Dissecting Spin 101 and Parsing Ezra Levant on Occupy Toronto

Here’s a quick lesson on the human microphone.  Because voice amplification in public spaces is banned in New York, where Occupy Wall Street (#ows) began, the large crowds attending have adapted by breaking speeches into short phrases, which those near the speaker repeat loudly, then those further away, and so on, so that the words can carry to the full extent of the crowd.  Canadian counterparts to #ows have adopted the practice partly in solidarity and partly so that attendees are well versed in the technique as crowds grow.

It’s not hard to find this info — it’s in the Urban Dictionary, on Wikipedia, #ows participants and commentators are discussing it and give lessons throughout their coverage, and reports back have noted it.

So now, you know more than crackerjack columnists at SunTV about #ows and the Occupy movement.

I tried to let Ezra Levant know.  Really, I did. Multiple times, in an avenue he’s regularly replied to me before.  John Robson, too.

Okay, I was snarky.  But even so I can only assume that he consciously chooses to leave his viewers uninformed when he continues to rant about how attendees of Occupy Toronto will “just repeat everything anyone says,” on his program on SunTV.  Since my tweets, he’s continued to spin Toronto’s use of the human microphone as evidence of cult mentality.  He’s had an American quack therapist (perhaps Canadian standards make it more difficult for a television station to hire a Keith Ablow) on since then to take this and run with it, talking about mind control and saying that people at the rally are both victims of and perpetuating left-wing “psychological warfare.”  Charles Adler and other Sun Media commentators have since followed his lead on this.

My personal favorite is when he talks about the crowd having a hive mind in almost the same breath that he uses to criticize the movement for not having a singular message.

Any “Spin 101″ lesson would need to look at how deliberate omission can be used to manipulate an audience.  He did this with the “Occupy Calgary is asking for condoms” meme, as well.  What he was referring to was a “wants list” that was generated after the Calgary camp was given a list of items they needed for their first aid kits.  It was actually a friend of ours who added it to the list, after being instructed to by EMS.  But instead of asking questions, it’s more convenient to just spin it.   Omissions are everything.

This also explains the footage Levant has been showing of his trip to Occupy Toronto, and the “17 clips” he selected:

YouTube user thehhammer provides us with the footage Ezra didn’t show, through the magic of video editing, so we can compare and contrast:

The Canadian Journalism Project and J-Source note:

That culminating incident came after Levant asked one man, who… had already told Levant he was cleaning the public outhouses and who was clearly wearing plastic gloves (though the Sun camera cut this part of the frame off), whether he thought he was too good to work at McDonald’s…The Sun’s clip didn’t include the crowd asking Levant if he’d work at McDonald’s, or the man asking him if he’d like to do a McDonald’s job and help him clean the overflowing outhouses — all of which lead to the chant, which he suggested came out of nowhere.

The magic of video editing, and of showing viewers only the things you can portray as loony.

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  1. Ezra Levant is the Glenn Beck of Canada. There is almost no value in even taking what he says seriously enough to dispute it were it not for the size of the audience who follows him, unfortunately.

  2. I disagree,
    He wishes he was the Glenn Beck of Canada. Glenn had a kind of appeal to the really sad and scared portion of the US population.
    Ezra on the other hand has no appeal to anyone and is trying to identify with those who he has rarely met and never mixed with. His antics in a hard hat showed just how out of his social circle his role at FNN requires him to be. It’s like watching a “silver spoon” trying to be one of the guys and tell how he wa broke once because daddy cut off his trust fund.

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