Free Speech, The Tea Party and Occupy

On April 15, 2009 nearly half a million people demonstrated against government spending and bailouts, and the Tea Party became a visible presence. Within a year, Citizens United passed into law, changing the voice of the Tea Party to anything anti-Obama. By November 2010 the new Tea Party officially stormed onto the Washington stage as duly elected representatives of the extreme right-wing arm of the Republican Party.

The press hurried on board this runaway train clogging the airwaves with a full ticket of socialist-type policies, gay rights, religion, abortion, terrorism, Iraq-Afghanistan-Iran. Their steps toward racism were cautionary ’cause no one wants to talk about ‘that’ subject. Pundits from the right and left slung divisive vitriol. Take a side! Hatred sold and was good for ratings.

In October, 2011 a noisy and angry group emerged. Their protests were along the lines of the “America, love it or leave it” and “Hell no, we won’t go” Vietnam era. Their energy came from America’s youth. They camped out to Occupy Wall Street.

Initially ignoring the movement, mainstream media switched to intense coverage when the violent pushback by law enforcement agencies could not be covered in a crawl across the bottom of the screen. U-Tube and social media were causing a commotion media giants could not buy or control. So, print media, cable news and talk radio interviewed a few speakers only to quickly rule the 99% irrelevant when the organizers did not capsulize their cause into a single talking point. Media chose not to 'get' Occupy! They could not go against the sponsors linking corporate America to corruption. A position of outrage toward the violence against citizens would be anti-Law-and-Order.

Coverage had everything to do with message and saleability. Corporate America could sell one group and was threatened by the message of the other.

There was little difference between Occupy and the clean-cut, middle-America Tea Party marchers. Neither organization focused on a single issue. Both had an economic platform. Both had banners and carried signs. All were exercising their free speech rights.

 

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