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ATS: How the Media Generates a Climate of Fear and Uncertainty During Political Protests

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posted on Jul, 17 2004 @ 08:15 AM
The media is a powerful tool when manipulated to create desired effect. Leading up to the 2004 Republican Convention in New York City, there are growing stories of impending chaos and disruption from several media sources. A report authored by Christopher Anderson (PhD Candidate, Dept. of Communication, School of Journalism, Columbia University) for is an eye-opening treatise on the manipulation of news tidbits leading up to the convention event.
As New York City prepares to host the 2004 Republican National Convention, a familiar pattern of police exaggeration, governmental fear mongering, and media gullibility is threatening to create protest conditions that harm city residents and the American civil liberties tradition. Since the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle in 1999, a sad but familiar pattern has become evident in the run-up and aftermath of protests. Police officials, aided by a hype-hopeful mainstream media, exaggerate the possible dangers posed by consistently non-violent protesters. Using the climate of fear created by this hype to justify their actions, the police consistently engage in extra-constitutional and illegal behavior, such as mass pre-emptive arrests, the interference with media outlets, and brutal protest behavior. Inevitably, the mainstream press realizes the hype once the protests are safely over, and sheepishly admits its mistake.

It is the purpose of this report to document this pattern during six large-scale political protests since the summer of 2000. Drawing almost entirely from mainstream press reports, the following pages document the climate of fear created by the media and police in the weeks and days before protests. We then see examples of how the mainstream press reported arrests during protests themselves, followed by descriptions of the actual reasons for the arrests once the protests were safely over. Usually, the reasons change. We also see how the very media outlets that eagerly repeated police claims during the protests angrily denounced manipulation once the protests were over.

It is the hope of the authors of this report that awareness of these patterns will help mainstream media outlets avoid making the same mistakes during future protests.

Christopher Anderson
PhD Candidate, Dept. of Communication, School of Journalism, Columbia University, New York
The Indypendent
chanders_imc (at)

1. Introduction: What Really Happened in Seattle: FAIR Report
2. World Bank / IMF Protests, April 2000
3. Republican National Convention, July 2000
4. World Economic Forum Protests, February 2002
5. Anti-War Protests, February 2003
6. World Agricultural Forum, May 2003
7. FTAA Summit, November 2003
8. Appendix 1: “City’s Push For Peace at GOP Meeting Raises Rights Debate,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 14, 2001
9. Appendix 2: “Fury at Anarchist Convention Threat,” New York Daily News, July 12, 2004

The full report is downloadable via pdf, click here.

This document is in the public domain

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

This is an important analysis of the current state of media manipulation by influential political groups. We're seeing how a staunch republican mayor of New York is supporting (and donating too) the Republican party in a massively overt manner, yet limiting the right-to-protest to a well organized contrarian group.

Regardless of your political slant on this issue, every ATS member should download and read the PDF file of the report. It contains important observations and analysis that must be embraced to intelligently deny ignorance.

Related News Links:

Related Discussion Threads:
NYC Anti-war Billboard
Republican National Convention

[edit on 20-7-2004 by Banshee]


posted on Jul, 17 2004 @ 08:51 AM
The news media is an establishment tool used to sell product. All reported news is presented in a manner that will excite viewers to tune in, but not get them so interested that they will disregard the commercials. Liberal bias is a complete myth, as the media is owned by the super wealthy that only desire to make more money and maintain the status quo. The media wishes to give the feeling that some problems exist, but the authorities have everything under control and all will be ok. And the public comes to feed on it like kittens to a saucer of milk.

Do I think the public is ignorant?

No, I think that ignorant is an over estimation of the publics inelligence.

posted on Jul, 17 2004 @ 12:42 PM
This is a very interesting topic, one which has recently become one of my personal favorites. But I have an issue with your choice of topic title. Let me say that I may agree with you after I have read more of the pdf file; I admit to only reading about the first incident, in Seattle. That particular article had more to do with civil disobedience and police reaction, than manipulation by the media. I have to say that, if you disobey a police order, as the protesters did in Seattle, then the police will retaliate. And IMO, they did not overreact in this case.

Anyway, good find, DramaticPause. I'm looking forward to hearing what ATS members have to say about this topic.

posted on Jul, 17 2004 @ 12:47 PM
May be the media is doing a favor showing what it will come ahead, perhaps preparing the nation for what it will happened if we the people decide to protest the government decision, they will treated as anarchy, civil unrest and the people will be seen as the enemy.


posted on Jul, 17 2004 @ 02:03 PM

Originally posted by marg6043
May be the media is doing a favor showing what it will come ahead, perhaps preparing the nation for what it will happened if we the people decide to protest the government decision, they will treated as anarchy, civil unrest and the people will be seen as the enemy.

What I have learned. If you go where you are expected and march down the street 10 abreast in a straight line, the storm troopers will beat your freaking head in. It did not work at the 1968 democratic. It did not work in Seatle. And it will not work anyplace else.

Do the unexpected, take the protests to malls and other large events. If they bring out the storm troopers make them do it so folks that are not in the protest can see it and are impacted.

I am not suggesting violence. Do it Gandhi style. Gandhi was effective by just having people sit down. It can be done on a smaller scale, 500 hundred people that just sit down in a mall can pretty well shut the place down. Imagine 5000 doing the same in 10 different locations. Neither the media or the powers-that-be would be able to ignore it or deny it.

Auto plants at shift changes, other manufacturing plants at shift changes, malls, and places that where sizeable numbers exists that are likely to support your agenda. I would not leave out locations such as media networks, television stations and newspapers. Be sure to have leaflets to pass out, so the uninvolved know why you are here.

Anyone group that decides to do this should of course bring their picture phones and send pics along to ATS.


posted on Jul, 17 2004 @ 02:11 PM

I guess you are right we can do it peacefully, but let's not forget the patriot act, and the rights it gives to the local police, and let's thank god for digital cameras and picture phones, and I guess ATS was preparing for something as radical as this when it started with the sharing of phone pics, I thing I will be getting myself one, although my digital camera does mini movies.

That’s to bad I am not in the DC area anymore.


posted on Jul, 17 2004 @ 02:36 PM

Originally posted by marg6043
I guess you are right we can do it peacefully...

Peaceful protesters should be aware that the government infiltrates and will put individuals in the group for the purpose of discrediting the group by instigating violence. Everyone should be made acutely aware of this fact.

A phone cam crew with a number of cams should stay descretely out of the protest. Not only will it get you some good pictures, if someone starts promoting violence it allows you to get their picture, then put a tail on them to identify for whom they work. These pics could be used for the defense of those they wish to prosecute in court later.

Above all transmit each picture immediately, so even if the phone cam is seized, you still have the pics.

posted on Jul, 17 2004 @ 07:37 PM
Well, I have read the 21 pages, and my impression is one of disappointment. Given the title, I expected a discussion of media manipulation of the events. Instead, it turned out to be a totally one-sided view of the events, and not a totally honest one at that.

The impression that is desired by the author is an excessive response by overzealous police to a very peaceful gathering of protestors, simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. This was a letdown after reading this from the author of the thread

from DramaticPause
This is an important analysis of the current state of media manipulation by influential political groups.

Many of the responses of the various police departments were influenced by the events that occured in Seattle, where protesters, or 'anarchists' smashed windows and vandalized stores., and police responded. This, combined with the refusal by protesters to obey a police order, set the stage for the police action.

I totally support our right to peaceful gathering, and protest. I do not support violence, which in the case of Seattle, was initiated by the protesters. There is no excuse for smashing windows and destroying stores.

I can understand cities not wanting their downtowns torn apart, and in my opinion, not one of these cities over-reacted in preparing for the protesters or in dealing with them when they arrived.

Just as an aside, I have also seen anti-war protesters verbally and physically assault those who disagree with them. So, so much for freedom fo expression.


posted on Jul, 17 2004 @ 08:08 PM
I downloaded that document, but only got as far as this sentence:

("Violence" was a term consistently applied to the breaking of windows, a questionable way of characterizing property crimes.)

At that point, I had seen enough. I knew where this was going. Just in case, I scanned ahead. Yep. This is propaganda. What's worse, it's lame propaganda, and impossible to read if you have the slightest shred of a clue.

How would I know? I was there. As fate would have it, I was in Seattle for the WTO protests. I got to see for myself, in person, on scene, some of the events this document seeks to misrepresent. I can still smell the teargas, still see the burning dumpsters, the broken windows, the trash on the streets, the Anarchist A's spraypainted everywhere.

A document that questions the idea that breaking windows is violent (yes, it IS violent behavior, by definition) has already played its hand. The authors don't even bother to mask their agenda. Children half their age could display greater subtlety. What's more, instead of a coherent format, they use a barrage of disjointed anecdotes. This is not scholarship, it's an op-ed masquerading as a study. Disgraceful.

Problematically, the use of "media hype" is worth calling attention to, including its use in the context of political protests. Unfortunately, by choosing to mislead the reader, rather than examine the facts analytically, the authors of this documnent have recused themselves from reasonable consideration.

People are free to pollute their minds as they see fit. Thankfully, we are also free to reject mental pollution such as this, as well.

My Rating of That Document: Garbage.


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