Media Breezes By Politically Embarrassing Occupy May Day Protests

When the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement first arrived on the scene back in October of 2011 the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) news networks greeted, what they viewed as the left’s answer to the Tea Party, with a whopping 33 full stories in just the first 11 days of coverage and a total of 81 stories in that month. However, when that movement proved to be an embarrassment to the left and Democratic Party with its acts of violence, most recently on May Day, the Big Three breezed past the ugly actions of this leftist movement with just one full story.

From May 1 through the morning of May 3 ABC, CBS and NBC, in their morning and evening newscasts, devoted a total of just 4 minutes combined to the Occupy Wall Street movement’s day of disruption that included blocking traffic, vandalism and sending simulated anthrax letters to banks full of white powder.

In addition to the one full story (aired on the May 1 edition of Good Morning America) there were a total of seven briefs (combined) on all three networks. There were three briefs aired on ABC’s Good Morning America. Co-anchor Josh Elliot actually noted, on May 2, “dozens of people are under arrest after Occupy protests turn violent across the country,” in Oakland, New York and Seattle. There were no briefs on ABC’s World News.

CBS had one brief on the May 1 Evening News as anchor Scott Pelley delivered the following 25 second report: “The Occupy Wall Street movement chose this May Day to revive its protest campaign. In Seattle, anarchists in black went on a rampage smashing bank and business windows, setting fires and throwing at least one smoke bomb. In Oakland, demonstrators confronted riot police, who made several arrests. And thousands turned out for a nonviolent protest in New York where the movement began.”

CBS This Morning had no briefs but did manage to squeeze in an 8 second soundbite from Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, at the top of its May 1 show, in its Eye Opener montage segment.

NBC had a total of just three briefs, two on the Today show, and one anchor read brief from Brian Williams, on the May 1 edition of NBC’s Nightly News. Williams reported that the OWS protest movement had “re-emerged on the scene” after “being dormant for much of the winter season.” Williams added: “They staged protests targeting the big [bank] names, including Bank of America, Chase, Citibank.” Williams briefly also noted that in Oakland there were “some skirmishes” with several arrests.




The following is the one full story aired on the Big Three networks about the May Day protests, as it was broadcast on the May 1 edition of Good Morning America:

JOSH ELLIOTT: And we’re going to discuss that Occupy protest. Good morning to you and all of you. It’s a potential nightmare for the morning commute. Demonstrators here in New York and across the country, as you just saw, threatening now to block bridges, tunnels and ferries, all to protest corporate America. And already a big scare. White powder sent to several major banks. ABC’s John Berman joins us, now, from lower Manhattan with the latest there. Good morning to you, John.

JOHN BERMAN: Good morning, Josh. Well, May Day is International Workers Day, a traditional day of protest. And the Occupy movement is expected to use this to stage some of their biggest protests in months. Overnight in San Francisco, vandals took to the streets, breaking windows with spray paint. Here in New York City, police are concerned that protesters might try and block major intersections, like the Brooklyn Bridge here, behind me, even the entrances to banks. Overnight, several banks received threatening letters with white powder inside. It turned out to be cornstarch. But there were threatening notes saying, “This is a reminder. You are not in control.” And police are looking to connections with the Occupy movement.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.