CBS: Extremism at 'Occupy' Protests Merely the 'Actions of a Few'

On Wednesday's Early Show, CBS's Erica Hill downplayed the instances of violence and bigotry found at Occupy Wall Street protests as simply "the actions of a few," after GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich denounced the "frightening level of anti-Semitism in some of these gatherings." Hill questioned Gingrich over his supposedly "pretty outspoken words" about the left-leaning movement [audio clip available here; video available below the jump].

The anchor raised the demonstrations towards the end of her interview of the former House speaker, after Gingrich claimed that "people are pretty sick of the lack of civility...they watch Washington, they watch gridlock, [and] they watch a president who's more comfortable on [Jay] Leno than he is in trying to govern the country." Hill replied that "people, too, are fed up, as we know- we see a lot of this with the Occupy Wall Street protests. The latest CBS News/New York Times poll finds that 46% of Americans say that their views reflect a sentiment that most Americans share."

Actually, this figure doesn't tell the whole story, as CBS's own poll cites how 53% of those polled also are undecided or haven't heard enough about Occupy Wall Street. When the CBS journalist continued with her "pretty outspoken words" phrase and emphasized that "a number of Americans say they're behind" the protests, Gingrich acknowledged some of the movement's legitimate concerns, but then launched his attack:

GINGRICH: We ought to be angry, when you look at, for example, the fix that's been in for some of the big boys, the amount of billions of dollars that have been given out. You look at the secrecy of the Federal Reserve. You look at [Ben] Bernanke being in charge of hundreds of billions of dollars of your money- people have a right to be angry.

My question for the Occupy Wall Street group is, what's their message? Frankly, if you look at some of the signs, you listen to some of the interviews, there's a frightening level of anti-Semitism in some of these gatherings- fundamentally different than the Tea Party. The Tea Party people are studying the Constitution, studying the Declaration of Independence, studying the Federalist Papers, trying to find what made America great. The Occupy Wall Street crowd, frankly, strike me, on occasion, as taking their anger and turning it into a justification for vandalism and for violence or, frankly, vulgarity, that doesn't advance the ball- doesn't get us into a better future.

Before concluding the interview, Hill replied to Gingrich's answer by stating that "some would say those are the actions of a few."

Erica Hill, CBS News Anchor, & Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich | NewsBusters.orgJust under a month earlier, during a September 29 interview with the Republican candidate, the anchor had expressed her concern about the influence of the Tea Party movement: "The Tea Party has really made some big inroads...But there's a feeling by some folks that this very small group of people is starting to control the conversation. Do there need to be more voices at the table, in general, at this point?" In February 2010, prior to Hill becoming the regular anchor, The Early Show hyped the "significant shift to the right" the Tea Party was apparently bringing to the Republican Party. This was part by an effort by the ABC, CBS, and NBC to first dismiss the grassroots conservative movement, and later paint it as fringe, using isolated examples of questionable behavior by Tea Partiers, as documented in an April 10, 2010 special report from the Media Research Center.

On Tuesday, MRC President Brent Bozell called on the Big Three networks, including CBS, to start reporting on the examples of racism, especially anti-Semitism, that been manifest at Occupy Wall Street protests across the country. Bozell was soon joined by three Jewish leaders in his demand of these media outlets.

The transcript of the relevant portion of Erica Hill's interview of Newt Gingrich, starting at the five minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour mark:

ERICA HILL: ...[H]ave you had any specific conversations with them [fellow GOP candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney] about the bickering? Because you have been very public in your displeasure with it.

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, no. I think what I've said in public is pretty clear, and I have a hunch both of them have read it. Everybody has got to do what they think is best, in order to try to serve the country. I just think we're in a period- I'm looking forward very much to the one-on-one dialogue with Herman Cain I'm going to have in Houston on November 5, because I think it will be a good model of the difference in the approach in the way in which you can actually have a conversation- you can disagree about details, but you don't have to be disagreeable. And I think people are pretty sick of the lack of civility, not just in the debates, but they watch Washington, they watch gridlock, they watch a president who's more comfortable on Leno than he is in trying to govern the country, and I think people are really looking for mature leadership that will solve some of these problems.

HILL: You've had some- people, too, are fed up, as we know- we see a lot of this with the Occupy Wall Street protests. The latest CBS News/New York Times poll finds that 46% of Americans say that their views reflect a sentiment that most Americans share. You have had some pretty outspoken words, though, for the folks behind Occupy Wall Street, that you don't think this is a great move, that you don't really see what their point is. Yet, a number of Americans say they're behind it.


GINGRICH: Well, look, I think if you say, do you agree you should be angry, I'm with them. We ought to be angry, when you look at, for example, the fix that's been in for some of the big boys, the amount of billions of dollars that have been given out. You look at the secrecy of the Federal Reserve. You look at [Ben] Bernanke being in charge of hundreds of billions of dollars of your money- people have a right to be angry.

My question for the Occupy Wall Street group is, what's their message? Frankly, if you look at some of the signs, you listen to some of the interviews, there's a frightening level of anti-Semitism in some of these gatherings- fundamentally different than the Tea Party. The Tea Party people are studying the Constitution, studying the Declaration of Independence, studying the Federalist Papers, trying to find what made America great. The Occupy Wall Street crowd, frankly, strike me, on occasion, as taking their anger and turning it into a justification for vandalism and for violence or, frankly, vulgarity, that doesn't advance the ball- doesn't get us into a better future.

HILL: Some would say those are the actions of a few. We're going to have to leave it there, sir- appreciate your time this morning.

GINGRICH: Thank you

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center