Ramona's picture

    No Surprise: Erin Burnett doesn't get the Wall Street Protesters.

    For her CNN "Out Front" debut on Monday, Erin Burnett went to the Occupy Wall Street protesters to see for her corporate-shilling self what the heck all the fuss was about.  She couldn't find a single person who knew why they were protesting.  Imagine that.

    "I saw dancing, bongo drums, even a clown.... I asked several protesters what it was that they wanted. Now, they did not know.... They did know what they don't want."

    This is not new.  I've heard many pundits question whether the people holding the signs have a real agenda or just want to be out there in front of the cameras waving silly signs, dressed in goofy garb, doing the Kumbaya thing. (Yes.  Wherever there's a protest, they'll be there, too.  Bless their hearts.)
    But the claim is that nobody in that crowd really knows the reasons for the protests.  I guess if you were one who isn't listening, or more likely, refuses to listen, you might not get the message. 
    This is it in a nutshell, from the Occupy Wall Street website:
    Occupy Wall Street is [a] leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.
    I probably won't spend a lot of time watching Erin Burnett's new show, but I've had her number for a while.  If you just look at that angelic face, those deep, darling dimples, you might miss who Erin really is.  
    She is a Wall Street groupie who searches, but can only find eensy-teensy, little bitty problems with her chosen pals.  
    She is about to marry a CitiGroup exec, thereby solidifying her affection for the Street.   
    She is a supposed reporter who once told the folks on AM Joe to take a larger look at China, who might be as successful as they are because they don't coddle people by paying them when they're unemployed.  (Not in itself true, but she said it ever-so-sweetly, even apologetically, as if she really hated to spoil a perfectly good discussion, but it needed to be said kind of thing, so nobody jumped on it.)
    If you watch Erin Burnett's "Out Front", you're going to hear what sounds perfectly reasonable, because the person saying it is about as far from a Maria Bartiromo as one can get.  But I'm seeing nothing but love songs to Wall Street already, which is okay as long as CNN isn't promoting it as a family show.
    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)


    I fully expect Erin will coming out with her autobiography by early next year.

    Erin; “Nothing to see here folks move along”

    Of course, Socialism  alternatives are  is violently denounced by the capitalist press (CNN) and by all the brood of subsidized contributors (Erin) to magazine literature, but this only confirms the view that the advance of Socialism is very properly recognized by the capitalist class as the one cloud upon the horizon which portends an end to the system in which they have waxed fat, insolent and despotic through the exploitation of their countless wage-working slaves.

    Partial excerpts by  http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Eugene_V._Debs

    Satan is full of wisdom and exceedingly beautiful

    So sayeth The Lord!



    When she's done at CNN, she'll move to Fox news. (Born again)  She'll keep transforming herself into an angel of light, in order to mislead many.   

    Thanks, Ramona. 

    I'm tempted to mail her a copy of The Hellhound of Wall Street (hoping Elizabeth Warren will be the modern-day Ferdinand Pecora equivalent) but it might require too much of a leap of historical imagination for the poor soul. 

    Maybe a copy of this one: All the Devils are Here, by Bethany McLean and Joseph Nocera, would be contemporary enough:


    For those not deliberately uncurious about what all the fuss is about there must be at least a shelf full of other useful reads on this subject at their local Barnes and Noble.


    This seems to be the journalistic equivalent of a technique media uses in African-American communities. Whenever a sensational crime occurs, the reporter will pick out the stereotypical poor black person with poor diction to get their point of view. The black people who don't fit the reporter's stereotype are not interviewed. Reporters see what they want to see.

    When the media descended on Jena, LA , many reporters admitted that they did not know what the protest was about and therefore couldn't tell the audience about past judicial grievances that sparked the protest. The reaction of the media to the Million Man March was even more hilarious. Not until busloads of black men were boarding buses and heading to DC did the media realize that a march was about to occur. The event had been broadcast all over black media for months in advance.

    The mainstream media is myopic.

    I am joining Occupy Denver today.  It is really true that young people are less likely to have paid attention to politics and exactly what has happened and what can be done to make things better.  I was talking to a young friend who was Occupying Boulder with another young friend of mine and they just know things are totally screwed up and they are making it clear that they are fed up and want things to change. 

    Others of us getting involved can really help.  Nobel prize winning economists did a teach-in with Occupy Wall Street this weekend to help them understand more what has happened and that basically they are right to be protesting at Wall Street.  As I am a political activist and spend time learning about what is going on I can offer some help to the young people in my life who want to be a part of this. 

    I am also going to a logistical meeting at Occupy Denver to tell them that I want to take a survey, in writing, for what they are protesting for.  I have seen division arise as people present ideas that I don't agree with and I would like to help the group focus on the issues/concerns that we have in common.  I will need some help to put the information together but I created a form and a friend is printing a lot of copies for me.  This group has not grown so large at this point so this might work/help.


    Very interesting, synchronicity.  I hope you will share whatever you feel you can at dag on this as you proceed.  I'd sure be interested in hearing about your experiences in Denver and I think it's likely that there are others here who would be as well.

    Good going, Synch.  This is how any great movement starts, and if I were closer to one of the protest sites, I would be there.   I think the teach-in is a great idea, too.  The issues might be complicated but for most people protesting, the pain of their everyday lives is real. 


    follow the money

    The Koch brothers are leading the right, maybe one of the Marx brothers, will emerge to lead the left?

    I wonder how the press will react,  if a leader named Karl emerges?

    "...I asked several protesters what it was that they wanted. Now, they did not know.... They did know what they don't want."

    Thanks, Ramona. I laughed like hell when I read the above complaint made by this sage journalist. I'm guessing she doesn't have an editor. I mean, just imagine a world where protestors are focused upon what it is they don't want!


    One of the critical factors that limited the impact--so far, anyway--of the late '90s Battle for Seattle was that there wasn't an alternative being offered to the type of economic globalization the protesters were demonstrating against.  Individuals and particular organizations who participated in that in some cases were doing that.  That was by far the most frequently offered criticism that I heard of that initiative at the time--and since.

    I think it's also true that leadership has to emerge organically, if it is to emerge at all, from these sorts of potential, maybe protean, social movements.  And it matters a whole lot for the effectiveness and fate of the effort which individual or individuals emerges from the pack of contenders for such roles.  

    If Elizabeth Warren weren't running for the Senate she could probably be a really effective spokesperson for what is emerging on Wall Street.  She seems to have the right temperament, in-depth knowledge of the issues such as to be able to hold her own with anyone on the issues, and media skill for that role.  

    If she is elected, her efforts--especially if the Senate stays Democratic and can therefore initiate investigations and hold oversight hearings on subjects of the Democrats' choosing---could help define the kind of policy agenda that is needed to clean up Wall Street, make it more stable, functional, and something that once again serves the real economy instead of primarily itself.  

    And that in turn could help the Wall Street Occupiers focus their efforts so as to be not simply against something but for something as well.  The oldest advocacy rule in the book is still: you can't beat something with nothing.  Advocacy efforts that have a positive agenda or program or demands are almost always better positioned to get results than ones that don't have one that commands substantial support from people invested in the movement.


    I nominate Max Baucus to lead the Dem Senate investigation into pay-to play. Maybe Tim Geithner, or even Obama himself! Wrap your head around THOSE possibilities and you'll begin to understand why your focus is faulty. The political system is broken. Not injured. BROKEN! Wrap your head around THAT reality, and suddenly you begin to see a common thread stretching from WTO protests (Seattle, Pittsburgh, etc) to the Arab Spring to Madison to Longview, WA (ILWU) to Greece to Wall Street to... And please! Don't even THINK about disparaging the protestors as they so successfully begin to redefine the common discussion toward Class War (disparities in wealth, income and power) and away from "austerity solutions/debt crisis" as the greatest of challenges confronting the 99%. Think about THAT as you prepare your next oh-so-important suggestions written into essays regarding how we might best respond to Republican hostage-taking and gain the best compromise available in giving them everything on THEIR terms.

    What's up with the broadside, SJ?  I'd thought our sympathies are largely similar.  

    I'm scratching my head wondering when you think I've advocated surrender to the Republicans on their terms.  I recall making a similar comment as yours on this subject during or around the debt hostage fiasco.  I do recall making a suggestion, which I'd thought hardly oh-so-important and much closer to tilting at a windmill, that if it takes bumping the definition of "rich" in the American Jobs Act from $250,000 to $500,000 a year to get enough Senate votes to save 300,000 to 400,000 public education jobs, and make up the revenue among those higher up the scale, I thought that would be well worthwhile. Do you disagree?  

    I wasn't disparaging the Seattle or any of the other protesters, or wasn't meaning to.  I thought I was making a basically descriptive observation about the former.

    With apologies, Dreamer, you were unfairly targeted by me out of an over-arching frustration over what I witness here with the "inside baseball" crowd. There is such an effort to analyze the OWS movement within the context of the political game and its rules as written. The people in Liberty Park will, I'm quite certain, overwhelmingly respond that they are not interested in playing such a game for so long as the fix is in. Dems are supported generally, but there is no quarter given to ANYONE who insists that campaign financiers and lobbyists trump the will of the plebiscite. Lots more to be written on that theme and I'm short on time. But realize that Ghengis' comments about what is required for this group to gain "political legitimacy" (ie money and influence in Washington; high-profile and well-backed leaders; etc.) or your comments about Dems in Congress holding hearings as an effective remedy are examples of same-old same-old bs that is not well received by those of us who have had enough of it. We are the 99%, and we EAT lobbyists, bagmen, and the politicians they own, REGARDLESS of their political affiliation. It really is a new dynamic, a long time coming. And Obama and the Dems and the inside baseball analysts/apologists ignore it at their peril.

    SJ, thank you for your gracious remarks.

    Effective social movements, later if not sooner, need allies on the inside to get things done.    Whether its introducing constitutional amendments in Congress to rewrite key rules as on corporate personhood or campaign financing, or holding hearings (not to be under-estimated as a potentially impactful thing to do--consider the impact of the Army/McCarthy hearings), or passing strong legislation, or lobbying successfully for strong and needed (and legal) executive action.     

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: organizing on the outside and working the inside does not represent an either/or choice.  Rather, it is a both/and imperative for those effective change efforts which can only, or best, be addressed through our political system.  Disfunctional as it is, elected officials who sense the winds shifting rapidly sometimes do respond.  

    For once progressives are on offense, reflected in both OWS and the push for the jobs bill, including, yes, Obama getting up off the mat at long last.  I say hooray for that.  Can progressives walk and chew gum at the same time?  I want to rock our opponents back on their heels and hold their lousy, pinched, total loser of a social vision up to the light of day for the load of undiluted crap that it is, for most of the electorate to see.  If we can do that on more than one front I'm all for it.  

    One can take some action on behalf of the American Jobs Act without any commitment to vote for Obama or even vote at all, for that matter.  If it helps to think of it as not being about Obama or next year's elections or inside baseball or any of that other incredibly offputting stuff, great.  300,000 or 400,000 public education employees, and the kids who stand to lose out if they lose their jobs, would sure appreciate it if folks fed up with the status quo will help our economy and our country's present and future by rising up on their behalf, too.

    In any event of this magnitude, it's easy enough to highlight the sublime or the ridiculous, depending on what you choose to focus on. Remember how we all laughed at the misspelled Tea Party signs?

    But I think Burnett's core critique is on target. This movement lacks focus, it lacks an agenda, and it lacks leadership. You don't have to go looking for these elements. They're overwhelming to both the casual visitor and the serious participant. Indeed, the organizers revel in the chaos under more appealing labels like "consensus" and "democracy."

    They tout the Arab uprisings as a model seemingly without awareness that those uprisings eschewed leadership not out of idealism but out of necessity--because dissident leaders faced imprisonment and execution. Once the protestors' safety was more secure, Arab leaders emerged to channel the primal eruptions in the square.

    The same thing will have to happen here if this movement is to get off the ground.

    I'm working on a piece about my own experience at the demonstration which aims to paint a richer picture of the atmosphere for those who haven't been able to see it themselves. Maybe it will go up on the website of my "colleague" Erin Burnett. ;)

    I think the movement has gotten off the ground. It's sort of a Wright Brothers flight so far, but it is off the ground.

    In the sphere of social progress, the ground is a relative term. ;) I would like to see this movement blossom into a sustained electoral force, not for months but for years.

    The Tea Party movement also started out very amorphously, and there's plenty of time for Occupy Wall Street to evolve into at least as potent a movement. What I worry about is the disdain for organization and leadership. That attitude will have to change for this to endure.

    Leaders haven't a very strong track record lately.

    Syllogistic fallacy: Our current leaders are bad. Ergo, all leaders are bad.


    It will take a while for this movement to spin off any logically coherent agendas, or to to give rise to groups that pursue any of these agendas in a strategically coherent way.  For now, it just seems like a lot of people accustomed to a sense of powerlessness proving to themselves and others that they actually possess some power.

    They are no doubt beginning to frighten some authorities.


    I'm nervous about that term, "leaderless movement", too.  Clearly, there are leaders and an organization or it would never have gotten off the ground.  And, as you say, the money is coming in from somewhere. 

    It could be that they want the focus to be on the demonstrations and not on any one personality.  I'm predicting that in another week or so a clear leader will emerge, but I hope it's not your standard power struggle for a spot at the top. 

    Who will it be?  Someone as unlikely as Lech Walesa? Mother Jones?  Gandhi?  Strange things happen in popular uprisings.  This could get interesting real fast.. 

    I'm sure you won't expend more than two sentences comparing this to the Arab Spring and the Tea Party.

    But in case you don't remember you had some succinct comments back a while ago when we were blogging about Friedman's superficial understanding of social media, etc. in relation to the Arab Spring.

    I look forward to your essays on this movement--it is unique, limitless, and the "99%" symbol is the most effective means of encapsulating the upside down nature of wealth distribution in this country that I have yet seen.

    Go, Man. This is one of those moments.

    You're not going to like the piece, I think. It's critical and snarky, maybe a little like Burnett's but funnier.

    I'm actually pretty optimistic about this stuff but in the long term but not the short term. It's going to be a long haul.

    I do think that the grassroots protests are of a piece in the questioning of traditional authority, but there are some significant differences. The Arabs were dealing with far greater repression than few of us can conceptualize, and the systems they battled were far more brittle. There won't be any sudden coups here, just the dull slog of electoral politics.

    The Tea Parties are much more analogous, but as I've been belaboring since I wrote my book, they didn't appear in a vacuum. There was so much financial, organizational, and media support in place to turn the spontaneous movement into an electoral machine. From the deep pockets of the Club for Growth to the millions of Glenn Beck listeners, it was a movement waiting to happen. Liberals don't have anyone of Beck's stature. They could perhaps get the money from folks like Soros, but there aren't many large far-left fundraising organizations in action right now.

    Side note: It was interesting to learn from the Occupy Wall Street tech planners that money doesn't seem to be a big constraint. It's not unlimited, but there is certainly a budget.

    I can't believe that I wrote "of Beck's stature" without irony. Time to stop blogging, clearly.

    Genghis and Beck, sittin' a tree. . .

    That's disgusting on so many levels

    I know, I botched the diddly--it should've been "Genghis and Beck, sittin' in​ a tree. . ." 


    It's okay.  It needed repeating.   :>)

    Oh, it'll be easy to pick apart the Occupiers  -- every movement gets off to a rocky start and draws the crazies and the grandstanders -- but keep the protest rallies going long enough and leaders will emerge,  a clear objective gets hammered out and presented, and the movement becomes cohesive.

    The appeal of this movement for me is that it is at long last progressive/liberal.  What makes me crazy is that we couldn't get anything like this going during the Bush administration, when it was as sorely needed, if not more so.

    Even with the media reporting that the protests are leaderless and chaotic, even with the video bites showing the worst and most embarrassing of the protesters, even with everybody with a public voice insisting that nobody knows what they're doing,  this thing continues to grow. 

    It is no Arab spring for the reasons you suggest, but I don't think the Occupied organizers  meant it in that way.  I think they took their cues from the successes of those protests and recognized that in the beginning it's the numbers and not necessarily the thought that counts.  Just get those bodies out there for now and try to scare the crap out of the Fat Cats.

    With success comes more success.  It took two weeks for the media to finally give it some attention but big names and now the unions are getting involved and suddenly it's legit.  Now it starts.

    It'll be interesting to read your take on it, Genghis.  I would just say give it a little time.  It's still in its infant stages.  Who knows what it'll grow into.

    Why would negative media coverage slow the movement? The media is in bed with Wall Street, no? I didn't think that the Occupiers paid 'em much attention. Heck, negative media coverage didn't seem to slow down the Tea Parties, and they got a much bigger and meaner dose of it than the Occupiers. Of course, that was the liberal media, not the corporate media. Wouldn't want to get those two confused.

    In any case, I don't think that the "Fat Cats" are overly anxious about a bunch of bodies holding muddled assemblies downtown. They probably don't take them very seriously, and I can't say that I blame them. If the muddled assemblies become a unified voting bloc, then they might get a little nervous, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

    Sorry if this sounds cynical but...well...I'm a cynic.

    Mobilize this throng to show up at future Republican and Democratic debates.

    Primary Obama, It's our party and were taking it back, the progressives shouldn't have been disrespected.   

    Find Nader the corporate fighter to speak, get Moore, Chomsky, Van Jones.

    This movement is going to hit critical mass, anybody Republican or Democrat that speaks to protect the status quo, is tainted.

    Obama the pitchfork intervener, banker class protector, the pressure relief valve, has failed.

    "Were mad as hell and we aren't going to take it anymore"

    Do as the Tea party did when the Healthcare debate was happening.

    Genghis; the Tea party is pissed and so are we, is there any common ground? 


    [....] I spoke with a veteran of the Tahrir Square uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to get his thoughts on what lessons Occupy Wall Street can take from the Arab Spring.''


    4. Don't blame the media; change the narrative.

    Occupy Wall Street's supporters have continually criticized both the dearth of media coverage of their movement and its dismissive tone. "The media has begun dismissing the protesters, calling them delusional, childish hippies," Elshamy says. "This is actually very similar to here in Egypt when the media portrayed protesters as thugs or foreign agents who were getting paid and had other agendas." At one point, Egypt's state media even suggested that the demonstrators were being brought out to the square by the promise of free buckets of KFC.

    The crowd took the charges in stride. Vendors began selling T-shirts reading "I am a thug" and fake pamphlets featuring "foreign agendas." The square's makeshift medical tent was renamed "KFC hospital."

    Most importantly, Elshamy says, is to be as "neutral and friendly as possible with whatever journalist, no matter where he is from." [....]


    From Tahrir Square to Wall Street
    What can "Occupy Wall Street" learn from the activists who took down Hosni Mubarak?
    by Joshua A. Keating, | October 5, 2011

    Also too:

    1. You don't need a leader, but you do need a platform.

    [....] "There was strong agreement because there was a common target, which was toppling Hosni Mubarak," Elshamy says. "Nobody thought about whether we are going to have parliamentary elections after, or how we were going to write a constitution or all these fiascoes we have now. These divisions emerged after toppling. But during those days, no one brought these issues up."

    Elshamy recalls that the protesters' list of demands was written on a building-size banner so that "everyone inside and outside the square knew what we wanted."[....]

    Thanks, AA.  Really interesting reading.  These movements are so fluid it's hard to make any rules that will actually stick, but the parallels are intriguing.

    The "I am a thug" tees remind me of "Black is Beautiful" and Dick Gregory's "Nigger".  They took the slurs and made them their own, and effectively transferred the power of the words. 

    There are many movements the Occupiers could take lessons from.  I can only hope they're taking the time to learn from them.


    Excellent blog, thanks.  I have seen some critical pieces in the print media over the past week or two, but I never got the impression that it was universally hostile.  It is true that the protests have been relatively leaderless and without a firm manifesto, by design or otherwise, and I think skepticism flowing from that is understandable and  fair--even if such analysis might be missing the arguments for a leaderless movement, etc..  On the other hand, I see at least two positive accounts on the protests in today's Times, one about the diversity of the participants, and the other about increased union involvement alongside the protesters, which I link to below.

    Nice work.






    I'm happy to see the unions involved.  They may be weakened but their presence is needed in places where the working class is trying to make change.  They can't and won't take it over, but they can add numbers and heft and most of all, funding.

    I found this interesting.  The good thing about it taking place in NYC is that there are plenty of people already there.  A good many of them are just curious, I'm sure, but they are adding to the numbers:

    The Occupy Wall Street gathering, now midway through its third week in a Lower Manhattan park, was hatched by a Canadian magazine, Adbusters, and is heavily populated by youthful out-of-towners. But it has also become a magnet for scores of New Yorkers who said they had rarely if ever attended a protest before.

    Mr. Aiken, the D.J., said he joined up because he was frustrated over what he described as a lack of accountability from the big banks, and because he wanted to add to the protest’s breadth.

    Canadian agitators? Why does that seem familiar?

    I don't know.  Why?  "Canadian Bacon"?

    I was thinking more of acanuck and Q.

    Time to rename protest...



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