NBC's Today Champions Anti-Bush “Raging Grannies.”
Monday's Today on NBC devoted over seven minutes of its last half hour to a friendly story and interview with “raging grannies,” some elderly women in Tucson who hold small rallies outside military recruiting offices where they don big, colorful hats and sing song parodies, such as “we're here to stop the war machine, don't get in our way!", "Halliburton profits from war," “taxes unending, military spending, what a waste, what a waste!" Reporter Peter Alexander trumpeted their efforts: "With their will and their words as their only weapons these grannies from 53 to 93 years of age protest on this downtown street corner every Wednesday." As they sang, “Down with the one who would drive the country under," the camera showed a George W. Bush doll decked out in a black and white striped prison shirt with an American flag draped on his shoulder. Four of the grannies then sat for an interview with a delighted Natalie Morales who tossed softballs at them, such as “What do you hope...that people will get out of this, out of seeing you be an activist and protesting the war in Iraq?" Morales didn't follow up when one one proclaimed that “we'll try and remove our President from his office because he is lying to the public and making war all over the world. It's, it's just unacceptable.” Morales soon hailed their “witty lyrics” and sounded in awe as she wondered: “Tell me what it's like to be able to, to speak and to be a voice for a demographic that, generally we don't hear that much from, especially as activists?"
MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens suffered through the August 8 segments and provided a full transcript:
Natalie Morales: "Beware there is a group of grannies serving up much more than milk and cookies. NBC's Peter Alexander caught up with them proving commitment has no age limit."
Clip from old movie
Peter Alexander: "It's been Hollywood's familiar portrait of a granny for generations. Loving, sweet, grand. But in Tucson, Arizona-"
Protestors singing: "Gonna roar all night..."
Alexander: "These Raging Grannies are singing a different tune."
Protestors singing: "-we're here to stop the war machine don't get in our way!"
Alexander: "With more than a thousand years among them this gray army of activists doesn't hesitate to fight for its beliefs.”
Protest sign reads: "No War"
Pat Birnie, Raging Granny: "The potential is there for a wonderful world. Everybody has power within ourselves and we just don't utilize it. So we need to each do what we can."
Alexander: "Their latest mission to end the war in Iraq."
Protest sign reads: "The War Is Lost."
Birnie: "We want to stop this illegal, immoral war and we feel the best way to do that is to bring our young people home."
More singing: "Reinstate some sanity, return to humanity, work for peace-"
Alexander: "With their will and their words as their only weapons these grannies from 53 to 93 years of age protest on this downtown street corner every Wednesday."
Footage of protestors standing in front of Air Force recruiting office, one sign reads: “Depleted Uranium Used Once, Kills Forever!" Another: "No blood for oil!"]
Alexander: "It's serious business but they spoof themselves and pepper their lyrics with humor to make their message stick."
Another sign reads: "More War = More Terror & Killing The Innocents." More singing: "Halliburton profits from war."
Betty Schroeder, Raging Granny: "I am a non-violent person physically but I'm a very violent person verbally."
Alexander: "74-year-old Betty Schroeder and 75-year-old Pat Birnie, widows and roommates, sharing a political passion."
Schroeder and Birnie sing: "Taxes unending, military spending-“
Alexander: "And a sense of urgency."
Schroeder and Birnie singing: "-what a waste, what a waste!"
Birnie: "We are old enough that we really don't have time to have too much fun. There's too much to do."
Alexander: "From this quiet neighborhood in Tucson, Arizona the Raging Grannies want to make sure their message is heard loud and clear. They say they're fighting for the men and women fighting for them."
More singing: "The U.S, they bomb, bomb, bomb-"
Alexander: "With weekly meetings these ladies are committed."
Connie Graves, Raging Granny: "I think with our minds and our determination I think we're damned dangerous."
Alexander: "And compassionate."
Unidentified Raging Granny: "40 years I've been an activist."
Alexander: "With hopes their message is contagious."
Unidentified Raging Granny: "It's an important message. People find themselves singing along with us."
Alexander: "Their membership is growing."
More singing by grannies in a living room: "Down with the one who would drive the country under." (Close up of Bush doll in prison shirt and American flag draped on his shoulder.)
Alexander: "Six decades after serving in World War II 85-year-old Gwen Niemi is the Grannies' rookie recruit."
Gwen Niemi, Raging Granny with Alexander in golf cart: "We just don't want to sit and do nothing and some people sit around and complain a lot and don't do anything."
Grannies in put hands in circle: "Go grannies!"
Alexander: "These grannies don't just oppose the war several of them want to serve."
(Sign with Uncle Sam reads: "I Want You To Die For: Oil Money, Corporations Fear and Hate.")
Schroeder: "I don't want to go with a gun. I want my kids to come home. I want to go for diplomacy."
Alexander: "But a handful, the self-proclaimed Tucson Five are now fighting trespassing charges, cited at a recent protest after entering the military recruitment center. A misdemeanor that could mean jail time."
Raging Granny: "We went in with good intentions of enlisting, they turned their backs on us.”
Alexander: "Recruiters say the women are beating down the wrong door."
Capt. Stephen Marchant, U.S. Army recruiter: "We can't change policy. We do what we're told to do. I would prefer or it makes more sense to me, anyway, that they would go to the elected officials."
Alexander: "For now these grannies are going straight to the streets."
Sign reads: "Pentagon Lies, Recruits Die.”
More singing: "We need to know that we don't want this war!"
Birnie: "Our patriotic duty is to help spread the word and be apart of the process of educating the country."
Alexander: "Hoping their chorus catches on and other women find reason to rage even in the twilight of their lives."
More singing: "Raging Grannies sing what's wrong all the do-da-day-"
Alexander: "For Today, Peter Alexander, NBC News, Tucson."
More singing: "-gonna stop a war!"
In studio, Morales segued to an interview: "And Pat Birnie, Dorothy Richmond, Betty Schroeder and Connie Graves are just a few of the Raging Grannies and they join us this morning. Good to see you all, thank you for being here."
Grannies say hello from Tucson, one flashes a peace sign.
Morales: "First, ladies I have to ask you can you explain the outfits for us. Pat?"
Birnie: "Explain what?"
Morales: "Explain the outfits. The reason you're dressed this way."
Birnie: "Oh our outfits."
Birnie: "Oh well we wear granny outfits because that makes us distinctive and people will listen to us because of our obvious age and wisdom."
Morales: "And, and you take this as very much as serious issue for you all but we see that you use humor and song as well. But what do you hope, Pat, that people will get out of this, out of seeing you be an activist and protesting the war in Iraq?"
Birnie: "We hope everyone will get out in the street and join us and pound on the doors of Congress and make and, and we'll try and remove our President from his office because he is lying to the public and making war all over the world. It's, it's just unacceptable."
Morales: "Betty let me ask you what were your reasons for joining the Raging Grannies and is it some of what Pat was saying?"
Schroeder: "I, I'll reiterate what she said. The, as far as the arrest or the criminal trespass that we were charged with we went in not as a demonstration, as not an act of civil disobedience. We went into enlist and we were serious. We said we realize the recruiters do not make policy but we'd like to fill out applications, send them to the powers that be and let them change the policy. Bring our kids home, let us women go. Women must have a say in every aspect, if they do not there is not future for this world."
Morales: "Betty are you concerned though that you might face jail time?"
Schroeder: "Oh no ma'am. Not concerned."
Morales: "Not concerned at all. Connie I know that you're one of the, you're one of the Raging Grannies principal songwriters and we saw a lot of your witty lyrics. Tell me what it's like to be able to, to speak and to be a voice for a demographic that, generally we don't hear that much from, especially as activists?"
Graves: "It's wonderful to be able to listen to a news program or pick up a newspaper and read things that make you really, really angry and be able to have the release of songwriting. To go to the computer and write a rebuttal. It releases tension and it gives us a voice in day to day immediate action. A lot of our songs are based on this morning's headlines."
Morales: "Connie, I know that you are also a newer member of the group. How is it to serve as a role model for other senior citizens out there who might want to take, take a role or be apart of such an organization?"
Graves: "I hope we are role models. We have so much to offer. One of the biggest things is the fact that we are older women and we show that older women have strength and power and can make a difference."
Morales: "Pat Birnie, Dorothy Richmond, Betty Schroeder and Connie Graves. Thank you all so much for your time this morning. And good luck to you."
Raging Granny off-camera: "Come join us."
Raging Granny: "Spread the word."
Morales: "Alright well I think we did spread the word here."