NY Times Skips Inconvenient Facts to Insist on 'Peaceful,' 'Nonviolent' Nature of Wisconsin Protests

The New York Times took pains over the weekend to emphasize the nonviolent nature of the ongoing pro-union protests in Madison, over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's plan to limit collective bargaining for government unions and increase the amount they pay for their health care and pension plans.

From Monday's report by Richard Oppel in Madison on Wisconsin state authorities capitulating to protester demands they be allowed to remain overnight in the Capitol:


Union leaders say one of the strengths of the demonstrations has been that despite harsh language and personal attacks directed at Mr. Walker, the protesters had been loud but nonviolent.

As the 4 p.m. deadline passed, a large number of demonstrators left, but at least several hundred chose to remain behind, mostly on the second floor. The police were not letting anybody else inside, and people who went downstairs were not allowed to return upstairs. But otherwise they stood by as demonstrators chanted slogans like "Peaceful protests! Peaceful protests!" and "The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!"

A Sunday report by Oppel and Timothy Williams included this paragraph:

Although the Wisconsin protests have been peaceful, they have also reflected a strong personal dislike for Mr. Walker, who was elected in November, and many of the placards criticized his relationship with Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankroll conservative causes and Republican campaigns, including Mr. Walker's race. "We will not tolerate Koch heads in Wisconsin," one said.

"A strong personal dislike for Mr. Walker"? That's putting it very mildly.

The print edition of the Times has made only glancing mention of the inflammatory signs (captured by the Wisconsin Republican Party and featured on the paper's political blog) brandished by union supporters at the Capitol comparing Gov. Walker to Hitler or putting his face in crosshairs. The Times failed to show similar discretion when it uncovered the occasional objectionable Tea Party sign during much larger rallies that took place over several months.

Here's another story on Wisconsin violence the Times has so far avoided, as posted on Mediaite early Sunday evening: "Fox News Reporter Gets Hit While WI Protesters Scream 'Fox News Lies.'" Fox News reporter Mike Tobin was surrounded during a live report Sunday afternoon. According to Mediaite:

As some of the protesters eagerly tried to block the camera shot, the picture then switched away from Tobin out on the street to inside the Capitol building. Tobin's voiceover continued as he exclaimed "a guy just hit me."

So much for those "peaceful," "nonviolent" protests.

- Clay Waters is director of Times Watch. You can follow him on Twitter.