Media blackout of the anti-war movement

Marginalizing the anti-war movement has been a major media function since at least the Vietnam War.

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) complained in September 2005 that the “Media shrug off mass movement against war”:

Hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country protested the Iraq War on the weekend of September 24-25, with the largest demonstration bringing between 100,000 and 300,000 to Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

But if you relied on television for your news, you’d hardly know the protests happened at all. According to the Nexis news database, the only mention on the network newscasts that Saturday came on the NBC Nightly News, where the massive march received all of 87 words.

A 2006 FAIR analysis showed the extreme pro-war bias extends even to the “liberal” PBS NewsHour:

The Iraq War was the most frequently featured subject on the NewsHour, with 81 segments and 276 sources. Despite the wide-ranging and international implications of the war, the discussion on the NewsHour was quite circumscribed. White men from the United States dominated the debate with 66 percent of all sources; Iraqi sources accounted for only 15 percent, and voices from other countries barely registered, at 3 percent. Among U.S. sources, 88 percent were white and 90 percent were men.

Current and former U.S. government and military officials constituted 57 percent of all sources, and journalists made up 15 percent. In the entire six months studied, not a single peace activist was heard on the NewsHour on the subject of Iraq….

Of the government officials, Republicans dramatically outnumbered Democrats, 72 percent to 28 percent. The imbalance was virtually the same when only live segment guests were considered (70 percent to 30 percent).

At the beginning of the Iraq War, a FAIR study (Extra!, 5–6/03) of six national news shows including the NewsHour found that they featured war supporters almost 24 times as often as war critics: 71 percent of sources took an explicit pro-war stance, vs. 3 percent expressing opposition. Despite PBS’s mandate to offer an alternative to commercial media, the NewsHour in that study fell closely in line with its commercial competition, with 66 percent pro-war sources vs. 3 percent antiwar.

The current study found the NewsHour to have a continued aversion to antiwar voices. During the period studied, polls found a large proportion of the U.S. public to be in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops; according to the CBS News poll (10/3–5/05, 1/5–8/06, 1/20–25/06), those in favor of having “U.S. troops leave Iraq as soon as possible” ranged from 59 percent to 44 percent, while those who supported keeping troops there “as long as it takes” fluctuated between 50 percent and 36 percent.

But watching the NewsHour, viewers might think there was almost no debate on the issue, let alone a sizable constituency favoring withdrawal. Of the 276 NewsHour sources who discussed Iraq, only 53 expressed an opinion on the subject of U.S. troop withdrawal, and only eight of those sources argued in favor of a timetable for withdrawal. (None argued for immediate withdrawal.) Rep. John Murtha (D.-Penn.) accounted for five of those pro-withdrawal sources, meaning only three different voices were heard on the NewsHour advocating withdrawal. Those arguing against withdrawal (41 sources) outnumbered the pro-withdrawal sources by more than 5-to-1, while four sources took a middle position critical of the Bush “stay the course” strategy without advocating a timetable. Among live guests, the imbalance grew to more than 10-to-1, with 22 sources arguing against withdrawal, two in favor, and two taking a middle position.

And this rant complains that the pro-war conspiracy extends to media (non)coverage of anti-war protests:

For 8 years I attended over 20 massive protests in DC & NYC

Some of those protests had over 500k attendees. I remember a protest in Sept of 2003 when Bloomberg wouldn’t give us a permit to march. We ended up shutting down lower Manhattan thru Times Square – that takes a TON of people to manage that.

Why did we gather? Mainly to protest a war we felt was start without any reason. Sure there were a few nut jobs in our group but for most of us we were everyday regular folks who had something to say and gathered in unity to say it.

Did we get front page news everytime we gathered? Not really. Were we covered all the time on mainstream news – nope. We were lucky we got coverage on C-Span and even then C-Span would give equal coverage to the counter protest that maybe has 100 people gathered.

The Mainstream Media poo-pah’d us as irrelevant but yet bend over backwards to promote way smaller gatherings of white folks who haven’t figured out yet they benefit from what is going on with the Obama administration.

The Tea Party is nothing more than a bunch of fringe fanatics who are hypocrites of the system. Their protests are all about “ME” and “My Money”, “My Guns”. Whereas our protest were about illegal wars – soldiers being sent to die, civilians caught in the crossfire, illegal practices of torture.

I guess if we were a bunch of angry 50+ white folks protesting maybe they would have taken notice. Instead we were a cross-section of American – All colors, all nationalities, a regular melting pot of American Society. I guess that doesn’t sell well on MSM.

Posted by James on Tuesday, April 20, 2010