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Occupy Denver: Mainstream media outlets aren't always taking the movement seriously

Thumbnail image for occupy denver police october 15.jpg
Video below.
Occupy Denver protests present a challenge for mainstream media outlets. The local version of the Occupy Wall Street movement can't compare in size to the largest assemblies in the U.S. or internationally -- at least not yet. But it's still one of the biggest ongoing stories in these parts over recent years. How to strike the proper balance? Local TV outlets are trying, but they fumbled a chance Saturday night.

Saturday marked Occupy Denver's largest gathering yet, with as many as 3,000 people estimated to have taken part in a downtown march. Afterward, the most dedicated members of the movement set up food tents across from the State Capitol -- an action that police forces interpreted as defying the edict against establishing a permanent settlement.

The tension created by this standoff bubbled over just before 7 p.m., with a line of riot-gear-clad officers holding their batons in front of them and moving in unison toward protesters in a manner weirdly reminiscent of Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" video. In response, Corey Donahue, a longtime activist recently profiled by Westword, extended a piece of food to the advancing cops, echoing Sixties-era protests in which demonstrators placed flowers in gun barrels.

It was a vivid image, but only one local TV station -- CBS4 -- captured it live. In contrast, 9News, Fox31 and 7News, stuck with regular entertainment programming. In Channel 7's case, that meant a NASCAR race.

Granted, CBS4 kept its eye on the bottom line, too. At the very moment when the officers were first making contact with Occupy Denver's main resisters, news anchors cut away, signed off and threw to a block of commercials.

As for the Denver Post, it gave front-page coverage to the previous day's activities in its physical edition on Sunday -- but along the right border of the page, under a modest-size headline sans a photograph. Page one was otherwise dominated by a profile of Jesse Martin, a paralyzed DU hockey player. The article represented the first of a three-part series -- implying that the piece had been previously scheduled, and editors decided the Occupy Denver events weren't large enough to displace it.

In Facebook exchanges after Occupy Denver's tent city was dismantled last week, some commenters argued that protesters should shun the mainstream media. Clearly, that hasn't taken place -- but the coverage to date probably won't squelch such suggestions.

Look below to see Occupy Denver's 10 p.m. Saturday report on Occupy Denver.

Click here to follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver photo gallery captures the night (and morning) the tent city came down."


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9 comments
Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I sent the following to the Denver Post this morning:

To Whom it Should Concern:

From recent headlines in the Post:

"Crowd Winds Down in Aftermath of Occupy Denver" --> "It's Almost Over, Folks" (the day before thousands marched in the streets, blocked Colfax, Broadway, and 14th Ave.),

Protesters "linger" ... --> "It's Almost Over, Folks",

"Occupy Denver stresses nonviolence day after clash with police" --> "Protesters Rue Having Attacked Police" (after police physically attacked unresisting protesters and pepper-sprayed an eight-year-old in Civic Center Park) -- Occupy Denver has always stressed non-violence, and did so most signally as police beat and pepper-sprayed those sitting in front of the canteen (otherwise known as the Thunderdome -- how you managed to render this as "dining tents" is beyond me); not the "day after clash with police"!

It is impossible to believe that you all do not understand the implications of what you are writing.  The language cited above in your headlines and articles is dripping with bias and the intent to deceive readers about what is happening with regard to Occupy Denver.  With all the false imputations of violent or destructive intent and even conduct you and others have made against Occupy Denver, it is surprising that you would still venture into our midst, and your coverage is so inaccurate, biased, and deliberately incomplete that it does no one any good, least of all those foolish enough to rely on you for the news.  Just go back to parrotting what Hickenlooper and Hancock say and making up the rest -- anyone of even modest intelligence can discern that you are grinding your axe.

The biggest story to come out of the confrontation with Occupy Denver is the Governor's staggering hypocrisy in claiming that "No one supports the First Amendment more than we do ... We have said they are welcome to assemble at 5 o'clock in the morning and stay until 11 o'clock at night.", then issuing an executive order closing the Park indefinitely and arresting many protesters for attempting to do precisely what he had just said they were welcome to do.  The corporate media has suppressed one story too many in Denver -- thousands must have seen the park the Governor had just declared was open for public assemblies at 5AM empty of the public and ringed with riot police for many hours after that, and every one of those people who heard the Governor speak on the subject knows the truth despite your best efforts.  The other highly significant story you have suppressed relates to selective law enforcement on the part of both the CSP and DPD -- I observed this firsthand as did many others.  While walking by myself on the Mall Saturday night, a City officer planted himself directly in my path.  When I inquired whether he was trying to block me from proceeding, he said outright that "we're trying to stop people coming from the park to the Mall" -- rather than inquire who had given him so inappropriate an order, I simply asked whether I was free to go (to which the answer was "yes sir").  You are ignoring almost all the important issues raised by Occupy Denver's protest, but I can assure you that I and many others will not.  I am apprising Mr. Rosenthal of the Department's illegal discrimination against protesters, and the impropriety of the CSP's re-closing of Lincoln Park to protesters only (while others occupied Broadway) will also be put to those responsible.

The Denver Post's bias, lies, and incompetence are becoming impossible for even the most staid readers to ignore -- you consistently represent your institutional interests and unexamined false assumptions as news rather than opinion).  Keep it up -- it is hard to get out the message that Denver would be better off without your pretense of a daily newspaper, and coverage such as you continue to give Occupy Denver helps.  This would be a great  time to run an article suggesting that the weather will soon polish off the protest -- how about on Friday?  I look forward to the results of your cutting your news staff by 20%; it is hard to imagine how your local coverage could get much worse, but the intelligence that older writers will be eased out suggests that your already egregious abuse of the language itself will soon worsen.

Sincerely,Robert D. Chase

DontWorryBeHopi
DontWorryBeHopi

Westword TV? not a bad idea... 

it could even be a series of daily news reports uploaded to Youtube. 

...

Joshua Ben Trujillo
Joshua Ben Trujillo

I find it strange that on the night they decided to take down the tents and remove everyone from the park there was live coverage from multiple news agencies, yet when there was a standoff in which protesters blocked Broadway and riot police moved in on them there was no live coverage. It seems as if the mainstream media is hyping up certain events in order to get people more excited than they should be. Also, every time the mainstream media covers the story, they use interviews from the stupidest sounding people who should not be a representation of the occupy movement. Keep up the great job Westword!

Mr Manumba Ney
Mr Manumba Ney

   The corrupt government of the City and County of Denver has always enjoyed a cozy reltionship with the media; that's why the government is so corrupt, there is no watchdog.   The former Manager of Public Safety Butch Montoya came from Channel 9.    Channel 4 has always been controled by City Hall through Dan Muse.    Former Manager of Public Safety Manuel Martinez is corporate attorney for the Texas Mafia.    City Hall is scared to death of Tom Martino.    Former  D.A. Craig Silverman keeps News 7 on a short leash.    That's why the media never reported Hickenlooper's bartender at Mezcal as a Hells Angels Gang Member, the one that brutally stabbed and killed a man in the parking lot O.J. Simpson style. Got a sweet plea-bargain to manslaughter in Denver District Court and was sentenced to six years in prison.  The crime occured in 2008. Hickenlooper's Butcher, with good time is eligible for parole.

Gina Ricciardi
Gina Ricciardi

westword, you, by far, have had the most comprehensive coverage. it is a bit of a shame that you do not have a television outlet because your reporters have been on the scene most regularly. saturday night, the article started earlier that day was updated with each advancing piece of drama that unfolded downtown. kdvr, 9news, cbs4, and the denverpost all had live streams set up saturday (the denverpost's is still up if you know where to click on their site)...but most had poor vantage points, and 9news conveniently switched to the cdot cameras at broadway when the first round of pepper spray went down. honestly, my best views of the action at civic center park (when i'm not able to physically be there myself) have been videos posted to youtube and the occupy denver facebook. local new casts are doing a piss poor job, in my opinion. if they want to pay me to stand down there with a camera the majority of the day, i would gladly do it...i say pay me, because as part of the 99%, i can't afford to miss a single day of my barely-above-minimum-wage-job.

Scottyp5
Scottyp5

Liberals and some of their friends in the news media keep advancing the false narrativethat the "Occupy Wall Street" mobs have been peaceful.  However, an investigation by The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama revealssomething different.According to our investigation, more than 1,500 people have already been forarrested for charges including assaulting police officers, disorderly contact, trespassing andmore.

Here's a rundown of the arrests we've thus far been able to document, by date:September 18 – New York, NY: 2 ArrestsSeptember 19 – New York, NY: 5 ArrestsSeptember 24 – New York, NY:80 ArrestsOctober 1 – New York, NY: 700 ArrestsOctober 5- St. Louis, MO: 10 ArrestsOctober 6 – LosAngeles, CA: 11 ArrestsOctober 6 – San Francisco, CA: 1 ArrestOctober 6 – Santa Barbara, CA: 9 ArrestsOctober 7– Sacramento, CA: 19 ArrestsOctober 8 – Des Moines, IA: 32ArrestsOctober 11 – Boston, MA: 140 ArrestsOctober 11 – Washington, D.C.: 6 ArrestsOctober 11 – Chicago, IL:21 ArrestsOctober 12 – Houston, TX: 8 ArrestsOctober 12 – San Francisco, CA: 11 ArrestsOctober 13 – Austin, TX:4 ArrestsOctober 13 – Seattle, WA: 10 ArrestsOctober 13 – Portland, OR: 8 ArrestsOctober 13 – Gainesville, FL:4 ArrestsOctober 14 – New York, NY: 14 ArrestsOctober 14 – Seattle, WA: 1 ArrestsOctober 14 – Denver, CO: 24ArrestsOctober 14 – San Diego, CA: 1 ArrestOctober 15 – New York, NY: 92 ArrestsOctober 15 – Minneapolis, MN:1 ArrestOctober 15 – Raleigh, NC: 15 ArrestsOctober 15 – Tucson, AZ: 53 ArrestsOctober 15 – Phoenix, AZ: 46ArrestsOctober 16 – Chicago, IL: 175 ArrestsOctober 16 – Washington, D.C.: 19 ArrestsOctober 16 – Phoenix, AZ:3 Arrests What is particularly interesting about these arrests isthat they are actually understated.  You see, liberal city officials across the country have allowed protesters to engage in unlawful behaviorthat if YOU were to engage in, you'd be arrested for.However, theseDemocrat officials have allowed protesters to break the law, and have instructed law enforcement to engage in these illegal acts withoutconsequence.This is in stark contrast to rallies held by the Tea Partymovement where protests were peaceful and where participants thanked law enforcement officials and cleaned up after themselves.It's time to call these protest mobs for what they are:  unruly mobs laced withsocialists and communists who are intent on attacking the American principles of free markets and capitalism.Please help us get the truth out to the American people showing what these mobs are really about, and theshameful actions of Democrat Leaders, including Barack Obama, to help promote them.We here at The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama are preparing a national TV ad campaign exposing these mobs for what theyare, and the fact that Democrat political leaders are shamefully providing them cover.   We've raised enough money to produce these TV ads (whichare nearly compete), but now need to raise money to purchase the airtime for these ads to be seen.  Please help us purchase TV ad time for thiseffort by making a contribution - HEREWith your support we will expose the "Occupy Wall Street" mobs for exactly what theyare:  an effort to shove socialism down our throat here in America. You can make acontribution online - HERE.CONTRIBUTE HERE: https://secure.donationsafe.co...

If you prefer you can also mail in a contribution to our headquarters:  Campaign To Defeat ObamaP.O. Box601684Sacramento, CA 95860-1684

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