How Canada's corporate media framed the Occupy movement
The second piece was written by Charles Krauthammer, a star neoconservative pro-Israel hawk and pro-millionaire dove. He castigated the “Starbucks-sipping, Levi's-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters... saddled with their $50,000 student loans and English degrees [who] have decided that their lack of gainful employment is rooted in the malice of the millionaires on whose homes they are now marching” (Oct 15).
The Post also included a short article by conservative Rasputin Karl Rove, to help readers distinguish between the Tea Party, which they are supposed to admire, and Occupy Wall Street, which they should despise.
“The Tea Party is a middle-class movement of people who want limited government, less spending, less debt, low taxes, and the repeal of ObamaCare. Occupy Wall Street isn't a movement. It's a series of events populated by a weird cast of disaffected characters, ranging from anarchists and anti-Semites to socialists and LaRouchies.
“The Tea Party files for permits for its rallies and picks up its trash afterwards. Occupy Wall Street tolerates protesters who defecate on police cars, allows the open sale of drugs at protests, and features women walking around rallies topless” (Oct 14).
Once the frame was established, the Post settled in for a month-long anti-Occupy harangue supplied by Gunter, Corcoran, Robert Fulford, Barbara Kay and others in the Post stable of conservative writers.
Rex Murphy wrote two mean-spirited columns. In his first diatribe against the “righteous-tent-and-yurt people,” Murphy suggests Occupy should go after not just “rapacious” capitalists, it should also occupy Kim Kardashian and Cameron Diaz (Nov 5). This point is somewhat obscure. Perhaps it’s a bait-and-switch strategy.
In his second name-calling slugfest, Murphy claimed “the people of the various Occupy camps represent a petty sub-sample of the hard left.” These people “enjoy a morbid, almost innate hatred for capitalism in so far as they may be said to understand it” (as surely he must). And they are hypocrites—although Murphy doesn’t use this word—because they “are only too comfortable using the products and the largesse of capitalism while railing against it” (Nov 19).
One highlight of Post coverage was its nasty attack on Michael Moore because he is too rich to be on the side of the 99 percenters (Nov 15). The Post splashed on its front page a picture of Moore’s $2-million summer retreat on the shores of Torch Lake in northern Michigan. (The picture had gone viral in the conservative blogosphere.) Moore’s insult seems to be that he lives like a “pasha” and wears a baseball cap instead of a tie on TV.
The paper did publish one pro-Occupy column, its effort, apparently, to provide some balance to the dozen-and-a-half negative pieces. NewsTalk 1010 AM Toronto host John Moore certainly got it:
“The establishment can try to convince itself that the Occupy movement has no resonance but as we approach the tipping point of income and power inequality there will be no denying that there is something fundamentally wrong with how things are” (Nov 17).
Post writers, however, continued blithely in their state of denial.
The Globe and Mail was not as extreme, but just as unsympathetic. Gary Mason didn’t start writing about Occupy Vancouver until Day 10, taking a break from his attacks on the teachers’ union (Oct 26, Oct 29) to go after Occupy. By this time Mason had somehow discerned that time was already running out for the protesters. Unlike most Post writers, Mason actually visited the OV site and reported the views of at least one protest organizer in his own words. (Rex Murphy’s knowledge of Occupy, in contrast, came from watching and listening to news broadcasts and YouTube videos.) As the protesters dug in, Mason predicted that a “violent confrontation with police” was becoming more likely (Oct 25).