Why Are So Many in the Media Threatened By Occupy Wall Street?

#OccupyWallStreetThe other night, I ran into a veteran journalist, a writer who I always considered was among the “plugged in.” Yet when I told him I was reporting on Occupy Wall Street, he plugged out, and stared at me cluelessly.

“What do they want,” he asked, echoing the questioned raised endlessly by TV pundits and editorial commentators. He didn’t seem to know or care who “they” are, or why they have taken to living in parks to make their point. He and his colleagues seem to be saying that to understand what’s going on, it all be first compressed into a press release with bullet points they can simplify further.

“I don’t get it,” he sighed. “Its about Occupying Wall Street,” I replied, “Occupying Wall Street, challenging the power of its economic power. Another blank look …

It’s as if we need our politics to follow a predictable format characterized by legislators playing to the cameras, message points, and pithy slogans. The idea of a deeper challenge to a totally compromised system driven by big money and special interests is considered by some as anomaly that belongs in another century,

Extra parliamentary political movements don’t compute for some who want the political debate limited to rituals like elections, traditional “debates” and up and down votes on selective laws. In this world, politics is best left to politicians with citizens there to look but not to act.

There seems to be three factors at work:

1. Financial issues are treated as exotic, beyond our comprehension and best left in back of the paper in the business pages where obscurantist language makes it so dense that most readers turn away.

2. The upper classes, now referred to as the percent, and the people who identify with them or uncritically, rely on them for financial guidance cannot comprehend any critique that challenges their prerogatives and power. They use terms like “unsophisticated” to de-legitimize protesters who challenge their pretensions and priorities.

3. Some don’t and won’t “get it” because it is not in their interest to do so. They shamelessly use their power to impose their will on the legislative process with an eye on loosening or abandoning any financial reforms that force higher standards of transparency.

Example: even as Occupy Wall Street wins public support for its campaign against inequality and challenge big banks and corporations, The Obama Administration is about to strip mine laws to insure corporate accountability.

Mike Taibbi explains the latest way Washington is aligned with Wall Street in Rolling Stone: (Amazing isn’t it that a music magazine does a better job of covering these issues than our financial media …) He writes: “Barack Obama is apparently expressing willingness to junk big chunks of Sarbanes-Oxley in exchange for support for his jobs program. Business leaders are balking at creating new jobs unless Obama makes compliance with S-O voluntary for all firms valued at under $1 billion.”

Here’s how to translate this move: companies are saying they can’t attract investment unless they can hide their financials from investors. So the CEOs and gazillionaires on Obama’s Jobs Council want the politically-vulnerable president to give them license to cook the books in exchange for support for his jobs program. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “All you’re going to do is have more fraud. The ultimate losers are going to be investors,” said Jeff Klink, a former federal prosecutor whose Gateway Center firm helps clients prevent and detect fraud.”

Unfortunately, the Occupy Wall Street activists have, like the rest of the country not been widely exposed to the considerable documentation around massive fraud by the financial industry.

When former bank regulator and the country’s leading critic of corporate fraud, William Black, now of the University of Missouri Law School in Kansas City, visited Occupy Wall Street on October 25th, he was not recognized by most of those in the encampment or by many in the press who are also unfamiliar with the depth of the crimes of Wall Street. Those crimes just don’t impact investors but have hit ordinary Americans hard. They include the subprime mortgages as well as usurious credit cards. Black takes a systematic look at the problem.

He spoke at a teach-in at Occupy Wall Street Tuesday evening to an attentive crowd. It was one of the first lectures about aspects of the financial crisis that many don’t really know about. Its important to have more talks like this with critics taking the protesters to task about being “unsophisticated.” More experts like Black will be speaking in the Park in the near future.

Perhaps that’s why Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who proposed a consumer protection agency is claiming she put for the intellectual ideas that led to the Occupy Movement. She also talks about her past life as a Republican and the challenges of being a woman on the campaign trail — and say she’s no “guileless Marxist.”

Ironically that’s also true of many in Zuccotti Park who seem to favor anarchism, but at least they have a deeper critique of the posturing of both parties and seem to want far deeper reforms than those proposed by Warren.

Perhaps that’s why self-styled “liberals” like the Washington Post‘s Richard Cohen can’t find an ounce of sympathy for protester who are being skewered by the Israel Lobby AIPAC as Anti-Semitic based on an incident involving two people. AIPAC has no comment on the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have been protesting economic abuses in Israel Itself. To his credit, Cohen dismisses the hysterical anti-Semitism smears against Occupy Wall Street that have been amplifies on Fox and other right-wing outlets. But as FAIR notes Cohen goes on piss on the protests.

Here’s the headline: “Richard Cohen: OWS isn’t Anti-Semitic—Just Clueless, Repugnant”.

“This right-wing attempt to discredit both the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Democratic Party’s hesitant embrace of it is reprehensible. It’s made possible, however, because no one this side of the Moon knows precisely what the Occupy Wall Street movement is trying to do. On a daily basis it marches off to some location to highlight what we all know — that Wall Street guys are rich — and their slogans suggest a tired socialism that is as repugnant to me as the felonious capitalism that produced the mortgage bubble and the impoverishment of millions of Americans.”

I have hung out with Richard at the World Economic Forum in Davos in years past. It’s the intellectual corporate playground of the 1 percent and I don’t remember anything he wrote with this cranky and nasty tone about greedy CEOs who were getting rich off the poor and the middle class.

It would be easy to denounce this hypocrisy, but it is worse because clearly the poobahs of the media lack the capacity to critique their own complicity in the media’s failure to expose that “felonious capitalism” when it might have done some good. They are threatened by a movement that is winning public support because it is also a repudiation their own elite journalism in the service of the status quo.

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at newsdissector.com and PlunderTheCrimeOfOurTime.com. His film Plunder and book The Crime Of Our Time investigate financial crime on Wall Street. Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org.

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  • Mr Willow

    It’s as if we need our politics to follow a predictable format characterized by legislators playing to the cameras, message points, and pithy slogans.

    Well, for the majority of Americans, that is exactly the format they approve of.  Everything concerning politics has to be spoon-fed to them by a newsman (which probably wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the newsmen weren’t subject to the institutions they are reporting on) complete with catch-phrases, bullet points, simple graphs showing the results of simplified or skewed polls. There is either a D or an R in front of their name—D=Bad; R=Good; or vice versa. Anything more complicated than that an people’s brains turn to stew because it would involve the critical thought necessary to sift through all the information and discover what is true and what is false (again, wouldn’t be so difficult if the media weren’t purposefully vague in an attempt to seem objective), to actually listen to what comes out of politicians’ mouths, to assess said information, and to compare it to their own interests for the country.

    The R said the D is socialist, and I’ve been told by the R that socialism is bad. Therefore, I don’t support the D, despite not knowing what socialism is. The R said the D supports Occupy. And the newsman showed a video or statement by the D where he said he supported Occupy. Therefore, I don’t support Occupy despite the fact they are angry at exactly the same things I was mad about three or four months ago at a TParty event. (et al)

    Of course, none of this would be as much of a problem if our education system wasn’t composed of test factories bent on turning people into simplistic information receptacles, instead of strengthening their ability to apply any of the information they receive in any sort of capacity through reason or simple thought.

    • MadHierophant

      “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because
      they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta,
      because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the
      Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta
      children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children.
      And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able …”

      …And so on. I bet a lot of resistance to OWS comes from a place that basically consists of “I know my place and I’m happy in it and probably better than you for it. Fuck you for even considering that there might be a different way, let alone a better one.”

  • Mr Willow

    It’s as if we need our politics to follow a predictable format characterized by legislators playing to the cameras, message points, and pithy slogans.

    Well, for the majority of Americans, that is exactly the format they approve of.  Everything concerning politics has to be spoon-fed to them by a newsman (which probably wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the newsmen weren’t subject to the institutions they are reporting on) complete with catch-phrases, bullet points, simple graphs showing the results of simplified or skewed polls. There is either a D or an R in front of their name—D=Bad; R=Good; or vice versa. Anything more complicated than that an people’s brains turn to stew because it would involve the critical thought necessary to sift through all the information and discover what is true and what is false (again, wouldn’t be so difficult if the media weren’t purposefully vague in an attempt to seem objective), to actually listen to what comes out of politicians’ mouths, to assess said information, and to compare it to their own interests for the country.

    The R said the D is socialist, and I’ve been told by the R that socialism is bad. Therefore, I don’t support the D, despite not knowing what socialism is. The R said the D supports Occupy. And the newsman showed a video or statement by the D where he said he supported Occupy. Therefore, I don’t support Occupy despite the fact they are angry at exactly the same things I was mad about three or four months ago at a TParty event. (et al)

    Of course, none of this would be as much of a problem if our education system wasn’t composed of test factories bent on turning people into simplistic information receptacles, instead of strengthening their ability to apply any of the information they receive in any sort of capacity through reason or simple thought.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Tea Party vs. Occupy Wall Street is the new Left Right Paradigm(this is not necessarily a bad thing). In time the Tea Party will eventually consume then acquire the name of the Republican party, and the OWS will consume and acquire the name of the Democratic Party(this is distinct from being co opted). The tea party is already being established as “conservative” but it is conservative of the constitution and what made america great(even if it includes the regressive things). And the OWS is the antithesis of status-quo, conservitive views. 

    The constitution is a beautiful document, it keeps bringing us back to this fundamental argument: are we a democracy or are we a republic. Only when we really understand the difference will the cycle be broken.

    • Irishpotatogun

      To the banking cartel it does not matter as long as they control the “Money” supply, they make the rules.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Tea Party vs. Occupy Wall Street is the new Left Right Paradigm(this is not necessarily a bad thing). In time the Tea Party will eventually consume then acquire the name of the Republican party, and the OWS will consume and acquire the name of the Democratic Party(this is distinct from being co opted). The tea party is already being established as “conservative” but it is conservative of the constitution and what made america great(even if it includes the regressive things). And the OWS is the antithesis of status-quo, conservitive views. 

    The constitution is a beautiful document, it keeps bringing us back to this fundamental argument: are we a democracy or are we a republic. Only when we really understand the difference will the cycle be broken.

  • Anonymous

    “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because
    they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta,
    because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the
    Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta
    children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children.
    And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able …”

    …And so on. I bet a lot of resistance to OWS comes from a place that basically consists of “I know my place and I’m happy in it and probably better than you for it. Fuck you for even considering that there might be a different way, let alone a better one.”

  • Davidsanders

    The media is power and control.  One journalist or news report is more valuable than a bunch of troops or agents.  The only thing the media can possibly focus on is the Occupy movement.  This is something out of their control. If they fail to report on it people will seek the footage and news themselves.  The message being relayed through the media is ‘revolt’ ‘anger’ and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.  This will start to be embedded in people’s minds: ” hey maybe things are bad, maybe I need to go protest as well.’ Best thing is: there truly is a laundry list of things to be pissed about.  I am curious to see what our pals in the psy warfare division in North Carolina will cook up to counter all this. 

  • Davidsanders

    The media is power and control.  One journalist or news report is more valuable than a bunch of troops or agents.  The only thing the media can possibly focus on is the Occupy movement.  This is something out of their control. If they fail to report on it people will seek the footage and news themselves.  The message being relayed through the media is ‘revolt’ ‘anger’ and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.  This will start to be embedded in people’s minds: ” hey maybe things are bad, maybe I need to go protest as well.’ Best thing is: there truly is a laundry list of things to be pissed about.  I am curious to see what our pals in the psy warfare division in North Carolina will cook up to counter all this. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BY6K4DLG4FCJTDIXFHCUCTAP2U NukL

    The media (and some portion of the general public) can not understand anything beyond a sound bite. From 35 minute school classes to commercial interruptions every 3 minutes to 10 second news spots to fast-cut entertainment and blaring headlines of articles nobody reads, it’s no wonder that people don’t get it – they are conditioned to black and white spoon fed stupidity. If it can’t be summarized in 8 words or less it’s too complex for comprehension.

    One way that they will get it is when they lose their pension, health care, job, house, etc., and the way things are going that’s not going to be long in coming for millions more Americans.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BY6K4DLG4FCJTDIXFHCUCTAP2U NukL

    The media (and some portion of the general public) can not understand anything beyond a sound bite. From 35 minute school classes to commercial interruptions every 3 minutes to 10 second news spots to fast-cut entertainment and blaring headlines of articles nobody reads, it’s no wonder that people don’t get it – they are conditioned to black and white spoon fed stupidity. If it can’t be summarized in 8 words or less it’s too complex for comprehension.

    One way that they will get it is when they lose their pension, health care, job, house, etc., and the way things are going that’s not going to be long in coming for millions more Americans.

  • Irishpotatogun

    To the banking cartel it does not matter as long as they control the “Money” supply, they make the rules.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    We have a media that has, for many years, paid people to espouse certain viewpoints…thus entrenching cluster after cluster of ‘yay status quo’ yahoos in positions of marginal importance. Their job is to distract, defend, debunk and delay. Occupy Wall Street is a naked threat to every facet of our current system of interlocking lies and fraud…so its a small wonder that well paid media pundits are slashing at them at every turn…its what they were hired to do…and if they’d been deeply sympathetic to the protesters…they wouldn’t have risen to prominence in the first place.

    For my money…the entire US media and 99% of its faces and staff could take a flying leap off a cliff and we’d all be better off for it.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    We have a media that has, for many years, paid people to espouse certain viewpoints…thus entrenching cluster after cluster of ‘yay status quo’ yahoos in positions of marginal importance. Their job is to distract, defend, debunk and delay. Occupy Wall Street is a naked threat to every facet of our current system of interlocking lies and fraud…so its a small wonder that well paid media pundits are slashing at them at every turn…its what they were hired to do…and if they’d been deeply sympathetic to the protesters…they wouldn’t have risen to prominence in the first place.

    For my money…the entire US media and 99% of its faces and staff could take a flying leap off a cliff and we’d all be better off for it.

  • Vi0let_femme

    if you have to ask you are still asleep. please wake up.

  • Vi0let_femme

    if you have to ask you are still asleep. please wake up.

  • Lili

    Well-written and extremely useful.  Thank you.  But, Danny, with all respect for the speed with which bloggers need to produce good work: you need an editor.  The glitches and typos in this piece made it difficult to read.

  • Lili

    Well-written and extremely useful.  Thank you.  But, Danny, with all respect for the speed with which bloggers need to produce good work: you need an editor.  The glitches and typos in this piece made it difficult to read.

  • Tchoutoye

    “Why Are So Many in the Media Threatened By Occupy Wall Street?”

    I guess it wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that they earn their living by being a tool for the 1%.
     

  • Anonymous

    “Why Are So Many in the Media Threatened By Occupy Wall Street?”

    I guess it wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that they earn their living by being a tool for the 1%.
     

  • Redacted

    The same media thats threatened by a gopher every spring?

    • Calypso_1

      as well they should be –  the gopher spring awakening is a menace that will only grow with global warming.  That earthquake in Turkey?  Fucking gophers.

      • Redacted

        I lol’d

  • Anonymous

    The same media thats threatened by a gopher every spring?

  • 5by5

    Why Are So Many in the Media Threatened By Occupy Wall Street?

    Because especially in TV media, those people ARE the 1%ers.

  • 5by5

    Why Are So Many in the Media Threatened By Occupy Wall Street?

    Because especially in TV media, those people ARE the 1%ers.

  • Calypso

    as well they should be –  the gopher spring awakening is a menace that will only grow with global warming.  That earthquake in Turkey?  Fucking gophers.

  • Anonymous

    I lol’d

  • Anonymous

    I lol’d