No sign in the 'Times' - Madison, WI, Feb. 19 2011

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Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary/Contentions

In 2009 and 2010 the New York Times covered protests against the Obama administration’s stimulus spending bill and health care plan as the barely legal revolt of an unwashed and uncivil band of reactionaries determined not only to halt what the paper considered progress but also to thwart democracy. But anyone looking at the Times’ front page article on Saturday describing protests against the effort by Wisconsin’s newly elected governor and legislature to balance the state’s books got a very different view of a protest movement.

According to the Times, the activities of the Wisconsin public sector unions — whose expensive benefits have put their state on the brink of bankruptcy — are nothing less than the moral equivalent of the demonstrations in Tunisia that brought down an authoritarian dictatorship.

[ . . . ]

First, the portrayal of the unions and their Democratic Party allies, who have attempted not so much to defeat the Republican program but to prevent the legislature from even meeting to vote, as the progressive movement that represents the will of the people is absurd. This fight is about the will of the people but it is the public sector unions and the Democrats who are trying to thwart that will.

[ . . . ]

The Times’ flattering portrait of the protesters

ignores  unionists and Democratic Party activists

comparing Governor Walker to Adolf Hitler

and the Republicans to Nazis

Second, and just as important for those who watch the media, the Times’ flattering portrait of the protesters ignores the extremist and violent rhetoric that has characterized the union demonstrators. As we noted Friday, unionists and the Democratic Party activists who have been bused in to help them have compared Governor Walker to Adolf Hitler and the Republicans to Nazis, as this video illustrates. Yet the Times has ignored that aspect of the story even though such rhetoric and demonstrators’ signs were the focus of much of their coverage of Tea Party protests. One can only conclude that in the liberal universe of the New York Times, left-wing union protesters are judged by a very different standard than the one they employ to report and editorialize about the conservatives of the Tea Party.

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