So I'm driving home yesterday, and I decided to take a few minutes to tune into NPR. They teased me by mentioning a story about how the media is covering Occupy Wall Street, and so I hung on long enough to listen to this beauty by David Folkenflik. Please take the 4:25 necessary to listen to it, as reading the text just doesn't do it justice.
Folkenflik approaches the story from the perspective that the Press just don't seem to know how to cover the OWS movement--finishing his piece with the following: "So reporters are trying to cram this nebulous new phenomenon into a more familiar template. Is it like the civil rights movement? The Tea Party? Something else altogether? And they are stumbling around to figure out how enduring and how consequential it will be."
What initially interested me in sticking around on NPR long enough to listen to this story was my own perception that the media has given OWS a pretty fair pass, much fairer than the Tea Party--a movement whose participation and impact (even at a similar stage of development) dwarfs this one--got. I wanted to see if anything close to that came out of Folkenflik's story. Presumably reporters would have been "stumbling around" searching for more familiar templates with the Tea Party two years ago, no? I mean, it was a spontaneous, organic political movement rising in opposition to perceived problems in the body politic, right?
But no--the Press didn't stumble around--they reached for what was handy--the angry, racist, white people template--and applied it without a second thought. OWS? Well, now things get a little tricky folks--because unlike the Tea Party, what OWS folks appear to be arguing for (to the extent that a coherent argument can be discerned) comports largely with the collective Bought and Paid For Media (BAPF) worldview. Of course reporters are stumbling around looking for templates--after all, they really kinda like what's going on, but they are sensitive to the fact that the protesters are not necessarily a group held in high esteem by many of the folks who read or watch their reporting. What a dilemma! How can we cover a movement which we support but which is so vastly out of step with so much of our audience? I know! We'll declare it new, and out of the ordinary, and we'll kvetch about how best to report it!
The plain truth is that OWS is getting an easy ride from the Press because the Press is fine and dandy with it. The Press savaged the Tea Party because its worldview was and is in opposition to the statist BAPF media view. Media bias? You betchya.