Green Room

OWS violence and the mainstream media’s predicament

posted at 12:36 pm on November 15, 2011 by

This land is my land,
This land’s not your land,
I’ve got a shotgun,
And you ain’t got one…

Change shotgun to Molotov cocktail, and that popular summer camp sing-along sendup of Woody Guthrie’s 1940s paean to the American socialist dream fits the Occupy movement to a tee.

What supposedly started as a peaceful demonstration has now claimed four lives and resulted in scores of arrests for acts of violence. Most of these physical protests have targeted police (read: the pigs), though a YouTube video from Occupy Portland (arguably the movement’s most violent venue) shows demonstrators going after a news crew. (Warning: Crass profanity alert.)

Among the recurring themes fueling the violence at protest encampments is the issue of squatters’ rights. The New York Times reports on the most recent tense encounter between the law and the protesters, which occurred early this morning. Hundreds of police were dispatched to clear Zuccotti Park, but protesters resisted, chanting, “Whose park? Our park!” Dozens more arrests were made before the the National Lawyers Guild obtained a court order permitting protesters to return for the time being with tents.

Prior to giving the order to clear the park, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement that read:

The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day. Every since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with.

This land is your land.

The confrontations between the anti-Wall Street protesters and the so-called 1 percent (which evidently includes anyone who disagrees with them) have placed the mainstream media in something of a quandary. Their willingness to accept the “fact” of the Tea Party’s violence with no supporting evidence is now cast in sharp relief against a backdrop of real—and abundant—Occupy violence. It exposes the obvious liberal bias of elite news organizations such as the New York Times, whose editorial writers have on more than one occasion criticized the imagined extremism and violence of the Tea Party but now fail to so much as acknowledge the real acts of occupier violence reported in the paper’s own news pages.

James Taranto comments on the dilemma facing the Times and other mainstream outlets, which was reflected last weekend in a column by the paper’s ombudsman Arthur Brisbane that asked, “How should The Times report on the [Occupy] movement going forward?”

Here’s an original thought: How about trying the truth? It may come difficult at first, but eventually you’ll get used to it.

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Arthur Brisbane that asked, “How should The Times report on the [Occupy] movement going forward?”

Here’s an original thought: How about trying the truth? It may come difficult at first, but eventually you’ll get used to it.

Why start now? Walter Duranty is still at the Times.

BTW, love the sendup. Haven’t heard it since riding the school bus in the early 1970s.

rbj on November 15, 2011 at 1:10 PM

The reactions of the journalists to the police playing hardball at Zuccotti Park last night, versus the reaction of the public in the area this morning to seeing the park cleaned up are a odds so much it will be interesting to see how much of a case the Times and the other liberal media outlets in NYC want to make of the issue.

It was one thing to support the OWS movement two months ago when the public was ambivalent or in some cases supporting of the complaints about crony capitalism — back then the movement’s darker aspects could be far more easily hidden through fawning puff pieces. You can’t do that now, in the same way Obama can’t run his 2008 Hope and Change campaign in 2012. Not even the Times is going to try and paint Obama as the Unicorn Rider next year. In the case of OWS, the paper can spin all they want to, but the people living and working in the area now have 60 days of first-hand experience with the movement, and any stories continuing to try and cover up the excesses of OWS are only going to be believed by those who care more about The Cause than those affected by the commandeering a key area of lower Manhattan.

jon1979 on November 15, 2011 at 1:14 PM

There have been more than 4 deaths. I was keeping a running count but deleted it. Off the top of my head, there was the guy in OK and another overdose somewhere else. There was also a death in Savannah which may or may not be ows.

Blake on November 15, 2011 at 2:09 PM

There have been more than 4 deaths.

Thanks for pointing that out. Mine was a rough estimate.

Howard Portnoy on November 15, 2011 at 2:55 PM

One Occupier gave up the ghost in our Bloomington, IN Obamaville. I think it was just bad timing for an unhealthy homeless fella, but happened nonetheless.

RudeMechanic on November 15, 2011 at 3:40 PM

“Among the recurring themes fueling the violence at protest encampments is the issue of squatters’ rights.”

Speaking of squatter’s rights….

mrt721 on November 15, 2011 at 3:51 PM