All Three Networks Hype 'Ugly' Pepper Spray 'Outrage,' Played Down Occupy Crimes
The three network morning shows, which have been mostly ignoring crimes at the Occupy Wall Street protests, hyped the "ugly" and "disturbing" "outrage" of students at the University of California, Davis campus being sprayed with pepper. Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos interviewed the school's chancellor and repeatedly berated her about resigning.
On NBC's Today, Ann Curry warned, "And also this morning, some disturbing video. Take a look at this, two police officers have been placed on administrative leave for using pepper spray on seated protesters at an Occupy demonstration on the campus of a California university." The Today show, as well as GMA made sure to push the protest as "peaceful," but only GMA pointed out that the students had encircled the police.
Today reporter Kristen Dahlgren added, "...As the video spread, so did the outrage."
On CBS's Early Show, guest news anchor Terrell Brown described it as an "ugly incident."
On Good Morning America, reporter Cecilia Vega featured two clips of students complaining about the spraying and just one representative of a police officer defending the university.
Pepper spray victim Sophia Kamran charged, "I think the way they responded shows for them it's about power not about, not about the actual moral implication of their actions."
GMA's Stephanopoulos repeatedly pushed the school's president to resign: "You have resisted calls so far to resign. Are you going to stay?...Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for you to go. Haven't you lost the confidence of the faculty and the students?"
Stephanopoulos openly advocated for the UC Davis protesters, lobbying, "I'm sorry, but we're looking at the video again right now. They're sitting there peacefully. It doesn't appear to be a violent situation."
In contrast, a November 7, 2011 MRC study found that networks ignored radical and troubling aspects os the OWS rallies.
A transcript of Stephanopoulos' interview, which aired at 7:09am EST on November 21, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The leader in the hot seat this morning, the chancellor of UC Davis, Linda Katehi. Thank you for joining us this morning, Chancellor. You have resisted calls so far to resign. Are you going to stay?
LINDA KATEHI (Chancellor, UC Davis): Yes. In fact, our university in such a critical position and I really want to work with the members of our community, with the students, the staff and faculty to take our institution out of this crisis and move forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, the faculty board- association board has called for your resignation. Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for you to go. Haven't you lost the confidence of the faculty and the students?
KATEHI: The faculty- We have also the faculty center- the greater faculty body has- I'm working of course to interact with them. I really feel confident that at this point the university needs me as there are so many critical issues to be addressed and we really need to start the healing process and move forward. There are so many things we need to learn about the horrible incidents and- we need to really spend time trying to understand what happened and move on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one of the- excuse me, one of the arguments that the faculty association board was made has made is that given that violence was used at protesters at the UC Berkley campus last week, you should have foreseen an action like this.
KATEHI: Well, our campus have seen [sic] an unrest for the last two and a half weeks and that has been building up. I don't want to say, of course, that there were- it was a difficult decision for the campus to really try to make sure that the students are safe. Whenever incidents like this happen, the biggest, the most critical issue for us is the safety of the students who are using the campus facilities, who really want to learn in this environment. And the situation that was building up was becoming a concern for us, the members of the community. So, um, the decision was not to necessarily disperse the demonstration but to dismantle the equipment for the equipment for the encampment. And there was an effort for many, many days to work with the students-
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Chancellor, you say you were concerned- Excuse me. I'm sorry, but we're looking at the video again right now. They're sitting there peacefully. It doesn't appear to be a violent situation.
KATEHI: Exactly. This video is horrible if- What it shows is really very appalling for all of us and really shows a face for the university that we don't have. So, it's very critical for us right now to really understand what's happened and try to make the appropriate corrections so this really does not happen again.
— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.