Bozell Column: Protests Turn Violent, But Media Stay Syrupy
NBC anchor Brian Williams, in the argot of the moment, certainly belongs to The One Percent. He lives in the glass-encased Bloomberg Tower in mid-town Manhattan, 34 stories above the tony restaurant Le Cirque at 58th Street and Lexington Avenue. For years he has lived up in the luxury apartment heavens with Beyonce and GE chieftains past and present (both Jack Welch and Jeffrey Immelt). He’s earned it.
Yet night after night on the news, Williams and the other one percent multi-millionaire anchors dutifully chronicle every new publicity line from the people who "occupy" parks (often public parks) to claim to represent the "99 percent." It’s liberal guilt in motion. The anchors lovingly cite old Sixties leftist slogans like "The whole world is watching," which is nonsense if you look at their ratings but they sure do wish the whole world would watch. To the liberal media, these protests are a story of populist heroes bravely standing against what Teddy Roosevelt called "the malefactors of great wealth."
They're willing to promote these protests even as they've turned ugly and violent against the police. Williams was still boosting them a night after NBC reported a horrific scene in Oakland. “Police say rocks, bottles, even small explosives were thrown at them,” reported NBC’s Miguel Almaguer. “More than 100 were arrested as the late-night crowd swelled to nearly a thousand."
NBC quoted Oakland police chief Howard Jordan: “The decision to move was based on public health and safety due to defecation, fire hazards, sexual assault incidents, violent behavior and a denial of access of medical aid.”
Does NBC consider all this behavior noble, worthy the fawning declaration that “the whole world is watching”? Do they think the police chiefs are lying when they accuse protesters of throwing small explosives or engaging in sexual assault? Or is all of that just a small price to pay for boosting the nostalgic smell of the Sixties?
NBC put all of their scrutiny on the Oakland police force. On October 27, Almaguer focused on the newest icon of the protesters, Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, who had his skull fractured in the Oakland melee. NBC quoted a friend, saying that Olsen was “just expressing his First Amendment right and his conviction that the corporate greed and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan need to come to an end.
NBC simply assumed Olsen was harmed by the police, even as they explained that protesters were throwing rocks and small explosives.
Somehow “freedom of speech” requires violence for the Left. It draws larger press coverage, even as it seems to be designed to cast the police as an evil empire. These protesters seek to delegitimize the government. Where is the media outrage?
Does anyone recall tear gas and rock-throwing riots at Tea Party events? In the days before ObamaCare passed in March 2010, the networks aired national stories condemning spitting and name-calling at congressmen. Never mind that it wasn’t true. Suppose it was? It still pales in comparison with throwing rocks and small explosives. Yet the Tea Party was painted as a violent fringe, while the Occupiers are a syrupy story of History Sleeps in Tents.
Liberal media people would argue with a straight face that the Occupiers are more newsworthy than the Tea Party because they don’t protest for five hours on the weekend and go back to their jobs. Sleeping in the park, night after night, somehow makes the leftists “resonate” better.
Ok, reverse it. Imagine if a Christian revivalist group decided to “occupy” a city park for three months and required police supervision that cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Wouldn’t the media see this as an improper use –indeed a violation of public property and an unethical waste of tight city budgets – for a narrow, sectarian cause?
Or imagine if a gaggle of protesters decided to “occupy” the hallway of Brian Williams in the Bloomberg Tower for months. Could they chant “the whole world is watching” every morning when he popped out to grab his New York Times? Would he smile and wave? Or would that suddenly seem less like a free-speech festival and more like politicized vagrants squatting? How much would you bet Brian would quickly call the security forces to get them removed?