BART Recruits Loyal Riders For Scripted Support At News Conference

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Bay Area Rapid Transit’s media-management policies are in the spotlight again following a report in the Bay Citizen  that the agency tried to recruit loyal riders and give them a script to read at a press conference ahead of a planned protest on August 11th.

The idea was reportedly to have the riders speak positively about BART, and against the protests, in order to sway public opinion in BART’s favor as it faced criticism over the shooting death by BART police of a homeless man at the Civic Center Station in July.

The plan, according to the Bay Citizen, was thought of by spokesman Linton Johnson, who also took credit for shutting down cell phone service that same day.

In the emails sent to staff, Johnson apparently wrote that BART needed to get a large group of loyal riders to participate in the news conference. He also suggested hiring cars to ferry the customers to and from the news conference, in case the protests delayed them.

BART spokesman Jim Allison told the website this week that the agency called riders who had themselves previously called BART in support of its actions. However, only one person agreed to come to the press conference, and no one quoted him.

CBS 5 spoke with BART board president Bob Franklin, who said BART should not provide the media with supporters, nor pay for their transportation. “This is not the type of tactic that I support,” said Franklin.

The transit agency has been hit with weekly protests over the fatal shooting and the interruption of cell phone service.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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  • jasonl

    Before people think the wonderful self centered protesters have lots of support check any face book page on the protests, we hate them, and wish they would go away, (or for bart pd and sfpd) to do their job and protect our right to travel freely

  • Lisa Z.

    To you boring self-centered pathetic protesters…here’s the deal with or without BART’s nudging…the public doesn’t care about your supposed “cause”. You with all of your hot air have offered no REAL solutions… I heard some guy Christoph (sp?) on KPFA speaking the other day…I really tried to hear what he and his little group had to offer in the way of solutions…even when the commentator asked him “What is your solution?” He had NO answer other than: “We want to see BART police disbanded”…ok dumb ass …and then what…he states “Well, after that it’s up to BART what they want to do with the situation”. I was laughing saying…well then there ya go. You want to take a situation and undo something only to hand it back to the people who’s decisions you oppose in the first place. Wow, what a brilliant plan. Yawn!! I hear the protesters yell about homelessness…ok, then why aren’t you really deep down in the trenches trying to help them…hands on (doing REAL work) rather than prancing around with stupid signs. You protester are beyond boring.

  • Sam Mallory

    why would anyone care about these fools. They are the ones causing the problem. Let the people travel and stop being clowns.

  • bhf

    Wow, I thought I would have something to say, but everyone has said it so well already. Let the trains run!!!!!!!!!

  • Tomtom10

    Ill second @bhf. These protestors should consider the way they are using their time and maybe have second thoughts. If they have this much time on their hands they should use it for something productive, not just annoying everyone trying to get home from work and making a scene for themselves.

  • Earnhardt

    You’ve got to be kidding me-it’s so transrpaetnly clear now!

  • aablkn

    rQX27f ffgluhrgejta

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