CNN's Toobin Contradicted By Own Network, Claims 'Occupy' NYC Protests Didn't Disrupt Traffic

During CNN's Thursday evening coverage of Occupy Wall Street, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin dismissed worries that the protesters in New York City had disrupted the afternoon commutes of city workers– but his claim was flatly contradicted by CNN's own report from the previous hour.

Toobin, who was giving his legal analysis at the top of the 7 p.m. hour, said that the First Amendment protected protesters, they were on "good ground," and that "they're not disrupting people's trains home, or car rides home."

However CNN's Amber Lyon, reporting live from Brooklyn Bridge at the top of the 6 p.m. hour, said that some protesters sat down in the road in front of the bridge and were being arrested – and that no traffic was getting by.

"But we have protesters that are in the middle of the road right now," reported Lyon. "A couple dozen of them sat down in the middle of the street, right in front of the Brooklyn Bridge, and they continue to sit there right now. We've seen several police officers go in and, as I speak, they are arresting these protesters."

She added that "we're not seeing any cars go through here right now."

A transcript of the segments, which aired on November 17 at 6:01 p.m. and 7:06 p.m. EST respectively, is as follows:

CNN
JOHN KING, USA
11/17/11
6:01 p.m. EST

AMBER LYON, CNN correspondent: Well, things are getting a little tense behind me. I apologize, Candy.

But we have protesters that are in the middle of the road right now. That's why they're trying to get past me. A couple dozen of them sat down in the middle of the street, right in front of the Brooklyn Bridge, and they continue to sit there right now. We've seen several police officers go in and, as I speak, they are arresting these protesters.

A big goal and worry tonight was whether or not the protesters would go and cross the street, and police had even set up barricades to try to keep them out on the sidewalks and kind of organize this march. But as you can see right now, they didn't follow the barricades whatsoever. You see these guys in white shirts walking through the street. They completely came out here and they've blocked out traffic and are continuing to walk across the bridge.

What – what it seems like right now with the amount of people in the street, it seems like police have semi kind of lost control of this big crowd, because we are seeing so many people in the middle of that road, and we're not seeing any cars go through here right now. Candy?

CNN
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
11/17/11
7:06 p.m. EST

ERIN BURNETT: Because what are their rights – where does it come – where is there a line, if there is legally, where you are allowed to protest and exercise your First Amendment rights, and then you're not allowed to because you're disrupting commerce? Earlier today, obviously, there was some pride from some protesters about disrupting traffic, disrupting buses, and shutting down entrances to businesses?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN senior legal analyst: Right. Well as so often in the law, it's not a very clear line, but the general outlines of the rules have been established for many, many years. The government is allowed to make what are called time, place and manner restrictions on exercises of the First Amendment rights.

They can say, you know, this has to end at 1 in the morning. It says, you can't go in the street. You can't go on somebody's lawn. You can't have a bullhorn in a residential neighborhood. Those are all well-established restrictions. But you can't have so many restrictions that it amounts to preventing people from exercising their First Amendment rights. And it sounds like, you know, the bridge protest is an example of one where everybody is on good ground. You know you have people protesting by the thousands. But they're not disrupting people's trains home, or car rides home.

BURNETT: Right, absolutely.

TOOBIN: So, you know, it seems to be – as Commissioner Safir said, a pretty good day, in terms of how it unfolded.

BURNETT: It absolutely does

As far as what's happening in the middle of the crowd, we're seeing a bit of a scuffle and some movement. But, Candy, we just don't know if things have gotten violent or not in there.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014