I had reserved the next three weeks of my blog for elaborating on each of the concepts presented in last week's blog entry, "Three Innovative Ideas, Which Could Help the Economy,...but No One's Talking About Them," but I've decided that there's something much more important I need to address here. After all, at the pace at which the do-nothing Congress is addressing--or, more accurately, not addressing--efforts to restore some semblance of hope to our economy and the 14+ million Americans without jobs, my ideas on restoring the economy can certainly wait...at least one more week.
October 17th marks the one-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (or, as it's known to the Twitterverse, #OccupyWallSt or simply #ows). Had it not been for Twitter--in other words, had I been relying exclusively on the mainstream media (or "MSM") for my information--I would have been totally in the dark for the first fifteen days after Occupy Wall Street began, and largely misinformed about it by the MSM for the remaining fifteen days. In fact, one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in the intervening thirty days since Occupy Wall Street began is that the concept of "liberal media bias" is a complete and utter myth. The only thing I'm confused about is whether that myth has been perpetuated by the right-wing media (e.g. Faux News), by the MSM trying to disguise itself as being completely independent of its Corporate Overlords (the media conglomerate owners, and the sponsors and advertisers without whom there would be no MSN), or some unholy combination of the two.
Knowing what I know through Twitter and alternative media sources about Occupy Wall Street, from those who participated actively in its formation and those who have joined its ranks since, I have come to greatly distrust the MSM. The MSM's efforts to mischaracterize Occupy Wall Street, and the ensuing nationwide and global Occupy movements, have seemed so remarkably blatant, so calculated to marginalize the effort and the broad base of people behind it, that a reasonable person could only conclude that this was the result of willful intention rather than gross incompetence.
I offer two brief examples in this regard. First, over the weekend there were Occupy demonstrations in over 950 different cities, in countries throughout the globe. The vast majority of these were peaceful and non-violent, with the only confrontations being those instigated by the authorities (e.g. NYPD arresting customers trying to close their Citibank accounts at a branch in Manhattan on Saturday). In only one "Occupy" protest over the weekend, the one in Rome, was there significant violence. Yet the Occupy Rome protest received the lion's share of the MSM attention today. Think about this for a moment: Out of more than 950 Occupy protest worldwide only one--just one--was violent. 1/950 is just slightly over 1/10 of 1%. That's what should have been the newsworthy lead story; not the focus on the one Occupy protest that devolved into violence.
Second, the MSM has consistently characterized Occupy Wall Street, and the Occupy movements that have sprung up throughout the United States, as being undertaken by a very small and narrow fringe element of the American population: Latte-drinking, iPad toting, spoiled, over-educated and unemployed twenty-somethings. Even now, despite this myth having been completely and utterly debunked by every objective evaluation of the Occupy participants, talking heads in the so-called "liberal media" have consistently sought to marginalize and ridicule the movement and its participants, likening the Occupy Wall Street protesters to those "damn, dirty hippies" of the 60's anti-war movement.
It's very telling that before national PACs like FreedomWorks and Crossroads--run and funded by well-established GOP operatives -astro-turfed the Tea Party movement (thereby turning it into the political juggernaut of the far-right that brought Congress, and any kind of political effectiveness, to its knees with the 2010 mid-term elections), the Tea Party movement was almost deified by the "liberal media." I saw, first-hand, some of the most reprehensible and hateful signs and t-shirts proudly displayed by those early Tea Party supporters but never saw or heard of anyone getting arrested. I heard numerous stories (although never witnessed first-hand any actual incidents) of guns being openly carried and brandished by Tea Party supporters; and yet, there were no arrests, perhaps demonstrating that the 1st Amendment actually has somehow been trumped by the 2nd Amendment. And while some in the MSM, showing their alleged "liberal bias," certainly ridiculed those early Tea Party protests and protesters, no one ever dared suggest that their cause was not legitimate or that their lack of an early, cohesive message doomed the movement to failure. Not so, however, with Occupy Wall Street.
So, on the one-month anniversary of the commencement of Occupy Wall Street, two things appear evident. First, the MSM is finally catching on, perhaps out of nothing but pure fear that this movement has legs and its activists, supporters, and followers may have already written off the MSM because it has proved to be superfluous to the movement's success. Second, both political parties are suddenly trying to find ways to put Occupy Wall Street, and the nationwide and global Occupy movements it has spawned, into convenient little boxes that help those parties figure out how to either defend against or glom onto the exponentially growing energy emanating from this truly grass-roots movement.
So, what's "the thing" about Occupy Wall Street that truly scares the shit out of the political establishment and the MSM? It is that they cannot *control* that which they truly do not understand. And even if the MSM and the political establishment take the time to come to understand Occupy Wall Street, they will never be able to manipulate it for their political gain. And that is a truly scary prospect for them.
There are plenty of talking heads in the MSM and in both political parties offering their avuncular advice to Occupy Wall Street; to clarify and simplify its message; to create a hierarchy of leadership; to anoint spokes models armed with talking points who can appear on--you guessed it--news and political talk shows with panels of political operatives from both parties, as seen on every MSM network. And to what end? For the convenience of the MSM so they don't have to actually learn what's really going on in Zuccotti Park; so they can continue to overlook how an organic democratic process actually works; to make it that much easier for the Democrats and the Republicans, respectively, to deify or demonize the movement for their own political gain. None of these outcomes, of course, will advance the cause of Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement.
Occupy Wall Street and the nationwide and global Occupy movement it has spawned should continue to be what it is: A messy yet remarkably effective example of what real democracy looks like. Because, after all, isn't that the most important message of all here? That people believe in government by the people and for the people, and they plan on taking it back. NOW.
Follow Peter Smirniotopoulos on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@PSmirn