Already Abused by Cop, DA and Court, Occupy Protester Now Trashed by NY’s Leading Paper
When a journalist in a news article refers to a woman as “strident,” you know what you’re reading is a hit piece, not a dispassionate report, and that’s what the New York Times offered up to readers in today’s piece about a court appearance yesterday by Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan.
The Times reporter, Monique O. Madan, as a professional journalist, surely knows that the meaning of “strident” is, as the Oxford English Dictionary says, “loud, harsh and grating” and that it implies the slanted presentation of a point of view in an “unpleasantly forceful way.” If she somehow didn’t know this, her editors certainly do, and yet they were okay with her disparaging and loaded word choice.
Supposedly Madan was writing a news report on McMillan’s appearance in a Manhattan criminal court on a misdemeanor charge of “obstructing governmental administration.” This related to an incident in 2013 in which she allegedly advised two people being ordered to show their identification to a Transit Police officer in the Union Square subway station that they did not have to comply.
Madan referred to McMillan as a “cause célèbre” because of her earlier arrest at a March 2012 rally in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park commemorating the months-long Occupy Wall Street action that had begun six months earlier in September, 2011. McMillan, in that earlier arrest, had been charged with second degree felony assault of a police officer and, following a trial earlier this year, was convicted and sentenced to three months in jail at Rikers Island plus five year’s probation.
Not mentioned by the reporter was the reality that McMillan’s fame and notoriety is deserved (she received thousands of letters of support from around the world, and even a supportive jailhouse visit by two recently freed members of the celebrated Russian protest rock group Pussy Riot). Not only was McMillan grotesquely overcharged by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. She was also treated by both prosecutor and judge throughout the trial as though she were a dangerous menace, not even being granted bail after the verdict was rendered and she was awaiting her sentence hearing (a courtesy routinely granted to first offenders and to the powerful and well-to-do). The reporter might also have noted that, once convicted, McMillan’s incredibly short felony sentence (the charge carried a maximum term of seven years!) and her subsequent release from jail after serving just under two months’ time at Rikers, probably rank among the shortest punishments for someone convicted of “felony assault” of a cop in the history of US jurisprudence.