On a Sunday evening in August four summers ago the NBC Nightly News devoted its “In Depth” segment to how Cindy Sheehan was “single-handedly bringing the Iraq debate to Mr. Bush’s doorstep” with her protest in Crawford, Texas. But Sunday night this year, after Sheehan departed Martha's Vineyard without earning any network media coverage as President Barack Obama's wrapped up his vacation there, NBC's Ron Allen began a story: “Hours before President Obama's vacation ended, he treated his girls to ice cream and candy -- the kind of family time the President said he had in mind for the week on Martha's Vineyard. A chance, friends say, to renew himself.”
A week ago, a MRC Media Reality Check asked: “Will Nets Note Sheehan's Anti-Obama Protest? Media Embraced Cindy Sheehan's Anti-Bush Push in 2005; ABC Anchor Now Says: 'Enough Already.'” (NB posting) The answer: No. Though she spent four days on the island and held an event on Thursday right next to the media set up in the Oak Bluffs School, her anti-Obama efforts were ignored by all the networks (cable too) as well as major newspapers.
“Sheehan is using the backdrop of a presidential vacation to make her pitch for peace. It's an effective way to get her anti-war protests attention, she said,” in contrast to the reality of media indifference, the Cape Cod Times proposed in a short Friday story, “Peace activist protests on Vineyard,” in which reporter George Brennan relayed how Sheehan announced: “'We're here to make the wars unpopular again,' Sheehan said. 'If we were right to call them wrong under Bush, we're still right to call them wrong under Obama.'” (Picture of Sheehan's protest.)
She may be consistent, but the media are not. On Friday morning, MSNBC anchor Carlos Watson didn't mention Sheehan, but highlighted how Barack Obama's “taking flack for bicycling without a helmet.”
On MSNBC's “First Read” blog on Friday, Alicia Jennings related: “Sheehan said that she's opposing Obama the same way she opposed George W. Bush. 'The facade has changed but policies remain the same,' she told reporters. 'Integrity in our movement means we have to do same for Obama as we did for Bush.'”
Sad to say, Sheehan has more integrity than the news media.
The AP gave Sheehan four paragraphs, the last from Glen Johnson: “During the Bush presidency, Sheehan and her corps of anti-war protesters lined up near Bush's ranch to protest the war and to honor the memory of her son. It eventually became something of a media circus.”
ABC, CBS and NBC all covered Sheehan -- but only on their Web sites. In addition to MSNBC's “First Read” entry quoted above, the “Political Punch” blog on ABCNews.com had a post by Karen Travers: ”Cindy Sheehan Brings Anti-War, Anti-Obama Message to Martha's Vineyard.”