Media spin attempts to obscure widespread support for Occupy Oakland.
According to an online poll conducted by the Bay Area News Group (BANG) Occupy Oakland enjoys overwhelming popular support.
The poll, conducted online and published in the Oakland Tribune print edition on Saturday February 11, 2012 asked readers: “Do you support Occupy Oakland?” Out of a total of 10,826 responses, 94% answered yes. The Oakland Tribune conducts similar polls weekly as part of their “Talk Back” feature. An image of the poll results from the print edition of the Tribune is available online at http://tinyurl.com/oo94approval .
The online poll was available on the BANG main website www.insidebayarea.com where only one response per participant was permitted. Letters on the topic could be submitted by email, fax, or US mail, and the poll was open a total of five days.
Accompanying the bar graph showing 94% support, the Oakland Tribune print edition featured eleven letters, with seven (64%) against Occupy Oakland and only four (36%) in support. Was this a fair and balanced portrayal of opinions given the poll results? “It seems to be a case of good news about Occupy not fitting the mainstream media narrative,” said Eric Anderson of the Occupy Oakland Research Committee. On January 30th, the Bay Area News Group published an editorial against Occupy Oakland’s January 28th action, stating “Occupy Oakland has lost its way… we’re certain the community has run out of patience.”
The online “Talk Back” web page http://www.insidebayarea.com/opinion/ci_19937254 did not publish the poll results, but instead only displayed the eleven letters. Those who did not see the print edition would miss the poll results showing overwhelming support for Occupy Oakland.
“Mainstream media has consistently portrayed Occupy Oakland and the broader Occupy movement as losing public support,” stated Sarah Thomason of the Occupy Oakland Research Committee. “This has been repeated so often that it has become represented as fact, until contradicted by the actual results of this poll.”
Similarly, there was a charge that Occupy Oakland was hurting local businesses, until a survey of local businesses found 80% of 106 shops within two blocks of Oscar Grant Plaza reported a positive or neutral impact from the encampment. In another instance, Police Chief Howard Jordan worried in email to Mayor Quan about how to share the good news of a 19% crime reduction in downtown Oakland during the Occupy encampment. This fact directly contradicted Quan, the City Council, and Oakland Chamber of Commerce’s claim that Occupy Oakland was causing an increase in crime.
Yvonne Yen Liu of the Occupy Oakland Research Committee says the repeated misrepresentation of the movement is systematic in the mass media: “The Oakland Tribune is a corporation that serves other corporations through the advertising business model. The Tribune receives ad revenues from banks such as JP Morgan Chase. The Occupy movement has highlighted the concentration of vast wealth and power within the US banking and finance sector. The Tribune has a conflict of interest with respect to the money it receives from the One Percent for ads, and the image corporate media project as serving the public interest. The Occupy movement has demanded prosecution of banking fraud and vocalized opposition to bank bailouts. The Oakland Tribune cannot serve two conflicting goals: serving the profit-motive interest of banks through advertisements, while publishing news about Occupy Oakland.