Cable News Devotes 30 Seconds To Mass Arrests Protesting Political Corruption

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Above Photo: Democracy Spring protesters calling for the end of big money in politics stage a sit-in on the Capitol steps and on the East Plaza of the Capitol on April 11, 2016.

THE DEMOCRACY SPRING, a protest movement calling on Congress to “end the corruption of big money in our politics” and “ensure free and fair elections,” converged on Capitol Hill on Monday, staging a nonviolent sit-in that resulted in over 400 arrests — a massive number by Washington sit-in standards.

While the action, dubbed #DemocracySpring, garnered wide coverage on social media and over 136,000 tweets, cable news programs found little time to cover the political protests, instead focusing largely on horse-race coverage of the presidential candidates for most of the day.

During daytime and afternoon news segments, CNN did not devote any coverage to the actions. MSNBC mentioned the protests for approximately 12 seconds, while Fox News mentioned the arrests and discussed the protests for about 17 seconds.

MSNBC and Fox News not only provided minimal coverage, but hosts on both networks misrepresented the protests, claiming they were narrowly focused only on “voting rights issues.” The focus on systemic political corruption, an issue that was widely criticized during the rally yesterday, was ignored.

Later in the day, CNN posted a short item on its website. The protests were widely covered by CSPAN, Al Jazeera, and NPR, among other outlets. But cable news programs, which specialize in American political news, were another story.

Compare the paltry coverage to a lengthy CNN segment last May, when host Wolf Blitzer featured a correspondent reporting from the scene of a fringe anti-Muslim rally in Phoenix. Left-wing protests in particular have often been ignored by mainstream media coverage.

The parent companies of cable news networks are closely tied to the Washington establishment being challenged by protesters on Monday, both spending and receiving some of the big money the protesters are complaining about.

Comcast, parent company of MSNBC, is among the biggest spenders on political lobbying, and its senior management has raised thousands of campaign dollars for congressional Republicans and Hillary Clinton. Other broadcasting companies have lobbied in recent years against reforms that would diminish the role of big money in election campaigns largely because the bulk of campaign funds are spent on television advertisements, a major source of revenue for television programs. Elizabeth Wilner, senior vice president at Kantar, a media analysis firm, estimated that $4.4 billion would be spent on television ads during the election cycle this year.

Network executives have hardly been shy about celebrating the cash windfall, most notably CBS chief Les Moonves.

Before the demonstrators were arrested, the protesters discussed lack of media coverage for their cause and chanted: “Where is CNN?”

  • Dawn Wolfson

    CNN covered it at 10 PM Monday. I estimate 10 seconds…


    This is why we fight for justice. For a long time, big corporate forces have infiltrated and influenced elections to such a degree that we have plutocratic 2 party system (where the financial apparatus benefits the status quo instead of independent revolutionary thinking). The people being arrested showed the world that civil disobedience is alive and well in America. Some have soul their souls to big money. Likewise, there are others who are standing up for real change. This has not been fortuitous. For decades, social movements have talked about democratic power and public funding of elections. The Democracy Spring movement is a continuation of previous movements who desire egalitarian principles to be made real for the masses of the people.

  • PaulK2

    The purpose of corporate media isn’t really to be the people’s friend and the tyrant’s foe. The purpose of corporate media isn’t even to sell ads and make money. The purpose is to exercise control over the corruption of governments, because that’s where the biggest profits lie.

    So, um, Democracy Spring didn’t happen. It shall keep not happening as long as arrests are all quite peaceful and highly automated through the DC civil disobedience processing system.

    Just as a contrast, the Seabrook mass nonviolent arrests happened because the state police were overwhelmed. Next, the national guardsmen brought in to run the makeshift prisons had no idea what they were supposed to do or when they could go home to their real jobs. Nor did the State of New Hampshire have any idea how to house 1000 new prisoners long-term, or how to pay for their escapade.