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.
A Washington Times editorial today wonders if the media will "lavish Cindy Sheehan-type coverage on Deborah Johns?"
Never heard of Deborah Johns? No surprise.
She is the leader of Marine Moms of Northern California and has a son serving in Iraq. According to the article, "She is leading a group of war supporters, the 'You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy' tour, on a week-long trek to Crawford, Texas."
But according to Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank, speaking on CNN's Reliable Sources, "You're not seeing a lot of pro-war Gold Star mothers come out there. Cindy Sheehan remains sort of untouchable."
According to The Political Teen, a Fox reporter encountered an interesting activist at an anti-Bush rally.
Fox News Anchor Brian Wilson talked about the clip:
WILSON: Finally, I had to shake my head in disbelief at this bit of tape from our FOX affiliate in Phoenix. The cameraman was sent out to talk to anti-war protesters gathered to show solidarity with Cindy Sheehan. And he ran into one fellow who had issues about talking to anyone from Fox News.
LEFT WING LOON: “I’m not talking to anybody from FOX. (WHY?) If you don’t know by now, then there’s nothing I can say that will help you. And I work for the news agency, as a matter of fact.”
WILSON: He works at a news agency and he’s participating in an anti-war protester. And he thinks that is fair and balanced.
Janice Shaw Crouse from Concerned Women for America thinks Cindy Sheehan is a victim of "24-hour 'news' coverage."
"The woman is clearly unhinged, and while we need to respect her grief at losing her son, it is now abundantly evident that her campaign has moved beyond her personal loss to her political ideology.
"It is embarrassing and inhumane for the media to expose this poor women’s unbalanced behavior.
Crouse conludes that while it's sad that her grieving has turned into "name-calling and unseemly behavior," it is "equally sad that the media continue to egg her on."
With "CAN ANTI-WAR MOMS STOP BUSH?" on screen throughout the interview session, ABC on Monday morning didn’t let Cindy Sheehan’s departure from Crawford deter them from promoting her cause as they brought aboard Celeste Zappala of Sheehan’s group, Gold Star Families for Peace. Co-host Charles Gibson gave her a lot of credit, asking about President’s Bush upcoming speech in Salt Lake City, from where Zappala appeared: “Do you think, Ms. Zappala, that he would be making these speeches were it not for your group's protest?" In the midst of giving her publicity, Gibson fretted: “You are but a small group there that is perched on the approach to the President's ranch. One hundred, two hundred people. Do you really think you've got people talking about the war?" Gibson also did something unusual, raising how Sheehan called the U.S. “morally repugnant” and he pressed Zappala about whether she worries that her protests “might dishonor” her son who died in Iraq?
Full CyberAlert item follows. For all of today's MRC CyberAlert articles.
On this morning's Today show NBC's Matt Lauer pondered if anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan had caused a shift in President Bush's rhetoric and then threw the words of RINO Sen. Chuck Hagel in Dan Bartlett's face. Lauer also showed impatience when it came to setting a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal but at the same time worried that the administration might be rushing things with their deadlines on the Iraqi people.
Lauer opened Today at 7:00am with this teaser:
Lauer: "Then we're gonna see a new side of President Bush. On Monday for the first time the President specifically mentioned the number of U.S. troops who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is that a response to the protest at his Texas ranch? We'll talk to a top advisor to the President about that in a couple of minutes."
While all indications are that the negotiating parties are coming closer to agreement on a constitution that will create a democratic country, the Iraqis missed a self-imposed deadline at midnight last night. There are many different possible ways to approach this story. The AP's Anne Gearan has chosen to use the occasion for a news analysis piece (masquerading as straight news) criticizing the President. Her article (Bush Pushes for Elusive Progress in Iraq) focuses, not on the Iraqis, but on the Bush administration.
I only do that to satisfy what I assume is a "Cindy Sheehan name content quota" in place for any newspaper article written on any subject related to the War in Iraq, whether it's about her or not.
On the website for the Waco Tribune, you'll find an article about counter-protest to Cindy Sheehan's anti-war Crawford camporee (thanks to The Anchoress for the pointer) that's gearing up. Here's how the article describes the counter-protest:
Johnson alluded to a forthcoming caravan scheduled to arrive in Crawford next Saturday after snaking through the southwest from San Francisco. The event, called “You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy,” is being
led by a mother who has a Marine son.
At the end of "The Tall and Short of It" segment on Fox & Friends Weekend that just concluded, Jim Pinkerton and Ellen Ratner stood up to show just what a yawning height gap there is indeed between them. Pinkerton loomed what seemed to be at least a foot-and-a-half over the diminutive Ratner.
But beyond her small physical stature, it is Ratner's smallness of mind that renders her unbearable. Most of the talk centered on Cindy Sheehan, with Ratner predictably arguing that W should meet with her.
Again and again, Ratner returned to her theme du jour: that, contrary to his pledge, W is "a divider not a uniter."
Ratner wasn't content to let it go even after being given a comprehensive opportunity to make that point. While Pinkerton was trying to respond, Ratner screeched a cacaphonous burst of "he's a divider, he's a divider."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, on Friday night's Countdown, smeared the Media Research Center (MRC), the parent of NewsBusters, as “a scam” and claimed, in awarding MRC President Brent Bozell the “worser” slot in his nightly “worst person” gimmick, that “the only person distorting as usual is Bozell.” Olbermann was defending himself “against the charge of wacky guy” Bozell who “accused me of distortion for having said that Rush Limbaugh had said on air, quote, 'Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real.'” Olbermann proceeded to slam Limbaugh as the “Worst Person in the World” for supposedly denying the quote, alleging: "Like your career, Rush. You're finished, credibility spent."
While Olbermann zeroed in on Bozell, the MRC's critiques of him appeared in an August 18 NewsBusters posting (with video) that I wrote which was reprinted in the MRC's CyberAlert. I never suggested that Limbaugh did not utter the sentence sequence quoted by Olbermann, but that he distorted Limbaugh's point that the media see both Sheehan and Burkett as "an opportunity" to exploit and that "it doesn't matter what the specifics of Cindy Sheehan's case are." Olbermann had snidely claimed, "I guess she made up that dead-son-in-Iraq business" -- a ridiculous interpretation of some jumbled words. Video: Windows Media or RealPlayer. Full transcript follows:
On Thursday night's 11pm EDT The Situation with Tucker Carlson on MSNBC, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter recommended that President Bush meet with Cindy Sheehan, calling him "stubborn" for not doing so already, and contended that what the current "anti-war movement" wants from Bush is for him to be the "public mourner-in-chief" and to be "more publicly responsive to the suffering."
Alter believed that meeting with Sheehan again would help Bush politically, suggesting that if she still refused to go home after a second meeting, "the press will legitimately be able to ask her, 'Look, you got what you came here for. Isn't it time for you to go home?' And then she'll move offstage," as if the media were interested in fairly challenging her attacks on the President in the first place.
If one were to rely exclusively on the left-leaning media as a source
for information on the war, one would be led to believe that you folks
in our armed forces are getting your backsides kicked all over the
Middle East these days, and what's more, the humiliating defeats you're
suffering are coming at the hands of "insurgents", "militants", or
Thankfully, most U.S. citizens are no longer dependent upon
propagandists at the Abu Ghraib Daily (aka the New York Times), or
Al-Jazeera-West (aka CBS) for their news. Indeed, Americans like myself
understand that the vast majority of butts getting kicked in Iraq and
Afghanistan are attached to fascist parasites who think that Allah
hands out rewards for the cowardly slaughter of children.
Cindy Sheehan may no longer be in Crawford, Texas, but Katie Couric thinks any number of MoveOn.org protesters will do just as well. In an interview on today's edition of the Today show with MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, she asked the former Republican congressman why President Bush can't just meet with the protesters camped outside his ranch: "Do you think that the President should have met with Cindy Sheehan, and what about the other protesters who are still there? Should he now meet with them?"
One of the big problems with the American "mainstream" media apparatus is the completely uncritical way in which they accept everything that fits their template, printing anything they agree with, and suppressing or ignoring or criticizing things that they don't. We've got another fine example today in an AP story about some congressmen "call[ing] on President Bush to announce by year's end a plan for withdrawal from Iraq." The story is focused on NC Republican Walter Jones, a pre-war supporter of going in to Iraq, which does make it a legitimate news story. But, because he's now disagreeing with the President, what he's got to say is accepted as gospel truth. I think it's safe to say that the AP didn't do a lot of respectful quoting of Walter Jones when he was supporting the President in the run-up to the war.
Candlelight vigils showing support for antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan were held on Wednesday evening. On his Thursday night Countdown program, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann reported: "Americans in all corners of the country gathering by candlelight, a massive show of support for the Gold Star mothers‘ cause, Orange County, California, South Carolina, Las Vegas, and more, not exactly hotbeds of political activism, many of them, the suburbs and exurbs, deemed crucial to President Bush‘s reelection, 1,600 candlelight vigils estimated by the Associated Press. . ."
Before and after Cindy Sheehan’s announcement Thursday that she was leaving Crawford to attend to her ill mother, the networks celebrated her supposed achievements and hoped they’d re-invigorate the anti-war movement. “Did just one grieving mother spark the beginnings of an anti-war movement? We'll give you the 'Inside Story,'" CBS anchor John Roberts promised before Wyatt Andrews trumpeted: "Her movement seemed to catch fire Wednesday night as tens of thousands of people in more than a thousand places attended vigils in support.” He insisted that it’s “very clear Cindy Sheehan has tapped the public's frustration." ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas saw “a campaign born of sadness and resolution.” Thursday morning, ABC’s Charlie Gibson championed: "All across the country protests against the war in Iraq, inspired by the mother standing her ground at President Bush's ranch.” On screen, GMA put "MOM ON A MISSION: IS ANTIWAR MOVEMENT GROWING?" George Stephanopoulos claimed “a lot of Republicans would say” that “this is the President's swift boat moment.”
The AP’s Ron Fournier got into the act too, opening a Thursday night dispatch: “What began as one mother's vigil on a country road in Texas two weeks ago has grown into a nationwide protest, putting a grieving human face to the miseries of war and the misgivings about President Bush's strategies in Iraq.”
Full CyberAlert article follows. For Friday's MRC CyberAlert.
The majority of Americans charge the Bush Administration is not prosecuting the war effectively. The mainstream media, however, use this polling information to advance anti-Bush, anti-war positions.
An example of this can be seen in an August 14 Knight Ridder article. Under a headline reading “Majority of public opposes Iraq war” is a lengthy article generally summarized in one paragraph which reads, “New polls report that for the first time a majority of Americans reject President Bush’s contention that the war over there is making us safer over here. Indeed, baring major immediate progress in Iraq, 2005 may well be remembered as the year when public opinion went south and never came back…”
Though thinking people realize polls only reflect how people feel about specific questions at that brief moment in time, they are rarely reported as such. This is but one of the several ways our media present opinion as fact. When generalized polls are reported as hard news, when bombs and body counts are the lead stories on radio and television news shows, when a small band of war protesters are presented as “growing” sentiment against the conflict in Iraq, the poisoning of American resolve must be the intended outcome.
On Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann labeled Rush Limbaugh as the day's "Worst Person in the World!" in a segment that airs regularly on his 8pm EDT Countdown show. He normally introduces three nominees for the dishonor -- tagged as "worse," "worser," and "worst." Olbermann took Limbaugh out of context in highlighting the Limbaugh quote promoted by a far-left group: “Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real." Olbermann snidely quipped: "I guess she made up that dead-son-in-Iraq business." He also gratuitously speculated that "painkillers wipe out your memory along with your ethics." (Video available Windows Media or Real Media)
But on his radio show on Wednesday, Limbaugh had already discussed the fact that his comments had been taken out of context by others, explaining that the media see both Sheehan and Burkett as "an opportunity" to exploit and that "it doesn't matter what the specifics of Cindy Sheehan's case are."
Full CyberAlert item follows. For all the articles in today's MRC CyberAlert.
Filmmaker Michael Tucker spent two months with the 2/3 Field Artillery unit, otherwise known as “The Gunners.” The film he made, Gunner Palace: Some Stories Will Never Make the Nightly News, detailed a troop unit stationed in a former palace of Uday Hussein (nicknamed Gunner Palace).
In May Tucker was invited by the Directors Guild of America to screen parts of the flick along with other films dealing with the war. Also included, according to the documentary’s website, were “clips from Iraq themed episodes of ‘JAG’ and ‘ER’ and the first episode of Steven Bochco's ‘Over There,’” an FX Network series dealing with the fictional lives of troops in Iraq.
NewsBusters interviewed Tucker about the general perception of what’s happening in Iraq and the behavior of NBC’s Matt Lauer, who was skeptical when troops in Iraq told the anchor their morale was high.
Michael Barone of U.S. News told FNC's Chris Wallace tonight that “if a World War II era Cindy Sheehan had gone to Hyde Park and Warm Springs and camped out and demanded a meeting with President Roosevelt,” she “would just been thought to have been a person who was the victim of a personal tragedy and who had gone over the bend as a result of it, and they would have mercifully given her no publicity.” Barone, co-editor of the bi-annual Almanac of American Politics, credited the change in media attitude to how in “World War II, the press almost unanimously wanted us to win the war,” but “today we have many in the press -- not most I think, but some at least -- who do not want us to win this war and think that we don't deserve to win this war.”
Transcript of Barone's comments on Special Report with Brit Hume follows.
When the Today show sprung a surprise this morning -- an unannounced trip to Iraq by Matt Lauer -- one US soldier had a little surprise of his own for Today and the media at large.
Lauer interviewed a group of soldiers at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, and at one point asked about the state of morale. After getting two responses to the effect that morale was good, Lauer had this to say:
"Don't get me wrong, I think you're probably telling the truth, but there might be a lot of people at home wondering how that could be possible with the conditions you're facing and with the insurgent attacks you're facing. "
If Lauer was the advocate for the anti-war case, he then made the cardinal mistake that no advocate should make: asking a question to which you don't know the answer.
Asked Lauer: "What would you say to those people who are doubtful that morale could be that high?"
Captain Sherman Powell nailed Lauer, the MSM and the anti-war crowd with this beauty:
"Well sir, I'd tell you, if I got my news from the newspapers also I'd be pretty depressed as well!"
Powell went on to add that, while acknowledging the difficulties the media face in getting out into the field in Iraq,
"For those of us who have actually had a chance to get out and meet the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police and go on patrols with them, we are very satisfied with the way things are going here and we are confident that if we are allowed to finish the job we started we'll be very proud of it and our country will be proud of us for doing it!"
Finkelstein has degrees from Cornell University and Harvard Law School.He lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts "Right Angle," a local political talk show. Finkelstein specializes in exposing liberal bias at NBC's Today Show.
Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote a scathing criticism of President Bush regarding the war in his op-ed on Sunday, "Someone Tell the President the War is Over."I know it's an opinion piece, but his comments are so blatantly biased they shouldn't get a pass. Here's just a sample of what Rice wrote, but the whole article is telling:"Like the Japanese soldier marooned on an island for years after V-J Day, President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over.
Cindy Sheehan earned a live interview segments at the start of Monday's 7pm EDT Hardball on MSNBC, where she appeared from Texas with her sister, Deedee Miller, and then just past 7:30pm EDT Sheehan showed up live on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 with anti-war activist Pat Vogel.
After Sheehan went on at length about how the U.S. is “building bases the size of Sacramento, California in Iraq. They plan on never leaving” and “I see Iraq as the base for spreading imperialism. And if we don't stop them now, our babies and our unborn grandchildren will be fighting this," Matthews suggested: “You sound more informed than most U.S. Congresspeople, so maybe you should run."
In contrast, Cooper hit her with her own words, pressing her to re-affirm: “Do you really believe the President of the United States is the biggest terrorist in the world?” Cooper pushed her several times, but she wouldn't back off her claim.
Safely tucked away on Page 2 of Monday's Business section is Katharine Seelye's "Editors Ponder How to Present a Broad Picture of Iraq," in which some newspaper editors admit they are hamstrung from covering good news in Iraq:
"Some editors expressed concern that a kind of bunker mentality was preventing reporters in Iraq from getting out and explaining the bigger picture beyond the daily death tolls." Associated Press Managing Editor Mike Silverman confesses something the Times and other media organizations have been reluctant to make: Their readership isn't getting the whole story about Iraq.
According to the AP's Silverman, "The main obstacle we face is the severe limitation on our movement and our ability to get out and report. It's very confining for our staff to go into Baghdad and have to spend most of their time on the fifth floor of the Palestine Hotel."
It would be an understatement to say that Cindy Sheehan, mother of a serviceman killed in Iraq, has gotten a lot of coverage in the past couple of weeks. The media, gathered in Crawford, Texas, at the site of President Bush's ranch, has devoted much of its time and energy to coverage of her "vigil," as she demands to meet with the President. The Associated Press has averaged almost 4 stories per day over the past 12 days on Sheehan and her mission.
But, in addition to being a bereaved mother, Cindy Sheehan appears to also be a committed left-wing peace activist. One who has already met once with the President a year ago at Fort Lewis in Washington State. One who thinks that George Bush is a terrorist, that Israel should get out of Palestine, that we need to act now to prevent climate change and that the truth as to why we went to war, "the real answer...it was to make his buddies rich...it was about oil."
NBC Nightly News on Sunday devoted its “In Depth” segment to Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan’s impact, as anchor David Gregory touted how she “has become both a magnet and a source of controversy in the President's hometown, single-handedly bringing the Iraq debate to Mr. Bush's doorstep.” Reporter Kelly O'Donnell began with how “she's tiny Crawford's biggest draw. This woman said she drove 900 miles from Denver, compelled by Cindy's story." Earlier, filling in for Tim Russert on Meet the Press, Andrea Mitchell blamed Bush’s communications team for what the news media has really done: “How did they let this one woman become the symbol for the entire anti-war movement?” Mitchell added: “It certainly doesn't help when you see the videotape of the motorcade rushing past the protesters on their way to a Republican fund-raiser at a neighboring ranch.” On Saturday’s World News Tonight on ABC, anchor Bob Woodruff introduced a story by trumpeting how Sheehan’s “vigil for her son, killed in Iraq, has given new life to the anti-war movement and a place in Crawford called the 'Peace House.’”
The Washington Post mentions that today in Crawford, Texas, there will be a counterdemonstration to the one conducted by anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan and her political allies.
"[T]he Heart of Texas chapter of FreeRepublic.com, an online conservative forum, has scheduled a demonstration here for Saturday to counteract Sheehan's protest and show support for Bush and the war."
With journalists breathlessly monitoring her every word and making breaking news out of the monumental event that "Bush motorcade passes anti-war mom's protest," we'll see how the media cover a counterprotest in the same city.