‘Message’ of Wall Street Protests ‘Increasingly Resonating,’ NBC’s Williams Champions

In the face of their removal from a Manhattan park so it can be cleaned up, NBC anchor Brian Williams stepped up his praise Thursday night for the far-left Occupy Wall Street protesters. “They share a heritage with other big protest movements in American history,” he heralded in his lead story, “some of them have changed history.”

He then trumpeted: “The center of the message is increasingly resonating. The crowds tell us that. Now the polls tell us that.”

Reporter Mara Schiavocampo hyped protests “growing in number and intensity. Thousands taking to the streets in at least 190 cities nationwide.” She highlighted how a new “poll finds 37 percent of Americans support the protesters, with 40 percent of wealthy Americans backing the movement, more than any other income group.”

(Last week, Williams celebrated “it could well turn out to be the protest of this current era.”)

ABC and CBS also ran full stories Thursday night sympathetic to the protesters upset about being asked to leave the Manhattan park so it can be cleaned up.

“I believe they’re using sanitation to destroy the entire movement,” whined a paranoid male protester featured in Seth Doane’s CBS Evening News piece.

CBS anchor Scott Pelley set up Doane by touting how the protests “have now spread to 103 cities in 36 states and to Canada and England.” That’s far more modest than Diane Sawyer’s ludicrous claim Monday night about how “it has spread to more than 250 American cities, more than a thousand countries” -- later corrected to the still absurd insistence “it has spread to more than 250 American cities and more than a thousand cities around the world -- every continent but Antarctica.” Video of Sawyer’s initial silliness.

250, 190, 103. Let’s review the range of claims about the number of U.S. cities with protests:

– ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Monday’s World News: “More than 250 American cities.”
– NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo, Thursday’s NBC Nightly News: “Thousands taking to the streets in at least 190 cities nationwide.”
– Scott Pelley, Thursday’s CBS Evening News: The protests “have now spread to 103 cities in 36 states.”

MRC Media Reality Check posted Thursday. “A Tale of Two Protests: Media Cheer Wall Street Occupiers But Jeered Tea Partiers; Study: ABC, CBS and NBC loaded their broadcasts with 33 full stories in just 11 days of coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests.”

From the top of the Thursday, October 13 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. Back on September 17th, very few people had heard of the protest movement called Occupy Wall Street, but they did and they sure have since then. And so far there have been over a thousand arrests across the United States as the movement spreads. They share a heritage with other big protest movements in American history. Some of them have changed history. Even though this protest doesn’t look the same or take the same shape exactly any two days in a row, it’s on the move. The players change. But the center of the message is increasingly resonating. The crowds tell us that. Now the polls tell us that. But tomorrow here in New York an important moment arrives right where it all started. It’s where we begin tonight with NBC's Mara Schiavocampo. Mara, good evening.

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO: Brian, good evening. Protesters here at Zuccotti Park are bracing for a showdown with police tomorrow because the park’s owners say they want the group temporarily moved. This as demonstrations continue to take hold around the country. Almost one month in, the Occupy Wall Street protests are growing in number and intensity. Thousands taking to the streets in at least 190 cities nationwide.

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds 37 percent of Americans support the protesters, with 40 percent of wealthy Americans backing the movement, more than any other income group....

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