Mar
01
2000

Pepper Spray Gets in Their Eyes

Media missed militarization of police work in Seattle

Seattle police spray protesters (Steve Kaiser/Wikimedia)

The WTO protests in Seattle may be remembered as the time when the words "pepper spray" first entered the vocabulary of the American public. From November 30 through December 3, as police took on demonstrators outside the World Trade Organization meeting at the Seattle Convention Center, you couldn't turn on a TV or open a newspaper without hearing how officers were using "tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray" to disperse crowds of protesters. And unless you scoured the news media, that's all you heard. While comparisons to the "turbulent 1960s" abounded, the media imposed a near-total blackout on a […]

Jan
01
2000

Prattle in Seattle

WTO coverage misrepresented issues, protests

As tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Seattle to shut down the opening conference of the World Trade Organization meeting last December, mainstream media treated protesters' concerns with indifference and often contempt. That hostility translated into slanted coverage of both the demonstrations and the police reaction. A U.S. News & World Report headline, "Hell No, We Won't Trade" summarized a recurring motif: "anti-trade" became a common--though wildly inaccurate--label for the demonstrators in mainstream coverage. "A guerrilla army of anti-trade activists took control of downtown Seattle today," a Washington Post article (12/1/99) began. ABC News reporter John Cochran (11/30/99) said […]

Dec
07
1999

WTO Coverage: Prattle in Seattle

As an estimated 50,000 protesters rallied in Seattle to shut down the opening conference of the World Trade Organization meeting last week, mainstream media treated protesters' concerns with indifference and often contempt. That hostility translated into slanted coverage of both the demonstrations and the police reaction. In mainstream reports, "anti-trade" became a common--though wildly inaccurate--label for the demonstrators. "A guerrilla army of anti-trade activists took control of downtown Seattle today," a Washington Post article (12/1/99) began. ABC News reporter John Cochran (11/30/99) said Seattle had become a "home for protests against world trade." ABC anchor Jack Ford (12/1/99) pitted the […]

Dec
01
1999

Initial Reports from Seattle Gloss Over WTO Issues

As trade ministers from over 130 countries meet in Seattle this week for the World Trade Organization summit, tens of thousands of activists from all over the world have converged on the city to protest both the undemocratic structure of the group and its record on labor and environmental issues. But the news coverage anticipating the protests has shed little light on the specific charges being made against the WTO by most of the protesters. As the conference gets under way on November 30, a few trends in the coverage have already emerged. To begin, news stories preceding the conference […]

Jan
01
1994

Are All Yeltsin Critics 'Hard-Line' -- Or Is That Just the U.S. Media's Party Line?

When the Russian crisis began, CBS anchor Dan Rather suggested (9/21/93) that Boris Yeltsin "didn't go far enough" in getting rid of the "hard-liners." But how does a president legally get rid of elected members of parliament? President Yeltsin did it by simply dissolving parliament on Sept. 21, a blatantly unconstitutional move that won immediate support from the Clinton administration -- and immediate excuses from most U.S. media. A New York Times editorial (9/22/93) referred to Yeltsin's dissolution of parliament as "a Democrat's Coup." With the Clinton White House backing Yeltsin's every move, including ultimately the assault on Russia's "White […]