After years of speculation, most people including many on the left, now agree that the Occupy Wall Street movement has failed to gain the influence and momentum that it set out to achieve.
When the movement began to stutter, much of it was attributed to relentless attacks from right wing media that portrayed them as lawless vandals, derived from isolated protest incidents that were used to denigrate the wider phenomenon. But closer analysis reveals that much of Occupy’s failure was brought about by their own representatives. Case in point: the cringe-inducing performance of OWS “spokesman” Harrison Schultz on the Sean Hannity Show in early May of 2012.
Right away, Hannity came at him with all the usual anti-OWS talking points:
“[In regards to OWS protesters] — you mean the ones that were having sex in public, doing drugs, defecating on cars, and those around other cities that were actually being violent, breaking store windows, cursing out police, and all that? You mean those guys?”
It was obvious that Schultz hadn’t thought much past his smirkish opening line, thanking Hannity for having a “dirty hippie” such as himself on the show. The quip suggested that Shultz invested way too much thought into his one-liner, leaving himself completely ill-prepared for Hannity’s assault that was soon to follow.
Instead of confronting the incidents that Hannity raised directly and responsibly, Schultz chose to justify them with a bizarre conspiracy theory.
Shultz: “No, those were the people that the NYPD was actually sending down to the park in order to discredit us and make us look bad, and actually gave your network something to focus on.”
The remainder of the segment was a surprising display of amateurism and vague paranoia on the part of Schultz — and Hannity was glowing.
With mounting frustration from the public at Wall Street’s lack of accountability in the financial crisis, many, including voices from left wing media, showed signs of curiosity and support when the first tents started sprouting up in Zuccotti Park. But when signs railing against “Zionist bankers” along with calls to “reinvestigate 9/11” started popping up, it was clear that a disciplined structure of leadership — or vision, was seriously lacking within the movement.
Marginalizing this sort of rhetoric is not a difficult thing to do. But OWS seemed to double-down on this incoherence, and even included a bizarre hint of 9/11 Trutherism in an early list of demands released to the media. Ultimately, no solid attempt to combat the charges, however exaggerated, of veiled anti-Semitism and conspiracy-mongering within its ranks ever really emerged from OWS during its flailing attempts at public relations.
Not long after his public humiliation on the Hannity Show, Schultz appeared on the Kremlin’s international news outlet, Russia Today. While being somewhat fawned over by the news anchor, he seemed to only then be coming to the realization that something had gone horribly wrong on Fox. When asked about his interview with Hannity, Schultz staggered, and then rambled out a confused recount of alleged “traps” that were set for him, along with an Orwellian claim that he was the victim of a “neuro-linguistic programming trick”.
It was clear that Schultz was reeling from his public relations failure on Fox, and how unprepared he was for the job of being the public face of a movement that never formulated a coherent identity.
Watch the full Hannity segment below.