WaPo Style Section Devotes Nearly Four Pages of Puffery to 'Vibrant Urbanism' of Occupy D.C.

"To passerby" the Occupy D.C. protest at McPherson Square "is a jumble of tents and blue tarps," but to the Washington Post's Philip Kennicott, the Occupiers "have 'activated' the urban core," with "a living exercise in do-it-yourself (or DIY) urbanism, a trendy movement that strives to engage ordinary people in a hands-on approach to shaping and claiming public space."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg as Kennicott and his comrades commandeered 3.5 pages of the Style section to puff up the left-wing squatters' camp.

"A Square Gets Hip: In Gen. McPherson's park, the Occupy D.C. encampment improvises a vibrant urbanism," reads the headline on the front page of today's Style section. In a cutesy tip-of-the-hat to the Occupiers, the Style section's header is emblazoned with a red-lettered "OCCUPIED" tag to render today's section as "Occupied Style."

Above the page C1 headline is an annotated illustration by Post graphic artist Patterson Clark that depicts a map of the camp, complete with captions labeling walkways in the square after leftist icons like Malcolm X, Angela Davis, and Che Guevara (see screen captures below).


Kennicott's piece continues on pages C6-7, where it's accompanied by four articles devoted to the camp's food tent, library, medical tent, and newspapers. The "Occupied" coverage ends on page C8 with a photo essay entitled "The power of the people's campground."

For his part, Kennicott seems amazed at how the Occupy D.C. camp's "paradoxically conservative use of space" has resulted in an "essentially 'zoned'" campground. Kennicott later gushed that the squatters' camp was in and of itself a rebuke of capitalism, which "uses spectacle to control and degrade culture."

While nearby on 7th Street Northwest "giant video screens, enormous electronic signs and an alluring blur of brand-name restaurants and stores mask the generic commercialization of what could have been.... In McPherson Square, the Occupy protesters have created a spontaneous library and host musical performances, all without major corporate sponsorship," Kennicott approvingly noted.

As to the makeshift library, Post book critic Ron Charles reports "The rules are simple: no library cards, no due dates." The result, however is that "Many books never come back."

But leaving trifling things like that aside, the Style writers generally romanticize the Occupy D.C. crowd.

"The urban encampment hints at the beginning and the end of urban life, its nascence and dissolution," Kennicott pontificated. "It's a powerful display, a mix of both admonition and promise, suggesting not only that we could all be homeless but that we could also live better, differently, more communally."

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters