Accuracy in Media

During a discussion of the Occupy movement with Keith Olbermann last week, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne told Olbermann that the protesters were extremely confrontational but not violent.

Olbermann: Particularly, the efforts—the extraordinary efforts being made to suppress it, to discredit it, to spray it, to claim it must be unhealthy, to say probably—next thing is it could probably cause cancer. Who knows what the next claim will be.

Browne: Well, I think it’s a sign that it’s being effective. I mean, they don’t really, they don’t go to those lengths if it’s not really reaching anybody. But I think obviously, the fact that it’s sprung up in so many places and it has such a resonance with the Arab Spring and with demonstrations in other parts of the world—I used to think when all of France would be shut down by unionists and students, I mean, “Why can’t that happen in the United States?” But I think that it is possible that this will really have a real effect on our electoral politics and obviously, we have people in Minneapolis, places all over the country, concurrently, all at the same time, you know, taking on the perceived ills, you know, in this manner. Because it’s non-violent but it’s extremely confrontational, and of course anything you do to confront and question the authority—whether you can gather—I mean, I was wondering about the one in DC and whether or not they’ll try to shut that down because that would be really tacky.

Olbermann: Yes. And easily exposed to just the people they don’t want out there covering this which would be all the Washington political reporters. So there’s a reason to just sort-of let it alone until at least the last minute. But that raises the question of what has been done in other places. We saw this at UC Davis ten days ago, horrible effect on the Davis crowd, and the pepper spraying—the video we just showed from Arizona which was yesterday. Does it—you’ve seen a lot of protests. Much of what you’ve done has been inspired by protests and has been relevant to protests throughout your career. When you see this being done as the lazy crowd control methods it’s being used for—

Browne: I think they’re freaking out.

Browne must be talking about a different group of protesters since there have been numerous reports of violence. They have ranged from attacking two street vendors in San Diego, who had originally given protesters free food and drink but then had the audacity to start charging them so that they could earn a living, to smashing bank windows in San Francisco and the widely reported clashes with police in Oakland that resulted in significant property damage and numerous arrests.

That sounds like more than being extremely confrontational, though I think the difference between confrontational and violence can be a very thin line. Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment website has been keeping track of all the “confrontation,” which as of now exceeds 400 incidents, including credible allegations of rape.

Browne and Olbermann are also off base in criticizing the UC Davis pepper spraying incident. As my colleague Cliff Kincaid pointed out last week, the police only used this as a last resort after the students had encircled them and refused to move.

Just like his boss Al Gore, Olbermann can’t be bothered with the facts because they are too inconvenient to mention.

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