Transcript: Thom Hartmann: Journalists Enter at your own Risk. 15 November '11
When former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wanted to clear Tahrir Square of demonstrators who had been camped out for weeks there, he went after them - he did this [images of horsemen chasing protesters].
But late last night - when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to break up the Occupy Wall Street encampment shortly after 1a.m. - he made sure that he didn’t make that same mistake that Mubarak made - he ordered a complete media blackout of his raid, his police, military style, frankly, police operation into Zuccotti Park.
Whatever the police intended to do to the patriots camped out there for nearly two months - billionaire Bloomberg did not want the press to see.
So today - we can assume that there weren’t any camels or whips in Zuccotti Park last night - but that’s about it.
Roadways to the park were blocked off to stop any news trucks from surrounding the police crackdown.
Air traffic above Zuccotti Park was closed to prevent the news choppers from hovering above.
And there've been several reports of reporters being turned away from the park - and a few were even beaten by the police - and arrested.
A reporter, for example, with the Village Voice told police she was press - and the police responded, "Not tonight." As in, what, 'not tonight, we've suspended the first amendment'? 'Not tonight, there's no press'? 'Not tonight'?
A New York Post reporter was put in a chokehold.
Numerous members of the press had their NYPD-issued press badges - these were issued by the police department to say, 'yes, you really are the press' - had them confiscated by the NYPD during the raid.
A Mother Jones reporter was violently shoved out of the park when he tried to take video of a man being carried away on a stretcher.
Two reporters with the Associated Press - and one with the Daily News - were arrested among others.
During the raid - when police noticed someone tweeting or photographing with a phone camera - they immediately seized them and threw them out of the park.
The intentions of the NYPD during the raid were clear - no information going in - no information coming out.
As a reporter with the New York Observer said - he - as well as reporters from CNBC, NBC, CBS, the Wall Street Journal, and Reuters - were all blocked from viewing this raid by mayor Bloomberg's police department.
And despite this unprecedented media blackout - are any of the major news networks reporting in detail on that blackout?
The answer's simply 'no'.
That tells you everything you need to know about corporate-owned media, 1 percent income reporters, and so-called "news" organizations that don't want to lose access to people like the billionaire mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg. Don;t want to upset the mayor.
Speaking of Bloomberg, he defend the police raid last night by saying Zuccotti Park had become a fire hazard and a sanitation threat.
And as for why he didn't let journalists in - he said this:
The Police Department routinely keeps members of the press off to the side when they are in the middle of a police action. It’s to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect the members of the press who have the same rights as everybody else, and we have to provide protection and we’ve done exactly that, sir.
We have to protect the members of the press by, this is incredible, we've done exactly that by shoving protestors out of the area - put them in chokeholds - and arresting them.
I mean, some of these reporters have been embedded in Iraq - I don't think they need protection from Occupy Wall Street.
Apparently, if anything - they need protection from Bloomberg's police department, which might be a little jacked up by the fact that they recently took $4.6 million as a "donation" from Wall Street's Jamie Diamond and his JP Morgan Chase bank right down the street there on Wall Street.
As we saw what happened back in 2008 to journalist Amy Goodman at the Republican National Convention - our increasingly militarized police departments have a history of beating reporters and shutting down the media: [video]
And so it happened again last night.
But with no media there, we don't know for sure what happened.
There are reports that upwards of 200 people were arrested in the raid.
There were reports that riot-gear clad police beat people with batons - including New York city-council member Rodriguez, who was bleeding out of his head when the police took him into custody.
There were reports that the police deployed tear gas - and even used sound cannons to disperse the crowds.
Who knows what else happened in Zuccotti Park last night - but we know one thing for sure.
Not only was Occupy Wall Street shut down - at least temporarily - but our democracy died a little last night too.
Our Constitution only specifically names only one industry...and that's the Press.
It's the Fourth Estate of our democracy.
Without an independent and free press - there is no transparency in government.
And without transparency in government - there is no democracy.
Occupy Wall Street will live on - and grow stronger - as it has after each and every police crackdown.
But last night - when Billionaire Bloomberg's police officers beat and arrested journalists - and enforced a media blackout on their midnight raid - our democracy suffered a wound that tragically, will take a long, long time to heal.
That's The Big Picture.