Saturday, October 8, 2011

Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain: the NYT fights against Occupy Wall Street under the guise of objective journalism

The New York Times is a paper of record. How it parses its language and tilts its coverage determines opinion.

Under the guise of "objective journalism", it shades its stories to fit its agenda.

Today Cara Buckley, a reporter for the NYT, wrote a story entitled, “For Some, Wall Street is Main Street.” The through line is that the protestors are uncivil, and have come to Wall Street to break plumbing and steal toilet paper. By reading more than half of the article, you’ll get the impression that the protesters aren’t spending money at the local merchants (and worse! They're corrupting our infants!).

The first 2/3s of the article quotes nice middle-class stereotypes, a female psychologist, Sheldon Silver (!), and women who can’t get their strollers through the streets. One woman said she had to shield her child’s eyes from, “the sight of women dancing topless in the park.”

I was there. I didn’t see anyone dance topless, or smoke pot, or even walk pooping dogs. This is a story obviously planted (by Bloomberg? He comes off as an easy-going guy letting the Times do his dirty work) as a way to discredit the meaning of the protest. A reader has to go more than 2/3 down in the story to find small business owners that are happy to sell to the protestors. I bought cheese sticks and apples for the occupants (don’t cry for me, one of the 99%):

A woman who tends the Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk a block from the site said coffee and doughnut consumption had jumped.

Yves Delva, a manager at a nearby Modell’s Sporting Goods, said sales had been brisk for sleeping bags, sweatshirts, hand warmers, sweatpants and goggles — that last item presumably bought to protect the eyes from pepper spray, which has been used by the police in response to the demonstrations.

Some residents said the noise, the crush of out-of-towners and the resulting delays were to be expected in one of Manhattan’s most famous neighborhoods.

Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1, which serves Lower Manhattan, said that the protesters had been responsive to concerns from the board and had agreed to stop drumming at 10 p.m. and to enforce quiet hours.

Contrary to the article's implications, protestors are not shutting down green space on a wide-spread, long-lived basis. The freedom of assembly has been stripped from our most magnificent public space, Central Park. The Great Lawn was shut down to demonstrators under the dubious reasoning that the grounds would be trampled on. Isn't that what happens in public parks? Our mayor has co-opted large areas of public parks (the Great Lawn is off-limits to most groups, except the Philharmonic—note the demographics?), which was particularly inconvenient for those protesting the Iraq War in 2003 and the Republican Convention in 2004.

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