The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JEN­NIFER HARPER

Gone are the of­ten spon­ta­neous po­lit­i­cal ral­lies of yore, when hip­pies and their ilk sim­ply hit the streets for a cause. The up­com­ing March For Our Lives ral­lies planned around the na­tion in re­sponse to the Park­land school shoot­ing last month are metic­u­lously or­ga­nized, bear care­fully cal­i­brated mes­sages and boast vig­or­ous so­cial me­dia. They also are strate­gi­cally funded. Close to 500 of th­ese marches are set for March 24, and many will re­ceive fi­nan­cial help from a ma­jor gun con­trol ac­tivist group — at the rate of $5,000 for each event.

A mega-march will take place in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. There will also be a mul­ti­tude of “sib­ling marches” in all 50 states ac­cord­ing to Every­town for Gun Safety, an or­ga­ni­za­tion pri­mar­ily un­der­writ­ten with funds from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The group has al­ready raised over $3 mil­lion to fund the Washington march.

“Every­town is pro­vid­ing struc­tural sup­port for or­ganic lo­cal marches planned in com­mu­ni­ties of all sizes across the na­tion,” the group said Tues­day. “Every­town pre­vi­ously an­nounced $2.5 mil­lion in grants to pro­vide 500 or­ga­niz­ers with re­sources of $5,000 per march for as­so­ci­ated op­er­a­tional ex­penses. So far, over 400 lo­cal marches have been planned by stu­dents and sur­vivors in com­mu­ni­ties big and small.”

The group is mon­i­tor­ing an ad­di­tional 100 marches overseas. The grand to­tal at the mo­ment is 482 events “world­wide” in the U.S., along with Bri­tain, Spain, Italy, In­dia, Viet­nam, Ja­pan, Chile, Aus­tralia and other na­tions.

The group also is rais­ing money for the marches through clearly branded mer­chan­dise — a hall­mark of con­tem­po­rary protest ac­tions. There’s a hand­some “March Merch” col­lec­tion of shirts and hood­ies em­bla­zoned with the March For Our Lives logo, rang­ing in price from $25 to $31.

We will see you in the streets,” the group ad­vises buy­ers.

Out of 712 eval­u­a­tive com­ments made on the air, only 65 were pos­i­tive, or 9 per­cent. The rest — 647 com­ments — were neg­a­tive, amount­ing to 91 per­cent. The on­go­ing Rus­sia col­lu­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion was the lead­ing topic of choice, fol­lowed by im­mi­gra­tion is­sues, the re­cent gov­ern­ment shut­down, and the White House re­sponse to the Park­land school shoot­ing.

Through­out Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, the an­a­lysts also found that 63 per­cent of news cov­er­age was de­voted to scan­dals — and just 37 per­cent to pol­icy is­sues.

“The re­sults are es­sen­tially un­changed from the 90 per­cent neg­a­tive cov­er­age we doc­u­mented for all of 2017, and matches the 91 per­cent neg­a­tive cov­er­age we tal­lied dur­ing the 2016 gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign,” said lead an­a­lyst Rich Noyes. “With­out ques­tion, no pres­i­dent has ever been on the re­ceiv­ing end of such hos­tile cov­er­age, for such a sus­tained pe­riod of time, as has Trump — and the midterm elec­tions are still eight months away.” Time marches on, though. “The fed­eral gov­ern­ment spent $146 mil­lion on the Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts in fis­cal 2017,” Mr. Jef­frey points out. “Pres­i­dent Trump’s fis­cal 2018 bud­get pro­posal, sent to Congress in March 2017, called for elim­i­nat­ing fed­eral fund­ing for the NEA, start­ing by slash­ing its fund­ing to just $29 mil­lion in this fis­cal year.”

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