Reporter Survives Near-Death Experience: A Night at Occupy Wall Street

Seven full weeks after the Occupy Wall Street began, the New York Post—which has become increasingly crazed in its condemnations of the OWS protesters—finally dispatched a reporter to "Zoo-cotti Park" to observe the "animals" in their native habitat. Somehow she lived to tell about it.

Reporter Candace Giove, who seems to have accepted some protips from O.G. Posterchild of paranoia-and-invective Andrea Peyser, braves the elements to provide a harrowing account of a night in what's "quickly becoming one of the most dangerous places in New York City" (especially for anyone allergic to pepper spray). She shares an overcrowded tent with "an anarchist, a sexual-assault victim, two security-force members, a girl dressed like the devil," and a scary kitten named "Anarkitty." All around are more anarchists, knee-crushing squatters, filthy vagrant-scented mattresses, and Canadians. What do Canadians care about America's income disparity? Oh, right: they're probably visiting the park to rape.

Because raping is apparently all that OWS do nowadays, when they're not smoking corporate cigarettes or drinking Kombucha, or helping themselves to all the condoms. Zuccotti, Giove concludes, has become "a sliver of madness, rife with sex attacks, robberies and vigilante justice." (Hopefully the Post bought extra insurance before sending her down there.)

To be clear, we have no interest in making light of anyone's victimization. It's no laughing matter that Zuccotti has been the scene of sexual assault, and it's tragic that protesters believed it was necessary to set up a segregated tent to protect women protesters from harassment and sexual abuse. But the Post has an agenda to discredit the protesters as much as possible, and the sensationalistic angle of Giove's article only feeds into it. Out-of-control pooping and fornicating didn't shock the masses into demanding the protest's end or drive everyone away, so maybe upping the volume on "the criminal elements" will provoke a more outraged and/or frightened response.

As has been true from the outset, it's hard to tell whether any of the crime taking place in or around Zuccotti has anything to do with the protesters themselves, or is more crime than usual for the area. This is partly because the Post has come to refer to anyone spotted near Zuccotti who is not a cop or a Hipstercop as a "protester." Take the paper's coverage of the other night's incident involving Fisika Bezabeh, a 27-year-old accused of throwing a credit-card reader at some counter workers at the nearby McDonald's. The Post identified Bezabeh as an OWS protester without providing any evidence that he was. In her piece, Giove says she witnesses protesters trying to manage a Bezabeh-created "situation." Doesn't mean the guy is an actual protest participant—it just means he's there. Still: VIOLENCE! CRIME! MAYHEM!

In related, New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin wrote an unflattering column about the Post in which he criticizes it for demonizing OWS protesters and being plum lazy. "[T]he people you thought would be first to tell the country all about this are news people. But they have stayed seated in the office," he writes. "These desks in a warm office save some newsmen from going out to the site where they would have to get cold and push through the crowds of protesters. That is work—and they are not so busy at that." Guess Candace Giove has showed him.

[New York Post, New York Daily News. Image via AP]