Over the past few days, a content-hungry 24/7 corporate news machine has seized on the sporadic and obviously astroturfed protests by Trump supporters against the quarantine lockdowns imposed by Democratic governors and given them round-the-clock coverage.
In doing so, they have given national prominence to a minuscule group of irresponsible malcontents and agitators that gives the impression that the opposition to commonsense and critically important social distancing rules is both widespread and legitimate when in reality is neither.
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut took to Twitter this evening to slam the media’s obsession with the small groups of heavily armed protestors that have gathered outside of courthouses and governors’ mansions in order to create a spectacle.
Gun toting protesters make a good visual, but it doesn't mean they're news.
But the endless coverage of these protests suggests they aren't fringe, and viewers start to believe a controversy exists which really doesn't. Therefore the media coverage creates a new reality.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) April 20, 2020
While the imagery of trashy looking white folks screaming at nurses about communism and masked-up divorced dads toting AR-15s is poignant and the “look at these irresponsible idiots” narrative is good for clicks, the truth is that the vast majority of Americans are not nihilist extremists who very much appreciate not getting COVID-19 and possibly dying from it.
A Yahoo/YouGov poll released on April 20th showed that 60% of the public oppose the protests while only 22% support them, including a majority of Republicans (47% oppose vs 36% support).
On top of that, 71% of Americans — an extremely rare plurality when it comes to getting this country to agree on anything — are concerned about lifting lockdown procedures too early and forcing the nation back to work before it is safe to do so, as the President and his allies do.
So it’s very important to remember that this tiny group of extremists, many of whom are being organized by groups linked to shadowy right-wing billionaires like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are part of a plan to artificially create the conception of mass protests against quarantine procedures — and the media is predictably falling for it hook, line, and sinker.
A lot of the “liberate” footage is meant to make these events look big.
Here’s what the protest in Ohio today really looks like.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) April 20, 2020
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.