One of the most profoundly annoying conceits of liberalism is the idea that dissent is the solitary province of the Left, and when liberals do it, they should be glorified for doing it, no matter how outrageous the protest.
President Bush is spending some vacation time in Crawford, Texas, so the media, predictably, are once again glorifying his left-wing protesters with lavish coverage of their antics, while dutifully refusing to identify them in any way as left wing. Call it covering and covering up. Time and Newsweek both ran pictures of a tiny group holding MoveOn.org signs protesting the John Roberts nomination outside the White House. Neither magazine identified the group as liberals, nor even mentioned MoveOn; you had to squint at the photos to make out the group's name on the protest signs.
Now, angry, Bush-hating Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq and co-founder of "Gold Star Families for Peace" -- last glorified by ABC in January for protesting President Bush's "lavish" second inauguration -- is being celebrated again as she sits outside Bush's Texas ranch. On their Saturday evening newscasts on Aug. 6, ABC and CBS touted the Sheehan protest with just "a few dozen people," allowing her to say Bush is enjoying his vacation while "I'm never going to be able to enjoy another vacation because he killed my son."
Bush killed him, she says. Not Saddam-loving terrorists. Bush.
No one in the media finds this rhetoric overheated. But just how overheated is Cindy Sheehan? In the world of politics, this woman deserves a padded cell. On her website, Sheehan wildly proclaims that "overwhelming" evidence proves the president is a traitor: "George [Bush] and his indecent bandits traitorously had intelligence fabricated to fit their goal of invading Iraq."
On Monday morning, the Sheehan publicity continued, but still no one reported how radical she is. CNN's graphic throughout their story on "American Morning" read "Peace Mom." In a "Good Morning America" devoted almost entirely to mourning the death of Peter Jennings, ABC made room for the "angry and determined mother" on her "peace vigil." NBC's "Today" began their show by promoting "a mother's vigil" in the first seconds of the program.
Can you imagine the networks ruining the Clinton vacation on Martha's Vineyard by making a big story out of a conservative protester there? I can't, because they didn't. In 1998, a few weeks after Clinton admitted sex with Monica Lewinsky, he went to his first partisan pep rally in Worcester, Mass. ABC and CBS did full stories, and the streets outside the hall were filled with protesters demanding Clinton resign, but ABC and CBS failed to interview them. Only Fox News brought up how a local Democratic city council member, Konstantina Lukes, refused to attend.
Cut back to the present. Cindy Sheehan wasn't the only "peace" protester glorified by "Today." Late in the Monday program, they aired another seven minutes of pure propaganda on the "Raging Grannies" of Tucson, Ariz., who muster a whopping 15 to 20 protesters outside a military recruitment center every Wednesday.
What is it with these left-wing grannies, anyway? It was almost exactly like five years ago, when the publicity frenzy was for Doris "Granny D" Haddock, agitating for the liberal cause of "campaign finance reform." ABC's Charles Gibson congratulated her for her "very worthy work." NBC's Matt Lauer ("I love Granny D!") and Katie Couric ("She's great!") took turns cheerleading.
For the Tucson grannies, anchor Natalie Morales could only find cuteness and "commitment," not mudslinging and hard-core ideology: "Beware, there is a group of grannies serving up much more than milk and cookies. NBC's Peter Alexander caught up with them, proving commitment has no age limit."
After a syrupy story in which Alexander hailed them as "compassionate," but never described them as harsh or ultraliberal, even as they screeched against the "illegal, immoral war" and yelled, "No blood for oil," Morales interviewed four of the Tucson activists, dressed in stereotypical "granny" garb and praised them for their "witty lyrics" and their status as role models.
NBC never explained the "Raging Grannies" are a project of the local chapter of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, a 90-year-old "peace" group that despises any military spending and opposed even the Cold War. The grannies are loonies who pass out flyers stating that "The Iraq war has everything to do with U.S. controlling access to Middle Eastern Oil," and the war has nothing to do with terrorism, but "everything to do with U.S. world domination." Even so, NBC's Alexander supinely claimed, "they say they're fighting for the men and women fighting for them."
"News" stories like these show that the media have chosen sides between the liberation backers and the "peace" protesters. They are to news what these protesters are to reasonable discourse.