Very much unlike how they greeted the Tea Party protests in early 2009, the networks are embracing the new left-wing/anti-capitalist protests, even failing to condemn their unruly behavior which resulted in 700 arrests in New York City over the weekend, conduct for which they would have condemned Tea Party activists.
“Is there about to be a nationwide movement building right now to point a finger at Wall Street on greed?” ABC’s Diane Sawyer hopefully cheered Monday night, touting how “protests are spreading across the country.” NBC anchor Brian Williams trumpeted how “the movement that started here in New York about a month ago...now has thousands of people joining in and it's spreading across the country.”
Reporter Michelle Franzen asserted the protesters are “united by what they see as corporate greed and social injustice playing out around the country. They are demanding change but by design they have no set plan or end goal in mind. But that hasn't stopped this movement from gaining strength in numbers.” She celebrated how the “melting pot of gripes has turned into a nationwide movement.”
Franzen didn’t bother to mention, never mind decry, a sign which NBC showed that accused Wall Street workers of being Nazis.
On ABC’s World News, Dan Harris treated the mass arrests as a badge of honor, behavior which has earned more support: “This past weekend 700 people were arrested when they stormed the Brooklyn Bridge. Now major unions are joining in, as are celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin, and similar protests are popping up across America.”
Harris soon offered an admiring tour of the motley encampment inside a New York City park, complete with an friendly anecdote about cookies provided by an Idaho grandma:
This is a surprisingly functional little city. Let me give you a little tour. It starts here with the information desk for people newly arrived. Behind that this whole area back here, this is the media area. It’s filled with bloggers and other people getting the word out and powered by donated generators. And this is the food station. It’s all free and all donated including some cookies that came in today from a grandmother in Idaho.
Bret Baier, on FNC’s Special Report on Monday evening, wondered how the media would have reacted to criminal misbehavior at Tea Party events:
If the Tea Party was doing the things that this movement is doing, like for example this video -- this weekend, shouting “take the Brooklyn Bridge” – and they arrest 700 of them, would it receive the same kind of coverage as this occupy Wall Street is?
Earlier, from Kyle Drennen on weekend/Monday morning coverage: “NBC Cheers Wall Street Protests as Liberal Version of Tea Party But Denounced Actual Tea Party.”
Back on April 15, 2009, the first significant Tea Party gatherings, the very same Dan Harris who covered the current protests tried to undermine them by focusing on their orchestration, as recounted in my April 16, 2009 CyberAlert item:
“Cheered on by Fox News and talk radio, the hundreds of tea parties today were designed to protest the bailouts, the stimulus plan, and President Obama's budget,” Dan Harris explained on ABC before asserting: “But critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.” Harris proceeded to argue that “while the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was about taxation without representation, critics point out that today's protesters did get to vote -- they just lost. What's more, polls show most Americans don't feel overtaxed.”
On the NBC Nightly News that 2009 night, Brian Williams also tried to delegitimize the anger behind them, citing protests “organized on the Internet and by some cable TV personalities to allow taxpayers to vent about how their money is spent.” Reporter Lee Cowan noted “some observers suggest not all of it was as home-grown as it may seem” and, unlike this week’s stories, he compared the agenda of the protesters to what polls reflect: “Although today's organizers called this national day of protest a success, polls still show that a slim majority of Americans actually approve of the bailout plan.”
Of course, Tea Party coverage only grew more hostile as the months passed, as detailed in the MRC’s 2010 Special Report, “TV's Tea Party Travesty: How ABC, CBS and NBC Have Dismissed and Disparaged the Tea Party Movement.”
From ABC’s World News on Monday night, October 3:
DIANE SAWYER: And a question, is there about to be a nationwide movement building right now to point a finger at Wall Street on greed? It started here in New York where hundreds of protesters now occupy a park near the big financial houses and more protests are spreading across the country. ABC’s Dan Harris on what is happening and what the demonstrators say they want.
DAN HARRIS: With 14 million Americans out of work and Wall Street profits still stratospheric, it was a fuse ready to be lit. It started with fewer than a dozen college students, but when video of a police officer pepper spraying female protesters went viral, the movement grew. This past weekend 700 people were arrested when they stormed the Brooklyn Bridge. Now major unions are joining in, as are celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin, and similar protests are popping up across America.
HARRIS TO MAN: So you want to see more of this and not just here?
ANOTHER MAN: Yes. We're mad. We're angry and we’re staying up and saying something about it.
HARRIS: This is a surprisingly functional little city. Let me give you a little tour. It starts here with the information desk for people newly arrived. Behind that this whole area back here, this is the media area. It’s filled with bloggers and other people getting the word out and powered by donated generators. And this is the food station. It’s all free and all donated including some cookies that came in today from a grandmother in Idaho. The one thing they don't have, a clear focus. Experts say social movements often start small and disorganized as happened with unemployment protests during the great depression.
HARRIS, TO WARREN: So if I'm tempted to write these kids mostly kids off as people having a good time in a public park, I should rethink that.
DORIAN WARREN, PROFESSOR. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Yes.
HARRIS: Because there is potential here?
WARREN: There is potential here especially now that it's being legitimized.
HARRIS: They may not have concrete demands but they say their makeshift city is a model for how America should live and they're not leaving any time soon. Dan Harris, ABC News, New York.
NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Now we turn to the story that's been unfolding on the streets of this city and others – the movement that started here in New York about a month ago with a small group of protesters blaming Wall Street for the nation's economic problems, now has thousands of people joining in and it's spreading across the country. NBC's Michelle Franzen is on Wall Street tonight with the latest of the protests that have netted hundreds of arrests so far. Michelle, good evening.
MICHELLE FRANZEN: Good evening, Brian, and those protesters are surrounding our live shot at this moment holding signs and holding rallies in the park nearby united by what they see as corporate greed and social injustice playing out around the country. They are demanding change but by design they have no set plan or end goal in mind. But that hasn't stopped this movement from gaining strength in numbers.
MAN, SHOUTING: Trickle down economics is working!
FRANZEN: On the march, demonstrators dressed in suits and their faces painted, turned out to rally against bankers on Wall Street, government corruption and social inequality.
CROWD: We got sold out!
FRANZEN: What began as a small sit-in just over two weeks ago at this small park in lower Manhattan-
MAN: I work 40 hours a week so I can struggle!
FRANZEN: -has swelled into a chorus of hundreds and on some days several thousands where anyone dissatisfied with just about anything has a voice.
MAN: This is the melting pot.
FRANZEN: That melting pot of gripes has turned into a nationwide movement. Protesters in Chicago, LA and Boston are also taking to the streets, inspired in part by the writings of anti-Wall Street authors like David Degrau.
DAVID DEGRAU: It's people taking it all themselves to fight back against what they consider economic oppression.
FRANZEN: Protesters may have found their biggest support yet. Major unions, including the steel, health care and transport workers, are joining in.
JOHN SAMUELSON, TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION: We're going to bring attention to the idea that working families are getting shafted in this country right now.
FRANZEN: As you can see, they are very passionate about their cause, Brian. A few arrests today -- about three arrests for people who wearing masks that concealed their faces but nothing like the 700 arrests that we saw over the weekend.