On August 25, the Mirror published an article on a protest against Gov. Lamont by anti-maskers that essentially consisted of a one-sided disparaging of them. The rest of the media essentially followed suit. I was saddened to see that not one word in the article was devoted to interviewing a protester, in order to understand their point of view. Instead, I was left to have to guess at why they were angry. Way to “throw it down the middle” news media!
The coverage involved characterizing how responsible all the individuals were at the roundtable discussion, and how their conscientious efforts to save everyone from the plague had to be cut short because of unhinged protesters. Most of the media, like the “news” anchors on the barely news local TV stations, portrayed the protestors as crazy nut jobs.
Seeing some of the video coverage included in the article, I was shocked and dismayed by the actions of a small number of confrontational people who swore at the governor when he left the meeting, including those with small children in tow (one child even yelling at him herself). Not that the media should accept any blame for glorifying all the nasty, vulgar, and violent protests it covers that it thinks are good and just like Antifa, etc. It’s no wonder that people feel entitled to cross the lines of decency (of which there don’t seem to be any legitimate, objective, nonpartisan lines left). Decency? That’s for uncool people.
On September 5, the newly-owned Hartford Courant (which now raises revenue via ubiquitous click-bait while cutting cost by reducing the number of journalists) also ran an article on this protest, as well as another one in Hartford that was attended by about 100 people entitled “The anger stage: Frustration mounts as anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers get loud while those following the rules watch gains against COVID-19 erode.” To their credit, the Courant did include a 35-word quote from one protester (2% of the article) who essentially said “we shouldn’t have to do this” without being asked why or any other information. That’s understandable – why waste time talking to cuckoos?
As is the unfortunate current reality of today’s polarized media, the Courant took the non-journalist ethic but tried-and-true political tactic of destroying the character of these ideological opponents – in this case by interviewing a neuro-science professor at Yale University who studies cognitive disorders and who described those undergoing prolonged stress as losing prefrontal neurons needed to regulate anger: “If you have weaker pre-frontal, you are unable to regulate yourself and you act out of anger in ways that can be destructive.” There you go – certifiable scientific evidence that these protesters may not only look like nut jobs but are in fact nut-jobs. Hmmm… how many times have there been “media-approved” protests with neuro-scientists interviewed rather than the protesters point of view? None that I recall.
In case you weren’t convinced by a Yale scientist, the Courant was eager to report all the bad behavior by this relatively “small minority of residents” protesting in Hartford on August 28. Included in the article was reporting that one woman argued with a police officer (that’s bad! … unless you want to defund the police), while some shouted and fired insults amongst themselves, one carried a “shove the vaccine” banner, but the group brightened and applauded passing crude anti-Biden/Harris flags. Clearly these people are not normal and not worth talking to.
As Lamont said after his disrupted meeting: “I’m not sure me sitting down and having a conversation is going to move some of these folks…the anger was visceral.” As much as I understand Lamont’s negative reaction to the swearing, etc. a politician should not occupy the kitchen if the heat cannot be tolerated and sit down with protesters to learn more about why they are angry and protesting. Politicians represent all constituents and time should be spent learning more about their issues.
I’m not saying I agree with these protesters. Frankly it’s kind of hard to agree when I don’t know what exactly their position is. But what is unfortunate is that here in Connecticut, we are so solidly blue that no one will say anything about a double standard. The Republicans are just as scaredy-pants of public criticism as the Democrats — perhaps more so since it appears they will be in the minority here forever.
This example is just another reason to shed the affiliation of which ever major party you may belong to and become a political independent. Please remember that it is harder to think objectively and fairly when you already identify with a party/group position. To state the obvious, decisions need to be made objectively rather than because the party/organization says so to benefit itself. But alas, the developments of the last several years have shown a rise in the number of people that actually think there is no such thing as objectivity or even truth a.k.a. post-modernism.
Alan Calandro is a lifelong Independent and the former Director of the General Assembly’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis and a former Chief of Staff for administration and finance at the University of Connecticut.