Why Do Angry, Right-Wing Mobs Get Media Respect?
Continued from previous page
Let's watch and see how the Post deals with the mini-mob protest slated for September 12 in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Dick Armey's FreedomWorks. If 100,000-200,000 people turn out, let's see whether the Post keeps that story off the front page. (Yeah, right.) And let's see if the Times runs a brief article on Page 8 and reports that "fewer people attended" than organizers had hoped.
And remember how some in the mainstream press in 2005 treated anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey had been killed while serving in Iraq? An op-ed writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution claimed that "Cindy Sheehan evidently thinks little of her deceased son." The piece also attacked her as being "disgraceful" and her actions as "near-treasonous."
On MSNBC, Norah O'Donnell asked a guest if Sheehan had become "a tool of the left," while pressing another guest on whether it was wise to be associated with the "anti-war extremists" camped out in Crawford, Texas, near President Bush's ranch. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wondered if Sheehan would be remembered as a modern-day Lyndon LaRouche, the fringe political figure who's been accused of being a cult leader and fascist. Later that month, Milbank gave prominent display in the Post to a right-wing activist who accused Sheehan of being a communist.
On September 24, 2005, Sheehan helped lead a massive anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., which drew between 100,000 and 200,000 participants, making it the largest U.S. demonstration since the war began. As part of the protest weekend, Sheehan, along with about 370 anti-war protesters, got herself arrested outside the White House. That night, NBC's Nightly News completely ignored the arrests. (The Post gave the story 600 words on B1.) The evening newscasts on ABC and CBS mentioned the arrests only briefly, and CBS downplayed the numbers involved. It reported that Sheehan was arrested along with "dozens" of others. (What? As in 31 dozen?) And the next morning, ignoring the fact that nearly 400 people chose to be arrested in order to protest the war, CNN reported that "Sheehan and several others were arrested" [emphasis added].
If, come September 12, nearly 400 angry anti-Obama demonstrators decide to get arrested outside the White House, let's see if Nightly News boycotts the story. And let's see if CNN reports it was "several" protesters who got hauled away.
Let's see if the press continues to treat angry (unhinged) conservative protesters as inherently important and newsworthy after having spent years dismissing angry liberals as insignificant and out of the mainstream.