Dahlia Lithwick thinks that OWS highlights the irrelevance of the mainstream media:
One of the most fatuous themes of mainstream OWS coverage is the endless loop of media bafflement at this movement that doesn’t have a message. Here’s CNN’s Erin Burnett in a classic put-down of the OWS’ refusal to tailor its message to her. It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to look at a mass of people holding up signs and claim that they have no message.
Occupy Wall Street is not a movement without a message. It’s a movement that has wisely shunned the one-note, pre-chewed, simple-minded messaging required for cable television as it now exists. It’s a movement that feels no need to explain anything to the powers that be, although it is deftly changing the way we explain ourselves to one another.
Think, for just a moment, about the irony. We are the most media-saturated 24-hour-cable-soaked culture in the world, and yet around the country, on Facebook and at protests, people are holding up cardboard signs, the way protesters in ancient Sumeria might have done when demonstrating against a rise in the price of figs. And why is that? Because they very wisely don’t trust television cameras and microphones to get it right anymore. Because a media constructed around the illusion of false equivalencies, screaming pundits, and manufactured crises fails to capture who we are and what we value.
Lithwick admits that she spent the weekend at OWS and that her husband has been protesting. Yet, surpisingly, she is still employed by Slate — they haven’t even revoked her totebag.
Every single major broadcast network lead the morning shows with a version of “Madoffs in distress, considered suicide on Christmas Eve.” They can’t die fast enough.
ETA: Just to clarify, I am actively rooting for the death of the networks in the above. I could care less what happens to the Madoffs.
This sentence from Lithwick needs to be rolled out whenever someone bleats about OWS not having a message:
“It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to look at a mass of people holding up signs and claim that they have no message.”
Lithwick is spot on.
Unfortunately for Dahlia, I think her VSP credentials are about to be revoked.
The american fourth estate are truly the fifth columnists.
Jamey: Bike Commuter of the Gods
I, for one, am glad that somebody finally is speaking out about the price of figs.
I don’t understand why anyone would watch TV news. It takes much longer to consume the same amount of information you can get by reading, and when you read, you’re not forced to sit through hours and hours of missing-white-girl, balloon-boy bullshit.
TV news can’t die fast enough.
Odie Hugh Manatee
The M$M is casting around for that short sound bite that captures some negativity that they can then focus on to the detriment of OWS. The need their narrative to make their story sell and a positive one just won’t cut it.
That’s why we are getting the ‘no message’ crap from these fuckers, they are trying to provoke OWS into providing one for them. I thought the twisting of the police attack on the protesters in Oakland into the protesters attacking the cops was pretty smooth. They completely ignore the fact that the crowd was teargassed and that the protesters were throwing water bottles to the front of the crowd because fellow protesters called for water to rinse off the tear gas that the law dropped on them.
The M$M is populated with big money and they are not on the side of the protesters. That’s why they have been working hard to cast them in a negative light.
That’s what they are paid to do.
Also, Taibbi, http://bit.ly/uTgNFB
Also, the use of hand-written cardboard signs is just brilliant. My favorite, first time I was down there, was the media table–which was marked by an 8X10 piece of cardboard, folded to stand up lengthwise, with “Media” written on it with a sharpie.
because people absorb information differently. The problem isn’t the medium, it’s what’s been done with it (shallow coverage) and why (lowest common denominator cheap ratings points).
Remember when said pundits were hyperventilating about Obama losing support from black voters?
And who is responsible for this Washington “school of thought”?
Here are the only folks mentioned. At all:
And a classic “he said, she said” ensues:
Ummm, so is there any truth to their statement, or are AAs just flapping their lips on this one?
NYT, “Black Voters’ Support for Obama is Steady and Strong”, by Helene Cooper
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
According to Fox News, OWS is contributing to an increase in crime…because the police are having to spend so much time on the protests. Even before I heard about the Marine was injured in Oakland, all I could think was “Well, it’s not like they have to. Except for winger infiltrators, the protests have been pretty good about maintaining order.”
MSM wants there to be a short and sweet message because right now they would have to go into a long explanation of what everyone is protesting about. That would not only use up precious air time for a message that they don’t want to enforce, but it could get viewers to actually find the complaint that they have with Wall Street and perhaps join the movement. Not what the corporate media owners want to happen.
Oh, Dahlia, from your lips to the FSM’s ears.
Though, however, I do get her point and think she may be on to something. The MSM is really freaked about OWS and have no idea how they are supposed to respond. If asked, I’d have to tell them that since they are a part of the 1%, it is not surprising in the least that they don’t “get” it.
Saw a perfect demonstration of how desperately the media want to pigeonhole OWS as “dirty hippies just like 1968.” The local Occupy Pittsburgh people have been going into banks and asking how to open checking accounts. The banks have acted as they do, by panicking and calling the cops. Yesterday, a group went into one of the biggest PNC branches in downtown Pittsburgh, the bank people panicked and called the cops. The Occupy people simply asked how to open a checking account but the branch office was shut down and the Occupiers were held inside until the cops could figure out what was going on. Eventually, the Occupiers were let out to go on their ways. The local reporter covering it kept asking the lead cop questions that would, he hoped, lead him to talk about these dangerous, dirty hippies who want nothing more than anarchy and violence. And the cop just kept saying that there was never any danger, the Occupiers did nothing illegal, and that they just wanted to ask their questions about opening an account and leave, which they did. Ignoring everything the cop said, the reporter continued to report as if the Occupiers had tried to hold up the bank and kill everyone in it.
Unfuckingbelievable. That said, it’s been nice to see the Pittsburgh police, smirking, as they keep telling the reporters that the Occupy people are just regular people who are protesting peacefully. Perhaps they could teach the Oakland police a few lessons.
I disagree. The coverage is an abomination, but the medium is also a problem. When you’re reading (or if you’re watching video on the internet), you can much more easily skip the mountains of unnecessary crap.
Granted, there would be far less insipid horse shit if there wasn’t 24/7 news coverage where every second needs to be filled, but the medium itself is still inferior, IMO.
I dunno. I think the world would be a sadder and greyer place without not-laughing helicopters and faxed credenzas.
@cathyx: Culture of Truth discussed this last Sunday, wrt to the MTP roundtable, featuring Jack Welch (GE), Harold Ford (Morgan Stanley), Andrea Mitchell (NBC, consort), and David Brooks (Applebee’s).
It turns out we need to cut taxes and deregulate the economy if we want job creation to take place.
This is our Arab Spring – OWS is ripening what started with the bloggers 10 years ago by pulling back the curtain on corporate owned media FAIL (Somerby, Alterman, Digby, Marshall). We citizens have been failed at every important juncture in this country by a press which chose to be propagandists either deliberately (Faux) or by lazy careerism (everyone else). I believed that OWS was going to have to focus on specific policy demands sooner than later, but now I believe the longer this goes on without The Leader With Demands emerging, the better. They’ve already won by having the media frauds out themselves.
If you really wonder why reporters are fumbling around (aside from those paid to shill for the corp interests), here it is straight from the horses mouth, so to speak:
mmm. there was no cardboard in Sumeria, and most people were illiterate.
Yeah, because who gives a shit what the proles are pissed about when we have Ruth Madoff for an exclusive interview about how she and her poor convicted husband almost (but not quite) killed themselves over bad press and angry phone calls.
Gawd, I hate these people with the heat of a thousand suns.
MSNBC.com is handling the message by ignoring it completely. their only Occupy stories today are about “what the OWS are eating” and the violence in Oakland.
@jayackroyd: According to them, we need to cut taxes and deregulate the economy which in turn will increase jobs, and therefore, make the little people quit protesting. It’s so simple.
How about next Sunday on Meet the Press, they have a roundtable of 99%ers explaining to the viewers what they are protesting at the rallies. Hahaha.
Odie Hugh Manatee
If they had gone ahead and killed themselves it wouldn’t have bothered me one bit. It would have been a decision they made for themselves and I had nothing to do with it. I hope they weren’t looking for sympathy because lots of criminals are looking for the same thing while they are incarcerated.
Madoff needs to get a pen pal and his wife needs to get a divorce.
It beats making shit up like Faux Noize and Conservative News Network do.
Paul in KY
I wish all the salaries of the people in TV media (local & national) were posted & known so that average people would realize how wealthy they all are & how that influences their coverage of these protests against the predatory rich.
The ancient Sumerians had cardboard? I had no idea!
(oh, nevermind, I see cleek beat me to it.) :(
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
And according to a resident of Oakland:
They really do risk becoming irrelevant, though, because there seems to be a historic distrust of “leaders” (both business and political) and they stubbornly continue to insist on speaking exclusively to leaders.
One would think they would start branching out a bit. 10 to 1 “leaders” to “regular people”, maybe? Something. Some movement off their rigid position.
It’s not like I’m saying “let the plebes take over” here. Just put one on every once in a while. Baby steps. Every once in while talk to someone with a crushing private student loan, perhaps followed by a banker, for balance!
Really? So when is the government going to step down and let a real democratically elected one take over?
The past couple of months, CBS Evening News has been doing a series of interviews about what is needed to turn the economy around. Up until this week, every.single.interview has been with a company CEO. And this week, Scott Pelley told me that he would be going out of his usual interview group to talk to someone with a completely different point of view. I had hoped it might be a union head or an actual middle class person or even someone who runs an actual small business. But no. It was the president of UC San Francisco, a former executive of Genentech.
The MSM are the new courtier class. They follow and prop up the 1%. After all, the ratings say that is what people want. Ratings say people like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and the Kardashians. The most powerful tool the 1% have is the false American Dream. Someday you will be rich, so don’t do anything to hurt your future spot in the super rich. Meanwhile, they use their vast wealth to keep people from fulfilling the American dream at every chance.
I didn’t know how bad it’s gotten, myself, because I’ve been deliberately not listening to them for a while now. I heard Anderson Cooper yesterday on the car radio, though, and it was just….disturbing.
His pleading, predicate statement explaining why he was going to present his “both sides do it” completely boiler-plate and noncontroversial series of politician clips, ONE D to ONE R, FOR BALANCE, was longer than the piece itself.
It’s like he’s terrified to say anything. Someone is holding that man hostage :)
And that was 35 years ago. What was once an over-the-top satire is now quaint.
Other than to shout AMEN! to so many of the comments posted above, I have little to add to such sentiments as geg6 (#23) “I hate these people with the heat of a thousand suns” or Comrade Javamanphil (#1) and jrg (#8) “TV news can’t die fast enough.” And a big bowl of cream to Cat Lady (#9).
To the comment (#5) by amk (the estimable Ganesha collecter) that “the american fourth estate are truly the fifth columnists”, I would emphatically agree but underscore the word “american.” As I often write here, there is no more indispensable news organization than the British Guardian. And increasingly I find myself reading (and here in NYC, watching) Al-Jazeera to my great benefit.
I trust many here may already know that Dahlia Lithwick’s usual beat for Slate is the Supreme Court and the judiciary. Her columns on these subjects are essential reading.
Late addition: A 1000X YES! to Paul in KY’s comment (#28) that the salaries of those broadcast media personnel in front of the cameras as well as newspaper columnists and front-page reporters be made publicly available.
EDIT: Cat Lady (#19)
This is how naive I am.
During the fake health care debate, I was thinking that there are so many great health care real-life stories out there that we would HEAR SOME OF THEM. I was actually (foolishly) looking forward to hearing what I hear every day in this office as part of a “national debate”, not just because I want to hear it, but because that’s a great way to explain something: specific to general. Medicaid story to Medicaid, The Policy. If you want to understand something dull and wonky like S-CHIP, start with an SCHIP parent! You do it quite well here with student loans. Specific story then abstract policy.
Nope. Sorry. We’ll be hearing exclusively from “leaders”.
I went to college in the mid-to-late 1960s. I was involved in protests for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam. I also read newspapers and watched TV news, and I swear that these days I feel like Rip Van Winkle…just waking up 40 years later and after seeing reports on OWS thinking nothing had changed. Ooh, look at the hippies. Oooh, they smell. Ooh, I bet they’re just smoking weed and making love not war. It’s the same demonizing I used to experience. Can’t attack the message? Attack the people. In St Louis, there was a paper called the Globe-Democrat. (We called it the Glib-Demagogue.) And every editorial cartoon that focused on the anti-war movement featured protesters with flies buzzing around their heads. The more things change…
amk (the estimable Ganesha collector)
@handsmile: In your honor, I am changing my moniker….
According to Michael Moore’s Twitter feed:
I haven’t seen that anywhere else and don’t know how he got the info, but…sheesh. I guess the medically induced coma can be while they’re waiting for the swelling on the brain to go down, but it’s still terrible.
Is this being covered by the MSM? Not a lot.
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
I don’t own many movies, but I own this one. It never ceases to amaze me at how prescient it was.
Odie Hugh Manatee
It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to not be able to use google and claim that they have no message. Also, here are some helpful graphs.
I didn’t really notice this one before, but the payroll tax raises about the same amount as the income tax. But half the country has no skin in the game!
A good summary of the various un-indicted criminals in the finance industry and where they are now (not jail).
Tangentially O/T, but OWS related:
More “Punishment” for Tony Baloney! A shorter commute to work!
In addition to the draconian penalty of losing 10 vacation days for deliberately pepper-spraying law-abiding citizens, NYPD’s brave Anthony Bologna has been re-assigned to a new command post located in the borough of Staten Island. Where he lives!
News reports also disclose that his official title has been changed from Deputy Inspector to Special Projects Coordinator. While some reports describe that as a demotion, I can find no information whether a reduction of salary or benefits is involved. As Bologna has been with the NYPD for 29 years, I suspect not.
And there’s this delicious morsel: Baloney chose not to appeal the 10-day penalty imposed by the police Internal Affairs Bureau because had he lost, he would be solely liable in any pending criminal or civil litigation. What a hero!
[I hope and expect that this story will be highlighted in a BJ post on OWS later today.]
Give that fan a TV contract. They just told more truth than Faux Nooz will all day.
Wasn’t that the paper where Pat Buchanan had his first media job writing editorials?
Is it too early to trash Mara Liasson & NPR this morning? No? OK.
This morning NPR’s Mara Liasson had a piece (still in rotation) where she claims the OWS movement is going to ‘burn’ President Obama. Yes, she repeats the bullshit about OWS having no clear message (Rupert Murdoch love slave that she is) but then states Americans will run away from President Obama because he has said he supports the main goals of OWS. She then played sound clips from Glenn Beck & Rush Limbaugh and then brought in an asshole from Third Way and acted like he was the voice of Democratic Party reason. Of course Third way used all Republican talking points and framing.
NPR sucks. Do me a favor, go to NPR.org’s web site, pull up that story and comment about it. Let them know what you think. Will it get Mara fired? No. But it’ll make you feel better.
The Moar You Know
OWS is moving the Overton window with a fucking bulldozer. Even the MSM failparade is now talking about bankers and Wall Street – which is exactly what the bankers and their Fox accomplices did not want to have happen.
@handsmile: His career is over. “Special Projects” is a dead end.
Of course, he should be fired, not just sent to the equivalent of Nome, AK.
His career is over, true. However his salary and pension will go on and on.
So, how has the alternate media coverage been? Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, blogosphere?
At some point, shouldn’t there be a tipping point where people stop bleating about the increasingly irrelevant mainstream media? At some point, shouldn’t a new mainstream media emerge?
And hell, I don’t much care what Dahlia Lithwick thinks about anything. For me, even Slate is old media.
This must have become the official conservative talking point. I heard conservative radio talk show hosts parroting this line yesterday, and a caller to Stephanie Miller’s morning talk show with the same complaint this morning.
NPR may be more liberal, but some of its new show reporters are still part of the old New York/Washington Beltway club, and share the same narrow viewpoint.
and here’s the link
@The Moar You Know:
Jean Quan has discovered she really can’t be the 1 percent, and also hold office. This is an extremely powerful bit of messaging.
Naive and Sentimental
Politifact has been reduced to trying to fact check OWS signs. This feels surreal to me.
I’m sure it’s nice to let us know some random guy with a cardboard sign is more honest than John Kyle in things involving 90%
But then they felt another random sign that no one was even holding should be declared false because it takes the CEO of Goldman Sachs an hour and forty five minutes to earn $16,000, not just an hour as the sign claims.
Thanks for that info about “Special Projects”. As a 29-year veteran, his career with the NYPD must be close to over anyways.
Also, for him Nome is home (Staten Island) which makes this “punishment” all the more egregious.
@Naive and Sentimental:
@Nutella: Depends on the signs.
If some are saying “Keep Government off my medicare” and some are saying “Free Mumia” nad some are saying “defend the constitution!”, then I think the message is a little muddled. I am not saying that the OWS protests are that disorganized, but I can think of some that were.
Mayor Quan praised the crackdown and tactics yesterday but now says she supports OWS. Her supposed conciallitory statement still states that most of the protestors were not vandals and most of the cops were completely professional in conduct, implying that both sides have bad apples. What vandalism was there? Did they classify the tear gas victim’s vomit as littering? Is the blood from the Iraq veteran’s head wound grafitti?
@alex milstein: Anyone else see Chris Hayes’ show on MSNBC replaying the clips of Martin Luther King Jr. appearing on national news discussion shows and being questioned the same exact thing as always — don’t you feel like these protests harm what you’re trying to achieve, etc.
Go about 8 minutes into this clip.
In 1966-67 while Congress considered including the issue of ‘fair housing’ (an end to segregation in housing), Rev Dr King lead marches such as the open housing march in Chicago.
This moved his action from pointing out the injustice and cruelty of primarily Southern segregation to economic fairness throughout the country.
And then Hayes put together a montage of TV clips from Meet the Press of interviewers and pundits peppering King with the normal shit questions about direct action radicalism.
These are just the questions from different persons, from various appearances 1960-66.
Martin Luther King. Ineffective community organizer. Prompter of lawbreaking. Miscegenator. Communist madrassa leader. Secret collectivist. Machiavellian plotter. Anti-white hypocrite.
We’re always very, very, very concerned with lawbreaking when it comes to protesters.
Not so much the powerful. Those we make sure either to deregulate so that their criminal activities are now by definition lawful, or by making sure to look forward and not back.
Someone can always say that ‘well, these jokers aren’t MLK,’ and that’s true, and he accomplished a truly staggering amount, but it doesn’t mean that logic holds beyond who he is.
@Feudalism Now!: One official explanation was that the mayor ordered forces to move in when ‘reports’ emerged of a homeless man (apparently named “Kali”) who attempted to attack (or maybe just ‘threatened’) OWS demonstrators (some reports say with a knife), and then the protesters’ security volunteers beat him.
I still miss Meet Your Horse Online…
No because there are still lots and lots of people who do not get their news from the intertrons, or tease out the facts from different progressive blogs. Many (actually, most) of my friends and acquaintances don’t know anything about progressive media and have no interest in finding out. So, they still get their news from traditional sources.
And, no, I’m not 80 years old. I’m talking about people in their 40’s – 60’s.
We’ve made progress, but we still have a ways to go, in that department.
It’s not even any more liberal. NPR is just as beholden to the establishment but has even less excuse for it. Its not-for-profit status is supposed to grant it independence, but that doesn’t seem to have worked out.
@El Cid: I see a mentally Ill homeless man was beaten by identifiable individuals, so the police response is tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets. Obviously, the appropriate scale of force was used. In my small upstate city the police would investigate and bring the offenders in for questioning, but an overwhelming show of force on unarmed civilians is another viable tactic in O-town.
By the way, the economy grew 2.5% in the last quarter (or so the story goes). Anyway, I’m sure this is bad news for Obama.
I await NPR and David Brooks to tell me why.
Not really talking about “progressive media” (whatever that is). I’m just asking about what it replacing the old mainstream.
Traditional media, newspapers, magazines, TV and radio are clearly dying. Even some older Internet media (Slate, Salon) comes across as stale, and newer places like the Huffington Post is more dumb than useful.
Fair point, though I think that overall NPR and public radio stations that carry NPR programming are more liberal than most other media.
Fixed for accuracy.
The thing that baffles me is that people buy into it. It just blows my mind how much information is out there and has been for years and people still choose to ignore it and pretend that the very obvious facts don’t exist. Looking a the #ows feed on twitter and comments on You tube and you see it over and over again. People bent on voicing their ignorance and expressing disdain or hatred towards people in their own class who are fighting to win back our governments responsiveness to the needs of the common person.
So the challenge is to keep the movement going and to overcome apathy and ignorance of the people that are still comfortable enough to side with their oppressors.