Over 100,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin were joined by thousands of other Americans around the country in protest of Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from the state’s unionized workers, but you would not have known any of this if you watched cable news on Saturday as the coverage of the protests ranged from disappointing (MSNBC) to scant (CNN) to non-existent (Fox News).
AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale estimated that the crowd was over 100,000 people before the rally began at 3 PM. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, police estimated the crowd size at around 70,000 three hours before the rally began, “Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the number of protesters around the Capitol is on the scale of last Saturday’s peak crowd of an estimated 68,000 and could swell even more for a 3 p.m. rally.”
Here are some highlights from the protests around the country from Moveon.org:
Hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country march on their governments in an event that would be a perfect fit for the 24 hour cable news cycle. Even better, the protests were occurring during the news cycle dead zone of Saturday afternoon. The coverage should have been everywhere in the media, but if you turned on your television in hopes of watching the rally from Wisconsin live, you were disappointed.
As the official state run television of the Republican Party, Fox News has been openly and loudly supporting Gov. Walker. It is no surprise that the right wing network would ignore the events in Madison and around the country today. A propaganda outlet never spends much time relaying information that is detrimental to their message.
CNN, which is supposed to be the moderate network in the cable news ideological spectrum, sort of thought they should cover the story, so they did a few minute and half live cut ins here and there. No wall to wall coverage of course, but they at least managed to pull themselves away from celebrating the Tea Party long enough to take a quick glance at Madison.
Now we come to MSNBC. Sigh, the so called liberal news network. MSNBC couldn’t be bothered to break away from their Lock Up and Dateline reruns documentary bloc to cover a landmark event that has reunified the left, and is likely to have an impact on the 2012 presidential election.
If there is one network that progressives/liberals thought understood this, it was MSNBC. However MSNBC has never really been overly interested in covering the news, much less live news events on a weekend. If I had a dollar for every time MSNBC has disappointed their viewership by being AWOL when news happens, I’d be a very wealthy man.
All three cable networks share something else in common besides their decision to ignore today’s rallies. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News along with most other forms of media have decided that liberal protests aren’t newsworthy. They believe that the ratings and the money are in the right, not the left. The three cable networks are corporate owned and only for the purpose of profit. They don’t care about journalism or their obligation to inform the public.
This is all about dollars, and the outdated notion that the most profitable way to run a cable news outlet is to be like Fox News, which is why CNN keeps hiring more and more right wingers and has hopped into bed with the Tea Party Express.
There is a deeper bias evident in the case of the Wisconsin rallies. The corporate ownership of these networks, like most businesses, is anti-union. They assume that all of America is also anti-union, and they have conveniently ignored all the polling that shows the American people are behind the protesters in order to rationalize ignoring the protests.
The networks assume that since there is no money to be made by covering the left, America isn’t interested in events like the protests in Madison. At least this is what they tell themselves in order to justify their own biases in filtering out the news. The problem is that when the cable networks stay stuck in their old model and ignore these stories, new media steps up to fill the void, today’s generation of Internet news viewers and tweeters are tomorrow’s would be cable news viewers. If cable news insists on imposing their myopic definition of news, those viewers may not be tuning in.
By focusing on a misguided cash grab, corporate cable news is sowing the seeds of its own stagnation. A protest was held today that was bigger than anything that the Tea Party has ever done, but you wouldn’t know it if you were watching TV. There is something seriously wrong with a news gathering and reporting apparatus that devotes more live coverage to the protests in Egypt than protests in Wisconsin. Egypt was a big story, but the a fight for the very survival of the middle class should not be ignored.
Cable news, your bias is showing.
Image Courtesy of Move On