Thursday, November 3, 2011

All the News That Fits

There are times when I vaguely regret not having cable or satellite for my TV, if only to be able to check on what the networks are not covering. The BBC news feed shows nothing -- oh, I take that back, this just appeared:

Thousands of anti-corporate greed demonstrators have closed one of America's busiest ports.

A spokesman for the Port of Oakland in California said maritime operations had effectively halted.

The shutdown capped a day in which hundreds of city workers, including teachers, joined the call for a strike.

The crowds also stopped traffic at a junction where a military veteran was seriously injured last week as protesters clashed with police.

I'd just done a Google search, and the first result was from the Guardian in Britain, whose live news feed agreed that the Port of Oakland had been shut down by the strike.

At National Public Radio's site I found this AP story, headlined "Oakland Protesters Halt Operations at Port" on the main page, but it only says that
On Wednesday morning, the port was operating as normal and most longshoremen had shown up for work, according to port and union officials.
I guess they couldn't update it all day. What a shame. (And now I'm listening to the midnight NPR news summary, which doesn't admit that the Port was closed by the strike either. That's a bit less excusable, and a lot more shameful. All Hail the Liberal Media, with their uncritical support of these anti-American rabble! ... Oh, now they're talking about Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Superbowl! Thanks to NPR for their up-to-the-minute coverage!)

CNN's soft-pedaling it.
Demonstrators in Oakland, California, appeared to carry out a successful strike of downtown businesses Wednesday, as most merchants and retailers shuttered their doors during a largely peaceful protest.
"Appeared", eh? All right. And this too:
Unlike prior protests in downtown Oakland, no uniformed police officers were visible during the demonstrations as of Wednesday afternoon. Oakland gained national attention during a recent clash between protesters and police, who fired tear gas upon the demonstrators after they allegedly threw objects at officers, police said.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan apologized for authorities' confrontations with demonstrators. The clashes led to the hospitalization of an Iraq war veteran.
That's not strictly a lie, but it's not honest either, as though "the hospitalization of an Iraq war veteran" had nothing to do with the "tear gas fired upon the demonstrators by police." If you didn't know -- if you hadn't already been informed by more honest news coverage -- you might think that poor veteran got so worked up by the sight of dirty hippies spitting on America that he had a conniption and needed treatment. C'mon, CNN, even Fox News did a better job, though they seem to have borrowed some quotations from other sources (like the AP) without attribution.

CNN also has an opinion piece by a reporter who says he's covered both Zuccoli Park and Tahrir Square, and the two are not alike, you guys, okay? -- even if some Egyptians have declared their support for Occupy Oakland.
Not one Occupy Wall Street protester is risking his or her life to publicly proclaim their demands. In New York, police resorted to pepper spray and clubbings; in Oakland, California, police sprayed tear gas and are seen in videos apparently throwing stun grenades. Protesters display serious wounds they say were inflicted by rubber bullets. But even that excessive force cannot compare to the threat demonstrators in the Middle East and North Africa faced for displaying their dissatisfaction.
Not a word about a man who suffered concussion and brain swelling from the impact of a tear gas cannister. He could have died, but he didn't. The writer's evasions are similar to those Mubarak's regime would have made about injured protesters in Tahrir Square. And these are just the opening salvos of state repression of free speech and assembly. But it's okay, it doesn't matter, they don't have to be exactly the same. Did anyone really think so?

Uniquely among the big American news organizations I've looked at so far tonight, MSNBC put the strike up front. They got the basic situation right, it seems, but had to remind us that
Black-dressed and masked marchers threw paint balls, ripped up a picket fence and broke windows at a Whole Foods market before about two dozen protesters forced them to stop. There was lots of shoving and punches thrown, the Oakland Tribune reported.
At least MSNBC drew a line between the troublemakers and the "protesters" who "forced them to stop." Again, I think the masked guys should be presumed to be police provocateurs until proven otherwise.

Democracy Now! did their daily broadcast in the morning, New York time, so they won't have a story up until tomorrow's broadcast. I'll be interested to see what the print media headlines look like too.

The strike is very impressive, a major early success for the movement. The relative lack of violence, due to the police standing back, is a reminder that the violence has been overwhelmingly police violence. I suspect many people in nice offices around the country, from the West Coast to the Beltway, are feeling nervous tonight.