AOL News Op-Ed: Elite Media Whitewashing Wisconsin’s Protests
Posted by iusbvision on March 9, 2011
For the past two weeks, the news media have been swarming over Madison, Wis., covering every detail of the public-sector union protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts, as well as other similar protests around the country.
If you’ve followed the mainstream press, you’ve seen lots of civil protests, lots of interviews with reasonable teachers, pictures of signs about the need for quality education.
But have they been giving viewers and readers the whole story? Not quite.
Here’s a sampling of what you likely missed:
- During the protests, there have been signs comparing Gov. Walker to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mubarak, even Satan. Some signs featured Walker’s face in crosshairs with the words “Don’t Retreat, Reload: Repeal Walker.” Another held a sign saying “Political Death to Tyrants.”Click here to see a gallery of signs(caution, several signs contain adult language).
- On Feb. 22 in Boston, Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., fired up a union crowd in front of the statehouse: “I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an e-mail to get you going. Every once [in] a while you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.”
- In Rhode Island, a union supporter called a cameraman a derogatory term for a homosexual and threatened to have anal sex with him.
- In Ohio, a union activist called tea party members “corporate butt-lickers” and Nazis.
- Tabitha Hale of FreedomWorks was filming a union protest outside their offices in the nation’s capital Feb. 23 and was shoved to the ground by a middle-aged male activist wearing a T-shirt of the Communications Workers of America.
- Fox News correspondent Mike Tobin said he was hit by pro-union protesters in Wisconsin amidst cries of “Fox News lies” from the crowd, which also tried to block the cameraman’s view of Tobin.
Not one of those outrages was apparently worthy of much in the way of news coverage.
For example, a Media Research Center study of 53 Wisconsin stories on ABC, CBS and NBC found that only eight stories visually featured signs comparing Gov. Walker to Hitler, or Mussolini, or Stalin, or Mubarak, or Satan. More incredibly, not a single network anchor or reporter addressed whether that kind of signage was civil or appropriate. And only Fox covered Capuano’s “get a little bloody” remark.
Now, compare this to how tea party protests have been covered, and you can see a glaring double standard at work.
These same media outlets spent two years obsessing over every over-the-top tea party sign and mere accusation of uncivil behavior.
Do you remember the claims that tea party activists intentionally spit on Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (a charge he backed away from) and that tea partyers yelled the N-word at black congressmen (which no one could produce on video)? The mere accusation, the mere suggestion was enough for blanket network coverage.
Do you recall the endless parade of anti-tea-party stories after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson? All of them uniformly denounced Sarah Palin as if she encouraged the shooting. Palin put crosshairs on a congressional district, on the Internet. The Wisconsin protesters put Walker’s head in the crosshairs on posters. But Palin was the evil one, and the Wisconsin protesters got a free pass: No one denounced them.
Well, one uncivil action did break through the media blackout — when blogger Ian Murphy of the “Buffalo Beast” made a crank call to Gov. Walker pretending to be billionaire conservative philanthropist David Koch. But he was celebrated by the press.
On “The Early Show,” CBS reporter Dean Reynolds talked about how gullible the governor was. NBC News correspondent Michael Isikoff asserted that Murphy proved the union conspiracy theorists were right. CNN named Murphy “The Most Intriguing Person of the Day.”
None of these networks, it’s worth pointing out, mentioned that Murphy’s article on this prank call was titled “Koch Whore,” or that he’d in the past written such things as “If Rove is Bush’s brain, may the 43rd president be lobotomized before we string him up.”
Why would they, since that apparently wouldn’t fit the media’s preferred narrative that the pro-union protesters are, unlike tea partyers, champions of civility?
L. Brent Bozell III is president of the Media Research Center.