Steve Kornacki points out on Salon that the Quinnipiac poll, which asks, “Is your opinion of the Occupy Wall Street Movement favorable, unfavorable or haven’t you heard enough about it,” generates a largely negative response, while the CNN poll, which asks, “do you agree with the overall positions of Occupy Wall Street,” generates a largely positive response.
Well, yes, of course.
But, considering the successes of the movement in changing the national political dialogue back towards the economy, and now the broad spectrum – at least geographically – that the movement currently exhibits, who is to blame for the negative associations? Certainly, I’ve spent a lot of time writing words blaming the protesters themselves for their lack of savvy when it comes to public image, but I only really know New York’s folks, and while I could extrapolate that to the rest of the country, I doubt that everywhere is reacting the same and consisting of the same people. Clearly Oakland is not St. Louis.
I suspect that the case is still a pre-determined hack job by the Republican-led media outlets, who have decided from the start to portray the protestors as neo-hippies at best and bomb-chucking anarchists at worst. In that stead, Kornacki’s conclusion that “it might be a good idea for OWS to at least consider the ‘declare victory and go home‘ strategy” may not be the best idea in terms of paving the way for future demonstrations.
I mean, at the start I was already suggesting they do just that, but now the protest has simultaneously gone on too long and yet not long enough. To fire off a simple, resonant message, they’ve dawdled at the podium too long, yet, they haven’t been there long enough in the sense that, while the ball is indeed rolling, no lasting changes have been made or even promised.
What they need now is leadership: Something to give what is clearly a grassroots movement that has clearly struck a chord some cohesion and thus ability to deal with basic message hijacking and worse. It’s nice that they’re able to shrug the drawbacks of representatives in that the personal foibles of a leader can be attacked, but there is no decisive, unified stance against every little pin that a clearly hostile media has decided to poke them with.
That isn’t to say that the government or the Democratic party have fared much better: In reaction to the bleating of the Republican press that government is wasteful by making a fantastic – if completely untrue – soundbyte out of $16 muffins during a conference (fomenting images in the public eye of secret government projects hidden by budgets filled with $400 hammers, tho even that was merely bullshit from byzantine budget processes, as any procurement secretary can tell you), the Justice Department spent two years cobbling together an exhaustive – if completely moot – case that it had done no such thing. The turn-around time on that was simply too long, and the lies continued (and continue) unabated.
So, the question is, should the movement back down because it gets bad press? No. It will always get bad press. That’s the job of the media we have now. It and all other movements will get bad press. You can’t hide from that, and backing down now will present a bad precedent for future events. The movement should only back down if it finds it impossible to achieve any further goals, and I’m not entirely convinced that is yet the case.
In the meantime, maybe one of those committees they keep forming can work on media relations, perhaps?