Networks Plug Anti-Iraq War Protests

On Saturday evening, the networks highlighted the anti-Iraq War protests in Washington, D.C., and other cities. While ABC's World News Saturday drummed up the anti-war movement as "getting warmed up," displaying the words "Peace Surge" on-screen, the CBS Evening News focused on military families who are part of the movement, suggesting that such participants could provide "political cover" to Democrats who fear looking "unpatriotic" if they "stand up to the President." The NBC Nightly News led with the story, with correspondent John Yang relaying a Newsweek poll showing that 67 percent of Americans believe the President's Iraq policy is "based on his personal beliefs regardless of facts." (Transcripts follow)

On the CBS Evening News, after the lead story on the latest in computer chip technology, correspondent Joie Chen filed a report which put substantial focus on military families who support the anti-war movement, including a man with three sons in the military. Chen concluded her report: "Military families like Syverson's can provide important political cover on Capitol Hill here, especially for Democrats who are concerned about looking unpatriotic if they stand up to the President."

ABC's World News Saturday ran its story somewhat later, plugging the possibility of a coming surge in the anti-war movement. Anchor Bill Weir introduced the story referring to protesters who are "newly energized in their struggle to end the war." Correspondent Laura Marquez relayed protest participant and actor Sean Penn's belief that the relative disinterest in protesting compared to the Vietnam War era may be "about to change." The ABC correspondent also discussed the possibility that the movement's "fund-raising machine could turn the tide." Marquez concluded: "And if today's crowds snaking up the streets to the Capitol are any indication, the anti-war movement may just be getting warmed up."

Below are complete transcripts of the relevant stories from ABC's World News Saturday, the CBS Evening News, and the NBC Nightly News, from Saturday January 27:

From ABC's World News Saturday:

Bill Weir: "That steady drumbeat of death was on the minds of demonstrators from Washington, D.C., to the West Coast today, protesters angry and frustrated over the war in Iraq and the President's call for more troops. As ABC's Laura Marquez reports, the people who marched today say they are newly energized in their struggle to end the war."

Laura Marquez: "The tens of thousands of protesters who gathered on both coasts today spoke with a single voice: They want the U.S. out of Iraq."

Clip of protesters: "Give peace a chance."

Marquez: "This mother, who lost her son in Iraq, came with a message for other parents."

Unidentified female protester: "I don't want you to go through the heartache that we go through."

Sean Penn, Actor: "-and the troops come home."

Marquez: "Hollywood celebrities crowded the stage, including Jane Fonda, a controversial figure from the Vietnam anti-war movement."

Jane Fonda, Actress: "-but I'm so sad that we still have to do this, that we did not learn the lessons from the Vietnam War."

Marquez: "There were bigger protests against Vietnam and more of them, but actor and activist Sean Penn believes that's about to change."

Penn: "There are going to be more Americans taking to the streets. I think everything, you know, the truth is a stubborn thing, and it has stuck it out till now, and I think the egg shell is cracked open."

Marquez: "Anti-war demonstrators want to take this protest from the streets to the halls of Congress. In just two weeks, they've raised $1.5 million to pressure lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, to oppose the President's plan to send more troops to Iraq. Although there were major anti-war demonstrations before the Iraq War began, public protest has been muted in recent years. Now, some believe this organized fund-raising machine could turn the tide."

Allan Lichtman, American University: "The lobbying is the essential right cross that follows the left jab of the demonstrations."

Clip of protesters chanting: "No more President, no more war!"

Marquez: "And if today's crowds snaking up the streets to the Capitol are any indication, the anti-war movement may just be getting warmed up. Laura Marquez, ABC News, Washington."

From the CBS Evening News:

Thalia Assuras: "The battle for Iraq took another heavy toll of American lives today as the debate over the war spilled out onto U.S. streets. The military today announced the death of seven more American soldiers in Iraq, bringing the total number of deaths to at least 3,075. Here at home, there were anti-war protests in Washington and other cities as well. Joie Chen is at the Capitol tonight. Joie?"

Joie Chen: "Good evening, Thalia. Yeah, this was not the first, this was not the biggest protest of its type this city has seen. Still, organizers believe that it will have a significant impact, mostly because it tried to change the direction of the debate over the war by changing the direction of the protest. The surge of protesters pushed off, led by faces you might expect -- activist Jesse Jackson, actor Sean Penn, and Jane Fonda, who admitted she'd avoided this soap box since the days when she was called 'Hanoi Jane.'"

Jane Fonda, Actress: "-but I'm so sad that we still have to do this, that we did not learn the lessons from the Vietnam War."

Chen: "But for all the tie dye and familiar chants, the anti-war movement has moved on and changed direction. Today's protest didn't go near the White House, instead leading tens of thousands up Constitution Avenue to the Capitol, bearing a message for the new Congress, now controlled by Democrats."

Connie Gordon, Anti-war demonstrator: "I think the Democrats are well aware that a lot of Democrats were elected this year over Republicans because of this issue."

Unidentified female protester: "This has to stop. The only way they can do it is to cut off the money."

Chen: "Energized by new signs of congressional resistance to the President's Iraq strategy and polls showing the public's increasing impatience, the protest actually began a day earlier with activists visiting lawmakers to press for an end to the war. They are determined to raise the profile of military families opposed to the war, keeping parents like Larry Syverson out front. He's a father of four sons, one retired military, three of them now on active duty."

Larry Syverson, Military Families Speak Out: "Between the three of them they've been to Iraq five times."

Chen: "Syverson's sons have written home to give their blessing and backing for their father's activism, even when fellow soldiers object."

Syverson, reading his son's letter: "'I tell them that you have three sons in the military, and two of which are in Iraq. You can say or do whatever you want. You've earned it.'"

Chen: "Today their faces were on his side and in his heart as he marched beneath the Capitol. They don't consider you disloyal to the troops?"

Syverson: "Oh, no, not at all. They know that I love them, and they know that the best support I can give them as a father is to bring them home."

Chen: "Military families like Syverson's can provide important political cover on Capitol Hill here, especially for Democrats who are concerned about looking unpatriotic if they stand up to the President, Thalia."

Assuras: "Well, you said that the protesters didn't go by the White House, but did the President have a reaction today?"

Chen: "Not much of one. A spokesman said that he understands that the American people want to see an end to the war, and he does believe that this is the course that will get us there."

Assuras: "Joie Chen on Capitol Hill, thanks so much. Well, other cities held anti-war protests today. More than 1,000 protestors turned out in San Francisco, and several thousand marched in Los Angeles to an anti-war rally at the federal courthouse. Hundreds braved the cold to demonstrate in Albuquerque, New Mexico."

From the NBC Nightly News:

John Siegenthaler: "Good evening, everyone. On a day when the U.S. military announced the deaths of seven more American troops in Iraq, there were protests in this country. Tens of thousands of Americans converged on Washington, D.C., demonstrating against the war in Iraq, urging the U.S. government to bring the troops home. The crowd gathered on the Washington mall joined by politicians and celebrities like Jane Fonda delivering a message that was clearly intended for the President. NBC's John Yang joins us tonight from the White House with the story. Good evening, John."

John Yang: "John, President Bush has asked the American people to give his plan for Iraq a chance. But the people who marched in the streets in Washington and other cities today were in no mood to be patient."

Unidentified female protester: "What do we want?"

Crowd of protesters: "Peace!"

Female protester: "When do we want it?"

Crowd: "Now!"

Yang: "The demonstrators' message: No more troops to Iraq and bring all the troops home."

Unidentified male protester #1: "Power to the peaceful!"

Yang: "It was aimed at both President Bush and the new Democratic majority in Congress."

Unidentified male protester #2: "We were expecting more from them than nonbinding resolutions, which don't mean a hill of beans."

Yang: "Only a handful of lawmakers appeared, among them Democrat John Conyers of Michigan."

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): "We stopped the war in Vietnam, didn't we?"

Yang: "Veterans of the Iraq War spoke, as did veterans of protests past, such as Jane Fonda, her first appearance at an anti-war rally in 34 years."

Jane Fonda, Actress: "-and I'm so sad that we still have to do this, that we did not learn the lessons from the Vietnam War."

Yang: "The demonstration came as a new Newsweek poll puts President Bush's job approval at 30 percent, a new low. And 67 percent of Americans now say the President's Iraq policy is based on his personal beliefs regardless of facts. No surprise that Mr. Bush spent the week trying to draw attention to his domestic agenda."

Craig Crawford, NBC News Political Analyst: "He's trying to distract the Democratic Party from some of the things they want to do with Iraq by talking about a lot of their issues -- education, health care and those things."

Yang: "But as he used his State of the Union Address to reach out to Democrats with domestic initiatives, Republican support for his troop buildup continues to show signs of fraying."

Senator John Warner (R-VA): "I personally, speaking for myself, have great concern about the American GI being thrust into that situation."

Yang: "Republican Senator John Warner, once a strong supporter of the war, introduced a resolution disagreeing with the policy while still supporting Mr. Bush."

Crawford: "If what the President has proposed in Iraq does not make a difference soon, maybe within six months, a lot of these tepid supporters like Warner are gonna bolt."

Yang: "For now Senator Warner is helping the White House, refusing to talk to Democrats about a single compromise resolution. As long as there's more than one resolution up for a vote, John, it's less likely that a big bipartisan majority will vote against Mr. Bush."

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters