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actions & protests | media criticism | police / legal m20: day x

All Bets Are Off

Long time activists are used to insensitivity and dishonesty from the corporate media. However, we are beginning to see a new tactic in the corporate lie arsenal.
At 7pm on March 20, a knot of about half dozen gortex-clad "reporters" in bright yellow or blue jackets approached a handful of peace protesters on Burnside Street near 2nd, who had been tasked with halting the war machine before it could kill again in it's self-stated goal to "rule the world."

Confrontations between corporate media and Portland activists go back decades, but activists, "reporters" and bystanders were about to witness something new. The small group of "reporters" had prepared for this moment: knowing that activists are onto their lies and are no longer willing to be used and abused in the media to gain ratings and support inaccurate stereotypes, the "reporters" contracted hired thugs to assault and harass anyone who stood in their way.

For years, small groups of reporters have taunted and harrassed peaceful protesters and other activists, even spewing out bald-faced lies to their blankly staring audiences in the hopes of provoking an aggressive response and supporting the status quo. During the Bush protests, for example, corporate news channels variously referred to the thousands of Portland citizens who turned out to protest mr. bush as "a small group of disorganized protesters," a "hostile mob" and a "loitering crowd." To butress these claims, they showed overhead footage of different sections of town. The station that claimed it was a "small group" showed just that -- a small group of people standing on a corner. At the same time, another station was claiming they were a "hostile mob," so they showed another shot -- fuzzy overhead images of thousands of people on the street. Although no hostilty was visible, the anchor accused the crowd of "holding the whole street hostage." This, despite the fact that it was the heavily armed police who actually appeared to be holding the city hostage.

But this time, instead of halting at simple lies, the "reporters" gathered together and surged into the crowd, where they had been asked not to film. They became hostile and angry, and began shoving their way into people's faces anyway. When people attempted to block access of their intrusive lenses, brown-shirted thugs bolted into the crowd with the ferocity of trained attack dogs and began assaulting people.

While news helicopters circled overhead, the crowd frantically tried to fend off the battering bull dogs.

Later, the "reporters" used footage of the melee to reinforce the pat story of the day that protesters were a "hostile mob." They failed to mention that the disturbance had been started by their own guards, and that all the pushing and shoving visible on the tiny screen was perpetrated by people in their employ.

The "reporter's" lies had predictable results: As intended, they manufactured consent for police brutality in the city of Portland, and justified the mayor's inability to control the rogue police force. At least, I think they did...but it's hard to say. Because the only people reporting on what the people of portland "really" think of police brutality are the corporate media.
brilliantly said, Catwoman 27.Mar.2003 09:49

spArk spark@tearitalldown.com

Your take on Nick Budnick's piece of crap article in the current Willamette Week is excellent. It's time to turn the equation around and show that it is the corporate media that is inciting violence. Their purposeful mischaracterizations of activists are dangerous to our health and well-being and they need to be held responsible. Thank you for this account of Thursday night; I saw the same thing.

The sheer arrogance of these propagandists is alarming. They act like they have every right in the world to push us around and shove their lenses in our face for the purpose of demonizing us without any resistance or recrimination. I personally give NO ONE the right to take advantage of me, lie about me, and put me in harm's way. The time to make them STOP taking advantage of us and slandering us and endangering us is now.

Completely legal and nonviolent techniques must now be brought into play against these sleaze bags whenever we see them.

1) don't talk to them (read Nick Budnick's "All Bets are off" to see how intelligent and thoughtful activists had their words and points shredded into lies by Budnick)

2) block their cameras. don't ever touch the reporters or the equipment, even when they touch/grab you (which they have been doing). simply stand in the way, or hold your hand or a sign up. don't assault them. when they assault you, calmly tell them that what they are doing is illegal and that it is your right to block them if you wish. tell them why you're doing it.

3) tell the stories about what really happened everywhere you can -- here on indymedia, on KBOO, in other alternative media, to friends and family and co-workers. make sure the TRUTH gets out there.

4) tell people about the military/profit connections: explain how the national corporate media companies are owned by companies with military connections. show how those relationships are reflected in their local affiliates. point out how advertisements in the weeklies are from members of the Portland Business Alliance, which pressured the City Council to vote NO on the anti-war resolution a little while back. (Also point out the mysoginistic advertisements in the weeklies.)

5) boycott the corporate media. don't watch it. don't read it. don't listen to it. You won't be missing anything. Instead, depend on alternative news sources, and talk to people who were there. Revive the lost art of story telling as a way of conveying the events of our movement.

We are in control. 27.Mar.2003 10:12


Thursday March 20th, at Second and Burnside, I saw some protesters attacking a KATU reporter. I will admit, I did not see if the KATU reporter instigated the attack. I will also admit that I often have the urge to smack the shit out of KATU reporters, in response to the biased class warfare that they call journalism. But we must remember that we are in control of our own actions. Our movement will be more powerful when it can respond non-violently to instigation.

Isn't it pretty to think so 27.Mar.2003 12:44

To 'in control'

First, let me say I saw the WW article, and this take on it is more accurate than the original. WW lied either through a lack of information -- it appeared that the author wasn't present for most of the day on the 20th -- or through malice. Either way, it was lies.

Second, to "control," I want to say that I was there on Burnside, and I did see the whole thing. Corporate media people were pushing and shoving people, and I saw one of them push a woman down for standing in front of their camera. She was not being violent, they were. Blame them for their actions, don't blame the victim of their actions.

I would like to add that, at about the same time, I saw a man in a blue jacket who was with one of the television stations walk up to a woman who was filming protesters, reach around her, and push his thumb against her camera lens, not once, but twice. The woman was obviously not with the mainstream media, as she had a small video camera, not one of those big ones the news people use. Also, she was dressed as a protester. I questioned why he would do such a thing. Are they really that threatened by the competition of people who will tell the story as they see it, rather than as they are directed to report it?

To her credit, the woman never responded to him. She simply ignored him the first time, and the second time she turned around and looked at him, shrugged, wiped her lens and continued to film. I would have beat the fuck out of him. But then, that's just me. Because I'm sick of being harassed by the cogs in the system for trying to change it.

What Planet? 27.Mar.2003 15:57


WW has been a corporate stooge for quite a while. Just go back in time and check out their past election endorsements. If you know they are bad, don't read 'em.

more on corporate media 27.Mar.2003 17:03


I have not seen anyone attack a corporate media person. I have seen people start shouting at them "Fuck Corporate Media". I have also seen the camera person push into people and people push back.

I was not there at the incident described above, but what I can say for sure, is that I have done nothing but stand in front of the camera, or put my hand in front of the camera and have myself been assaulted 5 times in the past 2 weeks by corporate media persons and their new hired guards.

There is no reason or point to touch or threaten the cameraperson. The act of blocking the camera is all that is needed and it is entirely within your right to do so.

The article by Budnick clearly proves once again the point that these corporate media people are virtually incapable of any sort of fair or honest reporting. He singles me out as someone blocking the camera of the corporate media, and claims I "aggressively bumped" a camera person. I did no such thing at any time, and any contact that has happened has been initiated by the media person, not by me. Furthermore, even when pushed, hit or yelled at, I have refrained from any sort of retaliation, and simply continued to put my hand there. I have talked to a few camera persons, and informed them that I had no personal animosity towards them, would not touch them and that I would continue to block the camera. One camera person thanked me for saying this. I can understand that they would feel scared when so many people are angry at what they do.

So, Budnick has very effectively demonstrated exactly why people are angry. He presents me as the person 'attacking' the media person, when it has repeatedly been the opposite. Nick is fundamentally dishonest. I also did not say that corporate media should be banned from protests. They should be free to come and go as anyone is, however the citizens who they put at risk do not need to accept these lies, and a great way to express displeasure is by blocking the camera. There is no reason why any citizen should stand there and allow themselves to be attacked by the media through their cameras. Individuals have every right to hold the corporate media people accountable for the damage they do. That is self empowerment.

When these lies are repeatedly told, making people look like they are dangerous and out of control rather than intelligent and concerned individuals, it creates the atmosphere that allows the police to dehumanize people and hurt them. It allows the public to think that this person must have deserved what they got.

The corporate media does not inform people, it systematically shapes their views. This is called propaganda.

Stuff Happens 27.Mar.2003 18:05

xxdfr_zombiexx xxdr_zombiexx@yahoo.com

Things fall down. Go boom. Sometimes break. People trip...fall down.

Sometimes others might accidently step on them.. there was a commotion. Fungers break, skin tears..painfull for a few days

Always a regretable thing you understand...I sure people regret any loss of life. All an accident.

Seriously, I guess people have to carry their ovn videorecorders now to record the unwanted recording of themselves and to protect themselves from manufactured republican bullshit. (Who else do these media sorts vote for? The liberal media is just a myth.. except for the dear old Net.)

I forsee activists accomodating these bastards in some creative way - pre-made signs waiting for them - Videotaping, stealth followers to get licences plates.

We are at war and some "amerians" mean to do us "other amerians " in, while we mean no harm. These slugs will take tremendous advantage of that. Their Masters in DC do the same thing globally. Things will get uglier before they improve I am sorry to say.

What is your ANTI-BUSH?

The Zombie Free Republic, Georgia, USA

I can'tbelieve anything anymore 27.Mar.2003 18:16

Shannon S

I feel like I'm just sick. There's a war going on, and the media treats it like a game show. People are getting beat up by police in the streets, and the media says we all want that because we want to be protected from those scary people who are destroying the fabric of American life.

I have not been a vocal critic of "corporate media" in the past, but I am beginning to see why so many people are.

I saw what happened on the day the war started. I watched the police target innocent people, beat them up and pepper spray them. I can't imagine what they must have been thinking.

And then, later, I watched the same event on the news, and saw a completely different story than the one that I witnessed with my own eyes. They were portraying peaceful demonstrators as a violent mob, deserving of police brutality.

I did not see the WW article, and I refuse to read it now. I am disgusted that WW would print anything that adds to the strange solidarity among newspeople who are trying to tell us that the war is all right, police brutality is necessary, and Bush is president.

No wonder people scream at news cameras and block them. No wonder.

I will never read WW again, and if anyone from WW or any other news outlet approaches me to interview me for any reason, I will refuse. I will NOT allow any news photographer to film me, and I will support other people who do not want to be photographed.

We must start in our own place to stop the evil that is spreading over the earth. Let us start with ourselved, and then with our own streets, and then with our government, and then with the rest of the world.

Media War 27.Mar.2003 21:20

la Vierge Rouge.

what if someone were to chain themselves to a KATU van or some other form of direct peaceful action towards corpie media? Are there ways we can fight back (Peacefully)?

hmmm. 28.Mar.2003 13:01


I went to the post day of bombing "organizers meeting" and suggested that we should boycott corperate media because we cannot depend on them to credibly portray our concers to the public. I aslo said that the corperate media should be made to come us and our media for footage and coverage. I was shut down at least five or six times. Unfortunately, we wern't at a point in the process where the tactic could be debated? The idea that a corperate media boycott could be an effective strategy- or even a tactic at all- was scoffed at.
I know that indy media's "independance, or objectivity" offers it some protection from the scrutiny of statists. Does anyone think if we could do all our press work through indy that corperate press would have to come to indy same as they had to come- to other press offices for groups like the ALF and ELF.
Would Indy folks be ready to open a press office for the same folks that use this site?

just a thought,

Think a lot more 29.Mar.2003 08:52

than you have

To think a little:

Cry because you can't see beyond your tv set.

I'm one of those people trying to get home and/or to work. I live in downtown Portland, and I work on the other side of the river. You know what I think about the protests? I think the police are the US version of the Republican Guard, and I think the protesters deserve medals for being out there despite the horrific crackdown. But then, I see it for myself every day. You probably only see it on tv.