and most likely a very distant relative because of the similarity in our last names) from way back, I went to the very first political gathering he had in Washington D.C. for Julia Hiatt Steele. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't have found out about Media Whores Online, The Smirking Chimp, Blah3, AmericaBlog, Atrios (who was also in D.C. with us that year), Crooks & LIars, Digby's Blog, Steve Gilliard (RIP friend), & a host of others. He was definitely a pillar in the early blogosphere, a founding father of Left Blogsylvania, & I'm going to miss reading his updates on the Tequila Treehouse from the man with an IQ of 85. You left us too soon Bart.

Lois Jordan (63)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 5:57 pm
Thanks, Kit. I had no idea, and am glad to learn this. The internet has certainly "grown up" in the past decade. I'm so grateful to have so many various "progressive-type" sites full of info now.

Anette S (16)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 7:42 pm

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 7:59 pm
I've never heard of Coppage, but we owe him a debt of gratitude. Thank you for Pitt's piece. I'm grateful to every group engaged in the effort to fight the lies in the media. (p, t)

Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 8:00 pm

Yep the Internet has grown up and to add to Regan's comment without Coppage one could speculate on just how long it might have taken for some liberal bloggers (writers) to have any form of speech on the world forum.

Lucas Kolasa (9)
Wednesday March 12, 2014, 4:00 am

Birgit W (160)
Wednesday March 12, 2014, 2:23 pm

marie C (163)
Wednesday March 12, 2014, 3:54 pm
Thanks Kit

JL A (281)
Wednesday March 12, 2014, 5:13 pm
What a marvelous tribute--thank you for sharing it with us Kit.

Debra G (0)
Wednesday March 12, 2014, 5:46 pm
A beautiful tribute. RIP, Bartcop.

Arlene C (28)
Thursday March 13, 2014, 5:06 am

Gloria picchetti (304)
Thursday March 13, 2014, 6:13 am
RIP William.

Sherri G (128)
Saturday March 15, 2014, 12:52 am
Terrence Coppage's final words remain on "Since you're reading this, I'm either gone or I'm too sick to get to my computer...Thanks for the life you gave me." Thank You Kit for posting Noted
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