Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
Muslims and Tea Partiers Protest Big Media
Monday, October 18, 2010
New Yorkers got not one but two vivid reminders Sunday that they live in the nation's media capital when simultaneous rallies took place in Midtown Manhattan, organized by groups that feel wronged in very different ways.
Outside The New York Times building, dozens of Tea Party activists chanted and wielded signs in protest against what they claim is liberal media basis at The Times, CBS, NBC and ABC.
Brent Bozell, head of the conservative Media Research Center, claimed the media portrays the Tea Party as homophobic and racist in order to undermine it.
"This is the tainting of an entire movement," he said. "This the most grassroots operation that I've ever seen in my lifetime. And the suggestion that this is an astroturf, nationally organized organization is completely false."
A few feet away, an Asian-American man tried to pump up his fellow Tea Partiers, leading them in a rallying cry against the media, shouting "Tell the truth! Tell the truth!" One demonstrator, a woman from New Jersey, initially said she worried about the onset of communism in America, but when asked for examples, struggled and deferred to her boyfriend nearby.
Bozell says he thinks media outlets should follow the lead of Fox News, which he claims have more liberal guests than is commonly believed.
At the same time, a smaller set of demonstrators were outside the Fox News studios at Rockefeller Center, protesting the network's coverage of Muslim issues. Protesters were particularly incensed by Bill O'Reilly's comments last week that, "Muslims killed us on 9/11."
O'Reilly made his comments on the ABC program The View, prompting co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg to walk out. On his Web site, O'Reilly said he is not anti-Muslim but believes terrorism has been "committed under the banner of Islam."
"Fox promotes racism. Shut them down!" shouted the demonstrators, who carried a jumble of signs: pro-Muslim, antiwar, anti-Fox, pro-Whoopi.
"I was really offended because it labeled me, as being one of those that did that," said Seemi Ahmed, a self-described housewife. "And the terrorists that did that, we don't even consider them Muslim. Nobody Muslim can do that, because Islam doesn't teach that."
Dr. Shaikh Ubaid, an organizer of the demonstration, says some media outlets help demonize Muslims.
"Jews were demonized, Gypsies were demonized by Hitler," he said. "And what happened in Bosnia, it shows that demonization always leads to mass persecution, even genocide. So we take it very, very seriously because our children are being attacked in schools every day, our mosques are being attacked every day."