Matters Of The Streets And Social Media

The impromptu late night demonstration outside the Washington DC home of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was all over the media map this week (commentary as well as reporting). The event itself, as well as any media coverage (commentary or reporting), embodies the current socio-economic condition of American culture (political, economic and social). Some reporting of this particular event placed it in line with other such spontaneous “restaurant” protests (where various political leaders have been held to account while sitting down to enjoy a meal. Foodies will claim that everyone is entitled to enjoy a good meal). Analysis finds two of the many reports or commentaries available to further underscore American culture: Protesters Target Home Of Fox News Tucker Carlson by Ashraf Khalil for AP and Anti-Fascist Protesters Target Fox News’ Tucker Carlson At His Home by Antonia Blumberg appearing in the Huffington Post. Both are from the same date, 11-8-18. The contemporary “online” account of the Huffington Post favors the personal, social media oriented emphasis – “Police responded Wednesday night when anti-fascist activists showed up at the Washington, D.C., home of Tucker Carlson and began banging on the door and shouting threats like, “We know where you sleep at night.” The Fox News host wasn’t home and neither were any of his four children. But his wife was there and quickly locked herself in the pantry and called 911.” “Carlson has drawn criticism for his rhetoric on immigration, for routinely promoting vitriol toward Democrats, for defending nationalism and more. The host is well aware of the animosity of his critics. He recently complained he can’t eat at most D.C. restaurants because people frequently yell insults at him. “I don’t feel threatened, but having someone scream ‘Fuck you!’ at a restaurant, it just wrecks your meal,” he said on a National Review podcast.” and various online, social media only related responses and activities. The traditional AP account stressed what used to be referred to as an objective and factual event – “Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department reported that officers were summoned to Carlson’s home Wednesday evening and found about 20 protesters and a commonly used anarchy symbol spray-painted on the driveway. A brief video posted on social media by a group calling itself “Smash Racism DC” shows people standing outside a darkened home and chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night.” [which rhymes]” “The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that they welcome and support all expressions of free speech and First Amendment rights but that “defacing private property” is an obvious violation.” as well as responses by various named individuals. Both reports gave the official Fox News statement. The difference in the two accounts highlights the distinction between “the streets” and online social media as contested places for the exercise of democracy, freedom and the exchange of ideas. We are all familiar with the POTUS dominant reliance of social media to intimidate, and its outcome. “The streets” have always been an open though un-secured environment (“They were threatening my family to get me to stop talking.” Carlson who “called in to talk with substitute host Brian Kilmeade.” and capitalize on the event). Which leaves the unanswered question – which is more civil, “the streets” or social media? Analysis uncovers the unspoken but even more pressing concern of civil discourse within the framework of public private partnerships. Given that Fox News is a de facto privatized ministry of information for the current administration (indeed many of the people working for the administration are from Fox, and vice versa), how can such an institution be politically confronted and held accountable within a civil landscape that gives legal precedence to the private (“”defacing private property” is an obvious violation.”). In Newark, how would, rather, how could one politically dissent or hold to account the policies of Grow Licking County? Demonstrations in front of the Licking Chamber of Commerce headquarters would be disparaged as a replication of the Carlson encounter. Ditto for any civil acts of protest towards policies or actions taken at the Canal Market, the Ice Rink, LC Transit or even JobsOhio. Analysis finds the split between “the streets” and social media to underscore the androgynous nature of public private institutions where accountability is forever deferred. Who benefits from the vast financial influx of tax payer funds? Who is ultimately responsible for the failed  transportation network in Newark? Are these matters of “the streets” or of social media?

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