At about 4:40pm EDT this afternoon on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell marveled at how Venezuela, “perhaps with a bit of a sense of irony,” has offered assistance despite the call by Pat Robertson, whom she identified as a “colleague” of the Bush administration, for the assassination of Venezuela's President. Chris Matthews soon piped up about how “we often argue about states' rights and the need to reduce the size of the federal government, yet in a crisis, it's the federal government which has the resources, the money, the manpower, the personpower I should say, to do the job.”
Mitchell contended FEMA was ineffective until Bill Clinton became President and was going well until a second Bush took over the White House. She contended that “since the Clinton days,” FEMA has shown “that it can move very effectively,” but “we've seen also, post-9/11, that federal disaster assistance and coordination was sorely lacking.” She also wanted to know “how much the National Guard deployments from around the region to Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world has depleted the resources that were available?”
As I reported here yesterday, a Washington Post/ABC News poll suggesting that all of the attention on antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan has had absolutely no effect on America’s views on Iraq appeared to be buried by the Post’s editors. Well, this observation not only panned out, but became even more curious when the story hit this morning’s print edition with a completely different headline, and a thoroughly different focus. And, it appears that the Post has eliminated the story originally posted at its website yesterday at 7 AM eastern time.
Harlingen, Texas, August 30, 2005: The Miami Herald had another Abu Ghraib story this past Saturday. In an Associated Press article by Charles J. Hanley, the headline announced, “Abu Ghraib general describes her Iraq tour”
The article’s opening paragraph reads, “Iraqi prisoners could lift their doors right off their hinges. One senior sergeant whiled away his evenings blasting grazing sheep with a guard tower machine gun. U. S. commanders didn’t bother telling their troops they’d be stuck in Iraq for months more than advertised.”
It next goes on to explain that the only woman commanding general in the war zone, prison chief Janis Karpinski, has written a candid portrait of an often dysfunctional Army.
This was printed in one of those major daily newspapers that so proudly proclaim they support the men and women in uniform. If they are so supportive, why are stories on the degradation of prisoners in Abu Ghraib featured in print over and over again, and the heroic exploits of those in uniform seldom reported?
As Brit Hume pointed out in his FOX News broadcast today, the NY Times reported that the President said protesters like Cindy Sheehan were weakening the United States and emboldening terrorists. Here's NY Times writer, Elisabeth Bumiller's, direct quote:
"Mr. Bush has been careful not to go on a direct attack against a publicly grieving mother like Ms. Sheehan, and has pointed out that he met with her once already, in 2004, and that he has sympathy for her and her right to protest. Still, he said last week that protesters like her were weakening the United States and emboldening terrorists, and vowed that he would not immediately withdraw all American troops from Iraq, as she has demanded."
A just-released Washington Post/ABC News poll strongly suggests that American attitudes toward the war in Iraq have not been changed by the recent activities and exorbitant press coverage surrounding new anti-war idol Cindy Sheehan:
The survey also suggests, however, that Sheehan's anti-war vigil has failed to mobilize large numbers of Americans against the war. If anything, her opposition has done as much to drive up support for the war as ignite opponents, the survey found.
Eight in 10 Americans--including overwhelming majorities of Democrats, Republicans and political independents--say Sheehan's protest has had no impact on their attitudes toward Iraq. While one in 10 say she has made them less likely to support the war, the same proportion say she has made them more likely to back the conflict.
Yet, what is peculiar about this release is its absence from today’s Washington Post print edition. The results were posted at the WaPo website at 7:00AM eastern time, and, conceivably were given to the editors too late to make this morning’s paper. However, one wonders if these numbers had shown huge movements in public opinion as a result of Cindy and Company’s protests if this would have been headline news today. Moreover, it shall be interesting to watch how prominently these numbers are displayed in tomorrow’s paper if at all.
Matching NBC and MSNBC stories from last Thursday, on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show over the weekend, Matthews touted Cindy Sheehan as representing a “tipping point” on Iraq analogous to Walter Cronkite’s 1968 on-air lecture about Vietnam. Matthews set up his lead topic: “Next stop, Saigon? This month a watershed moment of defeatism over Iraq. Senators are getting quiet and polls are sinking. Then a tipping point [footage of Cindy Sheehan]. An anti-war mother of a fallen soldier becomes an emblem of anger and national frustration. It reminds many of another clear tipping point from another war." Matthews then played a clip from Cronkite. On last Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, Carl Quintanilla trumpeted how Sheehan has “dominated headlines, mobilized protesters” and made “it safe, her supporters say, to voice doubts about the war, just as Walter Cronkite did on the Evening News in 1968.”
Today the Washington Post's Peter Carlson "celebrates" the 10th anniversary of The Weekly Standard magazine, puckishly noting that it "is a truly excellent right-wing warmongering magazine, no matter what your political persuasion might be."
Carlson unearths a bit of prescient "warmongering" to demonstrate the WS's reach: "Without a doubt, the most important idea yet advanced by the Standard came in the essay 'Saddam Must Go,' written by Kristol and Robert Kagan and published in November 1997. The idea was: Hey, let's invade Iraq, conquer Baghdad and overthrow Saddam Hussein for expelling American weapons inspectors. At the time, nobody paid much attention to the suggestion. But five years later, President Bush dusted off the idea and ordered the Pentagon to execute it. And, as we all know now, it worked perfectly. Or maybe not. You make the call."
On page A3 of the Washington Post, staff writer Sam Coates seems to give anti-war/anti-Bush protester Cindy Sheehan wide latitude as to her reasons for protesting in Crawford. Mr. Coates writes: "This weekend is the culmination of the standoff between Bush and war protester Cindy Sheehan, who arrived 21 days ago. She came asking Bush to meet with her, even though he had done so before, to discuss the war. Her protest snowballed, with the arrival of Sheehan sympathizers and then pro-war demonstrators. Both sides planned major rallies over the weekend because it is the last one before Bush ends his vacation and Sheehan leaves."
Harlingen, Texas, August 24, 2005: It really doesn’t matter what news service or publication you pick up. The drone of defeatism moans on and on. In this case it was CNN.com on August 18, 2005. - At Least 43 Killed, 88 Wounded in ‘Coordinated Attacks’ reads the headline. The article reports on a string of car bombings in central Baghdad. “The blasts came as transitional government officials worked to complete the new constitution.”
A paragraph later the story continues, “A car bomb exploded outside the al-Nahda bus terminal. A second car bomb exploded 10 minutes later.” But, we can almost recite the news article without seeing it in print. Like the majority of filings from Iraq, this was more bombs and bodies, created from information picked up at the daily news briefing.
The Washington Post's lead editorial, "The War's Momentum," essentially focuses on the continuing delays in Iraq's forming of a draft Constitution. The Post first states: "There is no cause for despair, or for abandoning the basic U.S. strategy in Iraq, which is to support the election of a permanent national government and train security forces capable of defending it with continuing help from American troops."
Josh White’s article in today’s Washington Post concerning the Army meeting its August recruitment goal, but being off track to reach its yearly target, seems to miss or understate some of the positives expressed by the Army’s chief of staff yesterday:
Should the Army meet its goal of recruiting about 10,000 new active-duty troops this month, it will be the third consecutive month in which the service succeeded after several months of significantly missing its mark. Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker told reporters yesterday that he expects the Army to miss its annual goal of 80,000 new active-duty recruits by "a couple thousand," adding that he expects recruiting in September and during the next fiscal year to be "difficult."
To begin with, it appears that some of Mr. White’s numbers don’t match those of the Department of Defense. For instance, as the article moves forward, Mr. White suggests that the Army’s recruitment goal in 2004 was 72,000. In fact, according to this DoD report, the goal was actually 77,000, and was bested by 587 recruits.
As such, if the General is correct, and the Army misses its 80,000 goal by a couple of thousand recruits, it would still roughly duplicate its 2004 performance. Given the casualties, the strength of the economy, and the constant negative press about this incursion, this appears to be quite an achievement.
The headline of a Cindy Sheehan piece in today's Washington Post by staff writer Sam Coates grabbed my attention. "Standoff Continues in Crawford: As Bush, Sheehan Return, Both Sides Plan Rallies," read the headline. The lede picked up the "standoff" terminology:
WACO, Tex., Aug. 25---The standoff between President Bush and antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan escalated Thursday with emotional appeals from both sides, each invoking sacrifices made by Americans after Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster their case.
Standoff certainly is a politically loaded term, even for the Post, so I did a search on Nexis of Washington Post articles from August 1-26 for "Cindy Sheehan" and the terms "vigil," "protest," and "standoff." After tossing out editorial and op-ed hits, I found there were 13 pieces describing Sheehan's actions as a vigil, 15 as a protest, and only one, today's story by Coates, labeling it a standoff.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the MSM water, up pops Cindy Sheehan.
The Today show’s pretext for bringing back Cindy was her return to Crawford.
It seems that Sheehan’s media consultants have been hard at work, grooming a more media-savvy, less over-the-top image for Sheehan.She managed to avoid charging W, as she has in the past, with being the world’s biggest terrorist, or engaging in thinly-veiled anti-Semitism as when she previously spoke of neo-con Paul Wolfowitz making her “skin crawl.”
Yet one sensed that not far beneath the buttoned-down exterior, the demons lurked.
Jack Kelly has a great story at Jewish World Review about how good news in the real world becomes bad news in the New York Times. The basics of the story go something like this:
The Army has greatly improved the body armor soldiers are wearing over the past 15 years. It's lighter and tougher.
There are some types of ammunition that can penetrate it, but no evidence that the "insurgents" are using that ammunition.
"...though the specifications weren't set until early in January, new plates were being manufactured — and delivery begun to U.S. troops — in March. Those familiar with the Pentagon's procurement process recognize this as lightning speed. "
By now, Americans with even the most modest of attention spans know of the United Kingdom's liberal version of CNN, the BBC. An article written by the BBC's Washington reporter Matthew Davis stunningly highlights this.
Davis'sarticle fairly drips with smug and self-righteous twaddle; and offers up his opinions in regard to what the American zeitgeist is regarding the war in Iraq. In his opening paragraph, Davis states unequivocally that "The protest of one mother, Cindy Sheehan, at the gates of President Bush's ranch has galvanised the anti-war movement."
"As the 1960s protest song said, 'there's something happening here,'” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams reminisced Thursday evening as he introduced an “In Depth” segment trumpeting the influence of Cindy Sheehan -- a story, when replayed on MSNBC's Countdown, fill-in host Amy Robach framed around how “there are those who wonder if attitudes toward the war could be reaching a tipping point and whether the Gold Star mom could be the driving force.” Reporter Carl Quintanilla allowed a couple of critics to denounce Sheehan, but his story was centered around touting her impact: “Sheehan, say some historians, may be evolving as an icon in the war's turning point, if this is one. For three weeks, she's dominated headlines, mobilized protesters” and made “it safe, her supporters say, to voice doubts about the war, just as Walter Cronkite did on the Evening News in 1968.” Viewers were then treated to 1968 video of Cronkite taking on the Vietnam war: “To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.”
In between soundbites from liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Quintanilla fretted about “a peace movement without a way home.” Goodwin rued: “That's the difficulty. We don't know what to do with the peace movement, what does it actually mean?” Quintanilla concluded by admiring Sheehan's influence, a pedestal the media provided: “Historians say we won't know Cindy Sheehan's place in the war until the war itself is history. And whether you agree with her or not, she sits waiting for one conversation, and has unleashed another.” (Video: Windows Media Player or Real Media)
Full transcript, and Williams' plug on his blog for this story, follows.
ABC made time Wednesday night for Martha Raddatz to read from a letter the Gold Star Moms for Peace sent to President Bush in which they charged that "you put our troops in harm's way based on a lie. We are military families who demand an end to the lies, and call for you to bring our troops home now." But, after weeks of hyping Cindy Sheehan, neither Raddatz nor anyone else on World News Tonight mentioned how Bush spent nearly three hours meeting with family members of those killed in Iraq. Neither did the CBS Evening News which held its coverage of Bush's speech in Idaho to the National Guard to a soundbite of Bush quoting a mother with four sons in Iraq. NBC anchor Brian Williams touted how Sheehan's group "said today its members will follow President Bush around the country protesting the war," but at least Kelly O'Donnell noted that Bush "met privately with 68 family members who grieve for sons and husbands lost in war."
New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller today tried her best to write an article without mentioning anti-war heroine Cindy Sheehan, as well as without impugning the president. Unfortunately, she failed.
In an article about the president’s speech to thousands of National Guard members and their families in Nampa, Idaho, it only took two paragraphs before the story turned from Mr. Bush’s vision of Iraq and his appreciation for the sacrifice these families and their relatives are making into another in a long litany of Cindyfests:
Defending his administration's military stance for the third day in a row, he presented another tough, if implicit, rebuttal to war critics like Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq who has generated a monthlong protest outside his Texas ranch. Mr. Bush said, "As long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terror."
The president said withdrawing troops now - as Ms. Sheehan advocates - would "only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations."
As Ms. Sheehan advocates? Has Ms. Sheehan now been promoted to the title of "advocate"?
WorldNetDaily is reporting that Cindy Sheehan called the terrorists in Iraq "freedom fighters." Newsmax did so earlier Wednesday. Evidently, no one in the MSM has bothered to pick up on it.
Iraq was not involved in 9-11, Iraq was not a terrorist state. But now that we have decimated the country, the borders are open, freedom fighters from other countries are going in, and they [American troops] have created more terrorism by going to an Islamic country, devastating the country and killing innocent people in that country. The terrorism is growing and people who never thought of being car bombers or suicide bombers are now doing it because they want the United States of America out of their country."
You'd think someone would bother to talk about it. If Sheehan viewed her son as an oppressor of the weak and innocent, it'd be ironic that we're allowing her to use his name in validating her beliefs.
Given all the negative coverage of the president, the highlighting of his imprudent comments, and the constant reiteration of the fact that he's down in the latest opinion polls, a request for the media to report on what his opposition actually believes in should be reasonable enough. Perhaps it's time for an opinion poll that asks if anyone agrees with Sheehan's definition of freedom.
In a Monday posting, Greg Mitchell, the Editor of the leading newspaper industry magazine, Editor & Publisher, urged newspapers to editorialize about getting the U.S. out of Iraq. The up top summary below the "Tipping Point on Iraq" headline over his August 22 piece: "At this critical moment, it's time for newspapers -- many of which helped get us into this war -- to use their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands. Now, it's literally do-or-die time." FNC's Brit Hume, in his "Grapevine" segment on Tuesday, picked up on Mitchell's advocacy which Romenesko had highlighted.
I wrote a week and a half ago that the AP was acting as a PR firm for Cindy Sheehan. It doesn't appear that anything's changed. At all. If anything, it has gotten worse. They're still refusing to run with any of the controversial statements that she's made. They've not reported her comments on Hardball that "we should have gone after al Qaeda and maybe not after the country of Afghanistan." She told Chris Matthews that the purpose of her visit to Crawford "is actually to hold [the President] accountable for things he has already said," but no one in the "tough, skeptical" mainstream press has done anything to hold her accountable for the things that she's said.
Harlingen, Texas August 24, 2005: The saga of Cindy Sheehan continues with online postings and traditional outlets of both print and electronic media chanting an unending anti-war mantra.
The web page publication Yahoo News, on August 21, 2005, ran a banner headline reading “Cindy Sheehan Stirs Up Long Overdue Anti-War Movement”. The text of the article reads “She is no glamour girl, and yet she has a throng of admirers who have been nursing inside themselves, for the last two years and more, the secrets she implicitly reveals.”
The article identifies her as “The Gold Star Mother of the Iraq War” and later in the text charges …”Cindy Sheehan’s lightning effect on the country is that she has been saying – with her actions, gestures and intonations, if not exactly in words – what has been left deliberately unsaid in America until now…That the war in Iraq is useless.”
They begin: “Unlike earlier wars, nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the slogan-like operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts.”
These “slogan-like” names are simply the operational titles given to “Enduring Freedom,” for Afghanistan and “Iraqi Freedom” for those killed there. Apparently, the folks at AP are miffed at what they even admit is a voluntary choice of inscription:
NBC on Tuesday night devoted a story to comparing Iraq to Vietnam. Reporter Jim Miklaszewski concluded that “while there are marked differences between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, the rhetoric, at least, is beginning to sound much the same.” Miklaszewski used as an excuse for raising the subject how "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself bringing up the Vietnam issue at his Pentagon briefing today” and rejected the equivalence. Miklaszewski went on to highlight how Senator Chuck Hagel, “the prominent Republican and decorated Vietnam veteran, said this week the U.S. is now bogged down in Iraq, similar to Vietnam.” Miklaszewski reported that “there's increasing concern in the Pentagon that a growing anti-war drumbeat here at home” -- a drumbeat being pounded by NBC -- “could eventually take a toll on troop morale in Iraq, not at all unlike Vietnam.” He also chided Rumsfeld for how he “ignored the latest polls which indicate a majority of Americans now think it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq."
WHO DIED AND left Cindy Sheehan in charge? We put her in charge the press, the politicians, the people. We put her in charge not just of her own message and her mission, which is all she had asked for, but we cranked up her voice to equal volume with the man she's calling out: POTUS himself, George W. Bush.
Let me get this straight... We, the people, "cranked up her voice" equal to the President of the United States? Huh. What edition of the LA Times do I run? Because I've got some immigration and UN corruption stories I'd like to run.
You know the MSM figure a story has legs when they create a logo for it, and sure enough Today opened its segment with a natty little logo of an American solider, an Iraqi flag, and the emblazoned question: "Iraq – the new Vietnam?”
In to answer the question was that paragon of objectivity Chris Matthews – former aide to Dem House Speaker Tip O’Neill.
There’s nothing Dems like better than a renegade Republican, and Chuck Hagel has been filling that role nicely. Lauer opened with this quote from Hagel: “The reason I don’t think more troops are the answer right now is that we’re past that stage right now. We’re locked into a bogged-down problem not dissimilar to Vietnam.”
In her Monday column, Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times gave another update on the Sheehan vs. Bush saga saying, "There is no sign that Mr. Bush will meet with Ms. Sheehan (he met with her once in a group in June 2004, two months after her son's death, when she said that he was disrespectful for calling her "Mom"), but he did say shortly after she began her vigil on Aug. 6 that he sympathized with her."
Note Bumiller keeps in step with the rest of the MSM in not mentioning Sheehan's original positive statements of her meeting with the President in 2004, as reported in her Vacaville hometown newspaper, The Reporter. She only reports what Sheehan is currently saying about that meeting.
Even more telling, we're still hard-pressed to find any mention of Cindy Sheehan's anti-American statements by any of the alphabet or major print news agencies, such as this one, "America has been killing people on this continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying for..." See more Sheehan statements. It's one thing to be anti-war. Even our soldiers say they will fight for Americans' freedom to protest the very war they are fighting in, including Sheehan's statements like, "And you tell me, what the noble cause is that my son died for... And if he (Bush) even starts to say 'freedom and democracy' I'm gonna say, bullsh*t."But, anti-American statements? That's a different story and one the MSM does not want to bring out because it would open too many eyes...to the whole truth. Which, by the way for those who care, would cause Sheehan's poll numbers to fall.
Sharon Hughes is a radio talk show host on KDIA in San Francisco and on RIGHTALK.com. Her weekly column appears in many recognized news sites. Sharon's blog: Veritas!
ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today this morning ignored the "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy Tour" which is steaming its way towards Crawford, Texas to demonstrate in support of President Bush and the war in Iraq. CBS's The Early Show briefly mentioned it in the 8:30 a.m. news briefing by co-host Julie Chen:
And war protester Cindy Sheehan could face more opposition when she returns to Texas. A group supporting the U.S. mission in Iraq is headed to Crawford, they're calling it the quote, 'You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy Tour.'
The demonstrators are scheduled to arrive in Crawford in the afternoon of the 27th of August. When they arrive, I'll wait, perhaps in vain, for CBS correspondent Mark Knoller to give Deborah Johns coverage equal to that which he gave Sheehan.
In an article filed a few hours ago, David Pace of the Associated Press takes issue with the "slogan-like operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts." Pace includes the objections of Robert and Nadia McCaffrey, who lost their son Patrick in combat in Iraq. Pace doesn't acknowledge, however, that Nadia McCaffreys has previously been in the news calling for the Bush administration to overturn a longstanding Pentagon policy forbidding the press from being present at casket arrivals at Dover Air Force Base.