Pro-military mom silenced by mainstream media

Posted: Mar 02, 2006 12:05 AM

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?

This debate is not happening, because this story never made national news. To recap: In an election year, a group used Minnesota as a test market for a possible national buy and one of the prominent stations took the position that the spot should not air. Maybe this didn’t become news because of the hypocrisy of the industry. They often try their best to protect themselves from the type of stories they inflict on others.

The news hook gets better.

On Thursday, February 16th, the Chair of the Democrat Party in Minnesota called on all TV stations to pull the ad. The top Democrats in Minnesota want to suppress the message of Carlson’s group.

Merrilee Carlson was born and raised a Democrat. She doesn’t like politics and she wants to make it clear that her group is non-political. So, the Democrats in Minnesota are trying to suppress the message from mainstream families who have suffered the loss of their children from the war in Iraq. Why is this not news?

That other mom was a full-time, anti-war protester for more than a year before she came up with the PR stunt to go to Crawford during the president’s vacation. The media accepted the stunt and gave her message enormous coverage. This prompted Carlson to take action for her message. Now Carlson is in the middle of legitimate news and the media is silent.

Have we come to the point where it takes a stunt to make news? Merrilee Carlson is thoughtful, sincere, professional and respectful of those who disagree with her. Not only does she have the exact opposite message from the spectacle in Crawford last summer, she has the exact opposite approach. Regarding the efforts of her group she said, "This isn’t about us. We are not looking to be that public figure; we have stepped out because of the need. This is not about us, it is about our children."

Obviously, the mainstream media is going to do everything they can to avoid Carlson. They are not interested in balancing her view against the anti-war view they have so heavily promoted. We already knew the media was liberally biased. Now it’s apparent they are also biased against ordinary people as well. The foaming-at-the-mouth fanatical fringe gets news coverage and the people who portray the best qualities of us are ignored.