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Are We Ignoring Occupy Wall Street's Radicalism?

OWS Protesters
Getty Images | Spencer Platt
OWS Protesters

Are the media ignoring the radicalism of Occupy Wall Street?

That's what Julia A. Seymour of Newsbusters, which is an organization dedicated to "Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias," writes in a recent blog post.

Protester complaints reported by The New York Times ranged from the absurd: "I want to get rid of the combustion engine," (a man named John McKibben said) to the genuinely sad: "[I am] extremely disappointed and angry that I have no future," 22-year-old student Sid Gurung told the Times.

But the socialist cry for "a more equal economy" and government handouts that seem to be the overwhelming theme of the protests which have been livestreamed online from "Global Revolution." Despite that, national newspapers and the three broadcast networks have ignored or downplayed the left-wing extremism of the protests by focusing instead on the camaraderie and "street-fair" like feeling of protests.

The Business & Media Institute analyzed coverage in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and on ABC, CBS and NBC and found that out of 44 newspaper stories about the protests only eight used any of the following words to describe the protests or protesters: liberal, left-wing, radical, extreme, communist, socialist, anarchist, revolutionary or progressive.

The 25 network broadcast reports on the protests didn't use any of them, although one report did quote a protester who declared: "This is the beginning of the people's revolution." Two additional reports suggested that without a leader the "rage" of the protests might turn to "revolution." Opinion pieces and stories that mentioned the protests but were focused on other topics were not included in the analysis.

So is Seymour right?

Well, first of all, there definitely are radicals here. There are anarchists, socialists and at least one guy with a Soviet flag.

But most people at Occupy Wall Street are not radicals, as far as I can tell. They definitely tend to be left of center. They want a more responsive political system and an economy that works better for non-wealthy Americans. They are concerned about jobs, wages and debt — hardly radical concerns in these times.

What’s more, at least here at CNBC.com, we cannot be accused of ignoring the genuine political views of the people. We’ve been running our Speaker’s Corner this week to allow the views of those at Occupy Wall Street to come through, unfiltered, uncensored and live. You can judge for yourself if the people here are engaged in “extreme leftism.”

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