Times Watch has shown how deeply the left-wing motif of Occupy Wall Street – of the embattled impoverished 99% battling the over-privileged 1% – has sunken into the collective consciousness of New York Times journalists. It was all over the Times this weekend, from front page news to a special Education pullout featuring interviews with "aspiring idealists" fighting "the political and financial masters of the universe."
The special Sunday section of Education Life featured Cara Buckley’s “The New Student Activism – The Occupy movement on campus seems to have legs. But how strong is their will?”
Ashley Ward, an aspiring idealist with waning faith in the world, was standing in the newsroom of her college paper at Humboldt State University in Northern California when a fellow student rushed in with startling news.
Three thousand miles due east, on a tiny patch of Lower Manhattan, people were camping out to protest Wall Street, decrying its stranglehold on politics and continuing enrichment as the economy flatlined. It was the first that Ms. Ward, then a senior, had heard of Occupy Wall Street, and as she learned more about it, her heart glowed. “I’ve been waiting for something to happen for years,” she said. “I was personally starting to get afraid that something like this wouldn’t happen in my lifetime.”
She and a friend resolved to bring Occupy to their campus. They printed fliers, set up a Web site and blasted out e-mails. They told as many people as they could about their action plan. On Oct. 1, they held a sprawling, consensus-style meeting on campus, a version of the general assemblies being held in Zuccotti Park in New York, and set up tents. And thus was born one of the first Occupy Wall Street college protests.
Occupy protests rapidly sprouted at other campuses: hundreds nationwide currently have or had some sort of Occupy-related activity going on. Mirroring the broader movement, students have taken aim at widening income disparities and the cozy symbiosis between Washington and Wall Street. But the college occupiers have also embraced a panoply of causes, localizing and personalizing their protests in a way that has lent an immediacy and urgency to their outcries.
Buckley flattered the lefty protesters:
The movement has had the subtler effect of turning on its head the widespread characterization of today’s young people as entitled and apathetic. Among them was Ericka Hoffman, 26, a junior at California State University, Bakersfield, and one of the organizers of Occupy Colleges, a nonprofit group that facilitates Occupy movements at colleges. Before Occupy, activism did not interest her, but that changed with President Obama’s election. Ms. Hoffman saw him enacting policies as usual and, in her view, coming down on the side of Wall Street.
But the hardest battle, she believes, will be getting the political and financial masters of the universe to listen.
Culture critic Neil Gabler filed a column at the end of the section, “1% Education,” applying the tired lefty template to the educational establishment, as if conservatives rule the academies:
It has been a populist winter. As Occupy Wall Street needles America’s financial sector over the country’s economic imbalance, it also focuses attention on another issue that helps feed that imbalance: educational inequality.
Just as the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans gobble up a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic resources and rejigger our institutions to funnel them benefits and power, so too do our educational 1 percent suck up a disproportionate share of academic opportunities, and threaten to reconfigure academic culture so that it both mimics and serves their values.
Jon Caramanica reviewed two new Country Music Television reality shows about newly rich families for the Saturday Arts section, and can’t help make the comparison: “'Bayou Billionaires,' which begins on Saturday on CMT, is a chronicle of the other 1 percent, in a place where extreme wealth doesn’t appear to be an enemy, or even a normal goal, but rather the happiest of accidents....In one episode Gerald and Kitten buy a truckload of useless things at a local auction, then decide on a yard sale to liquidate their overstock. Flush with cash, Gerald makes a TV commercial to advertise the sale, then jokes that he 'spent more money on the commercial than we made on the yard sale!' It’s hard not to wince just a little. The 99 percent awaits."
Julie Werdigier’s report for Monday’s Business section, “In Britain, Rising Outcry Over Executive Pay That Makes ‘People’s Blood Boil,” was notable for the slanted headline and extraneous photo of three protesters with Occupy London (above).
The Tea Party protesters were certainly never flattered like this.
Nina Bernstein’s Sunday front-page story even uncovered haves and have-nots in hospital stays (“Chefs, Butlers, Marble Baths: Hospitals Vie for the Affluent”) and referenced how “in the age of Occupy Wall Street, catering to the rich can be trickier than ever.