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Published:December 12th, 2011 12:21 EST
Who is the New York Press Kidding? It ignored the Protesters' First Amendment Rights

Who is the New York Press Kidding? It ignored the Protesters' First Amendment Rights

By Djelloul (Del) Marbrook (Editor/Mentor)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the police didn`t hassle reporters doing their job covering Occupy Wall Street.

How can any reporter write this with a straight face? Their job? The press tied itself in knots in its effort to ignore Occupy Wall Street, and when it did acknowledge the occupiers` existence it did so condescendingly, asking disingenuously where the movement`s leaders were and what its message is. The press did a job all right, on the First Amendment.

The press did everything it could "in the service of its corporate bosses "to marginalize the protesters, to trample their First Amendment right to assemble and dissent. And now the press wants to shake the First Amendment in Mayor Bloomberg`s face, wink, wink? He knows damned well how dangerous the First Amendment is. He made a personal fortune off it but has no respect for it because anything that allowed him to prosper must be contemptible on the face of it.

Once again, the press is trifling with the public, asking us to believe it is defending our right to know when, in fact, the one thing it didn`t want us to know was that the Occupy movement is real, potent and dangerous to a bribed media and political establishment. I know there are observers who think the Occupy movement has been well covered by the press, some might even say covered like a blanket. I call them apologists for the way the movement has been covered. Take the Sunday talk shows. When they deigned to mention the movement they sounded like a bunch of snobs who had been accosted by a bum.

So now we`re supposed to think members of the press are the good guys and the mayor is the bad guy? They`re all bad guys in cahoots with each other, and the police did their dirty work. But by this dumb show, this charade, they`re trying to convince us we still have a free press and it`s on the job. Yeah, it`s on the job, conning us.

The cynicism inherent in this story is vile. If the press cherished the First Amendment it would have acknowledged from the get-go that citizens have a right to assemble and dissent as much as the press has a right to publish and air. And it would have been alarmed from the get-go at the police response. Instead it demonstrably wished the story would go away.

Once the press decided the movement wasn`t going away, it focused on its inconvenience to communities, on the potential for violence, on park clearances " but what it did not focus on is the grievances of the protesters or their demographics or their personal stories. The press perceived the story to be the disruption of doing business as usual. The pain inflicted by Wall Street greed became secondary to the pain inflicted by protesters on shopkeepers and street cleaners, or the pain inflicted on the owners of Zuccotti Park who, it turns out, were four years in arrears on taxes.

The press could have focused on the obvious militarization of police response, on the police culture that prompted police to behave contemptuously towards fellow citizens who were breaking no laws. The press could have attempted to discover whether some cops were sympathetic to the protests. It could have pressed the police union for an expression of its opinion. It could have pressed Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly instead of allowing him to disappear like the Cheshire Cat.

But instead the press marketed an authorized version that the protests were a temporary disruption that would soon be disposed of by a police department that was clearly exhibiting fascist tendencies. Any young journalist could have thought of a hundred different angles to explore, but a standarized story emerged, and now the press expects the public to believe that this version was not dictated, however subtly, by its corporate owners.

The press en masse behaved like a journalism school graduate who doesn`t want to cover town hall because he`s been trained to cover Congress and apparently hasn`t been convinced that all news is local and corruption begins at home.

Djelloul Marbrook`s first book, Far from Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008) won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry. Artists` Hill, " an excerpt from his unpublished novel, Crowds of One, won the 2008 Literal Latté first prize in fiction. Artemisia`s Wolf, a novella, was published by Prakash Books of India early in 2011. Alice Miller`s Room, a novella, was published in 1999 by OnlineOriginals.com (UK) as an e-book, and Bliss Plot Press of Woodstock, NY, recently published his novella, Saraceno, as an e-book. Orbis (UK), Smashwords.com, Potomac Review (Maryland) and Prima Materia (New York). His second book of poems is Brushstrokes and Glances (Deerbrook Editions, 2010). Recent poems were published by American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Oberon, Meadowland Review, The Same, Reed, The Ledge, Poemeleon, Poets Against War, Fledgling Rag, Daylight Burglary, Le Zaporogue, Atticus, Long Island Quarterly, ReDactions, Istanbul Literary Review, Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review, Damazine, Perpetuum Mobile, Attic, and Chronogram. A retired newspaper editor and Navy veteran, he lives in Germantown, NY, with his wife Marilyn, and has lifelong ties to Woodstock.

Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm

New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/

Artists Hill, Literal Latté`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/

His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com

His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com

His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com