[Update at end of post]
There is, right now in New York City, a protest movement taking shape, under the name Occupy Wall Street. This broad coalition of anti-capitalist protesters has been camped out in the city for more than a fortnight, long enough for mainstream media outlets to have to cover it. And, after the coverage has to come the comment, which has been all too predictable.
When the title “anti-capitalist” appears, this is a threat to the existing order. It must therefore be stamped on in short order: no further enquiry or explanation is needed. So the standard of reportage from our old friends at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) was predictable: “It would be easy to dismiss the ... protests as another disorganized and liberal whinefest ... because that’s basically true”.
The Fox report leaves one in no doubt about the validity of the protest: “many ... hate capitalism and want to see it overturned. You know, that system that helped make this country great and provided the wealth they now loathe”. And it is no surprise that the increasingly scary Ann Coulter has appeared on Fox to compare the protesters to Nazis. There has to be a Nazi moment when Annie’s around.
So how is Occupy Wall Street reported in the UK? As if you needed to ask: the Daily Mail has enlisted the help of Brian Darling from the Heritage Foundation, a body somewhere out there on the right. He puts readers straight at the outset: “A movement filled by simple minded leftists greedy for publicity ... these guys are dumb as a bag of rocks”. That’s from a “senior fellow in Government studies”. Seriously.
He goes on to describe the movement: “Obama supporters, bored students, paid union protesters, actual American communists and loony Hollywood types”. He isn’t the only pundit on the case: over at the bear pit that is Maily Telegraph blogland, Brendan O’Neill is sticking out that brass neck as he tells “Occupy Wall Street ... almost makes me ashamed to be Left-wing”.
Laugh? I laughed until I stopped. Brendan O’Neill “left-wing”? This attention seeking, contrarian meathead is “left-wing”? Go on, I’m bored enough Bren, tell me what it’s all about while I get a brew on. “The descent of the modern Left into the cesspool of victimology, conspiracy-mongering and disdain for mass society and its allegedly dumb inhabitants”. No shit, Sherlock.
The obvious problem for O’Neill is that the “cesspool of victimology and conspiracy-mongering” is already full to overflowing with him and his fellow right wingers. While the dismissal of Occupy Wall Street satisfies the establishment need, it fails to explain why that movement is spreading to other US cities. Shouting it down from a media bully pulpit is not working.
We will hear more of Occupy Wall Street.
[UPDATE: the first collective declaration from Occupy Wall Street has been released and was broadcast by Keith Olbermann on Wednesday evening's edition of Countdown. The video can be viewed HERE and is worth a look. Meanwhile, the laughably misinformed way that readers of papers like the Telegraph are being treated is typified by another Brendan O'Neill outpouring titled - and I am not making this up - "Occupy Wall Street is a fashion show masquerading as a political movement". Bren, you're a prat. Watch the video and see a real professional at work]