Protesters feed media while remaining cautious

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“You have a point,” Rivera told them. “You have momentum. Don’t let the jerks steal your movement.”

Fox Business Network’s John Stossel was also met by hostile people who shouted profanities at him, and he showed the tape on Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly’s show Tuesday.

“They’re loons,” O’Reilly said.

Even Schultz, a liberal commentator sympathetic to the demonstrators’ cause, had some negative reactions, MSNBC’s Stockwell said.

“Some of them are very angry at the establishment,” he said, “and I think they broad-brush us and put us in with them.”

Banks are the main focus of the demonstrations, CNNMoney’s Pepitone said, but it’s clear some people are upset at the media, too.

“They really do at their core want the media coverage,” she said. “How do they interest people across the country and across the world in their cause? I think they kind of see it as a necessary evil.”

Many protesters prefer to go around the traditional media instead of through it, said Philippa Burgess, a marketer from Los Angeles who was spending several days with the demonstrators to express support. Her favorite “reporter” from the “traditional” media? Jon Stewart of Comedy Central.

There’s a suspicion that mainstream media outlets are out to cover the movement’s fringes because those protesters make good images _ confrontational people or the man holding a sign one day this week: “I love cops who smoke pot.” On Wednesday, people with cameras _ most of them men _ crowded around two women who were naked from the waist up and spray-painted pink and blue.

Burgess said she most valued people spreading stories through social media, or foreign news outlets such as the BBC or Al-Jazeera English. Traditional media outlets “can cover it any way they want to cover it,” she said.

“They can cover the fringe people,” she said. “Even if they just mention it in a news feed it will connect with the collective conscience, with someone who says, `Maybe I should find out more about this.’”

News media paid attention to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations sooner than it did for its ideological opposite, the Tea party, Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said. Mass arrests of demonstrators, and because the movement began in the media hotbed of New York, likely played a role.

Last week, Occupy Wall Street coverage took up 9 percent of the week’s overall media coverage, the project said. That compared with the Tea party’s 7 percent on the week it launched tax day demonstrations in 2009.

Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook spread Occupy Wall Street’s messages. A handful of people often sit at the table under the umbrella with laptops, sending live streams of the demonstration over the Internet. One woman, Bre Lempitz, writes articles about the action for a website.

“I try to write about things objectively,” Lempitz said, “with the understanding that I am part of the movement.”

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