TV Ignore Union Violence
by Scott Whitlock
Issue 218– December 26, 2012
All three networks ignored the violent assaults by union protesters in Michigan, instead vaguely insisting that activists were simply “voicing their anger” at the “showdown raging in the heartland.” The morning shows on the day following the protests allowed little coverage of Michigan at all, a mere 72 seconds out of eight hours of programming. (On the day of the violence, the nightly newscasts offered eight minutes out of a possible 90 total.)
World News reporter Alex Perez put the focus not on out of control violence, but on the fact that Michigan’s right-to-work bill actually passed. He began, “The anger boiling over. Officers turning to pepper spray to control the crowd at least 10,000 deep. But it wasn’t enough.” One might think the journalist was speaking of the attack on Fox News contributor Steven Crowder.
No. Perez kept the attention on the new law: “Michigan Republican lawmakers approving landmark legislation, lifting the requirement that workers in unionized workplaces pay union dues.” [MP3 audio here.]
This is quite a contrast for World News. On March 21, 2010, anchor Diane Sawyer fretted about Tea party protesters marching against ObamaCare: “Opponents of the bill have been out today, and some of them pulled out all the stops. Protesters roaming Washington, some of them increasingly emotional, yelling slurs and epithets.”
That, it should be reminded, was a peaceful protest.
Over on CBS Evening News, Elaine Quijano vaguely explained, “Union members from across Michigan and other states voiced their anger at the Michigan capital.”
Yet, she made no mention of the assault on Crowder or the destruction of the Americans for Prosperity tent outside the Capitol.
On NBC’s Nightly News, Brian Williams also ignored the actual violence. Instead, he worried, “The emotional fight over unions and American jobs in a place many thought it could never happen. Are we looking at a turning point for American workers?”
Rather than focus on the thug-like attacks that occurred, Williams reminisced about the importance of the unions: “A union job in the Detroit auto industry was a ticket to the American middle class, a good salary, benefits package, a piece of the American dream, a two-car garage and college education for the kids.”
It wasn’t until later in the segment that reporter Ron Mott noted, “…Under the watchful gaze of police, some in riot gear, protesters swarmed the governor’s office building, finding the doors locked.”
Despite being a four hour program, NBC’s Today allowed two news briefs, a scant 28 seconds. Following the pattern, Natalie Morales skipped the violence.Good Morning America totally avoided the subject. CBS This Morning only mentioned it while playing a mocking clip of liberal comic Jon Stewart.
In total, out of nine and half hours of programming on on the Tuesday and Wednesday following, the evening news and morning shows allowed nine minutes and 13 seconds of coverage. Eight minutes and one second came from the evening newscasts. Seventy two seconds came from the morning shows.
Fox News on Tuesday night did cover the violence against Crowder, showing footage of the assault, including a punch to the face, that he suffered.
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Clickhere to follow him on Twitter. [MRC intern Jeffrey Meyer assisted in this presentation]