Big Media marginalizes Wall Street protests

It's been over a week now of protests, meetings, and confrontations with police on Wall Street, and yet mainstream North American media outlets, who have provided us with daily updates on uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and Spain, to name a few, have given either thin or dismissive notice to what is happening on Manhattan. Known as the Occupy Wall Street campaign, it started on September 17 with thousands marching into New York's financial district, waving slogans such as "Wall Street is Our Street" and "We are the 99%." Cops were waiting for the crowds on Wall Street, so they set up camp a block away and have been there ever since, day and night.

Fueling these protests is the widening gap between the wealthy and everyone else, which continues to grow because of rising unemployment and mortgage foreclosures. In other words, this is a much different kind of movement from the tax-cut loving Tea Party protests that the media eagerly covers. This might make more sense when one considers that the Tea Party protests are funded by the ultra-right billionaire Koch Brothers, and treated as a grassroots mega-story by Rupert Murdoch's Fox News.

The Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal has run a handful of stories on Occupy Wall Street, seeming to take a close interest only when protesters began being arrested.

On the day the protest launched, CNN filed the story not as general interest news about a developing social movement, but as a business item. The story was published on CNNMoney, which advertises itself as "A service of CNN, Fortune and Money."

he New York Times tucked its September 23 story into its regional section (as if this weren't a story of significance beyond New York) and topped the supposed news piece with a dismissively biased headline: Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim. In case readers didn't get the point, the writer's snide asides included describing Occupy Wall Street as "a diffuse and leaderless convocation of activists against greed, corporate influence, gross social inequality and other nasty byproducts of wayward capitalism not easily extinguishable by street theater."

Indeed, this tone of patronizing distancing from the supposedly naïve and therefore irrelevant protesters saturates much coverage of the protest. The Associated Press account that the Wall Street Journal and others published four days ago led this way: "In a small granite plaza a block from the New York Stock Exchange, a group of 20-somethings in flannel pajama pants and tie-dyed T-shirts are plotting the demise of Wall Street as we know it." Aren't news reporters taught to adopt a fair and objective voice? Would that not include simply relaying the actions and ideas of the protesters without first making fun of them?

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