ABC Hypes ‘Massive’ OWS Protest and NBC Touts ‘Huge Crowds,’ But CBS Sees Just ‘a Thousand’

Substitute ABC anchor David Muir opened Thursday’s World News by hyping “masses of people taking to the streets here in New York City,” before reporter Dan Harris referenced “this massive protest march tonight” and “this big protest.”

Yet over on the CBS Evening News, Jim Axelrod noted how though “organizers promised tens of thousands demonstrators disrupting business as usual here in New York,” they didn’t show up: “Frankly, we’ve seen a fraction of that number -- closer to a thousand.”

NBC came in somewhere in between with anchor Brian Williams touting “thousands on the move” and reporter Mike Taibbi acknowledging “the Occupy Wall Street movement had promised huge crowds for its day of action,” then asserting “that prediction finally looked realistic a short time ago. Now some 5,000 protesters, union members and supporters are gathered in Foley Square.”

Since when is a crowd of 5,000 “huge”?

Muir led his newscast over video showing a moderate-sized crowd filling most of an intersection: “As we come on the air tonight, the Occupy Wall Street movement is reaching a flash point. Two months ago today it began, and this is what it looks like from the sky tonight. Masses of people taking to the streets here in New York City...

Harris, from the street, asserted: “This massive protest march tonight comes just two days after protesters were kicked out of their camp in lower Manhattan. Tonight with this big protest, they are trying to prove they still have momentum.”

From the top of the Thursday, November 17 ABC World News:

DAVID MUIR: Good evening. As we come on the air tonight, the Occupy Wall Street movement is reaching a flash point. Two months ago today it began, and this is what it looks like from the sky tonight. Masses of people taking to the streets here in New York City and it was a day marked by this. Arrests, chaos and clashes with police and live pictures tonight, New York City police now manning barricades right here, bracing for chaos as the protesters swarm the Brooklyn Bridge. Right there in it, ABC’s Dan Harris on the front lines, asking demonstrators today “just what you do want from all of this?” Dan, good evening.

DAN HARRIS: Hey, David, good evening to you. From the base of the Brooklyn Bridge where protesters managed to shut down both lanes of traffic on this historic span just moments ago. This massive protest march tonight comes just two days after protesters were kicked out of their camp in lower Manhattan. Tonight with this big protest, they are trying to prove they still have momentum. They swarmed the streets, trying to shut down the stock exchange, but it didn’t quite work...

Brian Williams started the NBC Nightly News by trumpeting the liberal cause:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. Tonight from New York, west to Chicago and St. Louis and beyond, members of the protest movement that started under the banner Occupy Wall Street are on the move. This is the two-month anniversary of the birth of the movement and this was billed as a day of action. It started in New York with thousands on the move and police right behind them. We begin with this still unfolding story tonight. NBC's Mike Taibbi in lower Manhattan. Hey, Mike. Good evening.

MIKE TAIBBI: Good evening, Brian. You know, the Occupy Wall Street movement had promised huge crowds for its day of action and that prediction finally looked realistic a short time ago. Now some 5,000 protesters, union members and supporters are gathered in Foley Square. That’s near New York City Hall and all the city’s federal buildings. Before that, much smaller crowds and the police in complete control even when tempers flared...

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