The demonstrations in Wisconsin on behalf of workers rights has sparked a nationwide movement unlike any in decades. On Saturday, February 26, 2011, rallies were staged in dozens of cities across America with the slogan and goal of Rebuilding the American Dream.
That’s a tall order given the state of disrepair into which the dream and this nation has fallen. The burden of two foreign wars and massive domestic corruption on the part of Wall Street have left the country struggling to fulfill the obligations of government, and have left the citizens struggling to sustain their households and their communities.
But on this Saturday there was an inspirational moment of hope. More than a hundred thousand people, from across the country, came out to show solidarity for the people of Wisconsin, and to illustrate their resolve to restore the ideals that made this country great. We are proving again that we are a nation that pulls together, that supports one another, and that expresses compassion for its neighbors.
As encouraging as the day’s activities have been, it is clear that there are still obstacles to overcome before this movement can have its full impact. In Los Angeles there were 2,000 passionate demonstrators in the shadow of City Hall ready to fight for reform and progress.
That’s a significant turnout for an event that had less than a week of publicity. But despite this show of support there was virtually no media. With seven local television stations in the second largest market in the country, not a single one rolled a van to cover this event. That is nothing but shameful.
The Los Angeles Times sent a reporter to Phoenix, Arizona to cover a couple of thousand attendees of the Tea Party Patriots convention – an event that was shunned by most major politicians. But the Times didn’t bother to send anyone literally a few blocks north of their offices to report on a larger demonstration in their own backyard.
For the hard work and positive energy of this movement to reap benefits, we are going to have to make the media do its job. They didn’t seem to have any problem covering sparsely attended town halls last year where Tea Baggers harangued their congressmen. Of course the Tea Partiers had the advantage of their own house news network, Fox News. When you can organize through a nationally broadcast platform with buses and PR provided by lobbyists (FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity) and billionaires (the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch), you enjoy a valuable advantage that the grassroots doesn’t have.
That’s the challenge we face today. Getting people to commit turns out to have been the easy part. What do we have to do to get the media to do their job and provide honest coverage? This weekend the Sunday morning news shows will be populated almost entirely by Republicans and right-wingers. NBC’s Meet the Press added AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka late yesterday after being shamed by the brazenly biased lineups that were released by the networks.
This is further evidence of the favoritism that business receives from the press. Every local newspaper has a business section. There are three business channels on cable TV. Where is the labor section of the paper? Where is the Labor News Network?
Shame appears to be the best weapon in this battle and people should make generous use of it. If we contact both local and national media and insist that they cover these events, the people will do the rest. It’s clear from the demonstrations today there is sufficient passion to fuel this movement. Now let’s get the media on board and produce some results.