Networks Again Trumpet What NBC’s Williams Celebrates as ‘the Protest of This Current Era’

CBS and NBC led Wednesday night with glowing stories about the growth and diversity of the far-left “Occupy Wall Street” protests, though without any ideological label applied nor any critics allowed, a promotional approach the networks never provided in Tea Party coverage.

“We begin tonight with what has become by any measure a pretty massive protest movement,” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams announced. “While it goes by the official name ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ it has spread steadily and far beyond Wall Street, and it could well turn out to be the protest of this current era.”

ABC’s Cecilia Vega touted how “it is a crowd that grows daily in size and diversity,” CBS’s Michelle Miller heralded “they’re gaining momentum and new recruits” and NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo trumpeted “the largest crowd yet, and more varied in age and background.”

She assured viewers that “experts say though still largely undefined, the movement has a lot of potential.”

Over a montage of pictures, Williams opened his newscast by applying rock lyrics from the 1960s to the events:

Good evening. We begin tonight with what has become by any measure a pretty massive protest movement. While it goes by the official name “Occupy Wall Street,” it has spread steadily and far beyond Wall Street, and it could well turn out to be the protest of this current era. The lyric from 45 years ago in the Buffalo Springfield song For What It's Worth could also describe this current movement right now. Once again, “there is something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear,” but it encompasses a lot of things: anger, frustration, disenfranchisement, income disparity, unaccountability and general upheaval and dissatisfaction. Again today, thousands took to the streets of this city. They're in the streets of other cities as well.

ABC’s Vega highlighted how “thousands of union workers marched in solidarity in joining a common cause, blaming bank greed for the country's economic woes.” She then ran a clip of an iron union worker – the very same white man who also got a soundbite in NBC’s story.

And NBC’s Schiavocampo on Wednesday night showcased the very same professor from Columbia University, Dorian Warren, as ABC featured in a report aired on Monday’s World News.
 
After highlighting, without regard to their size, how “the protests are spreading from  cyberspace to streets all around the country -- 50 cities now -- from Salt Lake City to Topeka to Knoxville,” Vega considered it newsworthy that a left-wing Democrat is in favor of the left-wing protests: “The movement now garnering attention from politicians running for office, like Elizabeth Warren, who's vying for a Democratic Senate nomination in Massachusetts.”

Vega proceeded to hail how “observers of social history say the protesters' growing presence could be a major issue in the coming presidential election year.” A white female professor celebrated: “If you can influence the conversation in the 2012 election, then you've done something pretty amazing.”

Over on CBS, Michelle Miller marveled at how “they have a food court, medical unit, and publish a daily newspaper called the Occupied Wall Street Journal.” She also showed how protesters are to the left of the Democratic Party: “Sixty-nine-year-old Patricia Walsh came from Denver. She protested the Democratic convention back in 1968.”

From earlier this week: “ABC and NBC Champion Left-Wing Anti-Capitalist Protests, Fueled by Cookies from a ‘Grandmother in Idaho’”

The stories on the Wednesday night, October 5 broadcast evening newscast, as gathered for me by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth:

ABC’s World News:

DIANE SAWYER: And those protests against Wall Street continue to grow across the country today. Here in New York, thousands of demonstrators descended on the financial district as big labor unions joined in. And many people down there asking the question, what are the people who help create the jobs crisis doing to help the people out of work? ABC's Cecilia Vega spent the day in the middle of the protest.

CECILIA VEGA: It is a crowd that grows daily in size and diversity. Today thousands of union workers marched in solidarity in joining a common cause, blaming bank greed for the country's economic woes. This afternoon, thousands marched from Manhattan's Foley Park into the
heart of Wall Street.

PAUL ARMSTRONG, IRON WORKERS UNION: America is fed up with just being forced into poverty.

VEGA: Thousands of members from the nation's largest unions joining the cause today, from auto workers to teachers, service workers to actors.

MARK RUFFALO, ACTOR: It's what freedom of speech was designed for.

VEGA: Just a few weeks ago, there were only a few dozen people here in this park off of Wall Street. But today, there are actually a few thousand. This is a protest that is growing not only here in this park, but online thanks to social media. Online a Web site is getting hundreds of submissions from around the county, people posting their stories of economic loss, claiming to be part of a middle class hurt by the recession. The protests are spreading from  cyberspace to
streets all around the country - 50 cities now - from Salt Lake City to Topeka to Knoxville. The movement now garnering attention from politicians running for office, like Elizabeth Warren, who's vying for a Democratic Senate nomination in Massachusetts.

ELIZABETH WARREN, MASSACHUSETTS DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE: The
people on Wall Street broke this country, and there has still been no basic accountability.

VEGA: Observers of social history say the protesters' growing presence could be a major issue in the coming presidential election year.

HEATHER GAUTNEY, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: If you can influence the conversation in the 2012 election, then you've done something pretty amazing.

VEGA: And while it's not just people who are out of work who came out today, people with jobs left the office to march in the streets, too. Diane?

CBS Evening News:

SCOTT PELLEY: In New York City it started small -- two and a half weeks ago, a few dozen protesters camped out near Wall Street, demonstrating against what they call corporate greed. But it's been growing ever since with folks from all over the country joining in. And today the
crowds swelled dramatically as labor unions and college students added their voices. Michelle Miller is at the park where it all began. Michelle, what's happening?

MICHELLE MILLER: Well, the handful of protesters that started this demonstration some three weeks ago call it "Occupy Wall Wtreet," and with each passing day that they're here, they're gaining momentum and new recruits.

MIKE MULGREW, UNITED FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: You know, it's time. It's really time.



MILLER: Mike Mulgrew is president of the United Federation of Teachers.

CLIP OF PROTESTERS: End the war, tax the rich!

MILLER: Which, along with Teamsters, Auto Workers and a dozen other unions, joined today's march.

MULGREW: People have had it it. They're done with this. They know that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

CLIP OF PROTESTERS: Show me what democracy looks like!

MILLER: The addition of organized labor may sharpen the focus of a self-styled movement that up until now was united against what they called corporate greed but absent clear demands or goals.

ANDREW COLE, PROTESTER, CLIP #1: Wall Street is responsible for the economic crisis, and they're asking people like me to pay for it.

COLE CLIP #2: I'm Andrew from Madison, Wisconsin.

MILLER: Yesterday we met 24-year-old Andrew Cole, who is out of work and in student loan debt. He took a bus from Madison, Wisconsin, to join the three-week-old protest that began with just a few dozen people. Now hundreds are camping out in this private park just blocks
from Wall Street.

COLE: There should be some kind of legal or at least a financial reckoning for Wall Street. There should be more bankers in jail.

MILLER: The protesters have been brought together by Twitter and Facebook. Craig Bethel is from Pittsburgh. How long can this sustain itself?

CRAIG BETHEL, PROTESTER: This can sustain itself as long as it needs to because we're completely self-sustainable. We don't rely on the environment around us.

MILLER: They have a food court, medical unit, and publish a daily newspaper called the Occupied Wall Street Journal.

PATRICIA WALSH, PROTESTER: Where are the jobs that they have created? All they create is money for themselves.

MILLER: Sixty-nine-year-old Patricia Walsh came from Denver. She protested the Democratic convention back in 1968.

WALSH: These kids are right on target about how our country has to change, and they have good hearts.

MILLER: And, Scott, by the look of it, it doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon. And protesters say they will remain here at this small park through winter.

PELLEY: Thanks, Michelle. The protests are spreading. There were demonstrations in more than a dozen cities, including Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. In some places, there were only a few protesters, but in others, there were several thousand.

NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. We begin tonight with what has become by any measure a pretty massive protest movement. While it goes by the official name "Occupy Wall Street," it has spread steadily and far beyond Wall Street, and it could well turn out to be the protest of this current era. The lyric from 45 years ago in the Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth" could also describe this current movement right now. Once again, there is something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear, but it encompasses a lot of things: anger, frustration, disenfranchisement, income disparity, unaccountability and general upheaval and dissatisfaction. Again today, thousands took to the streets of this city. They're in the streets of other cities as well. It's where we begin tonight with NBC's Mara Schiavocampo in lower Manhattan. Mara, good evening.

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO: Brian, good evening. Today the demonstrators behind me got a boost of manpower joined by thousands of new protesters, including many from labor unions. For the 19th day in a row, crowds took to the streets of New York.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: This is the beginning of the people's revolution.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Thousands marching through downtown New York -- the largest crowd yet, and more varied in age and background.

MAN [IRON WORKER]: I came by here on day three and saw this and of course I joined.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: The group has not yet come together on what their message is.

CLIP OF PROTESTERS: We got sold out!

SCHIAVOCAMPO: But union leaders who had thrown their support behind the protesters say that they understand.

LEO GERARD, UNITED STEELWORKERS: They have all got different kinds of issues. There are students who can't get a job. There's industrial workers whose factories have been moved to China who can't get a job. There's people who have lost their homes and can't find a place to
live. People are saying, like that movie, hell, no, I'm not taking this anymore.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Today's union backing drew out people like Leeann Nikitovich, a single mother from New York.

LEEANN NIKITOVICH, PROTESTER: I work more than ever in order to just live and, you know, keep the basics up. And I don't see a future really. I don't know how I'm going to retire.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Protests have popped up all over the country. In L.A., even soggy weather couldn't keep people away.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You can't rain out an idea.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: And in Chicago, anger at a sign posted in the windows of the Chicago Board of Trade, "We are the one percent," mocking the protesters' call that they are the 99 percent, the vast majority of ordinary Americans who have been pummeled by the recession. The movement has even drawn the attention of those in Washington.

BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: They blame, with some justification, the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess, and they're dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington. And at some level, I can't blame them.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Experts say though still largely undefined, the movement has a lot of potential.

DORIAN WARREN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Just as a show of support, to have thousands of people out on the streets agreeing with the fundamental demands and issues that these protesters are raising, I think, has already, it means they've already won.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: And despite a heavy police presence, today's march was orderly and there were few arrests -- a departure from last weekend when 700 were taken into custody in a single day.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center