“It’s been more than a bit surreal watching the media grapple with Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots, Ad Age‘s Simon Dumenco wrote on 10.24. “A month ago you could tell that many big media organizations were kind of hoping, or at least expecting, that the movement would quickly fade away.

In a 9.23 piece titled “Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim,” N.Y. Times “Big City” columnist Ginia Bellafante zoomed right in on the flakiest protesters she could find and then made fun of them (with precise aim), starting with a takedown, in her very first sentence, of ‘a half-naked woman who called herself Zuni Tikka.’

“She went on: “A blonde with a marked likeness to Joni Mitchell and a seemingly even stronger wish to burrow through the space-time continuum and hunker down in 1968, Ms. Tikka had taken off all but her cotton underwear and was dancing on the north side of Zuccotti Park.”

“Elsewhere, Bellafante criticized ‘the group’s lack of cohesion and its apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it knowledgably.’ (The columnist had actually telegraphed her intention to belittle and dismiss Occupy Wall Street in a tweet two days earlier: ‘The Wall Street protesters: passion, pizza, horns, toplessness. I fear favorable tax treatment of private equities will continue unimpeded.’)

“Fast forward to Oct. 8 [when] The New York Times editorial board pointedly endorsed the movement and its inchoate rage: ‘It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself.’

“And on Oct. 16, when op-ed columnist Paul Krugman wrote of the early ‘contemptuous dismissal’ of Occupy Wall Street, it almost could be read as a rebuke of what the Times itself had been engaging in just a few weeks earlier.

The New York Times ultimately had no choice but to take the Occupy movement seriously because it’s gained astonishing momentum in record time — the Washington Post tallied Occupy-themed protests in at least 900 cities around the world so far — and it’s become politically mainstream.

“According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, New York City voters say they agree with the views of the Wall Street protesters by a 67% to 23% margin. And a national Time magazine poll says that the Occupy movement is twice as popular as the Tea Party movement (with favorable ratings of 54% vs. 27%).”