You can’t expect much from local news, with anchors hired primarily for their hair and content intended to titillate mouth-breathers. But on Tuesday night, Tampa’s WTSP 10 mixed up the usual local palette of heroic three-legged dogs and unfilled potholes with coverage of the most important political event of the last year – the Occupy movement. Predictably, understanding the significance of Occupy and presenting it to its viewers in a coherent, balanced manner proved too much for their pretty little heads.
The story that aired last night was focused on Occupy Tampa, and it made no bones about being a "gotcha" attack. The tagline - "Are Occupy Protestor's Hypocrites?" - invites only one answer, and the setup during the show was no more subtle. “They say they want change, but do they practice what they preach? A look into some of the protestor’s own voting records, and some startling results.” The meat of the story is that the station had pulled the voting records of the 22 participants who have been arrested since the beginning of the Tampa Occupation about six weeks ago. Their findings were that of the 22, 64% were registered to vote, about 33% voted in the last presidential election, just under 25% voted in the primary, 15% voted in the 2010 midterm, and less than 10% voted in recent municipal elections.
Leaving aside the issues with sampling, these are objectively not good numbers. As the smug, spray-tanned, pudgy male anchor framed it, “many [Occupiers] may be a bit hypocritical.” But, blinded either by its overt hostility to Occupy (whose motivations we'll get to in a second) or by a more basic inability to see further than the tip of their nose, WTSP’s team failed to put them into any kind of context.