To my knowledge, only one story regarding the ongoing Wall Street protests appeared last week in The New York Times, and it was the sort of snarky, condescending dispatch you might expect from a Republican legislative staffer, not from a reporter for a daily. Here’s Ginia Bellafante’s lead paragraph:
By late morning on Wednesday, Occupy Wall Street, a noble but fractured and airy movement of rightly frustrated young people, had a default ambassador in a half-naked woman who called herself Zuni Tikka. A blonde with a marked likeness to Joni Mitchell and a seemingly even stronger wish to burrow through the space-time continuum and hunker down in 1968, Ms. Tikka had taken off all but her cotton underwear and was dancing on the north side of Zuccotti Park, facing Liberty Street, just west of Broadway. Tourists stopped to take pictures; cops smiled, and the insidiously favorable tax treatment of private equity and hedge-fund managers was looking as though it would endure.
Bellafante’s account is sketchy, to put it mildly. Throughout the Sept. 23 piece, she describes the crowds in the park and in the marches as smaller than the participants reported and dwindling by the day. She quotes a few random goofballs instead of the many knowledgeable people on the scene who could have articulated the protesters’ grievances. She assures us that those involved in this first real sign of a backlash against the Wall Street crooks who crashed the economy are practitioners of “pantomime progressivism.”
Shades of Tom Wolfe, but without the wit or the sense of history. I couldn’t help wondering if Bellafante has ever been hungry or homeless, or even slept outdoors. If she was ever arrested and locked in a shitty smelling cell, or shot with Mace or pepper spray, or clubbed over the head, thrown to the ground and held in place by a cop pressing his boot to her face.
You know, the sorts of things that happened to those silly protesters after Bellafante went back to her desk in the comfortable Times building.
Maybe Bellafante should be reassigned to the fashion section, where she might do less harm. Not likely. I’ll bet she was high-fived by her way-cool colleagues for writing such a fashionably snide article.
Footnote: The above post corrects an earlier version that referred to Bellafante as a reporter. It turns out she’s a columnist, which means the Times ran no “hard news” stories last week about the protests.
FYI: Bellafante seems a good example of what Will Bunch referred to when he suggested mainstream reporters would rather file a negative story than seem “unsavvy” — i.e., in sympathy with causes or groups of people who are deemed uncool or out of fashion.