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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 01:07 PM ET, 10/06/2011

Fox News, AP, and ‘Occupy Wall Street’

Didn’t take long for yesterday’s taping of Fox News’s The Five to devolve into hypocrisy and inaccuracy. On the discussion agenda was “Occupy Wall Street,” the movement that’s gaining traction all around the country. Everywhere, it seems, except for Fox News sets.

A perfectly representative sampling of the channel’s sneering attitude toward the protests came from The Five’s Greg Gutfeld, who was stuck on an Associated Press story on the matter:

If you read the AP article on the event, they actually compared it to the Vietnam protests, the sixties, the revolution, the sexual revolution. They never said anything as complimentary about the Tea Party.

Now there’s something. Is Gutfeld accusing the Associated Press, that paragon of media neutrality, of pursuing ideologically slanted news coverage? Of cheering on the Wall Street protests while dissing the Tea Party? Boy, what a story.

Too bad a spin through the archives dashes the entire notion. An AP story from earlier this week contains this line:

Sam Schmidt, a criminal defense attorney who walks by the park every day, said the protests took him back to when he was a college student in 1970 and went to Washington, D.C., to oppose the war in Vietnam.
“I’m 60 years old. I lived through the ‘60s and the ‘70s, and this is nothing. I think it is well-behaved. We’ve got a few crazies, but we have a few crazies here (in New York) anyway,” he said. “It’s just reminiscent of my youth.”

So that’s not AP making an editorial stand tying “Occupy Wall Street” to the ‘60s. That’s Sam Schmidt being quoted by the AP making the linkage. In other words, perfectly respectable and middle-of-the-road journalism.

As for the charge that the AP somehow didn’t do the Tea Party the same element of justice, well, Nexis helps with that. From an April 16, 2009, AP story:

In Missouri, Karla Waite, 28, brought her four young children to a rally in Kansas City because she said “it was time to stand up.”
“The way we’ve been going, with the bailouts and the entitlements, we’re heading toward socialism,” Waite said. “That’s not the kind of world I want my children to live in.”

Again: Quote the people participating in the protests, explain their positions on the issues, describe the turnout, publish. AP appears to have followed the same, sturdy formula in the early days of both protests.

As for Gutfeld’s allegation that the AP is comparing “Occupy Wall Street” to the sexual revolution, searches didn’t kick up any such material in the AP library. But, hey, I couldn’t search the Internet with a flashlight! Take it from AP spokesman Paul Colford: “There’s been nothing in AP protest stories about the sexual revolution. We are an independent news organization, period.”

And independent news organization to which Fox subscribes, though apparently not with much gusto these days. From Howard Kurtz’s recent profile of Fox News chief Roger Ailes:

The talk turns to terrorism. Ailes is angry about an Associated Press report that 29 worshipers were killed by a suicide bomber in Baghdad’s largest Sunni mosque during prayers. “How do we know they were worshiping?” he demands. “I think the AP is so far over the hill, they’ve become left wing, antiwar. Gotta watch their copy.”

That last point would be good advice for Gutfeld.

By  |  01:07 PM ET, 10/06/2011

 
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