Todd Manzi

A grieving mother of a soldier killed in Iraq wants to voice her opinion. She has a message about the war in Iraq and feels the American people need to hear what she has to say.

Her name is Merrilee Carlson and her story is compelling and newsworthy. Unlike another mother of a fallen soldier, Carlson is not a household name. Her message is exactly opposite of the over-exposed message of the well-known protesting mom.

Regarding the war in Iraq, Carlson says, "We have to take a step back and look at what we have asked our military to do. We have asked them to do a job. It doesn’t matter how we got there. The fact is we are there and we have a job to finish."

Carlson began trying to get her message out last August and September. She didn’t like what was coming out of Crawford and felt the need to correct the record.

In the last couple of weeks the organization that Carlson chairs, Minnesota Families United, has been in the center of a controversy that, by any objective reasoning, should have made national news.

Minnesota Families United teamed with Progress for America Voter Fund and produced two television spots. Minnesota was used as a test market for the spots and PFA made a rather large statewide television buy. The ABC affiliate in the Twin Cities market, KSTP, refused to air the spots.

The decision not to air the first MFU commercial was made by Rob Hubbard, General Manager. His objection was over two lines in the spot:

1) The media only reports the bad news, but American troops are making real progress
2) You would never know it from the news reports, but our enemy in Iraq is Al Qaeda.

Hubbard’s position was that those lines did not apply to his television station; therefore, he would not allow the spot to run. Hubbard says he would have run the spot if they edited it to make it clear they were talking about the media in general, but not KSTP specifically.

It is certainly understandable that Hubbard is worried his viewers might get the wrong impression. After all, the reason these spots were produced in the first place is that these families of our fallen heroes believe millions have gotten the wrong impression regarding the progress our soldiers have made in Iraq. Still, the question remains: Do these families deserve to have their voices heard, or should they be stifled?

Todd Manzi

Todd Manzi is a media critic.

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