November 16, 2011
Yesterday was perhaps the single most historic event in US history in the past three decades. Thousands, perhaps millions,of US citizens watched on their computer screens from home as events with the Occupy Wall Street movement unfolded in downtown New York city throughout the day and into the evening as thousands of New Yorkers converged on Canal Street and Zuccotti park to protest an early morning raid and eviction from Zuccotti park. A young hero, Tim Poole, an OWS protester, took it upon himself to be the eyes and ears of the day. Acting as a real journalist should, he bravely carried a camera phone, a laptop, a dying battery and a friend’s bag all day to record the unfolding, incredible events that took place and livestreaming them, mostly uninterrupted , to the entire world over the internet. There never was more exciting “television”, nor a more relevant purpose in recent times in the US as the economy and the entire society seems to be collapsing precipitously around us. Nothing could be more relevant and poignant than the voice of a young man, roused at 1:00 am by police and chased from his tent along with dozens of others, barely able to rescue his laptop and cameraphone to begin a day long record of what he would see and hear in downtown Manhattan.
For two months the Occupy Wall Street movement has occupied the Zuccotti park in downtown Manhattan these young people had become a fixture in what was renamed Liberty Park, and it was common for people throughout the tri state region to head to Zuccotti for events, trainings, meetings with artists and activists, and for the frequent rallies that brought them attention and our attention to the crimes of Wall Street. All of that was put on hold yesterday and it seemed a showdown with police was going to be ugly as hundreds of police in full riot gear were dispatched to Canal St and to Zuccotti. The mainstream media smelled blood in the water and got their vans there and sat and waited, but that was about all they did. Tim Poole, however, was different.
Tim’s mild mannered commentary drew us in, endeared us to his struggles to get the story out and there were many; dying batteries, a missing friend’s heavy bag he had to lug, losing his own energy and pleading with passers by to get him some fruit to eat, a tweet request went out to get that man a banana! Perhaps the most ironic difficulty came when he accidentally said his cell phone number aloud to a good Samaritan offering to buy him a fresh battery, resulting in trolls calling him and disrupting the live feed to perhaps millions around the globe with each troll call. He got that fixed when he passed a Sprint phone store and changed his number.
Those of us who were transfixed by Tim’s reporting and bravery cheered for him as much as for the rest of the OWS movement when Zuccotti park was reoccupied at the end of the long and often scary day. The incredibly peaceful reaction of the protestors against the violent crimes of Bloomberg stealing and destroying their personal property was impressive and inspiring and it was through Tim’s lens and voice that we were able to see this story so clearly. The peacefulness of the protestors also speaks volumes to their being a generation that benefited from more compassionate child rearing where the rod WAS spared and the children were obviously NOT spoiled, but I digress.
Interestingly, not everyone was as transfixed as we were. I kept a close eye on the cable networks, primarily CNN, to see how they were covering this historic event that had been precipitated by an illegal attack by NY mayor, Mike Bloomberg who had ordered police and sanitation to commit, what could amount to a crime, certainly unconstitutional, definitely an outrage. At about 1:00 am Bloomberg had the OWS site in Zuccotti park raided and people forcibly dragged out of their tents, some were allegedly pepper sprayed, there were reports of some kind of smoke or tear gas, and all their personal items were stolen and trashed into a huge dumpster, including thousands of books from the library.
Very little of this was reported since another constitutional outrage was committed by Bloomberg in that he had all the news media that arrived to record the event held a block away so that they were effectively censored from reporting on it. You see, I thought that was something they did in totalitarian states, not the UNITED STATES. I guess I was wrong. Perhaps this censorship had an effect on CNN and the other media outlets since throughout the day very little was said about the struggle being faced by the OWS folks, about their legal battle, or about the thousands that poured into the area from the city and the surrounding regions.
Saying that very little was reported is being kind. Try hardly anything. If a 30 second sound bite is considered covering a story these days, then the brazen attack by Bloomberg on our constitutional and civil rights and his ensuing contempt of court and ordering all police officers to also behave in contempt of court, was covered pathetically. Apparently the invasion of OWS was newsworthy, just not THAT newsworthy. Other topics seemed far more interesting to the news agencies. On CNN I noticed something happening with one of those topics. They were having a Penn State scandalathon. Pretty much every hour was dedicated to in depth, repeated, painfully detailed coverage of a college football coach’s scandal. Really? Really CNN??? You haven’t been this shallow or obsessed since OJ went for a jaunt in his white jeep. With the occasional bi-hourly 30-second mention of the OWS raid, as reported by a small time, unknown reporter (not your Anderson Cooper type), CNN seemed to think they covered the story. Even later in the evening on Anderson Cooper the most miniscule of time was given to the OWS movement, seeming to begrudgingly admit it had some newsworthiness, and then they went right back to a full show of, you guessed it, a coach showering with boys, with shots of cheerleading girls jumping at football games. Creepy!
You would think that with every news outlet on the scene that more in depth reporting might have been done, that more interest would have been taken in the breach of our Constitutional rights to protest, to gather and demand a redress of grievances, to be safe in our persons and personal items from government confiscation, and that some reporter might have asked the police where all the stuff went that was stolen and then gone there to interview the sanitation workers who I hear were deeply upset at their orders, or that a reporter might have been sent to the courthouse to find out about Bloomberg’s appeal against the State’s Supreme Court Order that he cease and desist and allow the protestors back into Zuccotti park WITH all their stuff, or that a reporter might have been as interested as the rest of us to see if the now in contempt of court Bloomberg’s appeal would work and keep the protestors out of Zuccotti park. It was amazing to see how CNN got the news wrong time and time again simply by not being there, neither in spirit nor really physically by sending a low level reporter who didn’t seem interested (or allowed?) in leaving her spot or asking any real questions of the authorities.
I mean whoever now watches CNN for any real information any more is getting gypped.
And then the most amazing thing happened, someone posted on Tim’s live feed that Time.com was running his livestream feed on their front page. Time.com knew this was history in the making and got it right. Time even had a little blurb about Tim, apparently because they had performed their journalistic duties and done some actual interviews. It was all very flattering to Tim who audibly blushed as he was being informed of this. “You’re famous man!” someone was heard saying to him from off camera. Not only is he now famous, Tim is a true American hero in the same way that Paul Revere was in getting the word out that something important is happening, something of national importance is taking place, something that affects us all has happened and more could happen, so pay attention!
All of this went right over the heads of the CNN shot callers. They missed it, like a kid staring out into left field as a fly ball hits him in the head, CNN dropped the ball. Big time. Problem is CNN isn’t run by kids, it’s run by adults who should know what they’re doing and that leaves one with the grim thought that maybe they do know what they’re doing and the day’s distractive disinformation was carefully orchestrated. CNN has come a long way since its birth during the first invasion of Iraq where they had crackerjack reporters that actually did their jobs and asked the hard questions, interviewed Saddam Hussein and his generals, brave reporters (notice those reporters are no longer with CNN). No more hard questions from CNN today, not even a live feed from an historic American revolution, not even a microphone in a lawyer’s face downtown asking why Bloomberg chose to be in contempt of court and how that might affect his bid for re-election. We heard Crickets chirping from CNN. CNN will not televise the peaceful revolution, CNN tuned out of the American people, and now so shall we from CNN. We’ve got a new hero to watch and that we trust to report the revolution as it happens. His name is Tim Poole!
At the last count as of last night there were some 6,300 people down at #OWS. As per Tim's reporting.