War Coverage and the Obama CultSubmitted by legalizeliberty on Mon, 08/24/2009 - 12:42
There was a time when Cindy Sheehan couldn’t go anywhere without having a microphone and a TV camera stuck in front of her. As she camped out in front of George W. Bush’s Crawford ranch, mourning the death of her son Casey in Iraq and calling attention to an unjust, unnecessary, and unwinnable war, the media created in her a symbolic figure whose public agony epitomized a growing backlash against the militarism and unmitigated arrogance of the Bush administration. It was a powerful image: a lone woman standing up to the most powerful man on earth in memory of her fallen son.
Touting "an exclusive interview with Cindy Sheehan" on Good Morning America, four years ago ABC anchorman Charles Gibson intoned: "Standing her ground. She lost her son in Iraq, she opposes the war, now she’s camped out at President Bush’s ranch and says she won’t leave until he meets with her."
The level of coverage only increased in the coming days and weeks. As Cindy continued her vigil, Gibson enthused:
"All across the country protests against the war in Iraq, inspired by the mother standing her ground at President Bush’s ranch."
Flashing across their television screens, viewers saw the headline “MOM ON A MISSION: IS ANTIWAR MOVEMENT GROWING?” as Gibson averred:
“This morning a war of words. All across the country protests against the war in Iraq, inspired by the mother standing her ground at President Bush’s ranch. But is anyone in the White House feeling the heat?”
That was then. This is now: in an interview [.mp3] with Chicago’s WLS radio on Aug. 18, Gibson was asked whether his network planned to cover Sheehan’s plans to travel to Martha’s Vineyard, where she is protesting the escalation of the war in Afghanistan while President Obama is vacationing there. Gibson’s answer:
It is one thing to decide war protests aren’t newsworthy, that they’re just the irrelevant emanations of a fringe element radically out of step with the 99 percent of the country that’s marching happily off to war. That, however, is very far from being the case. Back in 2005, Cindy represented a minority that was on its way to becoming a majority. Today, she starts off her renewed vigil with over half of the American people agreeing with her that the Afghan war isn’t worth it.
Yet Gibson’s announced news blackout is being observed well nigh universally: aside from Rush Limbaugh, only the generally conservative Boston Herald, the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, a daytime MSNBC news show, and a few blogs bothered noticing Sheehan’s determination to be "an equal opportunity vacation disruption," as the Herald writer put it.
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