Most Atlanta Media Missed the Story on Friday

Scott Henry of Creative Loafing can call us haters for not sympathizing with Communists occupying a downtown Atlanta park but he should also recognize that we did a better job on Friday than his publication and a majority of the major media outlets in the Atlanta market.

Scott Henry wrote:

It’s fascinating how a bunch of folks camping out in a protest against Wall Street profiteering has brought such swift, negative response from conservative bloggers and right-wing pundits from across the country, ranging from mere sneering to crazy, hyperbolic vilification.

Scarcely was the Atlanta version of Occupy Wall Street under way before our friends over at Peach Pundit began criticizing the protesters as disorganized, smelly and communist sympathizers.

But more important than what Scott wrote is what he didn’t write. Scott didn’t write anything about Congressman Lewis being rebuffed by Occupy Atlanta until today, three days later, and then mostly to take cheap shots and suggest that right-wing bloggers don’t “give[] a rat’s ass about Lewis or any other civil rights hero, living or dead.”

Well, Scott, you’re wrong on that last point. I do care about John Lewis. Deeply. Because if it weren’t for the American civil rights movement, I might not be alive.

In 1968, my father was stationed at Norfolk Naval Base, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He served aboard the USS Columbus (CG-12), a guided missile cruiser.

When my father, in the uniform of his country, took my mother to apply for a marriage license, the clerk snidely told him, “a year ago, we wouldn’t have had to give you that license.” My mother is Japanese-American and until the United States Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, the Commonwealth’s “Racial Integrity Act of 1924,” not only outlawed, but criminalized, any marriage between a white person and a non-white.

John Lewis may not have played any role at all in the Loving case, but its outcome is inextricably linked with the civil rights movement in which Lewis had two years earlier led marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

Several years later, when my father’s ship was homeported at Corpus Christi, Texas, I was born at the Methodist Medical Center in Houston, a natural-born citizen of the Republic of Texas and a child of the Civil Rights Movement.

My parents marriage isn’t the only reason I feel kinship to the civil rights movement. My mother’s father, Joe Yamamoto, was part of the 120,000 American forced into the largest forced relocation in our country’s history, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Under the terms of Executive Order 9066 my mother and I would have been relocated if we’d been living then. My grandmother is a bleeding heart liberal, largely because of the civil rights movement, who has lived the finest Christian example anyone could as of her and she taught me about the heroes of the movement.

So I take the civil rights movement seriously, Scott, and I have a deep, lifelong, abiding respect for those who risked their lives in it, including John Lewis. Your statement that right-wingers don’t care about the civil rights movement or its leaders was cheap and probably based on an assumption that right-wing bloggers are all white. You’re wrong.

And Scott, where do you get off lecturing two people of color, a Japanese-American and a Philippine-American, about sensitivity to racial issues? Have you read what the lefties in the country have been saying about Malkin on Twitter?

Winners and Losers in the coverage of Occupy Atlanta

As long as we’re talking yet again about Occupy Atlanta, let’s score the winners and losers in the media.

Katie Brace at CBS Atlanta did a great job covering Friday night’s event. Fox5 Atlanta got it right on Friday.

SpaceyG got it right throughout the night, as did many others on Twitter. In fact, without Twitter, the Lewis thing probably wouldn’t have come out as widely as it has. Stacey Hopkins on Twitter did a great job getting the word out.

Atlanta Progressive News got it right with a detailed story on Friday night.

The AJC’s Friday coverage made no mention of OccupyAtlanta’s rebuff of Congressman John Lewis. They appear to have figured it out sometime between 9:34 PM Saturday and 9:38 that evening.

Creative Loafing missed the story on Friday also but figured it out Saturday morning. Scott Henry didn’t address it until today. Thomas Wheatley gets partial credit for retweeting one of Stacey Hopkins’s excellent tweets about it Friday night.

On Friday, WXIA, 11Alive, covered the story, including a quote from Lewis saying:

“Occupy Wall Street is saying, ‘We will not take it anymore,'” Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said in a statement Friday. “They are saying we must not forget about those in need, about those who work for starvation wages, those who bear their burden in the heat of the day and in the darkness of the night. These people are important too, and they make a massive contribution to our society. Their voices must be heard.”

but not a word about his treatment by the Party in the Park. Of course, that statement came from an online press release, not from actually talking to Lewis.

WSB-TV missed it on Friday. I’d almost count them as getting it double-wrong because of their 8:37 PM story quoting Lewis from the same Press Release.

Today 11Alive is linking to video from ConservARTive.com rather than to their own video. Come to think of it, I don’t recall seeing them in the Park.

So, let me tote this up:

WINNERS: CBS Atlanta 46, Fox5 Atlanta, yours truly, ConservARTive.com, Stacey Hopkins, Twitter in general, and AtlantaProgressiveNews.com.

LOSERS: AJC, Creative Loafing, 11Alive, WSB-TV Channel 2.

Don’t call us haters because we did a better job than you did.

18 comments

  1. USA1 says:

    I suppose someone who refers to himself as a “person of color” AND a hyphenated-American would think John Lewis being snubbed was the real story. That’s exactly what those who control the money and the media want you to say.

    • Todd Rehm says:

      The only thing that trumps a guilty white liberal is a brown-skinned person’s race card. And it’s not the race card, it’s the you’re making unwarranted assumptions about the motivation of people you don’t know card.

  2. Rick Day says:

    Perhaps the reason why there was such quick scrutiny from PPunditers is because they may have a higher ratio of unemployed who sit on the computer all day, looking for scapegoats to label?

    Perhaps not…idk.

    • Todd Rehm says:

      I’m self-employed, Rick, and at a very boring time in my professional cycle. I hardly think that’s an excuse for people whose job it is to cover this kind of stuff to be a day or three late and a dollar short.

  3. Methinks you doth protest a tad much on John Lewis’s account. He doesn’t seem to feel snubbed – he himself admits that he would have rather gone to Pride than wait around for the later speaking slot the protesters offered him. I kind of get where you’re coming from – and if this was a group of people organizing to build a civil rights museum or even a museum that teaches Congressional history it would probably be unwise of them to have “snubbed” Lewis. But that’s not what they’re about and that’s seemingly not what they did – and Lewis nor most Democrats I’ve talked to have a problem with what happened.

    • Todd Rehm says:

      Or maybe he’s dealing with his humiliation by claiming to understand the incoherent ramblings of a mob in the park. When you say most Democrats you have talked to don’t have a problem, are you still reading BlogforDemocracy?

  4. Steve says:

    I didn’t really care one way or the other about this “occupy” thing for the first week or two. However, I’m slowly warming up to it… for no other reason than the entertainment of watching people obsess over it on Facebook and blogs.

    Doing some quick math… 40% of the posts on PP this morning are “occupy”-related. That handily beats the 13% that are related to football or weight loss. Tired of talking about FRED!, or RICK!, or HERMAN!, or whoever it is this week? You seem “pre-occupy-ed”.

    • Todd Rehm says:

      Steve-

      I don’t follow GOP Presidential politics the way many of the others here do, so I don’t often write about it. I write about what interested me and for about four days now, this has been what has been interesting to me.

      OccupyAtlanta is something where I can actually produce original information and commentary. Anything I wrote about the Presidential debate last night would be based on the same thing that most readers watched on TV or the internet last night. Heck, I could just string a bunch of the tweets from last night from front-pagers into something, and that might be more to some folks’ liking but I don’t care to deal with that garbage.

      What I will go to, photograph and write about is when a Presidential candidate comes to Georgia, if my other responsibilities and logistics allow. But national issues isn’t what we’re about here, and there just isn’t a whole lot going on politically in the Peach State right now. At least not that makes for good photos.

  5. gchidi says:

    So. I trundled down to Woodruff Park yesterday to help out. My wife and I have been talking about the Occupy movement for a couple of weeks. I saw the John Lewis incident on YouTube beforehand, of course, and I cringed. That was unbearably, unbelievably stupid. I understand now how it happened — hippie wannabes running the meeting have adopted the “consensus” model of group governance, taken from the initial Occupy Wall Street protests. The model allows anyone — ANYONE — to block a proposed action taken by the group. The irony is, if you act independently, and someone in the group proposes to stop you … you can block the motion yourself.

    I’m sympathetic to the issues creating the moral outrage underlying the movement, even though I don’t have much in common with the protesters. I earned an MBA from Georgia Tech on full academic scholarship in 2010. I’m 38, own a house, and I’m married. I served in the Army for five years. I’m an entrepreneur, working to build a competitive intelligence practice (see NeonFlag.com if you’re in the market for a good analyst.)

    But I’m deeply concerned that Greece and Europe’s debt problems will have unintended consequences for US financial services firms. The balance sheet of Bank of America is a joke and a lie because their Countrywide mortgage portfolio hasn’t been marked to market. The stock price charts for big US banks look like a waterslide. Folks like to say that BofA raised debit card rates on consumers because of the Durbin rules. Fat chance — they did it to shore up their Tier I capital ahead of the AIG suit. It’s a sign of unbelievable trouble, because depositor accounts are the best quality capital the bank has, and they’re willing to drive off customers in the future to put a few more bucks in the bank right now.

    They’re going to ask for a bailout.

    I’m anti-bailout, as much as the hardest-core Tea Partier. The structures to keep another bailout from happening weren’t put in place in 2008 because of the lobbying resistance of Wall Street. There’s no way to see how correlated risks have become between the trading desks of big firms. Oversight of programmatic, quant-driven computer trading does not exist, and leaves the markets subject to serious manipulation. A bailout insurance fund — to be paid for ahead of time by a tax on financial services firms — was nixed, incredibly, because people said it would encourage risks … as though the moral hazard associated with the first bailout didn’t provide enough encouragement.

    And there’s been no change in incentives for traders, either. An MBA hits Wall Street with $100,000 in student loan debt and a short window. If you can make $1 million in a few years of very hard work, it’s worth taking risks that might blow up your trading desk … and the firm you work for. Best case — you retire at 28. Worst case — you’re fired, you leave New York and you get a real job making something less than $100,000 somewhere else. That’s why Wall Street creates instability. There’s no financial incentive for the folks who work there to care about what happens in a few years.

    So. Not exactly a set of communist-oriented concerns here. I’m not looking for some “workers paradise,” or a $20 minimum wage or any of the nonsense I keep hearing people who haven’t been down here say we’re saying. I do have some of the typical center-left concerns most folks worry about — wealth disparity, of course, mostly because I fear the lobbying weight of a few very rich people can change the system to pull up the ladders — to make it nearly impossible for regular, industrious, innovative people to get rich. The patent system, for example, has morphed into an insane thing to be fought, not embraced. And I’m worried that the regular guy is going to pay the freight on the next bailout because the richest among us will simply bribe politicians (legally, see Citizens United) to get out of the bill.

    Yes. Dissing John Lewis was monumentally stupid. But most of the people I saw there last night weren’t really that fringy. Software engineers. Construction guys. Marketing students. Business people. And, yes, crazy Woodruff Park denizens, drunk off their ass at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday. A few radicals who show up to every event looking to shout screw the police. Anyone who’s been to a Tea Party event knows how dispiriting it can be to see someone stupid trying to embrace the movement — Obama as Hitler signs, John Birch Society wingnuts, racist fools making you look bad. I would think folks who don’t want to be defined by their fringes would return the courtesy.

  6. shenry says:

    Dude, you must’ve picked up some bad peyote when you were down at “Troy Davis Park.” We had two reporters and a photographer down there on Friday night (hence the many photos on our site of Rep. Lewis at the gathering). Our writers, Thomas Wheatley and Gwynedd Stuart, tweeted updates throughout the evening. We didn’t put up an actual blog post that night — I notice yours went up shortly before midnight — because we have a general policy of timing our posts to reach the largest number of readers. Most of our readers are out living lives at 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night, rather than sitting in front of their computers reading blogs.
    Furthermore, and this goes to the point of my post, our writers said that Lewis’ “blocking” by the protesters didn’t seem like that big a deal as it was happening; and Lewis has subsequently said it wasn’t a big deal. The people who seized on the event and have tried to make it a big deal are right-wing pundits — not because they are genuinely offended at the snubbing of a civil rights hero, but because they see it as an avenue to undermine the Occupy movement.

  7. Todd Rehm says:

    I’m genuinely offended by the snubbing. More to the point, it demonstrates that these people are either dangerously ignorant or so far removed from the mainstream as to think that John Lewis is “too establishment” to speak to them.

    Do you really expect Lewis to say “I was humilated by a bunch of morons in downtown Atlanta”? Of course not. He pretends he understands them to save face.

    • Ken says:

      Or even to say, “I’m glad I didn’t speak to those people because they are clearly idiots.”

      I also notice on a youtube video (the 10 minute one, I think), that one guy tried to propose apologizing to Congressman Lewis. He was MIKE CHECKED into submission by the organizer with the loudspeaker. He never even got to finish his proposal. So, yeah, it was rude and disrespectful to a man I disagree with vehemently on almost everything, but respect.

  8. Harry says:

    I have spoken to a couple of guys who live outside the Atlanta area in my age group, and who know of John Lewis, and they consider it a travesty that he wasn’t allowed to at least speak to these young people, if for none other reason than to acknowledge his role in the historical civil rights movement and bridge to the present.

Comments are closed.