Occupy Denver dog leader Shelby discussed & mocked on NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me

Categories: Activism, News

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There is no end to the dog puns that can and have been made about Border Collie-mix Shelby's appointment as the leader of Occupy Denver's leaderless movement. Westword will be doggone if we haven't heard the full range of them since we announced her term exactly two weeks ago. But this weekend brought in a new batch of cheap shots heard round the world on NPR. Culled from all the feedback over the past fourteen days is an important question: Has Shelby become a martyr or a mockery?

Although the camps are split on the issue (especially in Westword's comments section), Shelby has certainly become more decorated as she embraces her turn in office. Saturday rallies now find the three-and-a-half-year-old fronting the pack in a personalized blue cape with the red Superman "S" logo (Super Shelby?), and her speckled face has made it to both Gawker and the Rachel Maddow Show, among other national media outlets.

Saturday's episode of NPR's Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell-hosted news game show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! featured panelists Adam Felber, Faith Salie and Roy Blount, Jr. -- and Shelby, who was referenced on national airwaves (and in podcast form) as the answer to a political quiz question.

"One of the characteristics of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that they refuse to elect leaders, but the Occupy Denver people went ahead and elected who to be their leader this week?... This leader thinks conditions for the 99 percent are "'ruff!'"

The answer that followed was accompanied by a round of jokes aimed at an action many outside of Denver see as a stunt. Last night, in fact, a handful of Occupy Denver protesters argued about whether Shelby's election, intended as a pointed (if ironic) statement about suggestions that the group choose a leader in order to be taken more seriously, risked becoming a jumping-the-shark moment. While a large number of local occupiers supports the decision, some say it backfired -- and the NPR bit may be interpreted as evidence that's the case. At one point, for instance, a commentator announces that "she's changed the focus from income inequality more towards sniffing crotches and rolling around in garbage."

The discussion of Shelby continues with, "It turned out to be sort of their downfall, because when police moved in, as they did in many cities this week, to shut down the protests and clean up the parks, instead of using armed force, like they did in New York, in Denver all they had to do was throw a stick outside the park and the leader took off after her. Everybody went after her, and that was it."

To listen to the entire segment, click below.

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver: David Lane on city collusion denial, injunction over honks, donations & more."

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The protest was trivial at best to begin with. It makes me ill that such a large group protesting in "solidarity" with one another could be as childish as they have been. Not just in denver but in general. The overall "movement" that could have been very powerful never went anywhere because there was no leadership. It turned out to be  bunch of hipsters and hippies hanging out in parks collecting free camping gear and food supplies from the local population. I applaud Shelby for having the intestinal fortitude to put up with such ridiculousness.

p.s. Westword, Good use of a Mass Media Term "Jumping the Shark," but I wonder how many readers will know what youre talking about.


As anyone with a brain realized, the election of Shelby spoke volumes about the movement.  I'm sure the "pointed statement" being made by the election of Shelby was too profound for most of us simpletons, like NPR, to decipher, but obviously it made sense to the THC clouded heads of the fearless leaders of occupydenver.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Could the term jumping the shark have jumped the shark? Maybe so. Thanks for the post, Nick.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Hit the wrong button again -- this decision was probably due to THC-deprivation rather than intoxication.  I hope that everyone who elected Shelby listens to the clip -- Sagal makes a nod toward OD's reason for electing her (you must have missed that), but the comedic opportunity of OD's selection of a dog was too good to let go.  The flippancy of that GA has served to trivialize the protest.

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