Friday, March 27, 2015

Missteps with Rangel, Lewis or Mass Media misrepresentation?

When I got up Sunday morning and turned on the TV to see the latest on the Occupy Wall Street movement was being reported CNN was running a story about how the protestors rejected both Congressmen Charlie Rangel and John Lewis either booing them or refusing to allow them to speak.

(This was originally posted on Open Salon October 14, 2011)

Apparently these weren’t the only reports of this from the Mass Media although I didn’t catch any others on the TV, there was also a report from Fox News by Geraldo Rivera (shown below) which I found on the internet late. My impression from the initial CNN report was that although the protestors may have had good reason to reject these congressmen they probably handled it badly and allowed the Mass Media to use it as a propaganda piece to make the Occupy Wall Street movement look bad. Since then I have seen no correction in the Mass Media however after looking it up on the internet I get the impression that if the protestors did handle this bad it may have only been a minor mistake; instead what probably happened is that the Mass Media misrepresented both incidents. The following articles a handful of the reports I found on the web that almost certainly represented the incidents more accurately and fairly than the Mass Media, with the possible exception of the one from Fox News which may have slanted it in their usual way; although you can be the judge of that for yourself.

Fox News, Charles Rangel Make Uncomfortable Visits To Occupy Wall Street
Charles Rangel on Supporting Occupy Wall Street
John Lewis denied speaking at Occupy Atlanta
Rep. John Lewis Speaks Out in Solidarity With Occupy Wall Street Movement

In the case of Charles Rangel, he apparently was heckled by just one protestor and the rest of the protestors may have wanted to give him a chance to speak whether or not they agreed with him or not; apparently the crowd may have been boing the protestor and they may have come to his aide. However the way it was presented on CNN seemed to imply that he was heckled by all the protestors. To the best of my knowledge there has been no correction of this from CNN and even if there was it is not an uncommon practice for the traditional Mass Media to print or broadcast their corrections in a much lower profile manner than their mistakes. In the case of John Lewis CNN implied that they refused to allow him to speak at all after voting on it giving the viewers the impression that they were censoring him. It appears as if what actually happened may have been that they voted on who could speak and he was told that he would have to wait his turn and he would be allowed to speak but he didn’t have time, due to an engagement elsewhere. Once again I have not seen any correction from CNN.

This may be typical of the way the Mass Media are covering the Occupy Wall Street movement; and it may be advisable to check everything the Mass Media says before believing it. Even though I doubted the Mass Media and thought they were trying to downplay it my initial response was to believe their version and conclude that the protectors probably bungled it. There would have been good reason to boo or otherwise reject these congressmen and even they acknowledge it. They have all had plenty of time to do a much better job introducing legislation and making better arguments about how to reform the system and tell the public how things work behind closed doors yet they haven’t. Even if they don’t have enough votes to pass legislation they could do a better job speaking out on it and informing the public. For example they could talk more about how proprietary information is routinely used to guarantee that even though consumers and workers need information to make important decisions they are routinely deprived of it.

Proprietary information is used to guarantee that when three groups, generally speaking, workers, consumers and business people participate in the economy the only ones allowed to access the information they need to make decisions are the business people and they routinely use this secrecy to rig the system. Or they could use their position to discuss the epidemic of planned obsolescence which business people use to guarantee that consumers have to buy things, like light bulbs, pantyhose, sneakers, batteries over and over again so that they can increase profits and gouge the consumers out of hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Or they could have used their position to draw attention to many other issues and inform the public better so that they could do a better job participating and raising doubts about those that oppose legislation that enables these things and prevent them from being reelected; but they didn’t. There may be some exceptions, at least to some degree, like Bernie Sanders and perhaps some members of the progressive caucus; however I suspect that it would probably be best if a good reform system in the long run would involve replacing most if not all the existing members of Congress, the President, Governors etc.

However in the short run it may be best to work with the most reasonable members of Congress to at least get some things rolling in the right direction, if possible; or at least make the transition as easy as possible. Therefore it would be helpful if the protestors were better prepared with questions they would like to as the congressmen and recommendations they would like to give them. I suspect that many of the protestors have already thought of this so excuse me if I sound a little redundant but I think it is still worth repeating for those that haven’t thought it through. If they do a good job bringing up good questions about a variety of subjects then perhaps some progress can be made; however caution should be maintained especially when dealing with some one as biased as a representative of Fox News and it would be helpful to have it on video in the event that Fox or any other Media outlet or Congressman chooses not to broadcast information that they gather that doesn’t serve their cause as indicated in this video about an Occupy Wall Street protestor talking to Fox News which wasn’t aired by Fox although Chris Hayes broadcasted part of it on MSNBC while sitting in for Lawrence O’Donnell.

Even if they continue doing things as they are without changing their tactics they’re doing much better than the Mass Media and the political operatives that have been controlling the system; however at some time it will be necessary to steadily reform things and be more organized as I suspect many of them already realize. Otherwise, we could have another token reform movement that enables them to implement only enough reform to calm the protests down and then enables the new system to begin eroding almost immediately. Something similar to that may have happened after the Watergate scandal when the same people that ran the corrupt system were allowed to implement the reforms. However, for now this is a major step in the right direction and I just thought I would point out, for those of you not already accustomed to checking the author tags, that there is an enormous amount of response from other bloggers according the Occupy Wall Street tag. It is already on its sixth page and it apparently grew by at least five blogs while I was in the process of writing this. And that doesn’t include some other blogs that use different tags, some of which I included in my tags, but are also about the same subject.

Update: follow up interview on Up with Chris Hayes on 10/15/2011. 
This morning John Lewis appeared on Up with Chris Hayes and discussed the incident, and they played a video of the vote where presumably they decided to require him to wait until other people had their chance to speak, although this was hard to hear and they didn’t do much to clarify it. This wasn’t an emotional event and it was quite calm; however it was hard to tell what was happening on the video. Fortunately there are plenty of copies of the video available on-line; some of which are in the links below so you can see for yourself. I couldn’t hear the video myself, due to poor audio and lack of equipment on my end; however there is plenty of information about it on the web. It appears as if there is some doubt about whether or not there is a racial motive for this and some that think that the black community would have allowed him to speak and that it was mainly the white community that decided not to allow him to speak until later. Joan Walsh seems to think that it wasn’t racial based on an extended interview with the individual who raised the objection that led to him being told to wait to speak. It appears as if this was a decision made by the local people, whether it was related to race or the conservative ideology or not and I doubt if it is reflective of the movement as a whole.

There has also been some speculation about the possibility that this may have been a cult-like decision where the crowd may have been manipulated by their leaders. There seemed to be a lot of repeating of the words of the speaker for some reason. Some people have claimed that this is the “speakers megaphone” which means that the speaker says something and the crowd repeats it so that those farther away can hear it; however he had some equipment to amplify his voice so if this was the case it was presumably limited. Based on the information available to me this may be a conservative segment of the broader Occupy Movement but I can’t tell for certain. Regardless of exactly why they chose to make him wait, even though they presumably should have known that he wouldn’t be able to stay, I suspect they may have been mistaken and they would have been better off if they took the opportunity to allow him to speak and ask him questions about issues that they disagreed about. This wasn’t a preplanned visit and I suspect they would have been better off if they had been more flexible. I also believe society would benefit from what I have described as an Educational Revolution or something similar to inform the public better about many activities so that thy will be better prepared to participate in democracy and implement Election reform which enables the public to control the election process, not the corporate media.

The following are some web pages that I found about this incident; I haven’t been able to review it all myself and you should of course always feel free to come to your own conclusions:

This is a follow up on several blogs about Occupy Wall Street including Occupy Wall Street and Cash Register Protests and Are Cain, Cantor and Romney campaigning for Obama? For additional information on Occupy Wall Street and other related organizations from other sources see the following:

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

Lyn, I agree; after seeing Up with Chris Hayes I provided an update that included minor changes in the beginning and an additional segment at the end for what it’s worth. I suspect John Lewis may be one of the more rational members of the congress but, don’t know him that well and after looking at some of the information available on the internet on the subject I wasn’t able to sort out what happened much better. I suspect that some of the people involved may have been being influenced by local and vocal leaders of the crowd. This is from a part of the country that is supposedly raised in a more authoritarian manner; they don’t seem to have been as flexible as I would have thought they could have been.

zacherydtaylor October 15, 2011 12:10 PM

Zachary, I love your comments here and I also want to say that I have tuned out Chris Matthews and MSNBC for years because I didn't feel I was at the same place that they were, but recently I sat down (since I now live in a house where there is cable and I don't have to pay for it) and watched just for fun. I was lucky enough to have seen the lineup yesterday when Michael Moore was on Laurence O'Donnell and also to hear Chris Matthews say "God bless Bernie Sanders" which is just salve for my wounds. I have been at this now since 1992. I've been waiting for the world to see what there is to see and show the media the truth. Along the way I've been privileged to hear David Brock speak (before he founded Media Matters) in Mobile, Alabama to a room full of Democrats including the then Governor Siegleman. I've been watching Karl Rove systematically dismantle with his whisper campaigns the best of the progressive movement in America...and I've heard and seen so much (see my recent post) while being constrained by the necessity of an income from speaking the truth to power. And I'm done with all that. I'm about to die to change my shirt. My shirt that for years was my billboard. My shirts were the only way that I could make my message seen and heard.

I'd get a blue or yellow oxford shirt from goodwill, and make a print out on the computer of whatever message I wanted to convey, and then I'd use the heat transfers to be a walking bill board. As I was an art student and an English major on campus that was fine. Those are two of the strangest groups of students because they are both taught to think about their world while everyone else around them is taught not to. The shirts always brought forth a whispered "I like your shirt" -

The shirts have been in the closet for too long. I brought them back out yesterday. I intend to keep wearing them till it's not necessary any longer.

I think I'll start making shirts that have my blog Ne'er do Well on them. Gotta go. Thanks for being out there...

doublygifted October 16, 2011 09:32 AM

Doubly gifted, I’ve been listening to Chris Mathews off and on for a while now; although he does occasionally get some things right like praising Bernie Sanders, who could be one of the few good members of congress, he also does a lot of appealing to emotions and uses a lot of other manipulation tactics. Like you, I would be skeptical of many things that he says; w3hen he does say something worthwhile he often attempts to coast on his reputation and cash in brownie points to get bad points across. I haven’t heard much about John Lewis until recently but there are some stories about him being a civil right candidate; and I suspect he might be one of the other few good ones although I can’t say for sure. This makes it all the more unfortunate that they didn’t allow him to speak sooner before he had to leave. I don’t know if this was racial; but if it was that could be playing into the hands of manipulative politicians. For what it’s worth I’m a little more skeptical about Charles Rangel though; once again I haven’t looked too closely at the details but there have been plenty of stories about him being corrupted by money interests. I hope he isn’t using his position as a leader of the civil right community to benefit himself or financial interests.

Thanks for responding.

zacherydtaylor October 17, 2011 09:35 AM

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