Yesterday, the Associated Press published a confusing article about the left's role in Occupy Wall Street. Entitled, "Occupy Movement Accepts Modest Help From the Left," the piece begins by showcasing how liberal groups have assisted in propping up and fueling the protests.
But about 14 paragraphs in, the article seems to backtrack on the left's involvement -- or, at the least, it seems to diminish the role of leftist groups. Here are some portions that stake claim to the fact that the left is embedded in the movement:
...from the start, the movement has also gotten support from a long list of experienced, well-funded organizations, unions and political committees - sometimes to the discomfort of more radical protesters who worry about their message being co-opted or watered down.
After an initial hesitation to get involved, unions from Boston to Los Angeles have sent members to march in the demonstrations and donate air mattresses, food and other supplies. In Oakland, unions representing teachers and government workers are encouraging members to take a day off from work to march with protesters Wednesday.
MoveOn.org, a group that has given millions to liberal Democrats, has promoted the demonstrations relentlessly on its Web site and in blast emails.
These accounts are surely true, as unions and groups like MoveOn.org, have promoted the protests incessantly. From supplies to physical space, organizations and labor groups that typically align themselves with the Democratic Party, have afforded support to the Occupiers.
Here's a screen shot of the MoveOn.org web site, where you can count how many times, for yourself, the word "Wall Street" is mentioned:
And here's another screen shot, this time from the Service Employees International Union (SEUI) web site, where you'll see (top right) a pledge that the group is promoting for members to visit an Occupy event:
These are just two examples. Yesterday, the Blaze's Mike Opelka published a starting post on the connections between various leftist groups and figures and the Occupy movement. He wrote:
The Blaze has presented details on the people inside the OWS movement as well as those believed to be supporting it with money, material goods (sleeping bags, non-perishable foods, etc.), organizational skills, and even storage space. We have named names from the White House to the American Nazi Party, we have shown connections to several unions (like SEIU, UFT, and TWU) and pointed out the organizers like the Working Families Party and ACORN.
Below, see an advertisement for Occupy that was put together by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO):
And here's a brief clip of a nurse who traveled all the way from Nevada from National Nurses United (a union) to support the movement. The woman, named "Maria," says that her union wants a single-payer health care system:
The AP continues, in a sense corroborating what the Blaze and other outlets have been saying about leftist support:
When Occupy Wall Street needed an established nonprofit group to help handle incoming donations, which have now topped $500,000, they turned to the Alliance for Global Justice, an entity originally founded in 1979 to build support for the communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
The National Lawyers Guild, whose members have been representing dissenters, peaceniks, and civil-rights activists since 1937, has set up Occupy legal hotlines in 19 cities and been representing protesters arrested across the country.
Even the unofficial newspaper of the New York encampment, The Occupy Wall Street Journal, didn't simply spring organically from the protesters' base in Zuccotti Park; it is a special edition of the Indypendent, an alternative newspaper that has been publishing for 11 years.
All this considered, the AP takes some U-turns within the same article. After quoting some protesters who are skeptical about unions and the Democratic Party and just before continuing to build a case for leftist support, one paragraph reads:
Today, the group that has now occupied a city park for six weeks shows few signs that it is allowing outside organizations a substantial role in planning its marches, making decisions, or deciding what issues to embrace. But it has also turned to a network of left-leaning organizations for help, some of which have been around since before most of the protesters were born.
This paragraph, alone, is confusing. While the AP is claiming that these groups aren't taking the lead, the wire service admits that the Occupiers have turned to the left for support. While there's certainly a difference between leading and supporting, it's hard to imagine that those associated with these groups haven't taken some sort of role in organizing and providing leadership service to the movement.
But it gets even more muddled. After half of the piece shows an inherit connection between leftist groups and the movement, the article continues (emphasis added):
All of this support by outside groups has become a rallying point by the movement's critics, who have accused it being manipulated behind the scenes by government worker unions trying to keep taxes high, or by Democrats trying to use the "class warfare" card in upcoming elections, or by community organizing groups trying to drum up support for government entitlement programs.
If that's happening, there is scant evidence in Occupy Wall Street's daily organizational meetings, where the demonstrators seem to focus a substantial amount of time and energy on the logistics of keeping the camp running and building an organization. Much of the assistance provided has been more inspirational than operational.
More "inspirational than operational?" At the end of the day, the protesters need sleeping bags, food and supplies. Without these elements, the movement would wane. Regardless of whether groups are providing funds, storage, food, supplies or anything else for that matter, their support is necessary to sustain the viability of the movement.
In New York, unions have provided bodies to protest (as has been the case in other cities as well). The collective media power of these groups also must be brought into the fold and considered. When unions are sending newspapers and leaflets to their members touting extremely supportive messages and pinning the 1 percent against the 99, it's safe to say that the Occupiers are receiving some free and useful PR.
Dismissing these important factors as mere "inspiration" is haphazard and potentially journalistically unsound. Rather than diminishing the role of the left, the AP, along with other outlets, would be smart to be honest about these ever-growing connections.