30 October 2011
Comparing Similarities in Tone Selected by Editors Between Two Articles Failing to Mention the Illegal Arrests That Sparked National Fury(with many omitted facts in the interest of completing the story)
My interest in Occupy was piqued by the numerous Free Speech Actions taking place across the country, given the scope and variety of pain suffered by most everyone not owner of a Fortune 400 company since the terror-attacks of 9/11. A simple Google search turned up the General Assembly of Freedom (Zucotti) Park Statement of Principles, none of which include turning “crosshairs at corporate America” (Handley). While many people are beginning to direct their anger toward the one percent who in fact own most wealth, generations of class warfare, by the design of the one percent, has the two halves of the middle class arguing over which half of the middle class uses more of the scarce resources in the sty. The early turning point in directing populist attention to the voices gathered nationally, voices expressing universal and ancient fears and the urgent need for redress of these many issues, was the event I chose.
A large group of Occupy protestors, while marching peacefully in New York, following what they believed were lawful orders showed the NYPD as acting on behalf of the %1 and not as the first line of defense for the rights of all people. The police department directed more than 700 law-abiding protestors onto the Brooklyn Bridge- only to then give conflicting orders, both to continue and to disperse (on a bridge!)- the result of which was the protesters kenneled with orange netting and arrested for following that “orders.” I describe this event as “Illegal Mass Arrests that took place on the Brooklyn Bridge, drawing attention to Occupy and its message of inclusion and the reaction of the public to that police aggression.” It is my belief that such an egregious display of military tactics on peaceful, unarmed civilians exercising their God-given Constitutional rights will arouse the suspicions and conscience of even those neighbors we never speak to. But where was the mass outrage? Both articles chose language to “other” Occupy and fail to mention the Illegal Arrests. Each covers the response to the event, but avoids explaining the need for the response. Within this essay I will outline the purpose of the editorial intent as I understand it.
Cynthia Hubert of the Sacramento Bee and Meg Handley of US News and World Report begin their articles with language designed to increase distrust of the Occupy Movement. For example, in the Bee, Occupy is described as a “national resistance movement,” the explanation of what is being resisted being “large corporations and Wall Street power” (Hubert). Painted as anti-capitalist, the scene for the Bee article is set. Not to be outdone, the USNWR starts by affirming that the movement was “initially written off,” and while this is true, there is no further discussion of who wrote Occupy off, or why. This is an editorial choice to not include certain facts, and I charge this because no journalist worth their salt turns this story in without that explanation. There indeed has been “attention” and “traction” gained from “clashes with police,” but this is a choice of words intending to have the reader believe the protestors were in need of policing, and, opposite public safety, refused lawful orders. This is not entirely true. Unions have pledged support, but when used in the context of setting up “outposts,” and in light of the general occupiers-are-anti-capitalist tone, “brethren” is code for “communist.” I take this conclusion also because of the initial focus on unions joining the movement without explaining the rationale behind the decision or any interview with the head of those unions, and the headline emphasis on the “anger of the left.”
The USNWR article goes on to reference to “elites” absent an explanation of who those exact people are and why this anger is appropriate. This is meant to elicit a natural inclination to bristle; I too hope to be seen as an elite, or worthy of the smear (Handley).
The othering is successful in both cases; the tone is established- Occupy is a group of angry corporation-hating people and many people are angry right now, but these are people who choose to break the law. These “reports” are aimed at people who already distrust political movements and are conservative in nature. Both articles open with a myth that is never dispelled. While some fear can be pre-supposed as a necessity for the ignorant, to be willfully ignorant is just plain painful.
“Occupy Wall Street Tries to Harness Anger on the Left” goes so far as to compare the peaceful movements seen here to the riots taken place in London, and even the Arab Spring, a comparison needed because of these deceptively covered “clashes with police.” Next, in “Occupy Protestors Vow to Stay in Ceaser Chavez Plaza,” we see further successful fear mongering, as the focus is almost entirely on the refusal by the protestors to obey what they believe is an illegal “order to disperse.” Not specified is which code in the city, county, state, or federal law allows for such order to be given.
The assumption each editor leaves the reader with is that the protestors are willfully violating the law despite having been given cooperation by the Law during business hours. But the Constitution does not say “no law…except after business hours.” This is something both articles fail to mention as well, but not what I would expect of an ethical journalist. I place the blame for this omission on the editors. They must fear their sponsors, who, conglomerate, are the one percent.
In a further showing of editorial intent, each article makes the choice to print interviews with people not intimately involved with their local Occupy. In the Sacramento Bee article, three (protest tourists) Davis residents and their statements, as reported, barely scratch the surface of the purpose inherent in the term “Occupy.” Three Davis students who all have jobs (this implies their presence is to support their teachers and that union) and an agitator hoping for more of a “resistance” presence are used as interview sources. This is an apparent editorial choice, as more than 500 are said to have been there, and a local article needs more focus on the exact area; I must assume more people were interviewed and this was the final draft for a larger purpose my conclusion will outline. Handley chooses the editor in Chief of Gallup (a knowledgeable but disconnected-from-poverty person) and a working ad professional, Matt Critelli, who has “participated.” How such participation took place is given no background, and I must wonder if he has done anything more than talk about going. The times I tune in and visit I sense a heavy and intimidating police presence. Odd this is not mentioned by a witness. Critelli all but gives the Occupy message to the reporter on a cracker, but it is broken into two paragraphs, with a counterpoint, for distortions sake. Here would have been a great opportunity to display a graph supporting that truth, at least.
The desire to have one clear message and goal to report is part of the problem both articles miss- these issues held up for discussion and redress are complex and simple, involving state and federal and more local solution. Both articles allude to the “hinderance” of such a “diverse message” (Handley) and to the rage against corporate America, but neither conclude the obvious: the collusion between corporate America and elected representatives is the complex explanation yet simple reason behind more than our economic problems.
This is purpose of that othering: Repress the audience from showing support. Business will be horrible even more so were the classes to realize that the wealthiest see them as pagan wage slaves- all of us. The one-percent must at all costs alienate further class versus class, lest the ninety-nine percent realize they are being hoodwinked in numbers enough to rouse the rest from their childish dream of what a free society should look like. I believe it is mainly the editor’s choice on behalf of the business interests who have a financial interest in preventing a unified message from Occupy getting out. The financial goals of the one percent demand keeping the media in business, under the guise of being free. Keeping them in business allows for various messages to work together and stir up those who are angry to be even angrier, much to the amusement of the moderate and plain ignorant. I submit this is the continued dissolution of our Social Contract.
On 9-11 we knew that the stated goal of the terrorists demanded government action; if economic destruction was the plan, only spending by the private and government sectors could prove the terrorists have failed. To be against Occupy Wall Street when Occupy Wall Street is clearly asking for government intervention to prevent further economic terror….is to be for the continued effect of the 9-11 terrorists. One side of the aisle in America clings to Austrian economics and Biblical capitalism, taking the stand that at all risk they will be against any government intervention, as such intervention is separation by force from natural rights- all the while claiming that with the state there can be no freedom but daring to call those who disagree “Commies!” The other party is powerless, failing to conceive in time that maybe the Tea Party Congress really does think the President is an usurper and, often complicit as well in the corrupt dealings with odd third-parties in the business of legislating fair governance, they remain largely silent in fulfilling their oath to set about redressing the People’s issues. The biggest and most powerful sponsors of the Tea Party are David and Charles Koch, often through Americas for Prosperity, a voting-bloc powerhouse. The Tea Party and the Occupy Movement are often compared in news reports, though to my knowledge there are no reports of any armed occupiers carrying “we need the blood of a tyrant signs” and the only arrest of a Tea Partier that springs to mind immediately is of a Rand Paul supporter kicking a woman already on the ground in the head at a townhall in Kentucky) David and Charles Koch are both personal and corporate sponsors of ALEC. ALEC (American Legislative Exective Council) is a free-market legislation organization making equal partners of corporation-representatives and voter-elected, well-lobbied legislators. Their intent is not only to delegitimize government, but to repealing all except first Ten Amendments. In creating an atmosphere of anti-statism and through their jointly-owned projects pushing a strict libertarian agenda, the Kochs, ALEC and now the Tea Party have succeeded in creating an America where neighbors blame each other for a much larger force working in purposeful action to divide.
This infighting between Americans where voting previously had been the redress (pendulum can swing if government is given rightful authority) is gamed by placing ideologues in both parties, though powerful state Chairs are almost always one side rather than the other. The system by which we have peaceably transferred power, gamed, is now a bridge that cannot be crossed in polite discussion- constantly we deny and avoid while at work and on the phone; all of us bickering over ideological purity and aligning with those we see are “with us.” Neither article makes any reference to the intentional nature of the systemic destruction of American freedoms and institutions, a major concern I have personally and share with many occupiers.
Created in 1983 by modern conservative godfather Paul Weyrich, ALEC and their work to disrupt democracy is a major fact missing in both articles, that, uncovered, could have enlightened the reader as to the depth of the trouble we all are in. All through ALEC’s existence, American shared, stated, reviewed, documented, and previously redressed rights have eroded “mysteriously.” Now and suddenly now, under a law of local control making by my study no legitimate claim to authority within the Constitution, and outside allegiance to our societal structure citizens are being summarily punished as groups and separated forcibly from their primary rights. The Constitution stands as our only defense against our neighbor denying us, through the claim of liberty, our natural rights to the benefit of his unjustly.
To say that some see inequity, as each article is careful to point out, is to say that some on the surface of the Earth feel the heat of the sun. The sun is hot, even if in the morning it feels cooler than at noon. Equity is a history-long poem about where chin meets fist. In America, historically, we love to debate that space between. The current inequity in the distribution of wealth in American society is not a partisan or ideological issue. To not allow such debate when the Public publicly asks for it is more than un-American; it is a dangerous sign of fascism.
What we are seeing is the denial of the right of those whom we disagree with to debate, associate, and freely assemble; no-one yet can find no claim in law to assert such authority. That few national media outlets dare acknowledge such things ought to scare even the libertarians among us. We must announce when we find and denounce those who favor this style of anarchic, anti-moralistic non-“government.”
Both articles do reference the suffering of the American people at the hands of the banks and the legislators who are their puppets. However, neither article goes to any reasonable length in admitting that the front page stories are the reason the Occupiers are screaming “Fire!!!” in what is indeed a theater on fire, on page 3b. When the editors of major publications, while in possession of knowledge to the contrary of what they send for final publication, print no mention of such a major event as the Illegal Mass Arrests, there is no sense in calling this omission accidental. When editors shape stories in hopes of repressing audience involvement because audience involvement in the topic at hand would be incredibly bad for the business of their remaining sponsors and the credibility of the Free Media, they choose the following path:
“There is to be no solution; this, the free market liberty we have been elected to impose through our corporate partners,” say the sponsors, “is the solution.” “No problem to see here,” say the editors. “We need to stay in business so we can tell you that taxes are evil and politicians lie.” “This is no big deal, just some angry lefties,” say the reporters. “We can’t be biased and make our opinion of how this Occupy Movement is a response to every injustice we’ve ever covered known, and we can’t cover the stories about mayors and magistrates and attorneys general who refuse to press charges saying there is no Constitutional Authority to impose such local curfews or require such permits or allow for such police aggression…why?”
I hope reporters ask “Why?” They will get their chance. As each article correctly concludes, this is an event likely to last (and I will add, grow) for quite some time.
I did not read these articles without the knowledge I gained from other articles I read yesterday. I don’t appreciate being made to read pieces by people forced to treat me as if I am not familiar with yesterday’s news while they offer me a subscription. It does not bode well for their relationship with me. One solution would be to initiate a new ombudsman position (or nine) for every FCC licensee. Let these ombudsman be present at congressional meetings of all kinds as well; put a camera on a legislator like there are GPS monitors on dangerous parolees. Smirk.