Ed Driscoll

CBS: Push Cart Vendors Claim Death Threats from #OccupySanDiego

Bury that lede!

I started to write up a gag headline along the lines of, “With DNC In Mind, City Bans Blood, Urine,” since it doesn’t take too much effort to adapt one of James Taranto’s favorite leitmotifs (an infamous 2008 Rocky Mountain News headline regarding an earlier draft version of Occupy Denver) to the news out of the various Occupy camps. This CBS San Diego story has the following headline:

SoCal Street Cart Vendors Hurting After ‘Occupy’ Group Splatters Blood, Urine

But you have to get about nine paragraphs into the story before you come to the following text, which I highlighted in bold:

Coffee cart owner Linda Jenson and hot dog cart operators Letty and Pete Soto said they initially provided free food and drink to demonstrators, but when they stopped, the protesters became violent.

And according to one city councilman, bodily fluids were used in the attacks.

“Both carts have had items stolen, have had their covers vandalized with markings and graffiti, as well as one of the carts had urine and blood splattered on it,” said Councilman Carl DeMaio.

The damages will likely require at least a complete cleaning if not a replacement of the cart covers, DeMaio said.

In addition to the attacks, the vendors also said they recently received death threats.

Shouldn’t that be in the headline too? Needless to say, it would be if Occupy San Diego was called “Tea Party San Diego,” and filled with guys wearing tri-cornered colonial hats and waving Gadsden flags.

The enormous disparity in MSM coverage between the two protests is a topic that Jonah Goldberg explores in his L.A. Times profile of Tom Brokaw, the last of the seemingly-wizened elder statesmen who once manned the nightly network news — and as gatekeepers, practiced bias by omission on a regular basis:

Brokaw, an honorable and industrious man, is now playing the role of elder statesman while touting his new book, “The Time of Our Lives.” In it, he writes: “Slashing rhetoric and outrageous characterizations have long been part of the American national political dialogue … but modern means of communications are now so pervasive and penetrating they might as well be part of the air we breathe, and therefore they require tempered remarks from all sides. Otherwise, the air just becomes more and more toxic until it is suffocating.”

There’s much wisdom here. But blaming the new media environment for what ails us is an awfully convenient alibi. It suggests that the old media, of which Brokaw was a master of the universe, played no part in losing the trust of so many Americans.

For starters, when the mainstream media complains about the national “tone,” it almost invariably means the tone to their right. After the tragic Gabrielle Giffords shooting, the mainstream media reported, and liberal pundits raced to insist, that Republican rhetoric — particularly, a pictogram on Sarah Palin‘s Facebook page — inspired the suspect. The evidence disproving all of that is voluminous; the record of apologies and retractions from those who reported it is comparably scant.

At the same time, Democratic rhetoric has grown ever more extreme. Vice President Joe Biden said pro-“tea party” Republicans in Congress acted “like terrorists.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said Republicans want to “end life as we know it.”

More recently, Biden has insisted that the GOP’s refusal to pass the White House‘s jobs bill would cause a surge in rapes, sexual assaults and other crimes across the country. Perhaps he’s right, because the legislation has failed (at the hands of Democrats and Republicans alike), and such offenses at Occupy Wall Street protests have risen (that’s why they’ve built a women-only tent at Zuccotti Park). But you wouldn’t necessarily know that from watching the nightly news.

As Jonah concludes, “Brokaw and his heirs don’t understand that such double standards breed precisely the rhetoric they find so toxic. Because the new media Brokaw laments allows conservatives to see how much important news the old media didn’t deem fit to print, they learn not to trust or respect those who wag their fingers rightward about civility — or anything else.”

And arguably, you can see it at work in the CBS report on Occupy San Diego.