Friday, August 12, 2005

Antiwar Activists Decry

WaPo reported Organizers of next month's planned antiwar demonstrations yesterday criticized media organizations, including The Washington Post, for co-sponsoring with the Department of Defense an event to remember the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and to support the troops in Iraq.

That is their right; a right protected by the very military they oppose. And I decry the Media's coverage of the very small collection of people gathered around Cindy Sheehan outside the President's Western White House in Crawford.
The Defense Department-sponsored Freedom Walk will proceed from the Pentagon to the Mall near the Reflecting Pool on the morning of Sept. 11. Country music star Clint Black is donating his time to perform a concert after the walk that will be broadcast to troops overseas. The Post, WTOP radio, WJLA-TV and NewsChannel 8 are donating public service announcements in advance of the event. Non-media co-sponsors include Lockheed Martin, Subway and the Washington Convention and Tourism Corp., according to the Defense Department's Web site for the walk. "The Pentagon has done some kind of event on 9/11 ever since it happened because we came under attack," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for communications. "It's to commemorate the victims of 9/11. It's to honor our veterans past and present."
And it is right that we should honor them
On Sept. 24, nearly two weeks after the walk, critics of the war will gather in Washington for three days of demonstrations, including a concert, a march and other events. Yesterday, some of those critics said media support for the Pentagon event undercuts their credibility in covering the controversial war as well as reporting on antiwar efforts.
They are certainly reporting just the bad news out of Iraq, in an effort to increase dissatisfaction with the war, but they would really look foolish if they ignored a major event like Freedom Walk
"No common person will see this as not taking sides in this war," said Adam Eidinger, a promoter of the antiwar concert being called Operation Ceasefire. "This is clearly support for the war because it's being organized by the U.S. military."
And if the military did nothing to honor the troups, they would be criticized for that.
"With The Washington Post and other media outlets supporting this, they are in effect putting their opinions behind the Bush administration," said Caneisha Mills, a national organizer with the antiwar group International ANSWER and a student at Howard University.
Representatives of the media organizations drew a distinction between supporting the troops and supporting the war policy. They also said the sponsorships emanated from the corporate sides of their companies, not the newsroom. "Our interest in the event is consistent with our past support of causes related to the victims of September 11 and the veterans of wars past and present," said Eric Grant, spokesman for The Post. "The event was never presented to The Post as a rally to support the war. We would be disappointed if it took that approach." "They're supporting American troops worldwide, supporting troops, not the policy, and they're honoring people who died in the Pentagon attack on 9/11," said Jim Farley, vice president for news and programming with WTOP. "As I see it, those are both worthwhile. We're not making a connection between the war and 9/11."

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