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Adam Klugman

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Mainstream Media... Occupy This!

Posted: 10/13/11 05:53 PM ET

I hate to admit it, but it's true. It's good sport watch these millionaire media mouthpieces try to get their privileged point of view around the occupy movement. I want to be kind. I don't want to ridicule them because I am not without my own tragic limitations, but I just can't take it anymore. America's talking heads simply cannot open their mouths without coming off like condescending aristocrats who think their opinions about the movement actually matter.

Part of the their problem is, of course, that they are the problem. Because for far too long these technocratic tools of the corporate media have been dictating the terms of the political conversation, and now that we are taking it back they like to pretend at being confused, but what they really are is afraid -- afraid of losing control, afraid of ambiguity, and quite frankly, afraid of losing their jobs.

For example, on This Week with Christiane Amanpour last Sunday, George Will, Peggy Noonan, Matthew Dowd and even Donna Brazille embarrassed themselves with a downright pedantic discussion comparing the Tea Party to the occupy movement. I had to laugh out loud when George Will, the self-crowned king of conservative pandering, wished us "long life and ample publicity" because we "represent the spirit and intellect of the American Left." Pardon my bluntness, but when the hell did George Will start giving a rip about the "spirit and intellect of the American Left?"

The fact that he's right has nothing to do with it. It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out. It also doesn't take much more than a survival instinct to see the writing on the wall -- this movement is going to be around for a while and if George wants to keep his cushy gig cooking up political opinions every week, he knows to lighten up on the bloody, red meat of the conservative menu and start serving a little more vegan fare.

And speaking of blood, we mustn't leave out Peggy Noonan, one of the original "Reaganeers" and ever-so-genteel hatchet-bearer for the far right. She told Christiane on Sunday that what makes the occupy movement different from the Tea Party was that they, the Tea Party, were "mature... had a program and a political point of view that they put into legislative action... they were real."

"Real." She actually said this with a straight face, as if the only way our effort could possibly be valid is if it fits into the context of the corrupt political system that brought this country to its knees in the first place. This is the same political system, by the way, that secures Ms. Noonan's place among the top one or two percent of income earners.

Do you see what I am getting at here? It is impossible to perceive the problem when you are the problem. Because what Ms. Noonan and Mr. Will won't acknowledge is that they are so steeped in the bias that maintains their privilege, and so unwilling to examine their own role in helping to create the mess we are in, that they are stone, cold blind.

So I'd like to try and explain it to them in the clearest terms possible.

We are not seeking your permission to be "real," nor are we interested in the patronizing gift of your "ample publicity." We do not scheme for political power like the Tea Party because we have finally woken up and accepted what has always been true: we are political power. And because we know this now, we can afford to be patient. We do not owe you an explanation, a list of demands, or a timeline.

This is what drives the media insane. They need categories, sound bytes and cute, catchy names and phrases because they are incapable of complexity and abhor uncertainty. It's partly why they were so effective in helping skyrocket the Tea Party to national prominence; the Tea Party is not a political movement, it is a one-dimensional Populist Rage Party that fits neatly between commercials for Kentucky Fried Chicken and the season premiere of American Idol. It was, and still is, a political product; a nifty, new gadget to be publicized, bartered and sold in exchange for ratings, revenue and of course, power.

But the occupations that are taking place all over this country defy one-dimensional categories and names because they are happening in a three-dimensional world, also known as the "real" world, Ms. Noonan. We are a flesh and blood movement, not born of media hype but of pain, not organizing between station breaks but on the streets in hundreds of cities across America. And the fact that the media cannot assign us a category is actually the good news. Because that is precisely how people like George Will take control of the conversation, by designating an over-simplified identity that he can then use to turn the debate in his favor.

What this all points to is that aside from issuing a direct challenge to Wall Street, this movement is also rocking the foundations of the mainstream media by refusing to accept its most fundamental point of agreement: we will grant you the fame-inducing Grace of our attention in exchange for your authenticity, which we will extract, process into cheese doodles, and repackage to suit our purposes. If you don't like it, go back to your obscurity. Take it or leave it.

However, the recognition that the "ninety-nine percent" are the true seat of political power loosens the chokehold our mainstream media has placed on this nation's conversation for over thirty years. We no longer need their cameras, their reporters, their erudite analysis, or their political pundits to explain our agenda to anyone.

We are having a very straightforward conversation with each other about the future of this country, and if you'd like to join in, you are welcome. But I have a challenge for you -- leave the microphone at home, send the camera crew to lunch, and just come and sit for a while. Attend a General Assembly meeting. And instead of talking, why don't you do something truly revolutionary, like listen. I think you'll discover something remarkable, something completely unexpected - democracy is alive and well in America. And whether you choose to understand it or not, it is coming to a large, white building near you... sooner than you think.


 

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