Like Iron Filings to a Magnet

With the Cindy Sheehan-inspired anti-war bus tour coming to a city (and a news outlet) near you, the blogosphere sounds something like this:

Right-leaning bloggers: Blahblahblah blame the media, blahblahblah support the troops.

Left-leaning bloggers: Wahwahwah blame the media, wahwahwah give peace a chance.

Alas, the Blog Report cannot end here, and so we offer you some dreary specifics.

The Washington Post, huffs Hugh Hewitt, is practicing “agenda journalism” (the agenda being distinctly “anti-war”) with this article today about (to quote the piece) how “military families … have become a powerful voice on both sides of the bitter argument over U.S. involvement in Iraq” and how the “anti-war march” planned in Washington, D.C. this weekend will be a “flash point for [the] rift among military families.” There is no “rift,” Hewitt declares, “if 90 percent of military family members reject Sheehan’s agenda” — and, from Hewitt’s personal “observations of military families,” he can “estimate that for every Cindy Sheehan, there are at least 100 proud and genuinely supportive family members who do not ‘support’ the troops by condemning the war.”

As if reporting on imaginary rifts weren’t enough, ABC is “martyring” Cindy Sheehan, according to Erick at (taking his cue from National Review), with the headline, “Peace Activist Sheehan Hurt at Rally” and the subhead, “Peace Activist Cindy Sheehan Says She Was Roughed Up at New York Rally Scuffle,” despite, Erick argues, “the wire copy used by ABC News clearly using Cindy Sheehan’s own words that she was ‘jostled’ when the police broke up the rally.” (While we’re splitting hairs, that wire copy also uses Sheehan’s own words that she “said she was hurt slightly” and that she was “pulled back pretty roughly” and “shoved.”)

While ABC is “martyring” Sheehan, the New York Times is merely “worship[ing]” her, or, as Mediacrity tells it, “giving Sheehan a bullhorn” in a piece “so worshipful as to be almost goofy.” Even the headline, “An Anti-War Speech in Union Square is Stopped by Police Citing Paperwork Rules,” is problematic as far as Mediacrity is concerned — “inaccurate” because it wasn’t mere “paperwork rules” that stopped the speech but rather the organizer’s lack of an “essential permit known to every New York protester since time immemorial.”

It was The Man — not the lack of an “essential permit” — that shut down Sheehan’s Union Square speech, claims Steve Gilliard (The Man, in this case, being the mayor). Sheehan was “silenced by City Hall,” Gilliard contends, because “Bloomberg has fought every protest which would make the GOP look bad,” and “he’s a control freak Republican when it comes to Bush and national policy.”

At Count Dookie, John admires and respect[s] Cindy Sheehan” but laments that “the media has essentially ignored the public’s call to end the war and [Sheehan’s] is the only voice of that opinion that [the media] have been willing to air” (although he doesn’t fault Sheehan “for taking up the mantle the media thrust upon her.”)

Beth of Beth’s Blog confesses that she is probably not going to make it to the anti-war rally in D.C. but will “feel guilty about skipping these kinds of things, especially after Cindy Sheehan and the peace movement actually (finally!) received major media attention. … Maybe the media will some day discover the fact that protests for peace are (shock! gasp!) peaceful.”

Looks like no one is satisfied with Sheehan-related press coverage. What to do? Link to a story that everyone can hate together or, as Backword notes, includes “something to offend just about everyone.” (Personally, we’re offended by the use of anonymous sourcing in the lead.)

Liz Cox Barrett

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.