It would be hard to fully catalog the incidences of liberal media bias in recent coverage of the so-called “Moral Monday” protest. From wildly inflated estimates of crowd sizes to open solidarity with protesters, the coverage of Moral Monday – from a journalistic standpoint – has been an absolute travesty. However, this morning’s article in the Raleigh News and Observer was so blatantly wrong that I had to chime in.
From the N&O:
The first trial of a “Moral Monday” protester revealed far more than the guilty verdicts that have shaken attorneys and demonstrators still awaiting their court dates.
General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver testified to a murmur of disbelief among the many lawyers attending the Wake County District Court hearing that his 18-officer department had people in this region they labeled “anarchists” and collected intelligence on them.
Weaver did not identify the so-called anarchists, nor did he reveal how many his department considered to fall in that category.
But the chief at the helm of the law enforcement agency that arrested more than 930 people this past summer testified that his officers had scanned the many “Moral Monday” rallies with eyes trained for “anarchists.”
On Monday, Weaver declined to elaborate on what kind of intelligence his department collected on the people he and his officers considered to be “against government.”
This so-called “story” paints Chief Jeff Weaver of the General Assembly Police like some kind of reactionary at the head of a modern-day Red Squad. This is misleading and false. Weaver testified last Friday that he had monitored social-media websites in order to learn more about protests in advance. That should not be very surprising. Police officers are charged with keeping the peace, so it stands to reason that they should want to know if there is any planned violence or disorder before it happens.
Weaver testified that he learned of possible anarchist involvement at Moral Mondays. This, the N&O suggested, is preposterous. But there were anarchists at Moral Mondays. I know because I interviewed a few of them.
This fellow does not seem like the most dangerous person. But he is an anarchist – and he wasn’t the only one.
Certainly no one would allege that Moral Mondays were violent or disorderly. However, several of the groups involved in the protests have historically been disorderly or incited unrest. Take Code Pink for example – the anti-war group become infamous for protesting against Marine recruiters (“war-mongering foreign occupiers”) in Berkeley. They also routinely have members arrested for disrupting congressional hearings and even the State of the Union address.
Another good example is Raleigh FIST – “Fight Imperialism Stand Together.” The Marxist organization, comprised of “revolutionary youth,” has also had dozens of members arrested in various protests that sometimes included disorderly conduct.
In the proper context, it seems clear that Weaver’s precautions were not so ridiculous after all. Of course, the media failed to provide that context.
Here’s another thing the media has failed to mention. Despite the teeth-gnashing about “guilty verdicts that have shaken attorneys and demonstrators,” those protesters volunteered to be arrested. Even Al McSurely, the NAACP attorney in Friday’s trial, said that the whole process was a “minuet, a dance” with the police.
At no point in Friday’s trial did the NAACP claim that their client had not trespassed. They did not deny that he entered the General Assembly, nor that he caused a disruption by singing and chanting at the top of his lungs. They did not deny that he ignored several lawful orders from the police to disperse. By all accounts, this is an open-and-shut case of trespassing, which is why it is dumbfounding that people were expecting that protesters would be acquitted.
In a recent Gallup poll, Americans rated the media as one of the least trustworthy institutions in the country. With stories like this, it’s not hard to see why.