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Media’s War on Bush Based on Lies, Faulty Intel

By Todd Manzi
Human Events
Posted Nov 9, 2005

The mainstream media (MSM) has conspired to package the message of Democrats and antiwar protesters in the most favorable light possible while doing everything they can to prevent President Bush from getting his message out.  There is now solid evidence that our media are accomplishing what our enemy cannot—they are eroding America’s will to fight.  Worse, they did it based on a campaign of lies and deceit.  The terrorists must be thrilled with America’s MSM.

The blatantly biased “reporting” of the media is showing up in polling data.  According to a Rasmussen poll conducted July 13-14 this year, 44% of Americans believed the U.S. and its allies were winning the War on Terror.  In August, the perception that we are winning dropped to 38% and was only able to climb back to 39% by the October poll.  This drop did not happen because of a military victory by our enemy, it was the result of a public relations bonanza for the antiwar movement.

President Bush believes this is a just war and we are winning it.  Antiwar protesters believe this is an unjust war and we should pull out immediately.  We should all agree that the American people deserve fair news coverage of both sides of this debate.  Unfortunately, the MSM were not fair in August and they joined forces with the antiwar movement.  Their campaign against President Bush’s message was based on lies and faulty intelligence.  It will cost more lives to be lost in Iraq.  The terrorists are delighted.

The History of Cindy Sheehan

The big push by the MSM started with the packaging of Cindy Sheehan as the sympathetic face of the antiwar movement.  Here is the history of Sheehan before she crashed President Bush’s vacation.

1)       A mother who lost her son in Iraq in April 2004.

2)       Met with the President in June, 2004.  Asked him “What did my son die for?”  “You have two children.  Try to imagine them being killed in a war.  How would that make you feel?”  “Why were we invited here?  We didn’t vote for you in 2000 and we’re certainly not going to vote for you in 2004.”

3)       Became a full-time anti-war protester in July 2004.

4)       Responded to an offer on the website of RealVoices.org that said, “If you had a minute to say anything you wanted to George W. Bush in front of thousands of American voters, what would you say?” Made the spot, “A Mother’s Tears,” which the organization spent $200,000 to air in battle ground states and used as its centerpiece to receive considerable press coverage in late September.

5)       October 2004:  MoveOn.org purchased “A Mother’s Tears” and spent another $1 million to continue airing the spot

6)       Actively campaigned to defeat the reelection of President Bush.

7)       January 2005:  Founded Gold Star Families for Peace

8)       Protested the President on Inauguration Day with the message: “We are turning our back on him and his policies.”

9)       Was a featured speaker at an antiwar protest on March 19, 2005, in Fayetteville, N.C. She complained that she didn’t get enough press because of Terry Schiavo.  Wrote “Amazing Hypocrites.” 

10)   Spoke at an antiwar, pro-Lynne Stewart rally at San Francisco State University in April 2005 where she called President Bush the biggest terrorist in the world and said his “party-animal” girls should be sent to Iraq.

11)   June 16, 2005:  Sheehan was one of four panelists (Joe Wilson was another) at the  farcical “Downing Street Memo Hearings” staged by Congressman Conyers. 

12)   Scheduled to be a key speaker at the Veterans For Peace National Convention in Dallas.  A 60-page program booklet and a press release listed her as a speaker.  Sheehan had planned to be in Dallas on August 5 for at least several weeks prior to the speech.  Her visit to Texas was not impulsive.

13)   On August 3, she decided to go to Crawford after her speech in Dallas on August 5.  Sent an email and posted on the dailykos.com requesting support and encouraging people to join with her in Crawford.  The purpose was to ask President Bush to “explain this ‘noble cause’ to us and ask him why Jenna and Barbara are not in harm’s way, if the cause is so noble.  If George is not ready to send the twins, then he should bring our troops home immediately, we will demand a speedy withdrawal.”

14)   August 5 in Dallas:  Sheehan called President Bush a lying bastard, chickenhawk, filth-spewer and warmonger

15)   August 6 in Crawford:  Showed up with a 50-person entourage as a one woman, a grief-stricken mother, who came to Crawford impulsively and decided to camp out until she could meet with the president to ask him why her son had to die in Iraq.

Nobody doubts the grief Sheehan has suffered and we all acknowledge nothing could be worse than losing a child.  But, is it fair for the MSM to carry Sheehan’s antiwar message to their audience by saying she is just one grief stricken mother who wants a meeting with the President to ask: “Why did my son die?”  Or, based on her history would it have been more accurate to deliver Sheehan’s antiwar message by disclosing that she has worked hard for more than a year and became the “go to girl” of the antiwar movement.

If it makes no difference, why did the MSM lie to us?

Mark Knoller of CBS Evening News

On August 6, CBS Evening News used a clip they shot of Sheehan for a story that anchor Thalia Assuras introduced with the words, “…and questions about the politics of syntax.  Here’s Mark Knoller.”  From the Media Research Center’s website, here is what followed Assuras’ introduction and a brief clip of protesters:

Knoller:  “Led by the mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, some 50 protesters today tried to take their pain and anger to the President at his ranch.”

Cindy Sheehan: “He took something away from me that’s irreplaceable.  He’s going on a five-week vacation when we’re in the middle of war, and I’m never going to be able to enjoy another vacation because he killed my oldest son.”

Knoller:  “The passion of their message reflects the polarizing effects of war and may be why some in the administration tried over the last several weeks to call the conflict something else.”

The segment goes on with clips of General Richard Myers, Donald Rumsfeld and four different clips of President Bush referring to the war.  Knoller makes the point that President Bush referred to the war as a war more than a dozen times in a 47-minute speech.  Then shows a clip of a University Professor saying, “…I think he thinks if he says that we’re at war that he’ll get more support.”  Knoller ends his piece with the zinger that “under the Constitution, only Congress can declare war.”

The amazing thing about this segment is that it focused on the choice of words the administration used, but did not care about the choice of words Cindy Sheehan used.  Raw footage of Knoller's segment shows Sheehan saying:

Iraq was not a terrorist state, but now that we have decimated the country the boarders are open, freedom fighters from other countries are going in.  And they [the Bush administration] have created more terrorism by going to an Islamic country, devastating the country, and killing innocent people in that country.

In the context of the story aired regarding the importance of words, objectively speaking, it makes much more sense to use Sheehan’s “freedom fighters” quote than the quote Knoller actually used.  Columnist John Leo indicated in his September 6 column, that when asked why he didn’t use the quote, Knoller said he “really wasn’t interested.” 

Apparently, none of the other reporters present at the taping of the Sheehan interview thought her description of our enemy was important. 
Two days later, on Monday, Knoller had a segment on CBS’s “Early Show.” looking at the middle of the segment shows how Knoller continued his biased packaging of Sheehan:

Knoller: “But in fact she already met with Mr. Bush last year, during his visit to the Fort Lewis Army base in Washington State.”
Sheehan:  “He came in, and the very first thing he said was, ‘who are we honoring here?’ And me and my family looked at each other like, he doesn’t even know Casey’s name, and he wouldn’t even look at the pictures we brought of Casey.”

Knoller:  “Sheehan wants another meeting to tell him face to face of her objections with the war in Iraq.”

Either Knoller is incompetent and he failed to do any research on Sheehan, or he mislead his audience by not giving them all of the information he had.  On her website, for instance, he would have found that before coming to Crawford, Sheehan told her fellow protesters her mission was to ask President Bush why he doesn’t send his twin daughters over to Iraq, not as Knoller said, “tell him face to face of her objections”. 

Other Television Coverage

The Media Research Center’s CyberAlerts from August 9 through August 26 did a marvelous job of documenting the television coverage of Cindy Sheehan’s protest in Crawford.  They show liberal biased reporting from Katie Couric, Terry Moran, Thalia Assuras, Mark Knoller, Robin Roberts, Don Teague, Julie Chen, Soledad O’Brien, Elaine Quijano, Charles Gibson, Alison Stewart, Don Teague, John Yang, Bob Schieffer, Bill Plante, Brian Williams, Kelly O’Donnell, Bob Woodruff, Keith Olbermann, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Geoff Morrell, Wolf Blitzer, Elizabeth Vargas, Carl Quintanilla and others.

Nobody mentions the history and antiwar protesting prominence of Cindy Sheehan.  Cumulatively, these television personalities paint a sympathetic picture of the “face of the antiwar movement” as a grieving mother who came to Crawford as just one woman to ask the President why her son had to die.  As the story mushroomed, these television personalities also led their audience to believe that Sheehan had somehow sparked a fire that led to the month-long spectacle in Crawford.  They must have known that it was not Sheehan who drew the crowd, but rather the promise of their cameras eagerly rolling and ready to convey the antiwar message that built the protest.

Amanda Ripley in Time

The 1,326-word piece written by Amanda Ripley for the August 22 issue of Time magazine provides a good example of the liberal-biased print media coverage Cindy Sheehan enjoyed at “camp Crawford”.

Looking at Ripley’s account of Sheehan’s husband and daughter, it’s clear she read the March 20 San Francisco Chronicle article. Based on the background information Ripley knew Cindy Sheehan:

1)       Became a full-time antiwar activist since July of 2004.

2)       Founded Gold Star Families of Peace in January.

3)       Filmed a TV ad where she “spoke directly to President Bush, saying…when you haven’t been honest with us, Mr. Bush.  When you and your advisers rushed us into this war. How do you think we felt when we heard the Senate report that said there was no link between Iraq and 9/11?”

4)       Attempted to meet with Donald Rumsfeld in January.

5)       Met President Bush in Fort Lewis and asked him, “Mr. President, what did my son die for?”

Even though Ripley knew all of that, she didn’t mention any of it in her article.  She conceals important information and Time’s readers do not get the full picture or facts about Sheehan.  Ripley describes Cindy Sheehan very sympathetically.  She speaks in a “high childlike voice,” “whole thing was spur of the moment,” and “she demands that U.S. troops come home now, and she insists on telling that to Bush personally”.  No mention that Sheehan spoke directly to the President in a campaign television spot backed by a $1.2 million media buy.

Ripley says:

Sheehan’s impulsive decision to come to Crawford--with five people, some chairs and no flashlights--has spawned a small phenomenon.

Sheehan did not show up impulsively, she showed up in a painted bus with 50 people.

After describing a television ad, Sheehan and her supports were airing in Crawford, Ripley, with immodest audacity, surmises:

That’s exactly the kind of move the White House hopes will play into its hands.  Once Sheehan starts acting like a politician, say some Republicans and even some Democrats, she will become just another voice in the debate--easy, in other words, to neutralize.

Amanda Ripley knew, or should have known, when she wrote those two sentences that Sheehan did, in fact, act like a politician for more than a year before Crawford.  Sheehan campaigned against the reelection of the President, if that is not acting like a politician, what is?  Ripley probably agrees that Sheehan would have been neutralized if the truth about Sheehan were to come out.  Ripley lied to her audience to make sure the antiwar message had maximum impact.

What explanation could Ripley possibly have for the following paragraph?

And the White House noted that Bush met with Sheehan too, two months after Casey died.  She had always had misgivings about the war, and she says she had mixed feelings about Bush’s demeanor at the meeting, but she kept quiet.

Kept quiet?  Okay, so who is lying?  Amanda Ripley in Time, Jonathan Curiel in The San Francisco Chronicle, or Cindy Sheehan in her interview with Democracy Now on June 29, 2005:

Amy Goodman:  What did you say to him [President Bush]?

Cindy Sheehan:  The first thing, he came up to me, and he goes, “Mom, I can’t imagine your loss.  I can’t imagine losing a loved one, you know, whether it be a mother, a father, a sister or brother.”  And I stopped him, and I said, “You have two children.  Try to imagine them being killed in a war.  How would that make you feel?”  And he got a little bit of--just a little bit of human flicker in his eye, like he might be connected for a minute, because this is a man that’s disconnected from humanity.  And he had just got a little flicker in his eye, and I said, “Trust me, you don’t want to go there.”  And you know what he told me?  He goes, “You’re right, I don’t.”  And so I said, “Well thank you for putting me there.”

And then he moved on to the next person, and then a little while later we were talking, and he went up to my oldest daughter, and he said, “I wish I could bring back your loved one to replace the hole in your heart.”  And she goes, “Yeah, so do we.”  And he gave her the dirtiest look and turned his back on her and ignored her for the rest of the meeting.  And then a little later on in the meeting, I said, “Why were we invited here?  We didn’t vote for you in 2000, and we’re certainly not going to vote for you in 2004.”  And he said, “It’s not about politics.”

She kept quiet, Ms. Ripley?

More Print Coverage

Amanda Ripley was not alone.  Craig Gordon of Newsday filed three similar reports:  August 12, August 13 and August 23.  Many papers carried columns written by Sheehan herself.  John Conyers has even posted a nice sampling of liberally biased print coverage of the August antiwar message. 

In total, hundreds of newspaper and magazine people across the country filed liberally biased pieced filled with antiwar talking points passed off as news.   They drove the poll numbers down. 

As if this were not enough, Greg Mitchell, editor of the leading newspaper industry magazine, Editor & Publisher, wrote a piece titled, “Tipping Point on Iraq.”  The August 22 piece urged newspapers to editorialize about getting the U.S. out of Iraq.  The report on Mitchell’s piece is available at the MRC. 

Deb Riechmann of Associated Press
 
When liberally biased Deb Riechmann files a story, it is broadcast on hundreds of television stations and printed in hundreds of newspapers throughout the country.  Sadly, this AP reporter has a long history of interjecting her liberal spin into the stories that end up getting packaged as news.

Riechmann kicked off the Sheehan coverage on August 6 with a story that began:

The angry mother of a fallen U.S. soldier staged a protest near President Bush’s ranch today, demanding an accounting from the president of how he has conducted the war in Iraq.

Supported by more than 50 shouting demonstrators, Cindy Sheehan, 48, told reporters, “I want to ask George Bush:  Why did my son die?”
Sheehan arrived in Crawford aboard a bus painted red, white and blue and emblazoned with the words, “Impeachment Tour.”

Riechmann made no mention that Sheehan had already met with the President once before and had already asked him why.  Riechmann included in her story that Sheehan was in Dallas at the VFP convention before coming to Crawford.  So she must have known she was a featured speaker there.  Sheehan loves to talk to the press and Riechmann loves to ask questions, so it is likely the AP reporter knew Sheehan’s entire history including the fact that she already met with the President and already asked him, “Why did my son die?”

At a minimum, if she were an objective reporter, her talk with Sheehan should have prompted Riechmann to do a Lexis-Nexis search before she filed her story.  It is also fair to ask the reporter why none of Sheehan’s antiwar protest accomplishments made it into this all important first story.
To put Riechmann’s liberal bias in perspective, fast forward a couple of months.  On October 13, President Bush was trying to get his message out.  Riechmann’s filing for the day titled, “Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged,” lead with:

It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday’s vote on a new Iraqi constitution.

President Bush’s message got lost in the news cycle Riechmann created regarding the “staging” of the teleconference.  Looking at these two AP filings together it is difficult to come to a conclusion other than Riechmann is going way beyond reporting and she is actively shaping the news to fit her preconceived notions and political ideology. 

On October 25, Riechmann had the audacity to file a story with the headline, “Bush Tries to Revive Support for Iraq War.”  She manages to be both obtuse and liberally biased in her first paragraph:

President Bush tried Tuesday to begin reviving U.S. support for the war in Iraq and reinvigorating his troubled presidency as the U.S. military death toll topped 2,000.

The truth is the president gave pretty much the same speech on October 6 as he did on October 25. James Phillips does a good job of capturing the President’s message for anyone who doesn’t rely on the AP for news.  A few days after the speech the administration tried to get the message out by releasing an intercepted terrorist letter. A few days after that, the President again tried to get his message out with the teleconference Riechmann sideswiped. 

Riechmann does a horrible job of relaying what Bush’s message is, but we could at least hope she would have enough competence as a reporter to know when and where the President began trying to revive support for the war in Iraq.

In a stunning example of liberal media bias, Riechmann waits until the tenth paragraph to mention that Baghdad announced the adoption of a new constitution.  Perhaps if Riechmann were paying attention to the message President Bush has been trying to get out, she would know that the adoption of the constitution was very important.  It’s clear that she is paying attention to the antiwar crowd; she managed to get the message they wanted to promote--death toll reaches 2,000--into the lead paragraph of this story.

Riechmann plugged MoveOn.org, Edward Kennedy, Dick Durbin and Cindy Sheehan before she mentioned the newly approved Iraqi constitution.

This story about Bush trying to get his message out did not include anything about what his message is, but had quotes from three of his opponents once again conveying their message.  Immediately following a brief quote from Bush regarding the good news from Baghdad, Riechmann states:

Public support for Bush’s handling of Iraq is at its lowest point, 37 percent, roughly where it has been since early August, according to AP-Ipsos polling.

My guess is she included that paragraph to remind all of her friends in the MSM how successful she was at repackaging Cindy Sheehan in early August.  Riechmann and the rest of the MSM are the why when it comes to the low polling numbers.

More from the Associated Press

Deb Riechmann was not the only Associated Press reporter that put a liberal spin on the Sheehan coverage and helped her package the antiwar message so that it would be palatable to the American people.  PowerlineBlog.com dissects two filings by Angela Brown.

Ron Fournier opened an August 18 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.”

It is not credible to say this began as one mother’s vigil.  The “grieving face” was at best a media makeover.

Again, this is just a sampling, from the AP; there was more.

President Bush’s Message

President Bush has a strong message that explains why we are at war, what the stakes are and how we are doing.  His 2003 State of the Union address is still relevant today.  Anyone who wants to have an informed opinion on why we are at war must understand what was said in this address.

The President’s speeches on October 6, October 25, and October 28, combined with the terrorist letter released October 11, will help people form an opinion as to whether we are winning the war or not.  Keeping up with important news from Iraq is the other necessary component needed to be well informed.

Thanks to the liberally biased MSM, many people do not know what the President said in any of these speeches, what was written in the letter, or that the Iraqi constitution was approved.  But they do know what Cindy Sheehan said, the essence of the Democrats’ talking points and that the death-toll is more than 2,000 Americans killed.  How can these people have informed opinions regarding the war and whether or not we should be there?

Not to beat a dead horse, but…the perception that the U.S. is winning the war dropped by six percentage points in early August.

Intellectual Honesty

The MSM are not objective, but the problem would be just as bad if there were a conservative bias in the media.  We Americans, living in a free country, deserve to have news that objectively present the who, what, where, when and why of the events of the day.  From there we can form our opinions that will shape this country as we vote. 

The people who bring us our news intuitively understand their obligation to be objective; otherwise, they would not protest and argue so much when they are exposed for being liberally biased.

The double standard the MSM used regarding coverage of the war is void of intellectual honesty.  The foundation of the antiwar position is the absurd claim that President Bush lied to take us into war.  That claim started with the now famous 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address.  To adopt the antiwar position you have to agree that the only reason we went to war was that Bush “sold” the American people when he said, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”  You must agree the 16 words were an intentional lie.  You must agree that since the “lie” was the reason we went to war, we must withdraw now.  You have to ignore everything else that was said by everyone else before the war began.  You must ignore every positive development that has happened since the war started and you must focus only on casualties.

To believe there is no liberal media bias you have to agree the press was fair with their coverage of Cindy Sheehan in August.  You must have the position that it doesn’t matter that the reason we were told she was in Crawford was based on a lie.  You must believe that we needed to hear what she and the other antiwar protesters had to say, even though there was no valid reason for the coverage to begin with.  You must believe that it was Sheehan that prompted all of the people, politicians and celebrities to join her and they would have been there even if the media were not covering the event.  You have to believe the media did nothing to help propel the protest to the level it achieved.

If there is no liberal media bias, you have to believe the core reason for the war in Iraq was based on a lie and the core reason for the enormous amount of media attention devoted to the August war in Crawford was based on truth.




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