The ABC owned and operated KGO-TV opened its 11 p.m. newscast last Sunday with anchor Dan Ashley oohing and ahhing and gesticulating over how horrendous Monday morning’s commute might be following the breakdown of negotiations between BART and its workers. Turn the volume down and you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between Ashley reporting the president had been shot or news someone had inadvertently outed the Ron Burgundy wannabe for wearing a ridiculous toupee on air for the past two years.
Veteran reporter Debora Villalon was on the scene later doing a remote at outside the negotiating room. The talks were off, she reported, but not before adding union officials “stormed out” of negotiations. They stormed out and presumably turned over tables and punched walls. This kind of heavily slanted reporting from the local corporate news media is nothing new when it comes to stifling dissent. Just ask Occupy Oakland protesters how the corporate suits lied to create the perception those band of revolutionaries were hostile to the interest of the common person, when they were not
With various labor unions all inching toward rising up in the Bay Area, and all at once, the rich folks are getting nervous. Cue the demonization of public employees. Specifically, those lazy, unappreciative, already high-on-the-hog workers looking for an additional handout on the public’s dime.
Of course, the mighty progressive The Nation cuts through the minutiae with a buzz saw. Here it offers a snapshot of corporate media’s anti-worker headlines:
“BART strike has transit, commuters scrambling,” “BART Strike Hits Commuters; No Word On Service Resumption,” “BART strike: Commuters find creative ways to get to work,” “BART strike: What are my commute options?”
In all of these instances, the striking workers are presented as a nefarious force fixated on disrupting other workers’ commute for… some reason. Probably greedy motives. Usually, these kinds of articles open with a profile of some poor unsuspecting sucker who can’t figure out how they’re going to get to and from work because of the evil BART employees.
Aside from the San Francisco Examiner, which has been avuncular and fair in reporting the nascent BART strike, the rest of the lot have merely aimed to stoke anger against workers.
Now, either all of these workers are greedy demons, or they have valid grievances and striking is their only means of recourse. It’s one thing for commuters to be angry about the strike. After all, it’s a natural human impulse to lose the ability to empathize once one is inconvenienced, but when the media joins in on the mob mentality, it skews the story into an unfair depiction of striking workers as history’s greatest monsters.
The impulse to villianize workers is another sign of a societal divide between those who run our buses and trains and teach our children and the people who believe organizing in the workplace and going on strike isn’t something for them. Movements like the BART strike shouldn’t make us question why workers would struggle for a living wage—they should make us wonder why this kind of organizing isn’t happening everywhere.
Instead, the vox publica has its mind scrambled by the corporate media message against workers which eventually leads to those same souls openly pursuing policies against their own economic interests and unwittingly advocating for a collective race to the bottom.
Thank you for your support, says the rich, here’s your crumbs.