COVID-19 Protests – Genuine or Rent-a-Mob?

by on April 20, 2020 · 10 comments

in Health, Ocean Beach

By Colleen O’Connor

The open secret in politics is that most protests and rallies often look spontaneous and genuine, but are actually bought and paid for.  These “rent-a-mob” activities designed to attract dramatic photo shots, lots of news coverage, social media hits, and propaganda.

Once aired only on the staid nightly news programs, as when the C.I.A. fomented demonstrations to overthrow Mosadddeq, and returned the Shah of Iran to power; these new protests often generate a disproportionate amount of attention.

Who are the protestors?  Where do they come from? Why are they marching?  Decide for yourself.

Look at the photographs.  Study the videos. Who is holding the bull horn?  Who is most vigorously waving the flag in front of the camera? Chanting the loudest. Look at the profile of the crowd.  How many men, women, minorities? Old, young? Affluent or not?

Judge for yourself.  How representative are these demonstrators of San Diegans? And do your own crowd count.

For example, the lead on ABC top news that protests occurred in 5 states over the Covid-19 stay a home orders.

Do the math.  Five states out of 50. Why not 45 states are following the state at home orders or a headline?

Or, the local lead about 200 protestors gathered in downtown San Diego and about 100 marching in Encinitas to open up the beaches.

Lots of top of the fold and lead news stories. But, how representative are they?

Do the math.

There are over 3 million residents in San Diego County. That means over 2.9 million did not protest, but instead sheltered in place to better protect themselves, their families, their neighborhoods the healthcare professional, hospital workers and first responders and staff.

San Diego is a prime example of responsible behavior being overlooked.  Look at your own streets, schools, businesses, hospitals, and empty parks.  Look at those walking with face masks.

Applaud them.

Or just scroll the latest OB Rag photographs of empty spaces and see at the evidentiary photographs of “sheltering in place.”  Again, judge for yourself. That is the best practice of any intelligence gathering.

Yet, who gets the most coverage?  Until recently, it was lopsided. That old press adage, “if it bleeds, it leads,” may now be faltering.

The President excels in inflammatory performance art to dominate most news cycles.

His weekend Tweets shouted “LIBERATE MINNESOTA;” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN”; “LIBERATE VIRGINIA.”  He hoped for huge crowds.

Look at the results.  No great rallies anywhere.  Not very impressive.

Watch for the President to ratchet up his missive of the day, with the low turnout in these “protests” occurring alongside his declining poll numbers.

Protestors against the protestors are ginning up.  Tagging the “free me” sign carriers as “terminally stupid people demanding the right to get infected” is rather spot on.

These negative labels have become mainstream.

After the Governor of Florida opened that states’ beaches, #FloridaMorons hit escape velocity with an hilarious comparison to the 1990s MTV cartoon, Beavis & Butthead (about two teenage morons).

And just yesterday, a photograph of two Colorado healthcare workers, standing silent, dressed in their scrubs, arms folded in the middle of the road, to block anti-lockdown protestors, has surfaced.

It amassed 8 million hits overnight and is probably destined for a Pulitzer.

Thus, the backlash against the “Liberate us” crowd appears better organized and photo-friendly than the Beavis & Butthead assemblies.

Plus, a superhero, to counter to the President of the United States, has emerged. That bespectacled marvel of science, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Predictably, because Fauci continues to garner more favorable coverage than the President and even more trust, he has earned his own backlash hastag. #FireFauci.

However, his fan base generated its own Fauci-fan art ; Tik-Tok; t-shirts, coffee mugs cupcakes, socks, and even a commemorative button that reads, “Thank God the doctor is in.”

Best of all, he has a new Bubble Head doll for sale from the National Bubble Head Hall of Fame and Museum; profits to fund the Covid-19 100 Million Mask challenge.

Can a postage stamp be far behind?   Nobel Prize winner?

Both prizes President Trump has yearned for, but yet to earn.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Toby April 20, 2020 at 2:55 pm

We can always count on Undertaker Trump with the gravedigger GOP to serve as “cheerleaders” for thier supporters to drink the Kool Aide during a pandemic.


Chris April 20, 2020 at 6:07 pm

I think it’s fair to say it’s a combination of both. Amongst the genuine protesters they range from full on MAGA right wing nuts to to others who are just frustrated and others who are truly facing financial ruin. Sadly, those who are facing financial ruin need to come to grips with the fact that this may simply be the cards laid out for them and understand their actions, no matter what financial damage they will incur is does still not justify putting others lives at risk. No matter what, it’s a shitty situation for all of us but some are to come out of it better than others.


Timothy Fitzgerald April 20, 2020 at 10:34 pm

Life has never been fair to everyone. I am 74 and although at risk of covid 19, survived a more virulent respiratory virus in my early 40’s. I was a runner, 20 miles/week which probably saved me. If in my 50’s or older, the bilateral pneumonia and other damage inflicted on me would have likely been fatal. The little league team I managed all came down with chicken pox, highly infectious, ….no vaccine back then. A gremlin in that virus family my culprit most likely. I was thankfully spared…..and no one on the team became seriously ill. What is not fair about that? A young man born on my birthday resides at Ft. Rosecrans with a view of the harbor and our city. He never saw his 21st birthday and also died without his family at his side to comfort him as those succumbing to covid-19 today, yet I am still breathing. We served in the same wartime army. Fair? Protesters, you are still breathing….don’t take it for granted, life might just become truly unfair to you!


Leonard Armstrong April 21, 2020 at 5:10 am

I recall the police response at Chicano Park, the Otay border crossing and the Republican Convention. I guess our Racism meter doesn’t work at the beach?


thequeenisalizard April 21, 2020 at 9:28 am

Conservatives and Republicans when people of color are beaten shot or killed:
“They should just obey authority”.
Conservatives and Republicans when immigrants are put in cells and their children die:
“They should just obey the rules and respect authority”.
Conservatives and Republicans: Staying home affects me now. I don’t believe in authority”.
Assholes all.


Ol OB Hippie April 21, 2020 at 9:31 am

Colleen, appreciate your points here. But I do know from a long-life-time of experience that many protests are definitely NOT rent-a mobs. Since the Vietnam war, I’ve been protesting – even one protest where your sister was the target for not voting in 1972 against the war while she was on the city council. The right always accused – and still do – the left of being in the pockets of (choose one, depending on the era) of the Kremlin, China, the Vietnamese, George Soros.

One of your points is that these recent efforts are being staged by MAGA people, even by white supremacists, which I think is an excellent point. Many of our former protests NEVER made the front page of the Union, and definiely not above the fold. And they’re being encouraged by the man in the white house.


Frank Gormlie April 21, 2020 at 10:26 am

The Maryland governor’s office says there were more media requests to cover anti-lockdown protests than there were protesters.


Frank Gormlie April 22, 2020 at 9:35 am

From Washington Post: The ads on Facebook sounded populist and passionate: “The people are rising up against these insane shutdowns,” they said. “We’re fighting back to demand that our elected officials reopen America.”

But the posts, funded by an initiative called “Convention of States,” were not the product of a grass-roots uprising alone. Instead, they represented one salvo in a wide-ranging and well-financed conservative campaign to undermine restrictions that medical experts say are necessary to contain the coronavirus — but that protesters call overkill and whose economic fallout could damage President Trump’s political prospects.

A network of right-leaning individuals and groups, aided by nimble online outfits, has helped incubate the fervor erupting in state capitals across the country. The activism is often organic and the frustration deeply felt, but it is also being amplified, and in some cases coordinated, by longtime conservative activists, whose robust operations were initially set up with help from Republican megadonors.


Geoff Page April 22, 2020 at 10:25 am

It’s just another terrible example of how regular people allow themselves to be manipulated contrary to their own well being. Obama healthcare for all – Bad. Unions – Bad. Spend our tax dollars to build the wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. Sure, protest the shut downs and open early, the rich people manipulating don’t worry, they are safe behind the walls of mansions but the rest of you can group back up. And die.


sealintheSelkirks April 22, 2020 at 12:21 pm

The extreme right-wing DeVos Family billionaires have been implicated in funding the WI protests. Notice that the hundreds gathered outside the governor’s house all had the same black screen-printed t-shirts? Planned by the billionaires because they NEED more money, right? Let the little people die as they are just ‘useless eaters’ anyway…

And never forget that billionaire Betsy DeVos, our illustrious never-worked-as-a-teacher ‘Education Secretary’ never went to public school, whose children never went to public school, who had NEVER STEPPED FOOT in a public school in her life before Trump elevated her based on her impressive record of…I’m not sure what maybe it was her professed belief in the Rapture…maiden name was PRINCE being the sister of the Mercenary murderer Eric Prince founder of the Blackwater death squads that slaughtered people in Iraq for fun and profit….

There are so many webs the wealthy weave that it’s hard to keep track.



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