it is interesting to see that the role the media plays in misrepresenting
protest movements has not changed very much since 1968. this representation
is part of the struggle. > FAIR-L
> Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
> Media analysis, critiques and news reports
> MEDIA ADVISORY:
> NYC Newspapers Smear Activists Ahead of WEF Protests
> January 28, 2002
> In a few days, the World Economic Forum will hold its annual meeting, an
> elite gathering of what the WEF calls the world's "top
> other words, big business leaders and government officials. The event
> usually takes place in Davos, Switzerland, but will be in New York City
> this year (January 31- February 4), ostensibly as a gesture of solidarity
> after the September 11 attacks.
> Many globalization critics identify the WEF as a nerve center for
> economics, and past WEF meetings have been the focus of significant
> This year's meeting promises to be no exception, and local media are
> up some of the same distortions that have greeted past globalization
> Mainstream New York City newspapers have tended to frame discussion of the
> demonstrations in terms of their status as a security problem. A search of
> the Lexis-Nexis database (12/1/01 - 1/28/02) found that most articles in
> New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Times and Newsday mentioning
> the WEF have focused on police preparations for the protests. As a result,
> the political debate over the WEF has been obscured, as have concerns
> police brutality and civil liberties.
> Though the New York Times and Newsday didn't manage to overcome this skew
> toward security questions, it should be noted that both papers provided
> substantive coverage that did the Post and the News. Commendably, Newsday
> steered clear of the vitriol that has characterized some of its
> One recent Newsday article, "Activists: We Come in Peace" (1/25/02),
> on the protest organizers' endorsement of non-violence and concerns about
> potential police brutality; another (1/27/02) attempted a serious overview
> of recent political controversies over globalization.
> Contrast this approach to one particularly vicious editorial from the New
> York Daily News (1/13/02), which referred to anti-WEF activists as
> of agitators," "crazies," "parasites" and "kooks." The paper threatened
> activists, saying "You have a right to free speech, but try to disrupt
> town, and you'll get your anti-globalization butts kicked. Capish?"
> The Daily News compared critics of the WEF to the terrorists who attacked
> the World Trade Center. "New York will not be terrorized," declared the
> paper. "We already know what that's like. Chant your slogans. Carry your
> banners. Wear your gas masks. Just don't test our patience. Because we no
> longer have any."
> It's hard to read such rhetoric as anything other than an attempt to
> manipulate New Yorkers' legitimate anger and grief over September 11 in
> order to whip up a backlash against dissent. Unfortunately, the Daily News
> wasn't the only New York paper to attack activists in these terms. Much
> coverage has been dominated not by serious reporting, but by
> commentaries that portray activists as violent thugs.
> New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman (1/19/02) described globalization
> activists as people "less known for their deep thinking than for their
> willingness to trash cities," saying "some would say that New York needs
> this [protest] about as much as it needs another airplane attack."
> In an account of an extremely friendly interview "over a light beer at
> Lanagan's" with former New York City deputy police chief John Timoney, the
> New York Post's Steve Dunleavy (1/18/02) asserted that planned protests
> "a potentially scary scene, promised by little nasty twits." The column
> titled "Econ Summit Brings Own Terror Threat."
> "There are some very serious bad guys out there," Timoney told the Post,
> "and I am not talking about Osama bin Laden. We are talking about pretty
> sophisticated bad guys." Though Timoney seemed to be making the outlandish
> suggestion that globalization activists are as dangerous as international
> terrorists, Dunleavy relayed the claim uncritically, following up with a
> tough-guy endorsement of Timoney's prowess: "Timoney, like most cops, has
> been beaten and shot at by punks all his life."
> The ease with which commentators equate activists with terrorists has its
> roots in the mainstream media's rewriting of the history of U.S.
> globalization protests. Recent articles about the WEF have referred to
> previous, overwhelmingly peaceful globalization protests in Seattle,
> Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Philadelphia as "window-smashing,
> flame-tossing spectacles" (Daily News, 1/24/02), "violent mayhem" (New
> Post, 1/20/02), "radical protesters rampag[ing] through the streets...
> clashing with police" (Daily News, 1/18/02), "wild protest melees" (New
> Times, 1/25/02), and, simply, "violent" (Newsday, 1/18/02).
> It's true that violence has been a problem at globalization protests, but
> the majority of it has been initiated by police, not protesters. The
> November 1999 WTO protests in Seattle were characterized by unprovoked
> tear-gassing, beating and unlawful arrests of peaceful demonstrators (and
> even of bystanders), and a National Lawyers Guild investigation
> characterized the Seattle violence as a "police riot." The American Civil
> Liberties Union has expressed alarm over police abuses at globalization
> protests, and in more than one case filed suit against law enforcement
> authorities over the issue. Yet time and again, media have distorted
> to suggest that police force was a necessary response to "violent"
> activists. (See Extra!, 1-2/00 and 7-8/00.)
> When coverage is dominated by news and commentary that presents lawful
> political assembly as a terrorist threat-- a threat that the police "know
> what they have to do" to deal with (New York Post, 1/18/02)-- it has a
> chilling effect on dissent, raises tensions between police and the public,
> and risks creating a climate where law enforcement agencies feel able to
> exercise force against demonstrators with impunity.
> For independent coverage of WEF issues and protests, visit the New York
> Independent Media Center: http://nyc.indymedia.org/
> For links to protest organizers, visit the Mobilization for Global
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