The mainstream media, embarrassed by the violence
of yesterday's Occupy Oakland protests, is desperately trying to save the image of the movement it has propped up as an ostensibly legitimate voice of populist support for economic redistribution and a liberal alternative to the Tea Party.
Almost uniformly, media reports today about the violence at the "general strike"--including vandalism, clashes with police, and burning barricades--have attempted to describe the Occupy Oakland demonstration as "largely peaceful."
When the media have described violent acts, they have suggested, unreasonably, that these have been separate from the Occupy Oakland protests. The media seem uninterested in holding Occupy Oakland organizers responsible for the violence, or even in asking them for statements of condemnation.
National Public Radio's report
on the Occupy Oakland violence is typical of today's mainstream media spin but hardly unique (as Stanley Kurtz points out
, citing CBS coverage).
There's quiet now in the streets of Oakland, the local Tribune reports.
But what began as a "mostly peaceful" general strike that "drew thousands Wednesday for rallies and marches ... turned chaotic early Thursday after protesters took over a vacant building and police moved in, firing tear gas and flashbang grenades."
Note that the violence is described--misleadingly
--as having started after
the "general strike" protest. And note that the Occupy Oakland activists themselves are never blamed directly.
Instead, we are told--much later in the story--that "Oakland protesters inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement" were responsible. Inspired by, but not belonging to, Occupy.
The Associated Press did manage to find
a protester who criticized the violence at Occupy Oakland--but in tactical, not moral, terms: "I think it will allow detractors to criticize the movement." He also tried to minimize the riots as "[s]ome kids looking to blow off some steam."
Some mainstream media commentators have actually been egging on the Occupy Oakland activists. Harold Meyerson, who writes a column for the Washington Post
, advised protestors yesterday in The American Prospect
to "strike while it's hot
The coverage of Occupy Oakland's violence and destruction is a classic case of mainstream media bias in the reporting of breaking news, and reveals a political agenda that is, in fact, far outside the mainstream of American politics.