Apparently Dylan Ratigan inserting himself into the Occupy Wall Street has got the folks over at TeaNN terribly upset, since Howard Kurtz decided to spend a segment carping about it on his show that claims to report on media bias, Reliable Sources. And apparently Kurtz believes someone who was a former Trent Lott staffer and now an anchor on Glenn Beck's GBTV, Amy Holmes, qualifies as some sort of objective "journalist" to weigh in on Ratigan's advocacy of the #OWS protests.
October 23, 2011

Apparently Dylan Ratigan inserting himself into the Occupy Wall Street has got the folks over at TeaNN terribly upset, since Howard Kurtz decided to spend a segment carping about it on his show that claims to report on media bias, Reliable Sources. And apparently Kurtz believes someone who was a former Trent Lott staffer and now an anchor on Glenn Beck's GBTV, Amy Holmes, qualifies as some sort of objective "journalist" to weigh in on Ratigan's advocacy of the #OWS protests.

Kurtz's panel also included The Washington Post's Dana Milbank and PBS' Terence Smith, who like Holmes thought it was just awful that someone who appears on a "news network" like Ratigan would openly show support for the Wall Street protesters, also defended the firing of Lisa Simeone from NPR for openly advocating for the protesters as well. So much for free speech. James Fallows at The Atlantic has more on that here as well.

They also discussed the AstroTurf "tea party" being openly supported by pundits over at Fox "News", but what was missing here was any mention whatsoever of the fact that CNN was every bit as big of a cheerleader for that "movement" as anyone at Fox was. They sent their reporters to be embedded on their buses and if you had twenty of these people showing up anywhere, there were CNN reporters there to cover it and make sure those protests or town hall meetings made it into the national spotlight.

And what other network besides CNN has allowed the "tea party" to co-host their presidential primary debates? None. But they're going to talk about Fox supporting them as though that happened in a vacuum and their network wasn't participating in propping up that Koch brothers, FreedomWorks, Dick Armey, and friends corporate sponsored fiasco of that as well.

Matt Taibbi responded to the recent dust-up over the hacked emails from himself, Ratigan and others at his Rolling Stone blog here -- Why Rush Limbaugh Is Freaking Out About Occupy Wall Street.

Full transcript below the fold.

KURTZ: The media coverage has intensified since the "Occupy Wall Street" protests have gone global. And there have been more clashes with police. A hundred people arrested last night in Chicago.

But the carping by conservative commentators and surely by some liberal types makes you wonder whether they're looking at the same demonstrators.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: These people -- they're not winning and they're not going to win. They're loons.

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: My Virginia public school education tells me the 99 percent movement is twice as popular as the nut jobs in the Tea Party.

ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS: These communist, Nazi --

BOB BECKEL, FOX NEWS: I haven't called the Tea Party people fascists. BOLLING: -- pot smoking, sex addicted morons. And you compared them to the Tea Party?


KURTZ: Let's keep the debate on this high level, shall we?

Dana Milbank, you went down to the protests here in D.C. When you look at those kinds clips, are the lefty pundits and righty pundits projecting their views on these Wall Street protesters, almost like a war shock test?

MILBANK: I'm insulted you came to me immediately after sex- addicted morons.

But, yes. I mean, they are. This is exactly, look, we're seeing a mirror image of the complaints from the left about the Tea Party and sort of the fueling by FOX News on the right.

Now, we're seeing the exact same thing happen on the other side. The complaints, they're not saying it's Astroturf. They're saying -- they have other insults for it, and we're seeing the same sort of behaviors at MSNBC.

KURTZ: Now, Amy Holmes, you went to the demonstrations in New York. Are the mainstream media treating "Occupy Wall Street" a bit more sympathetically than they did the Tea Party?

HOLMES: I think they are at GBTV, if I can give us a plug, we have been following, you know, who is behind this, who is funding it, where do these beautifully produced, you know, sort of faux newspapers come from. So, I notice that haven't gotten coverage, you see this hodge-podge of leftist causes and posters, seem that don't make sense, people doing some customs and it's pretty right down there, that you don't see any representation or any representative from feminist causes, which surprised me. No wage gap ceiling, not talk about women if they were bankers, maybe Wall Street would be a friend leer place.

And now, we're getting reports of sexual assaults there, and the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters are advising people not to go to the police.

KURTZ: OK. You know, there's a pretty good story in "The Washington Post" this morning about interviewing both Wall Street protesters and Tea Party protesters. But I think the challenge for journalists, Terry, is figuring out what the protesters want because there's no established leadership. And it's easy to focus on a few crazy people with signs or people who are engaging in appropriate behavior. But it's harder to make judgments on the movement as a whole.

SMITH: I think that's right. And actually I think mainstream media were slow to pick up on this story. It is a phenomenon that has gone global.

I went down to the demonstration in Freedom Square here in Washington and looked at this rather benign scene to tell you the truth. But this is -- I mean, this is a phenomenon. And if it's unformed and if the issues are ill-defined, it's still worthy of substantial reporting.

And the commentary will come at it from two directions. But I think it's a phenomenon that will get more attention, not less.

KURTZ: And speaking of mainstream media, some people will actually have some involvement with the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters. One of them is Lisa Simeone, the host of a show called "The World of Opera," that was distributed by National Public Radio. NPR is now dropping distribution of it. It was distributed by someone else. And she had no documentary show she was fired from because Lisa Simeone also serving as an "Occupy Wall Street" spokesperson.

Does that overlap?

HOLMES: Well, two key points here when I read about her getting fired. First, she was fired from the show, not by NPR.

KURTZ: Right.

HOLMES: NPR distributes the show.

KURTZ: Right.

HOLMES: And I think the key point here was because a programming director complained and as someone from the radio world, you listen to your programming directors because they're the ones making decision whether or not you'll be on the air.

Secondly, NPR is in the middle of a fund-raising drive. So, they certainly don't want this when they're asking listeners for money.

KURTZ: On "The Opera Show," Simeone had a great quote. She says, "What is NPR afraid I'll do -- insert a seditious comment into synopsis of Madame Butterfly?"

But on the other hand

MILBANK: That's right. But if that person -- excuse me -- at "The Washington Post" had done the same thing, I think there may have been a similar reaction.

KURTZ: Even if it was a music critic?

MILBANK: Yes, because that's the policy.

And NPR has a big target on it right now because of mistakes they made in the past. So, they overreacted to Juan Williams, they're going to overreact to a lot of things because of the target.

SMITH: You know, it's worth pointing out she was also an anchor on the weekend edition before on NPR. In other words, if you're on an organization that presents news, whether you're doing it that moment or not, steer clear of this sort of thing.

KURTZ: Setting me up for the next question about MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan who has spoken frequently on the air with some sympathy for the Wall Street protesters. Let me show you a clip and we'll have the question on the other side.


DYLAN RATIGAN, MSNBC ANCHOR: I was there after the 700 arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge. And the energy that night at the general assembly that Tim was just talking about was loving and warm and more courageous, more resolute.


KURTZ: So there's some leaked E-mails, Terry, obtained by the conservative side of the government in which Dylan Ratigan is obviously helping to shape the message.

Here's one for him to focus on, simple shared principles and unique strength. And here's another E-mail from another person saying, "Here it is, a statement the group is going to put out with Dylan suggesting revisions the ending needs smoothing out. Is that troubling?

SMITH: Totally inappropriate. Absolutely wrong and not new. Journalists have fallen into the trap of telling politicians how to shape their message, now protesters how to shape their message. It is a big mistake. They shouldn't do it. It is crossing the line.

KURTZ: But this is - you know, it's one thing if you want to go on the air and say, "Look, I have been talking to these people, and here is my advice." This is behind the scenes. It's not something MSNBC would know anything about.

MILBANK: But this is the world we live in now. So I don't think - you may not like it. Nobody should be surprised by it. And this sort of thing goes on. The line has been blurred between activism and between journalism.

I mean, I suppose if we're going to look at gradations and, you know, shades of gray here, it is perhaps better to be fomenting a movement like "Occupy Wall Street" or the Tea Party event actually getting in and helping a political candidate. So -

HOLMES: I think it is very problematic, and Fox had a flare-up where one of their executives was advising the Bush campaign. That person was fired. But we do see -

KURTZ: Advising?

HOLMES: I believe so. There were e-mails going back and forth. What we do see this blurring, and here at CNN, James Carville and Paul Begala, it was reported, were having morning phone conversation with Rahm Emanuel when he was chief of staff.

KURTZ: Which they say were friendly calls, but both of them - look, the people who are outside contributors - they help parties raise money -

HOLMES: You can say that about this host Simeone, that she said she was an independent person with an independent show being distributed by NPR. So why should she have to -

KURTZ: But here in the case of Dylan Ratigan, we have a guy who is a host, who is on everyday at 4:00 in the afternoon, part of MSNBC corporate family, who was involved in E-mails with a group that he is covering.

Would the media coverage - we're running a little short of time here - have been different if this had been a host at Fox News having E-mails with the tea party?

HOLMES: Absolutely. Absolutely.

SMITH: The only defense is that he is commentator, really, and entertainer, not news deliverer, and that's not much of a defense.

HOLMES: But how can you ever hope to have, you know, somebody regarded as fair when he has a politician, someone is running for office, that they're going to have fair sit-downs.

KURTZ: I don't see him as an entertainer at all and I think it is a mistake as well. Amy Holmes, Dana Milbank and Terrence Smith, thanks for stopping by this morning.

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