CNN's Rick Sanchez Insists Cindy Sheehan is Still Newsworthy

Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor; Maria Cardona, Democratic Strategist; & Rich Galen, Democratic Strategist | NewsBusters.orgOn Monday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez tried to justify that Cindy Sheehan is still worth covering, as the unrelenting left-wing activist recently protested near the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush. When Republican strategist Rich Galen advised that she should stop protesting and that the press ignore her, Sanchez went out of his way to find an angle for covering her.

Sanchez brought on Galen and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona to discuss the Sheehan protest during the bottom half of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He first asked Cardona, “Should she [Sheehan] let it go?” The strategist answered by putting her cause in the wider context of all the parents of servicemen who were killed during the Iraq war. When she concluded her answer by asking rhetorically, “who are we to say yes or no” to Sheehan, Galen jumped in and replied, “I can say yes or no. The answer’s no, I’m afraid.”

The CNN anchor immediately asked the Republican strategist for an explanation. Galen succinctly answered that “she did the camp-out when the president went to...Crawford. That ran out of gas. People quit covering her....I’m just saying that at some point, you have to- the press corps has to say, you know what, this is just a woman who’s looking for a new way to make news on an- on an unbelievably sad but old story- enough.”

Sanchez countered with proposing a possible angle of continuing to cover her: “What about the fact that some of the neighbors are saying she should go back to wherever she came from? I mean, some of them said some things that were maybe not hostile, but very direct....It’s just an ugly situation all the way around, isn’t it?” When Galen insisted that “if she was bringing, you know, disorder to my neighborhood, I’d say get out, go somewhere else” and that “nobody’s changing a vote because of Cindy Sheehan,” the anchor continued with his earlier point: “Still, though- I mean, when she shows up and the camera shows up and the people start protesting back, you got a controversy and a conflict, and that makes for a news story.”

The transcript of the relevant portion of Sanchez’s panel discussion with Galen and Cardona, which began 44 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour of Wednesday’s Newsroom program:

RICK SANCHEZ: Meanwhile, let’s talk about this- having your son die in a war that you now believe was unnecessary is a justification for protesting your government, right? But is it justification of a continued protest of a former president? Here’s why I’m saying this- Cindy Sheehan believes that it is- there she is. She’s protested consistently, as you know, during the Bush years, even camping out at his ranch several times. But within the hour, Cindy Sheehan is going to be protesting the former president again. This time, she’s going to do it near his home in Dallas, his new digs, and his neighbors are not at all happy about this.

Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Republican strategist Rich Galen are good enough to join us now for their take on this. Maria, should she let it go?

MARIA CARDONA: You know, that’s a very tough thing to say to somebody who lost her son in Iraq, who is somebody, unfortunately, whose experience is not- is not alone. A lot of- a lot of mothers and fathers have lost their children in Iraq, and it is very tough for her to let this go. To her, President Bush will always be the reason that her son died, and- you know, whether she’s correct or not- you know, this is something that has become very personal. I don’t think that it’s a policy issue for her now. I don’t think that it is- it is anything else other than a very personal issue. She blames President Bush for, you know, the fact that her son is gone and nothing that happens is going to bring him back. I don’t know- you know, I don’t know if she should continue doing that, but, you know, who are we to say yes or no?

SANCHEZ: Hey, Rich- Rich? Let me-

CARDONA: But it’s just very sad.

RICH GALEN: I am- I am. I can say yes or no. The answer’s no, I’m afraid.

SANCHEZ: Why? Why no? Why no?

GALEN: Well, enough already. I mean, she- she did the camp-out when- when the president went to Camp David- to Crawford. That ran out of gas. People quit covering her. So she packed up and went home. She ran against Nancy Pelosi in the Democratic primary for U.S. Congress. She was obviously embarrassed doing that. I mean, here’s the woman-

SANCHEZ: Yeah, she was just as hard- she was just as hard on some of the Democrats as she was on the Republicans.

GALEN: I’m- I’m just saying that at some point, you have to- the press corps has to say, you know what, this is just a woman who’s looking for a new way to make news on an- on an unbelievably sad but old story- enough.

SANCHEZ: What about- what about the fact that some of the neighbors are saying she should go back to wherever she came from? I mean, some of them said some things that were maybe not hostile, but very direct-

GALEN: If she was- if she was [unintelligible]-

SANCHEZ: It’s just an ugly situation all the way around, isn’t it?

GALEN: Well, but if she was- you know, she was bringing, you know, disorder to my neighborhood, I’d say get out, go somewhere else. Don’t come around here.

SANCHEZ: Isn’t that why- why people in that neighborhood originally had said in private, for the most part, that they didn’t want the president to move in there?

GALEN: No. I’m from Dallas, and I don’t remember anybody saying that at all.

SANCHEZ: Come on! Maria? (laughs)

CARDONA: You know, as long as she’s not breaking any laws- you know, this is what’s so fabulous about this country. She has the right to speak out, and, you know, fortunately, she feels like this is something that she needs to continue to speak out on-

SANCHEZ: Yeah-

CARDONA: Unfortunately, I think for Republicans, it’s going to continue to remind Americans the fact that this war was so ill-conceived.

SANCHEZ: Let’s- I want-

GALEN: Nobody’s- nobody’s changing a vote because of Cindy Sheehan.

SANCHEZ: Right- I know. I understand that. Still, though- I mean, when she shows up and the camera shows up-

CARDONA: Yeah.

SANCHEZ: And the people start protesting back, you got a controversy and a conflict, and that makes for a news story.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center