The editors of Time Magazine have selected the Occupy Wall Street movement as the top news story of 2011. This was a year that featured a contentious primary race for the Republican nomination for president, a bitter congressional battle over the debt ceiling, and a trial of staggering importance to the nation that found Michael Jackson’s doctor guilty of manslaughter.
Nevertheless, Time managed to make the right choice. The Occupy movement is an unprecedented expression of the First Amendment rights of free speech and the redressing of grievances. This country has never before seen a protest that planted itself in a public square and remained there long after most other rallies would have dissipated and gone home. And this phenomenon replicated itself in hundreds of cities across the nation.
As a result, the public debate over policy and governance flipped 180 degrees from the phony discourse over debt and the size of government, to the far more relevant subject of economic fairness and the abuse of power by the wealthy, the well-connected, and the giant multinational corporations who have no allegiance to America or its citizenry. It shoved the AstroTurf Tea Party out of the headlines and caused the Republican establishment to admit that they are “frightened to death” of Occupy and the 99%.
While Time got the top spot right, there were a couple of glaring omissions in the remainder of their top 10. Somehow they left out the killing of Osama Bin Laden which, after a decade of consuming a major portion of the national consciousness, ought to have earned a spot on this list. It is likewise curious that the News Corp phone hacking scandal was overlooked. That affair resulted in the closure of Britain’s largest circulation newsweekly, 17 arrests (and counting), numerous resignations of top management, Parliamentary hearings that compelled the appearance of Rupert Murdoch and his son James. This was not only a huge news story, it was the biggest news story about the news in decades.
These omissions might have been excusable if the crush of major events simply pushed the stories further down the list. But Time saw fit to include the “Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal,” and “Freak Weather” in the list. Do they really believe that those stories rank higher than the downfalls of the world’s top terrorist and top media propagandist?
[I’ll leave it you to decide which is which]