Self-Loathing? Former Newsweek Reporter Denounces 'Mainstream Media' on OWS

One of the most popular articles on the liberal website Slate right now is by former Newsweek legal reporter Dahlia Lithwick, denouncing the "mainstream media" which fail to understand the Occupy Wall Street movement. The article is titled "Occupy the No-Spin Zone." Lithwick speaks as a participant, since "I spent time this weekend at Occupy Wall Street and my husband spent much of last week adding his voice to the protesters there." (Her husband, Aaron Fein, is a sculptor, so he has the free time.)

Dahlia's not just denouncing Fox News (all liberals do), but denouncing the mainstream media for not being leftist enough, for devoting "four mind-numbing years" to chronicling the Kardashians and taking the Palin family seriously:

This would require the belief that this guy is a more serious news subject. Anyway, she writes:

For the past several years, while the mainstream media was dutifully reporting on all things Kardashian or (more recently) a wholly manufactured debt-ceiling crisis, ordinary people were losing their health care, their homes, their jobs, and their savings. Those people have taken that narrative to Facebook and Twitter—just as citizens took to those alternative forms of media throughout the Middle East as part of the Arab Spring. And just to be clear: They aren’t holding up signs that say “I want Bill O’Reilly’s stuff.” They aren’t holding up signs that say “I am animated by toxic levels of envy and entitlement.” They are holding up signs that are perfectly and intrinsically clear: They want accountability for the banks that took their money, they want to end corporate control of government. They want their jobs back. They would like to feed their children. They want—wait, no, we want—to be heard by a media that has devoted four mind-numbing years to channeling and interpreting every word uttered by a member of the Palin family while ignoring the voices of everyone else.

And there’s this. The mainstream media thrives on simple solutions. It has no idea whatsoever of how to report on a story that isn’t about easy fixes so much as it is about anguished human frustration and fear. The media prides itself on its ability to tell you how to clear your clutter, regrout your shower, or purge your closet of anything that makes you look fat—in 24 minutes or less. It is bound to be flummoxed by a protest that offers up no happy endings. Luckily for us, #OWS doesn’t seem to care.

Fox News will never succeed in ridiculing her pals on the hard left decrying the evils of capitalism:

It must be painful for the pundits at Fox News. The more they demand that OWS explain itself in simple, Fox-like terms, the more cheerfully they are ignored by the occupiers around the country. As efforts to ridicule the protesters fail, attempts to repurpose the good old days of enemies lists falter; and efforts to demonize the occupiers backfire, polls continue to show that Americans support the protesters and share their goals. The rest of us quickly cottoned on to the fact that the only people who are scared of the “violent mobs” at Occupy Wall Street are the people being paid to call them violent mobs.

But Dahlia's clearly indicting the "corporate media" as a whole. Er, Dahlia, you work for The Washington Post Company. If they've died, aren't you out of a paycheck? Aren't you declaring your bosses are clueless dinosaurs? Or are they merely clueless corporate dinosaurs who aren't yet smart enough to realize they're really backing OWS sympathizers who are one of those rare people who truly understand the world?

Mark your calendars: The corporate media died when it announced it was too sophisticated to understand simple declarative sentences. While the mainstream media expresses puzzlement and fear at these incomprehensible “protesters” with their oddly well-worded “signs,” the rest of us see our own concerns reflected back at us and understand perfectly. Turning off mindless programming might be the best thing that ever happens to this polity. Hey, occupiers: You’re the new news. And even better, by refusing to explain yourselves, you’re actually changing what’s reported as news. Because it takes a tremendous mental effort to refuse to see that the rich are getting richer in America while the rest of us are struggling. Maybe the days of explaining the patently obvious to the transparently compromised are finally behind us.

By refusing to take a ragtag, complicated, and leaderless movement seriously, the mainstream media has succeeded only in ensuring its own irrelevance. The rest of America has little trouble understanding that these are ragtag, complicated, and leaderless times. This may not make for great television, but any movement that acknowledges that fact deserves enormous credit.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis