P.J. Gladnick Rewrites History of Occupy Wall Street Coverage

Marking the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, P.J. Gladnick turned his Smarminess Meter up to 11 and attempted a major revision of history with regard to the early coverage offered that movement:

Reuters has noted the one year anniversary coming this Monday of the Coffee Party, oops, I mean Occupy Wall Street. I can be forgiven for the error since both proved to be as big a flop as Joe Scarborough’s No Labels. All of these failed movements had one other thing in common: they were given a boost at birth with extreme media hype.

Later, he asserted that the Occupiers “must feel really down after the artificial buildup given to them by the MSM shortly after their birth last year.”

In the real world, of course, the journalistic scandal of 2011 was the almost-complete lack of any significant coverage of Occupy Wall Street in its earliest days. Much of what little notice was paid the movement by the national press was sneering, contemptuous and dismissive.

Five days after the demonstrations began, the initial press blackout of the OWS demonstrations drew a rebuke from Current TV’s Keith Olbermann. Later, Jim Naureckas of liberal press watchdog Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) would punch the ol’ Nexis buttons for newspaper stories that mentioned Occupy Wall Street during the 5 days leading up to that broadcast. There were 17 articles, 10 of which were in foreign newspapers and 4 of which were in the same small Missouri paper. There was 1 article each in 3 different New York papers. And that’s all. Two days after Olbermann’s objection, FAIR echoed it, rhetorically asking, “What if the Tea Party occupied Wall Street?” The article provided some info on the coverage to date:

The anti-corporate protests have been lightly covered in the hometown New York Times: One piece (9/18/11) largely about how the police blocked access to Wall Street, and one photo (9/22/11) with the caption “Wall Street Protest Whirls On.”

The protests have been treated with brief mentions on CNN, like this one from host Wolf Blitzer (9/19/11): “Protests here in New York on Wall Street entering a third day. Should New Yorkers be worried at all about what’s going on?”

From the ABC, CBS and NBC network news, we could find nothing at all in the Nexis news database. On the PBS NewsHour (9/19/11), the protests got a brief reference, tacked on to the end of the stock market report.

The complaints about this lack of coverage didn’t lead to any real coverage at first either. Instead, parts of the press began to cover their own non-coverage and to cook up rationalizations for not covering the demonstrations.

This is Gladnick’s “extreme media hype.”

Today’s article wasn’t Gladnick’s first effort at sending this history down a Memory Hole. Back in February, he challenged the conclusion about the OWS coverage offered by a Current TV documentary:

Few people watch Current TV so perhaps Christof Putzel, correspondent of that channel’s Vanguard show, thought he could broadcast a whopper on The 99 Percent episode about the Occupy Wall Street protests without being called on it. And Putzel’s grand fib (as one would politely label it) was his claim that “much of the mainstream media mocked and dismissed the Occupy Wall Street movement.” Later in the show, Putzel doubled down on his whopper and flat out declared with no qualifiers that “The mainstream media paints an unflattering portrait of the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

And what samples does Putzel cite for this supposed disrespect for OWS? Since he can’t find any from the alphabet networks of NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS which have broadcast overwhelmingly glowing reviews of OWS, he was forced to show only clips from FOX News which sounded some discordant notes amidst the wall of general acclaim the OWS received from the MSM.

In fact, Putzel or anyone else examing the matter will, with fairly minimal effort, find a wealth of examples of the “unflattering portrait” of OWS painted by a lot of the press. On 21 Sept. 2011, the same day Olbermann complained about the press blackout, the Associated Press offered a piece that would come to typify the sneering contempt a lot of the “mainstream media” offered OWS:

In a small granite plaza a block from the New York Stock Exchange, a group of 20-somethings in flannel pajama pants and tie-dyed T-shirts are plotting the demise of Wall Street as we know it… Welcome to the headquarters of “Occupy Wall Street,” a place where topless women stood Wednesday morning on the corner shouting “I can’t afford a shirt!”

Two days later, the New York Times ran its first major article on the demonstrations, an utterly contemptuous rant against OWS by Ginia Bellafante. Three days later, the Boston Globe’s Joanna Weiss wrote:

It’s hard to take a protest fully seriously when it looks more like a circus–some participants seem to have taken a chute straight from Burning Man…

A few days after this, the sarcasm-laden contempt was virtually seeping through the pores of CNN anchor Erin Burnett – so much so that it seemed to get in her eyes and she didn’t bother to get her story straight. At the New Republic, Alex Klein was telling the same story. Appearing on CNN on 16 Oct., the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens asserted that OWS was made up of “the same kind of extreme fringe you find at Ramsey Clarke marches.” Then, of course, there’s what the far-right press was saying about it. And on, and on, and on.[1]

Gladnick’s “wall of general acclaim the OWS received from the MSM.”

It’s worth noting that, while Gladnick slams Current’s Putzel for allegedly being “forced to show only clips from FOX News” to back up the charge that the press had portrayed OWS in an unflattering light, Gladnick himself, in grasping for a substantive example to support his case that OWS was “given a boost at birth with extreme media hype,”[2] not only offered the same comment by NBC’s Brian Williams in both his article today and in the one from back in February but also had to completely misrepresent it to use even it. Here’s what Williams said on NBC Nightly News on 5 Oct., 2011 (weeks, it should be said, after OWS began):

We begin tonight with what has become by any measure a pretty massive protest movement. While it goes by the official name ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ it has spread steadily and far beyond Wall Street, and it could well turn out to be the protest of this current era.

Gladnick describes this as a “loving paean” to OWS and “the most laughable of the media hype” of OWS.

Sort of says it all, doesn’t it?


[1] After some weeks, OWS started getting regular coverage but mostly because of the insanely violent law-enforcement attacks on demonstrators.

[2] In the February piece, he also referenced a general Media Research Center “study” of coverage. For a look at what, in every case, passes for a “study” from the MRC, see here and here and here and here.


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