Networks Spin Violent 'Occupy' Protesters as 'Pushing Back,' Minimize Rock Throwing

According to the network morning shows, violent Occupy Wall Street protesters are fighting back against government officials who are trying to rein them in. Early Show's Erica Hill highlighted "this growing crackdown on the anti-Wall Street protests around the country." She added, "In Oakland, California, the protesters are pushing back."

The "pushing back" came in the form of throwing rocks and bottles at police officers who attempted to remove them from a public encampment.

Co-host Matt Lauer teased the segment by wondering, "Crackdown...What's driving the rising tension?"

Today offered one sentence references to the rock and bottle throwing. The show also gave the least amount of coverage, despite being the longest program. Just 49 seconds were allowed over four hours.

On Good Morning America, news reader Josh Elliott buried the lede. He narrated, "On the street, it had the look and feel of a war zone. Police firing stun grenades, bean bag projectiles and rubber bullets."

The news anchor treated as fact the claim that rubber bullets were used. However, the L.A Times reports:

Protesters had also thrown paint "and other agents" at officers, he said. The crowd reached about 1,000 at its peak, [Oakland Interim Police Chief Howard] Jordan said, noting that police used bean bag rounds to disperse demonstrators. He said no rubber bullets were used -- a claim disputed by protesters.

Yet, he waited until the very end to explain what prompted the violence near a government building: "Police said they had no choice but to use tear gas after protesters began throwing rocks and bottles at them." 

Elliott even tied a new Congressional Budget Office study, into the protests. He linked, "Of course, much of what's fueling these protests, the sense that only the rich are getting richer. And this morning, a new report supports that belief." The CBO study claims the wealthiest one percent saw their income grow by 275 percent over the last decade.

The ABC journalist appeared to be trying to distance the Occupy Wall Street brand from the violence in Oakland. (100 people were arrested.) In the first segment, he mentioned, by name, the group once. In a follow-up piece, Elliott didn't even use the words Occupy Wall Street at all.

On CBS's Early Show, reporter John Blackstone insisted, "Yet, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that 43% of Americans agree with the Occupy Wall Street movements, while 27% disagree."

But, he left out a key point from CBS's own poll. According to the survey:

Opinions on Occupy Wall Street Movement
Favorable 25%
Unfavorable 20
Undecided/Haven’t heard enough 53

Isn't the fact that 53 percent of American's are undecided or haven't heard enough important enough to mention? 
   
A transcript of the October 26 GMA segment can be found below:


7:02

JOSH ELLIOTT: But, we're going to begin in Oakland, California, where one man said, and I do quote, "It sounded like bombs going off." Police clashing with anti-Wall Street protesters, cracking down on hundreds of demonstrators, who refused to give up their ground. On the street, it had the look and feel of a war zone. Police firing stun grenades, bean bag projectiles and rubber bullets. Tear gas flying. From the air, panic. The crowd, seen here dispersing in seconds, running for cover. All the result of a day-long encroachment by police, who moved in the early morning, dismantling the protesters' tent city.

DEANNA SANTANA (City administrator): I made the decision with the team that was in place to put an end as to what I see is a very, a very critical situation, that posed significant risk.

ELLIOTT: But the protesters returned. Trying to take back the plaza that had been theirs for more than two weeks.

BRADLEY JUDD (Protester): Taking away people's right to peacefully assemble in this country. You know, this is really outrageous.

ELLIOTT: Also overnight, arrests in Atlanta, with protesters defying orders to vacate a city park. This scene ended peacefully. But in Oakland, a far different result. More than 100 people arrested, two police officers injured. And other people, like this woman in her car, left in disbelief at the violence and chaos, unspooling in her streets. Police said they had no choice but to use tear gas after protesters began throwing rocks and bottles at them. Of course, much of what's fueling these protests, the sense that only the rich are getting richer. And this morning, a new report supports that belief. It found, over the past three decades, the wealthiest one percent of Americans saw their wealth grow some 275 percent. But, people in the middle three fifths of the population saw their income rise only 40 percent.   

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org