Radical-left protesters outside the G-20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh last week underlined once again that our friends in the news media see no real enemy or extremist to their left. But conservative protests against Team Obama are an ugly sign of incivility, and according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, even impending violence.
HBO talk show host Bill Maher exemplified the liberal-media attitude on his Twitter page on Sept. 24: "Even with a face full of tear gas, these G-20 protesters (are) better looking than the teabaggers."
But there's a big difference between the sea of tens of thousands of conservative protesters in Washington on Sept. 12 and the 3,000 anti-capitalist radicals in Pittsburgh. The tone from the podium in Washington was happy and patriotic, which meant nothing to The Washington Post, which covered it as an outpouring of a "spectrum of conservative anger."
But in Pittsburgh, protesters on Sept. 24 assembled with no permit to march, and destroyed property on their route. On radical Pacifica Radio, they championed a guy calling himself Rev. Billy of the Church of Life After Shopping. He sounded like Nancy Pelosi's nightmare: " Some of us will go to jail today! We will take care of you! We will be there when you get out!" And then this: "Some of us may lose our lives today! We will respect you! You will be our heroes!"
No one heard this rant on national TV.
As usual, network reporters couldn't even place these fringe activists as "liberal," let alone far-left. On "The Early Show" on CBS, viewers could see wacky signs that read "No Bailouts, No Capitalism" and "No Borders, No Banks." But amazingly, reporter Susan Koeppen portrayed them as nonpartisan police ... victims. "Protesters have been hit with a massive police presence," she announced. "During the day, police set off pepper spray, forcing marchers and the media to flee." Koeppen mentioned in passing that the protesters had no permit, but she let the leftists run down the cops. "There is no freedom of speech in this country; there is no right to assemble!" claimed one. "These are all rights that have been violated today!"
Speaking of Nancy Pelosi, her old Democratic primary opponent Cindy Sheehan was outraged at the Pittsburgh police presence as well. She blogged: "Pittsburgh is what a police state looks like! ... We're like ants trying to struggle against anteaters. ... The cops and soldiers should be ashamed of themselves for allowing their selves to be used as tools of the Robber Class 'elites.'"
When Sheehan savaged George Bush, she was the darling of the major media. She was lovingly interviewed by Chris Matthews and he urged her to run for Congress.
In Pittsburgh, she was ignored.
CNN demonstrated a dramatic contrast in protest coverage. For the conservatives on Sept. 12, they found violent radicals. For the leftists on Sept. 24, they found peaceful nonpartisans.
CNN producer Jim Spellman couldn't find a scary nut in Washington on Sept. 12, so he aired canned footage of a man -- somewhere in Michigan -- holding an AK-47 and talking of a possible civil war. This allowed our intrepid CNN correspondent to highlight a "dark undercurrent" poisoning the right: "It's a bit of a dark undercurrent. You have the bulk of the people that are there for low taxes, less government control, but there really is an element that's got these kind of outlandish conspiracy theories about death camps and about the, you know, this takeover, people comparing President Obama to Hitler. That really is a sizable thread. It's not just a couple of people on the edges."
In Pittsburgh, CNN reporter Brian Todd sang from the usual protest songbook, highlighting the "very, very diverse" nature of the protesters: "We're told this is the biggest march in Pittsburgh since the 1970s, estimated at least a few thousand people. But it is much more peaceful, less confrontational. Very, very diverse group of protesters here, everyone from people protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet, to women's rights groups, to anti-capitalists."
Todd interviewed organizer Pete Shell and asked if he worried that anarchists would cause trouble: "I wasn't that concerned about it, because, actually, they have marched with us in the past, and they have been peaceful." Todd said nothing about Shell's website, which touts every radical cause from the "Cuba Solidarity Project" to sympathy for convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. There was no "dark undercurrent" in that interview.
For the record, Speaker Pelosi: In Pittsburgh, there were 3,000 protesters and 200 were arrested. In Washington, D.C., there were reportedly 75,000 protesters. Try to find a report on a single arrest.