Journalists Overlook Ideological Diversity of Occupy Protest Movement

--Guest post by Patrick Riley, AoE Culture Correspondent and Filmmaker.


Nothing changes on New Year's Day? U2's Bono had it right – at least when it comes to media coverage of the ongoing, if flagging, Occupy movement. 

"They gotta be for something," political analyst Jimmy Williams said earlier this week on MSNBC's NOW with Alex Wagner, bringing back, perhaps for old time's sake, the media reaction that prevailed soon after New York’s Zuccotti Park was taken over by protesters in late September and similar actions sprung up around the country.

Wagner commented that the movement is "a little bit schizophrenic at best" – though she did say the protesters' recent focus on the foreclosure crisis was "really interesting stuff" and "got very little discussion in the national dialogue."

Another contributor to the segment, Joy-Ann Reid, managing editor of theGrio.com, said the protesters “did a really great service by bringing the issues of inequality back.” But she added, "Somewhere in the ocean a shark is being jumped. [...] They refuse to organize themselves into a coherent narrative." [Watch the clip]

We've heard this line of reasoning before.

As Dahlia Lithwick of Slate wrote back in October: "I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism?"

Even the normally astute staff of The New Yorker doesn't seem to get it, based on this recent insight about Ron Paul supporters: "The fact is that many of the young activists backing (Ron) Paul have more in common with Occupy Wall Street demonstrators than they do with Texan anti-Semites and Wyoming militia men."

It's incredible that the media has yet to uncover the fact that many of participants in the Occupy movement demonstrations are in fact young Ron Paul activists. 

On my two visits to Occupy Los Angeles, I was struck by the broad political spectrum: from left-wingers to libertarians. I would venture to say that at times the Paul-supporting right-wingers outnumbered the lefties. But even more noticeable was the presence of a solid group of moderates – many of them weekend warriors, but so what - who were able to explain the movement in a way that Middle America could surely appreciate.

Why couldn't the news networks find them, giving voice to their concerns, instead of running endless video loops of violence, police stand-offs, and speculative commentary dismissing the movement as hopelessly far left-wing? And if they did find them, why can't they remember what they said?

It took my fellow documentarian Xavier Vanegas and I just a couple of hours one afternoon to uncover a coherent explanation for the movement, which we compiled into a short doc you can watch online and embedded below.

Those we talked to ran the gamut from a man who walked across the country to promote peace, to a member of Oathkeepers, a Constitutional watchdog group founded by a former Paul staffer.

All of them, including our main interviewee, consultant and writer David Jette, made it quite clear that the movement is for something. Sorry, Jimmy Williams.

--An MFA graduate of USC's School of Cinematic Arts, Patrick Riley has worked as a journalist, a screenwriter, and a TV editor. This year for AoE he is keeping his eye on developments in the movie industry and tracking the cultural dimensions of political activism, health and nutrition. Read other posts by Riley at AoE.

See Also:

We Are the 99%: Models of Public Opinion that Explain the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Journalists Reflect on the Challenge of Covering Occupy Protests

iProtest: Social Media and the Evolving Nature of Political Activism

Understanding the Public Sphere in a Network Society

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Brain study finds circuits that may help you keep your cool

Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.

Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP/ Getty Images
Mind & Brain

MIT News

The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.

Keep reading Show less

34 years ago, a KGB defector chillingly predicted modern America

A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
  • The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
  • According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
Keep reading Show less

How pharmaceutical companies game the patent system

When these companies compete, the people lose.

Top Video Splash
  • When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
  • When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
  • Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.