Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Q Tips

NPR related comments, critiques and observations are welcomed and encouraged.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Largely Peaceful Police State

On November 30th the LAPD cleared out the LA Occupy encampment with a massive police action that was hailed in most mainstream media outlets as being peaceful and well-conducted.  Being a defiantly mainstream media organization - NPR jumped on the bandwagon of LAPD-love with two features on its November 30 Morning Edition.

One involved Renee Montagne interviewing Frank Stoltze a reporter at NPR affiliate KPCC.  Stoltze described "a massive police operation" that was "a largely peaceful operation" and commented that the protestors were "quite well-disciplined."  Stoltze also claimed that the police action was due to "concerns about public safety' and because "there was some drug use going on."  At that point Montagne interrupted him to say "And drug dealing, I mean there were some stories of you know, you know homeless encampments that had encroached on the encampment." [Of course "some stories" is all the evidence Montagne produces to substantiate such a provocative claim].

The second story featured Inskeep interviewing Frank Stotlze who explained that "in the end there was very little force part because this is a new LAPD."  The interview covered much of the same material as the Renee Montagne piece.

BUT there were a few little problems with this Police State Theater propaganda from LA:

First, the coverage of the raid was restricted to 12 members of a media septic tank pool.  Like the restrictive media pools of the US military these "pools" are meant to tightly control access to what is actually happening and to favorably tilt coverage toward those who set up the pool and grant/deny access to this "pool" - in this case the LAPD.  You would think, just the very concept of the police media pool would raise journalistic concerns - unless your news organization is tiltled toward spinning press coverage in favor of police actions against dissidents.

Second, and most important, a lot of rough and very ugly police behavior occurred outside the coverage perimeter that the media pool had access to, and to those who were arrested once they were out of the range of media pool coverage.  Ruth Folwer of Occupy LA reported on police "kettling," rough tactics, and arbitrary arrests that occurred on side streets around the main occupy crackdown.  Lisa Derrick documented police use of "non lethal" weapons  on non-violent, non-resistant LA protesters. The LA Weekly blog noted the brutal police attack on photojournalist, Tyson Heder.  Patrick Meighan, one of the writers for the popular FOX cartoon, Family Guy, has posted a very detailed description of his first hand experience of the rough treatment meted out to those arrested at Occupy LA.  A very similar picture emerged from Exiled editor, Yasha Levine's description of his treatment by the LAPD.  The Brad Blog gathered evidence of both the deplorable conditions endured by arrestees and the use of police violence against protesters during that "largely peaceful operation" by the "new LAPD" that NPR's Frank Stoltze was so impressed with.

Any organization that claims to be doing journalism would recognize that it has a duty and responsibility to revisit a story/s which future events and facts have shown was so distorted, truncated, and false.  It's bad enough that NPR considers it acceptable to adopt the servile role of reporting from a police-picked/ police approved "pool" - but even more disturbing is its utter lack of follow-up in correcting the misinformation conveyed in that report. Given that we are talking about NPR (which has a fondness for jack-booted police tactics and for the expanded powers of the surveillance state) it really is no surprise at all that NPR has purposely ignored the evidence that their two main feature stories on the police action against Occupy LA were nothing but pro-police propaganda filled with inaccuracies and spin.

If you want to get a sense of the "objective" and "unbiased" attitudes of the so-called journalists who work for NPR and its affiliates listen first to the Steve Inskeep interview story I mentioned above and hear the derision in Inskeep voice as he sneers "OK, so the tree fort is on its way out." [this link has great images and descriptions of that "peaceful" action.]  Even more disturbing is KPCC's John Rabe's editorializing as he interviews pool reporter and colleague Frank Stolze and says [at about the halfway point of the interview]:
"There were a lot of protesters who were saying [Rabe imitates them with snarky intonation] 'This is what a police state looks like.' And it's not what a police state looks like.  They may not like the lines of cops, but nobody was shot down like in say Syria, Egypt, Libya - these are police states; I don't think that helps the Occupy LA's cause by having people shouting dumb stuff like that."