The Washington Post

Occupy Wall Street: Long live the disclaimer

The Twitter page of Occupy Wall Street carries a fun disclaimer:

Official twitter of our site! News and information about the occupation of Wall Street. Opinions tweeted do not reflect the occupation as a whole.

The disclaimer appears to be a common element of deference among protesters. On Sunday, Jesse LaGreca issued a similar one in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” When Christiane Amanpour asked about what the movement was all about, LaGreca said, essentially, ”social justice,” with a qualifier:

I’m not speaking on behalf of Occupy Wall Street. I’m just giving my personal opinion.

As the demonstrations continue, this dynamic will become more and more tasty. The media will be seeking out people like LaGreca and others with leadershippy inclinations on the street. Those folks will talk, but if they obey the ethos of the movement, they’re always going to say, Hey, I’m not speaking for the movement here.

The interesting point about the Twitter disclaimer is what it omits. Generally such language is rendered in the following way: “Opinions tweeted don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the ownership.” Or something like that.

But the Occupy Wall Street disclaimer features no such hedge. It says merely, again: “Opinions tweeted do not reflect the occupation as a whole.” Why is there no “necessarily” in there? Because the occupation as a whole has no position. So there’s no way an opinion tweeted on the official account could reflect the occupation as a whole — just another element of this movement guaranteed to drive the media insane.

Shocking though it might be to all those who’ve described OWS as a bunch of ragtag, disorganized lefty rubes, the group’s Twitter feed channels discipline. It doesn’t run off at the mouth with platitudes about ideology and the like so much as it feeds critical information to its people. Especially about where the cops are and what kind of gear they’re wearing.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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