A couple of years ago there was a media frenzy surrounding a bunch of screaming malcontents who showed up at town hall meetings and refused to let anyone speak. They became known as the Tea Party and, while portrayed by right-wing media as a grassroots movement, they were actually organized and financed by billionaires like the Koch brothers and conservative establishment lobbyists like Americans for Prosperity.
At the time they received a warm welcome from mainstream media ranging from talk radio to the Wall Street Journal, to Rupert Mudoch’s Fox News. In fact, Fox News literally adopted the Tea Party and branded it as their own:
Fox ran hundreds of stories extolling the virtues of these allegedly valiant Americans seeking to return America to the utopian fatherland it was before they had elected a black president. They sent there star reporters and anchors to headline the Tea Party rallies. The Fox Nation posted articles with titles that praised the Tea Party as “A great Part of America’s History – and America’s Future.”
Fast-forward two years and there is no sign of that patriotic spirit in the conservative media that slobbered over the Tea Party. Now that there is a real populist movement advocating on behalf of the middle-class, Fox News has reversed course and declared that such activity is “dangerous” and “anti-American.” Rush Limbaugh called the protestors “human debris and parasites.” Glenn Beck went even further (as usual) saying…
“They are only interested in destruction. That leads to gas chambers. That leads to guillotines. That leads to millions dead. That leads to Mao. That leads to totalitarianism, every single time.”
So Beck thinks that the people seeking compassion for the 99% of Americans who are not wealthy, are plotting genocide. OK, it goes without saying that Beck is nuts, but what is the media excuse for misrepresenting or ignoring the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that is inspiring hundreds of thousands of Americans nationwide?
Comedian Andy Cobb of Second City has helpfully provided a way to break through the media blackout. He proposes a makeover that will turn ragged protesters into just the sort of spokespersons that appeal to a lazy, biased press.
I’m not entirely sure that Cobb’s makeover will work, but he’s on the right track. In order to grab the attention of modern media you need to give them what want most: drama, conflict, controversy, sex, and most of all, ratings. A few months ago I did my own handbook for “How To Be A Media Magnet:”
The so-called “liberal” media has shamefully avoided accurately reporting on the Occupy Wall Street protests. Similarly, they have failed to cover the fact that broad majorities of the American people agree with the goals of the protesters who are calling for more fairness in tax policies.
“Taxing millionaires in fact is one of the rare political issues to draw bipartisan majority support – 57 percent from Republicans, 75 percent among independents and 89 percent among Democrats. Even among supporters of the Tea Party political movement, 55 percent support raising taxes on millionaires…”
When Democrats and Tea Partyers are both calling for the rich to pay their fair share, the media and our representatives in Washington should start paying closer attention. It’s time to level the playing field. It’s time to undo the absurd legal notion that corporations are people. And it’s time for Americans to come together and retake control of their country from the impersonal monoliths that exist only to accumulate wealth at the expense of our standard of living.
In order to achieve these goals we will also need to hold the media accountable and demand that they do their jobs responsibly and honestly. That means that Fox News, and their audience, should be reminded of their hypocrisy when they promote phony movements like the Tea Party while disparaging the real populists occupying Wall Street (and many other places). And it means reminding the rest of the press, who are not much better than Fox, of the very same things.