Another day, another Fox News attempt smear the Occupy Wall Street movement.
This article also appears on Alternet.org.
Fox News has been feverishly trying to dampen the viral growth of OWS ever since it sprouted in a park in Lower Manhattan about a month ago. Their overt hostility is in sharp contrast to the love affair they had with the early Tea Party. Now they are slandering decent and passionate protesters as communists, whining about class war, comparing them to hippies, accusing them of violence, and associating them with Nazis. All of these attacks have collapsed from the weight of their own dishonesty, and support continues to grow for the movement. But does that stop Fox News?
Of course not. Their determination to crush this populist uprising is fueled by a cabal of bitter elitists with deep pockets. Rupert Murdoch’s pals on Wall Street have no intention of sitting still while they are asked to be accountable for their chicanery. So yesterday Fox’s Megyn Kelly featured a story based on an article at FoxNews.com with a provocative headline: EXCLUSIVE: Ex-ACORN Operatives Behind the Scene of ‘Occupy’ Protests.
Run for the hills, Helga. A defunct organization of community organizers who helped low-income citizens to vote, find housing, get an education, and navigate the complexities of government agencies, has risen from the dead to take control of a leaderless rabble of park squatters demanding an end to financial and political corruption. It’s Armageddon!
The FoxNews.com article was based on is a collection of unattributed sources making unsubstantiated allegations about New York Communities for Change (NYCC), the group Fox says is the ACORN spinoff. Most of the claims are so far-fetched as to be beyond believability. For example, one source flatly claims as a matter of fact that “there is a still a national ACORN.” The Fox reporter never bothers to confirm the demonstrably false assertion, nor to challenge the source. And then there’s this…
“Sources said NYCC has hired about 100 former ACORN-affiliated staff members from other cities – paying some of them $100 a day – to attend and support Occupy Wall Street. Dozens of New York homeless people recruited from shelters are also being paid to support the protests, at the rate of $10 an hour, the sources said.”
Doing the math, that comes to $10,000 a day for the staffers and another $8,000 (approx) a day for the homeless recruits. The Wall Street Occupation has just entered its sixth week, but if we assume that these folks worked for just three of those weeks, that’s $270,000 (with weekends off).
Remember, ACORN is an organization that disbanded when their funding dried up as a result of the negative publicity generated by the thoroughly discredited smear campaign of video-dissembler James O’Keefe. Every investigation of ACORN subsequent to their dissolution failed to find any wrongdoing except on the part of O’Keefe, whose videos were deemed to have been deliberately and unethically deceptive.
Nevertheless, Fox is now reporting that the spawn of this bankrupt non-profit “raked in about $5,000” via fundraising efforts by hired canvassers. And with that puny take they managed to pay over a quarter of a million dollars to 150 people. That sort of magical fiscal management hasn’t been seen since Jesus fed the multitudes with five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. And all of this was supposedly orchestrated in order to make a crowd of thousands look marginally bigger. This doesn’t even take into consideration any of NYCC’s other expenses like rent, utilities, office equipment, etc., despite a specific assertion in the article that the money raised was used “to buy supplies, pay staff and cover travel expenses.”
NYCC has issued a response to Fox News:
“Fox News is trying to discredit Occupy Wall Street. New York Communities for Change is a new organization that fights for low- and moderate-income families. We don’t pay protesters and any monies raised by NYCC’s canvass are used in support of our ongoing issue campaigns. Period.
“The reality is that Occupy Wall Street is an organic movement of the 99% outraged at the ability of the 1% to corrupt America’s political and financial systems for personal gain while middle class families lose their jobs, their homes, and see their economic future devastated. We call on Fox News to stop its unseemly attacks and to respect the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that our nation needs a more equitable distribution of wealth.”
The Fox News article’s author, Jana Winter, claims to have interviewed insiders with specific knowledge of private details. Winter cites her interview subjects twenty times in the article but only once puts a name to a comment. Her negligence to identify anyone even includes a spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers and a Fox News producer – two people who presumably are not averse to attribution.
The one identified source is Harrison Schultz, an Occupy Wall Street spokesman, whom Winter quotes as saying that “he knew nothing about NYCC’s involvement in the Occupy movement. ‘Haven’t seen them, couldn’t tell you,’ he said.” So the only on-the-record quote in the whole article was an unambiguous denial of any OWS coordination with NYCC. That’s what Fox News considers an “exclusive” expose of ACORN’s clandestine domination of the movement.
For the past few weeks Fox News and the broader right-wing media has relentlessly hammered at OWS. They have tried in vain to drive down support for the movement by associating it with a different villain on an almost daily basis. Bill O’Reilly and his guest, Glenn Beck, discussed how George Soros was funding the protesters and their newspaper, The Occupied Wall Street Journal. In fact, there is no verifiable tie to Soros and the newspaper was produced by notorious pranksters, The Yes Men, and funded by donations. Glenn Beck took pleasure in a report that former KKK leader David Duke had “endorsed” OWS. What Beck failed to mention is that Duke, a pathological self-promoter, had also endorsed the Tea Party. But Andrew Breitbart took the top dishonors by speculating that OWS might be affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Despite this barrage of hogwash, the Occupy movement continues to gain popularity. A CBS/New York Times poll shows that 43% of the country agree with the Occupiers. An Associated Press poll shows that 37% of Americans view the protesters favorably. That compares to only 28% who have a favorable view of the Tea Party. Even more significant is the support expressed for the movement’s economic justice agenda, particularly raising taxes on the wealthy. A Bloomberg poll shows overwhelming support by 68% of the American people, including a majority of both independents and Republicans. And poll after poll affirms those results.
Is it any wonder then that Fox News is so frantically flinging fistfuls of mud in the hopes that something will stick? And since the usual name-calling they employ (socialists, thugs, deviants) has failed to make a mark, they are pulling out oldies like ACORN. Even if the association with ACORN were true, what would be the harm? We know now that ACORN was fully exonerated, while their critics were repudiated. There is certainly no shame in being associated with an organization that fought for decades on behalf of the disenfranchised members of our society.
This is a desperation move on the part of Fox News that reveals the weakness of their position. If this is the best that Fox can come up with, expect the Occupy movement to continue gaining strength. But also expect Fox to escalate their attacks into even more bizarre territory. Before long they will find a way to associate the Occupiers with an underground civilization of Molemen seeking to overthrow the surface-dwellers. Occupy Overground!