CBS's Early Show on Monday found yet another excuse to report on Occupy Wall Street, spotlighting the diehard protesters who stayed in Zuccotti Park during a winter storm. While correspondent Debbye Turner Bell noted the $3.4 million spent on police overtime in New York City and the complaints from businesses near the demonstrators' campsite, she didn't play one sound bite from the opposition.
Turner Bell first highlighted the "freezing temperatures and record-breaking October snow" over the past weekend in the Northeast and added, "And that does raise the question of how committed are these Occupy Wall Street protesters? But there's another question: can local city governments afford to pay the price tag that goes along with expressing this basic American right?"
Seven out of eight of the sound bites during the correspondent's report came from either the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators themselves or from those who sympathized with them, even as she reported on the $3.4 million in taxpayer money spent by New York City's government, and how "Boston has rung up a $2 million tab. Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Phoenix have all spent over $200,000." The remaining clip came from an unidentified woman who complained, "I can't even talk, it's so cold."
Near the end of the segment, Turner Bell stated that she spoke to "a number of business owners in the community surrounding Zuccotti Park, and they're growing a little weary of the inconveniences of the protests- so many people, so much noise all the time- and then, even protesters using their restroom facilities....I would say that the welcome is wearing a little thin here in the community surrounding Zuccotti Park." However, she couldn't find one of the business owners or their employees to speak on camera, as there wasn't one sound bite from them or their employees during her report.
The Early Show has consistently given glowing coverage to the left-leaning protests during the past weeks. Correspondent Bigad Shaban omitted the far-left politics of Daily Kos contributor Jesse LaGreca during an October 10 report. The following morning, he touted the "hungry for change" demonstrators' "self-operating mini-community." On October 14, Jim Axelrod played up the "mood of jubilation and celebration" after Zuccotti Park's owners decided to rescind their decision to have the open space cleaned.
By October 18, The Early Show found it fit to play up the music of Occupy Wall Street and how "some believe if history is any indication, they could provide harmony to a movement." Just over a week later, Erica Hill downplayed the violence and anti-Semitic incidents at the protests as merely "the actions of a few." All of this is just a continuation of the trend set by the Big Three protestors from the beginning of the month, which the MRC documented in an October 13 special report, to give the movement overwhelmingly positive coverage, as opposed to the jeering they gave the Tea Party back in 2009 and 2010.
The full transcript of Debbye Turner Bell's report on Monday's Early Show, which aired 41 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour:
ERICA HILL: Over the past six weeks, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread to dozens of cities around the country.
JEFF GLOR: But after this early blast of winter, some are wondering, are the protesters ready to stick it out through snow and freezing temperatures? There is clearly more on the way.
Correspondent Debbye Turner Bell is in lower Manhattan with more on that. Debbye, good morning.
DEBBYE TURNER BELL: Good morning, Jeff and Erica. You know, over the weekend, Mother Nature staged her own protest, with freezing temperatures and record-breaking October snow. And that does raise the question of how committed are these Occupy Wall Street protesters? But there's another question: can local city governments afford to pay the price tag that goes along with expressing this basic American right?
[CBS News Graphic: "Mother Nature Vs. 'Occupy': Protestors Forced To Tackle Winter Weather"]
TURNER BELL (voice-over): (clip of protesters chanting, "Through the snow, through the sleet, occupy Wall Street!") As the unseasonably early nor'easter hit Zuccotti Park-
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: I can't even talk, it's so cold.
TURNER BELL: Occupy Wall Street protesters hunkered down for a long, wet, raw night.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2: The fact that people are staying out here in this weather, I find, is amazing.
TURNER BELL: But some wonder whether the protesters' passion can stay hot in the New York City cold.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: The people that are really determined and, I think, really want to make a change that they believe in, I feel that it will- they'll stay.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: People are willing to fight-
TURNER BELL: Occupiers are convinced they can endure the test of time and temperature. But can city budgets handle the costs that come with the movement? The tab is adding up quickly, as cities provide police for crowd control and protection, firemen for emergencies, and sanitation services to address the growing mountain of refuse.
SCOTT STRINGER, MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT: This was not a predicted expense, but, obviously, we will absorb it as best we can. Democracy is expensive.
TURNER BELL: New York City has reportedly spent $3.4 million on police overtime. Boston has rung up a $2 million tab. Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Phoenix have all spent over $200,000.
STRINGER: When you're the capital of the world, you know, you're going to pay a little bit more because people are going to come here and express themselves.
BILL DOBBS, MEDIA LIAISON, OCCUPY WALL STREET: It is money well-spent because it enables people to register their grievances about the government, about Wall Street, and about greed.
TURNER BELL: It's a small price to pay for Esther Mack, who took time off her teaching job in Athens, Georgia, to join the cause.
ESTHER MACK, PROTESTOR, OCCUPY WALL STREET: We are all tired of the way our country is being run, so I want to change that. So, by being here, I hope to change that and have a better future for myself.
TURNER BELL: As protesters brace for yet another frigid night, it remains to be seen whether their resilience can match their resolve.
TURNER BELL (on-camera): The protesters, at least here in the Northeast, are in for a long, bone-chilling haul. Forecasters are predicting a very cold winter. And Jeff and Erica, I spoke to a number of business owners in the community surrounding Zuccotti Park, and they're growing a little weary of the inconveniences of the protests- so many people, so much noise all the time- and then, even protesters using their restroom facilities. In fact, most of the restaurants around this park, there are signs on the doors that say, restrooms are for customers only. So I would say that the welcome is wearing a little thin here in the community surrounding Zuccotti Park. Guys, back to you.
HILL: Debbye Turner Bell for us in Zuccotti Park this morning- Deb, thanks.