Shaping the Narrative of Protests in Rhode Island
Look, we all know that the news media tilts its coverage to favor progressives and Democrats. It’s really beyond dispute at this point. If their work weren’t evidence enough, we see it when they move on in their career to become government communications officials and we see it with absolute clarity in their Twitter streams. Still, it’s remarkable to see it in action.
Take a typical article covering a conservative or Republican event — in this case, the recent pro-Trump boat parade — by Laura Damon in the Providence Journal. The article actually stood out for comparative integrity, compared with WPRI’s Jacqui Gomersall. Although Gomersall’s article has since been changed, it originally stated that only dozens of boats participated, whereas Damon reported the official number at around 300, with thousands watching from the shore. Damon also presents comments from some of the participants in the rally.
But… of course… she also sought out and quoted a couple of anti-Trump spectators in the area, one of whom has “a broad smile and light sense of humor,” which she contrasts with a quote about “the ugliness of what [Trump] stands for.” Damon goes farther, using a quotations and clothing from the pro-Trump participants as justification for getting in a political jab at the president related to QAnon. The other anti-Trump person in the article has a Black Lives Matter sign and accuses the rally goers of telling her to go home “among other unsavory things.”
Contrast this with Madeline List’s Providence Journal article about the Black Lives Matter action on Federal Hill on August 24, when a marching crowd stopped in the middle of DePasquale Square on Federal Hill, stopped traffic, and berated outdoor diners. The spectators she interviews are all sympathetic. She reports that one “woman became incensed, standing up from her table to yell at the demonstrators that they were being disrespectful and inappropriate,” but List doesn’t bother to get her name or ask her to elaborate. “The protesters did not back down, and the woman left with her family shortly thereafter.” Meanwhile, List manages to find a drive who actually appreciates the opportunity to be inconvenienced.
Once again, however, Rhode Islanders are fortunate to have John DePetro filling out the massive gaps from the mainstream media. Thirty seconds into his Facebook Live video from the event, we can apparently watch Madeline List (in the red oval) look at a man with his dog shouting out in opposition to the protesters (in the blue oval) and decide not to interview him. In fact, she subsequently moves a few steps away, as if the additional space justified not including the man in her article.
(Note that John later identified List in the video and made explicit that the man in purple was criticizing the protesters, some of whom “taunted” him.)
DePetro also has clips showing some of the aggression toward the people whose meal the mob was disrupting.
Granted, media bias has gotten so bad in recent years that this is a very mild example, but it’s arguably more important for that reason. Every article on every subject involves these little tweaks to change the way people understand what’s going on in the world. At the boat rally of thousands, two people in opposition are quoted and described favorably, while an outside expert is brought in to warn about a group that had nothing to do with the event. At the BLM action of hundreds, the mainstream journalist chooses not to give voice to anybody with a different view.
The social justice journalists want conservatives to feel like those with whom they are aligned are “unsavory,” while the other side is not threatening. And they want others to feel like everybody else believes the same things they do.