Wednesday, October 19, 2011


October 19, 2011

For the last two weeks in September Wall Street was taken over by hundreds of folks, young and old. There were jeans and hoodies and also pin-striped suits, some beards, some ponytails and lots of gray hair. No mullets.
These Americans were demanding something be done about the greedy banks who razed our economy to the ground with shady deals, made millions jobless and homeless and pocketed billions of our tax dollars.
This was a major populist event unlike those corporate-funded tea party gatherings, so therefore what the right-wingers keep calling the “liberal media” went into full coverage mode with constant live updates, right?
Wrong. Not until some ten days had passed was there any mention at all, except in the British newspaper The Guardian.
If you watched Fox then you wouldn’t have known about Occupy Wall Street. Goes without saying because Fox is a shameless shill for Big Business. Yet the same is also true about virtually all of publishing and broadcasting. Here was a growing popular movement being summarily ignored.
So much for the liberal media those Republican and tea party types keep pretending exist. As we see here, corporate America and its media hirelings feed us only the information they want us to know while suppressing that which they don’t.
That’s censorship, pure and simple. Censorship as endured by the poor saps living under communism. Pravda, the Russian word for both “truth and “justice” was the name of the Soviet newspaper that gave the citizens neither of these things. Our media are acting the same way, filtering out uncomfortable information - all the news they don’t want you to know.
Large companies control America’s newspapers and cable stations. And every one of our TV networks is a subsidiary of a corporate behemoth. Here are the big six:
NBC is owned by General Electric, a $750 billion conglomerate. ABC’s parent is the $70 billion Walt Disney Company. The CBS Corporation is a $26 billion enterprise that’s linked to Viacom with revenues of $9 billion and both are dominated by mega-tycoon Sumner Redstone. Then there’s CNN, part of Time Warner with $67 billion in assets and finally Rupert Murdoch’s $54 billion News Corp that owns the rabid Fox.
All the above giants are quoted on the stock exchange. How sympathetic could they possibly be to the people’s call for Wall Street accountability? But how eager to have those voices silenced!
It took a rogue cop, Inspector Anthony Bologna - Tony Baloney to his “fans” - to bring Occupy Wall Street to world attention. Indiscriminately, and without provocation, he pepper sprayed some girls already contained behind a police barrier.
My point isn’t that this power-crazed little Hitler disgraced the uniform. It’s that only then, and after 700 peaceful folks were subsequently arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, that this country’s news outlets, all corporate-owned, found themselves forced to report the event. Why? For fear their absolute right wing bias be laid bare. The so-called liberal media aren’t in the least bit liberal. We’ve all just been fed and re-fed the myth. Tell the lie often enough and it becomes “the truth”.
With demonstrations growing by the thousands, at least one news company’s’ warped approach was an attempt to trivialize it and lampoon the protesters. They’re a “small vocal minority.” A mob. They don’t brush their teeth They’re a bunch of dropout students. They’re communist agitators. Misfits. Pot-smoking hippies engaging in free love in public. The actual footage showed every one of these Fox News assertions to be a downright lie. The protesters are so ordinary they could be – they are - our neighbors.
TV selects its video clips to fit a particular viewpoint, even using scenes from a different event altogether, and Fox News (why always these guys?) has been caught out doing that exact underhanded thing.
My old newspaper, the Daily Mail, ran attacks by far right Americans Charlie Wolf and Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation. Two unabashed corporate stooges smeared the marchers with the very unsubstantiated and time-worn clichés mentioned above - and triggered a huge backlash of outrage from readers on both sides of the Atlantic. And the Mail is a conservative publication.
When what we’re seeing doesn’t match what we’re being told, that’s a problem. Luckily for us, the Internet is making our traditional media increasingly irrelevant. Consequently, when the cops hustle the TV crews away before flailing at the crowd with batons there are always citizens on hand to make sure this ugliness is relayed to the world.
The only violence seen in all the miles of video has been by the police. Unprovoked. Brutal. Unwarranted. And each time it’s exposed the movement grows, as it has, because Americans - Britons too – react strongly to any attempt to stifle free speech. Indeed, we’re constitutionally guaranteed “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. Which is unmistakably what’s been happening in New York and now in 1,100 other American cities and 82 countries around the globe as this movement proliferates.
The First Amendment also underwrites the freedom of the press, although it fails to consider that a “free” press controlled by Wall Street corporations isn’t free. Or liberal.


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.