Protests continue in Los Cabos, Mexico, during the G20 summit of world leaders, though learning of these demonstrations—especially if one lives within the United States—is quite a difficult task for consumers of the establishment media.
On Monday, activists unfurled a giant “one trillion dollar” bill to represent the money given in fossil fuel subsidies every year, and the group Avaaz.org says it collected more than 750,000 signatures for a petition calling for a shift to renewable energy.
But rather than discussing environmental policies or austerity measures, NBC’s Chuck Todd obsessed endlessly over the body language between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Obama.
“Body language experts are going to have a field day interpreting this Obama-Putin joint statement,” Todd tweeted Monday.
However, unwilling to leave that analysis to the experts, Todd took his own thoughts to the airwaves the following day to participate in a segment on MSNBC devoted entirely to the body language between the two leaders.
Todd wasn’t alone in this superficial coverage. CBS News breathlessly reported about the little “shared eye contact” between Putin and Obama, and lamented that they two men did not “appear to express much personal warmth following a two-hour meeting.”
The AP reported that the leaders “hardly looked at each other,” and yes, “shared little eye contact,” before adding that aides say the media shouldn’t draw conclusions from the “chilly body language,” but, oh well, here’s 500 words about it anyway.
Superficial media coverage during the G20 summit becomes all the more glaringly wasteful when considering the real, substantial stories unfolding in a country where there is widespread, severe poverty, underscored by the presence of the twenty richest economies in the world. According to the country’s National Council of Social Development Policy Evaluation (Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social, CONEVAL), as much as 44.2 percent of the Mexican population (over 49 million people) live below the poverty line.
It’s these issues of mass poverty, inequality and policies threatening the environment that have brought protesters from all over the world to Mexico.
Lacy MacAuley, an Occupy DC activist currently at the People’s Summit in La Paz, Mexico, said La Paz is the closest activists can get to the G20 Summit because Los Cabos is under such heavy security:
“No one can travel to or from Cabo unless they are a documented Cabo resident. They have even closed the schools and hospitals. I’ve heard a story from a woman whose pregnant family member in Cabo was told that the hospital would not even be open if she were to give birth during the summit. They were lucky: The baby was born last week. This is just another example of how the G20 acts with total disregard for everyday people—they make decisions behind closed doors that impact all of us, decisions that serve the corporate elite of the world, and leave the rest of us out. We need to build our own solutions to the crises of the world, and move beyond big institutions like the G20.”