2. WashPost's Dana Milbank: You Can't Mess With Cindy's Iconic Aura
3. Washington Post Page 1 Blast: "Roberts Resisted Women's Rights"
4. HBO Series Goes Out With Another Angry Rant Against the Iraq War
Before and after Cindy Sheehan's announcement Thursday that she was leaving Crawford to attend to her ill mother, the networks celebrated her supposed achievements and hoped they'd re-invigorate the anti-war movement. "Did just one grieving mother spark the beginnings of an anti-war movement? We'll give you the 'Inside Story,'" CBS anchor John Roberts promised before Wyatt Andrews trumpeted: "Her movement seemed to catch fire Wednesday night as tens of thousands of people in more than a thousand places attended vigils in support." He insisted that it's "very clear Cindy Sheehan has tapped the public's frustration." ABC anchor saw "a campaign born of sadness and resolution." Thursday morning, ABC's Charlie Gibson championed: "All across the country protests against the war in Iraq, inspired by the mother standing her ground at President Bush's ranch." On screen, GMA put "MOM ON A MISSION: IS ANTIWAR MOVEMENT GROWING?" George Stephanopoulos claimed "a lot of Republicans would say" that "this is the President's swift boat moment."
The AP's Ron Fournier got into the act too, opening a Thursday night dispatch: "What began as one mother's vigil on a country road in Texas two weeks ago has grown into a nationwide protest, putting a grieving human face to the miseries of war and the misgivings about President Bush's strategies in Iraq."
He insisted: "While her backers maintain the vigil in Texas, Republican Party leaders are worried that the so-called Peace Mom has brought long-simmering unease over Iraq to a boil by galvanizing anti-war activists. They fear that protests will strike a chord with the large number of Americans who have long felt uneasy about the war yet have been giving Bush the benefit of the doubt."
A further rundown of those and a couple of other fawning stories from Thursday, August 18:
# CBS Evening News. Anchor John Roberts, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed, offered this plug: "Coming up next on tonight's CBS Evening News, did just one grieving mother spark the beginnings of an anti-war movement? We'll give you the 'Inside Story.'"
Roberts set up the subsequent story: "Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, suspended her anti-war vigil outside of President Bush's ranch today after learning that her 74-year-old mother had a stroke. Sheehan's protest has already drawn world attention, but is it affecting public opinion? Wyatt Andrews has tonight's 'Inside Story.'"
Andrews began: "Whatever Cindy Sheehan represents, her movement seemed to catch fire Wednesday night as tens of thousands of people in more than a thousand places attended vigils in support. The question is: In support of what?"
Vargas introduced a series of point-counterpoint clips from two parents: "We're going to take 'A Closer Look' tonight at a new national movement against the war in Iraq, the woman who started it, and the people who do not agree. It is a campaign born of sadness and resolution. In dozens of cities last night, people gathered to show support for Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq and decided to do something about the war she does not support. [Cindy Sheehan] Ms. Sheehan has been camped near President Bush's ranch in Texas for nearly two weeks now, asking for a meeting with President Bush, and telling anyone who will listen that American troops should get out of Iraq.
In the 7am newscast, Robin Roberts introduced a story: "Thousands of anti-war voices have joined the mission of military mom Cindy Sheehan, who has been camped outside the President's ranch. ABC's Geoff Morrell joins us live from Crawford, Texas. Good morning, Geoff."
Morrell checked in: "Good morning, Robin. There is more evidence that Cindy Sheehan is re-energizing the anti-war movement. Her sunset vigil on the road to the President's ranch spawned an estimated 1,500 others nationwide."
Following a segment with pro/con on war from two parents who lost sons in Iraq, with "MOM ON A MISSION: IS ANTIWAR MOVEMENT GROWING?" on screen, Gibson bought aboard, from Washington, DC, George Stephanopoulos.
His first question, as tracked by the MRC's Brian Boyd: "Are Cindy Sheehan and the anti-war movement doing President Bush any political damage? Joining us now from Washington, This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos. George, Cindy Sheehan to an extent has become a focal point, a symbol for those who oppose the war. Has the White House in anyway let her become so by the President not meeting with her?"
O'Donnell: "Good morning, Ann. For the first time since Cindy Sheehan set up camp near the President's ranch, supporters and some detractors in places far away from Crawford added their own voices to hers. Outside the president's other home, the White House, the message was the same as in Crawford, citizen opposed to the war in Iraq-"
WASHINGTON -- What began as one mother's vigil on a country road in Texas two weeks ago has grown into a nationwide protest, putting a grieving human face to the miseries of war and the misgivings about President Bush's strategies in Iraq.
It's still not clear whether Cindy Sheehan's effort was the start of a lasting anti-war movement or a fleeting summertime story fueled by media-savvy liberal interest groups....
While her backers maintain the vigil in Texas, Republican Party leaders are worried that the so-called Peace Mom has brought long-simmering unease over Iraq to a boil by galvanizing anti-war activists. They fear that protests will strike a chord with the large number of Americans who have long felt uneasy about the war yet have been giving Bush the benefit of the doubt.
The president's falling poll numbers -- less than 40 percent approve of his handling of Iraq -- could drop further, threatening his military plans in Iraq, his agenda at home and Republican political prospects in the 2006 congressional and gubernatorial elections.
But will that happen? Will one woman's demand to meet the president outside his vacation home be viewed someday as a tipping point against the war?
"It's really hard to tell whether this will be a blip on the radar screen or whether it reflects a deep change in public opinion," said John Green, director of the University of Akron's Ray C. Bliss Institute for Applied Politics. "A lot will depend to what extent Sheehan and her vigil link up with the disquiet we're seeing in public polls, especially with the people who haven't been opposed to the war in the past."
It also depends on factors outside the control of Bush, Sheehan and their supporters. A reduction in violence in Iraq or a legitimate, new constitution for the government would help Bush. More bloodshed and no political progress in Iraq would probably give momentum to Sheehan and her supporters.
No matter what happens, it can't be denied that Sheehan thrust herself and her cause into the spotlight at near-record speed....
END of Excerpt
More like the news media thrust Sheehan's cause into the spotlight at near-record speed.
For Fournier's story in full: news.yahoo.com
In a live chat Thursday, Washington Post reporter/Master of the Snarky Arts Dana Milbank lowered himself to answering a conservative complaint that Cindy Sheehan is lamely attempting to achieve a second "do over" meeting with the President. Milbank replied: "No doubt the request for a second meeting is contrived. It's not as if Sheehan really believes she would change the President's mind. But that's just a vehicle that allows her to set up this camp in Crawford." But this "contrived...vehicle" has been presented by Milbank and other reporters as a grand political problem for President Bush. Not as a publicity stunt, but as the grand re-emergence of the Anti-War Movement.
[This item was posted Thursday on Tim Graham's blog on the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters.org, exposing and combating liberal media bias.]
The rest of his answer really lays out his liberal view of the matter:
This is not the spin of a reporter. This is the spin of a Move On strategist.
It says that conservatives and supporters of the liberation of Iraq cannot puncture the iconic aura of Cindy with their facts. The Big Picture is she is Mother Peace, the icon of resistance to the War Machine, and the particulars of her wackiness do not matter. It is building up her iconic moral status that matters. And as for the fact that all she needs to achieve iconic status is her "moral claim" of being a Gold Star mother, that's obviously not true. It seems obvious from the press clips that you have to be a Bush-bashing Gold Star mother to ascend to icon status.
The front page of Friday's Washington Post featured an article with a lead clearly framed through a liberal prism intended to paint Supreme Court nominee John Roberts as an extremist and/or a male chauvinist. "Roberts Resisted Women's Rights: 1982-86 Memos Detail Skepticism," declared the headline over the August 19 story it took three reporters to research and write, Amy Goldstein, R. Jeffrey Smith and Jo Becker (along with six more credited at the end of the article.) The loaded lead: "Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. consistently opposed legal and legislative attempts to strengthen women's rights during his years as a legal adviser in the Reagan White House, disparaging what he called 'the purported gender gap' and, at one point, questioning 'whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good.'"
A look at the full quote, however, shows that the Post distorted the personal aside in the memo. Roberts was not making a disparaging remark about women but -- in response to a judging panel at Clairol considering an award to a female White House staffer who had convinced some homemakers to go to law school -- he simply offered a quip about whether society needs more lawyers: "Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide."
[This item was posted early Friday morning on Brent Baker's blog on the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters.org, exposing and combating liberal media bias.]
The Post evan managed to bring up the contras: "He also, the documents illustrate, played a bit role in the Reagan administration's efforts in Nicaragua to funnel assistance to CIA-supported 'contras' who were trying overthrow the Marxist Sandinista government."
An excerpt from the August 19 top of the fold front page article, starting with the second paragraph (first graph quoted above):
....In internal memos, Roberts urged President Reagan to refrain from embracing any form of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment pending in Congress; he concluded that some state initiatives to curb workplace discrimination against women relied on legal tools that were "highly objectionable"; and he said that a controversial legal theory then in vogue -- of directing employers to pay women equally to men for jobs of "comparable worth" -- was "staggeringly pernicious" and "anti-capitalist."
Roberts's thoughts on what he called "perceived problems" of gender bias are contained in a vast batch of documents, released yesterday, that provide the clearest, most detailed mosaic so far of his political views on dozens of social and legal issues. Senators have said they plan to mine his past views on such topics, which could come before the high court, when his confirmation hearings begin the day after Labor Day.
Covering a period from 1982 to 1986 -- during his tenure as associate counsel to President Reagan -- the memos, letters and other writings show that Roberts endorsed a speech attacking "four decades of misguided" Supreme Court decisions on the role of religion in public life, urged the president to hold off saying AIDS could not be transmitted through casual contact until more research was done, and argued that promotions and firings in the workplace should be based entirely on merit, not affirmative action programs.
In October 1983, Roberts said that he favored creation of a national identity card to prove American citizenship, even though the White House counsel's office was officially opposed to the idea. He wrote that such measures were needed in response to the "real threat to our social fabric posed by uncontrolled immigration."
He also, the documents illustrate, played a bit role in the Reagan administration's efforts in Nicaragua to funnel assistance to CIA-supported "contras" who were trying overthrow the Marxist Sandinista government.
In one instance, Roberts had a direct disagreement with the senator who now wields great influence over his confirmation prospects, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)...
Yesterday's deluge of more than 38,000 pages of documents has particular political significance -- because of their content and their timing. The papers, held in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, are likely to be the last major set of written material from Roberts's past to become public before his confirmation hearings....
His remark on whether homemakers should become lawyers came in 1985 in reply to a suggestion from Linda Chavez, then the White House's director of public liaison. Chavez had proposed entering her deputy, Linda Arey, in a contest sponsored by the Clairol shampoo company to honor women who had changed their lives after age 30. Avery had been a schoolteacher who decided to change careers and went to law school.
In a July 31 memo, Roberts noted that, as an assistant dean at the University of Richmond law school before she joined the Reagan administration, Arey had "encouraged many former homemakers to enter law school and become lawyers." Roberts said in his memo that he saw no legal objection to her taking part in the Clairol contest. Then he added a personal aside: "Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide."
After the White House, Arey went on to run for Congress, serve on presidential advisory committees, work as an attorney at a major law firm in the West, serve as vice president for congressional relations for a Washington lobbying firm, and was eventually appointed in 2002 as a senior associate commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She has now retired.
Roberts's comment about homemakers startled women across the ideological spectrum....
Kim Gandy, president of the liberal National Organization for Women which already has opposed Roberts, reacted more harshly. "Oh. Wow. Good heavens," she said. "I find it quite shocking that a young lawyer, as he was at the time, had such neanderthal ideas about women's place."...
On other matters involving women's rights, Roberts in 1983 criticized a report that lauded strides by states to combat sex discrimination in the workplace, that had been endorsed by then-Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole. In a Jan. 17 memo to his boss, White House counsel Fred F. Fielding, Roberts wrote that "many of the reported proposals and efforts are themselves highly objectionable." Roberts singled out three ideas for particular criticism: what he characterized as a California requirement that employers take into account affirmative action, in addition to seniority, when laying off workers; another California proposal to require women to be paid equally to men for state jobs considered of comparable worth, and a Florida proposal to charge women lower tuition than men at state colleges because their earning power was less....
On matters of religion, Roberts was sympathetic to an expansion of its role in public life. Roberts wrote in 1984 that he found "sound and in my view compelling arguments" in favor of "equal access" legislation to require schools to accord student religious groups the same rights of assembly as other organizations.
That same year, he was asked to review a draft speech to be given by then-Education Secretary William J. Bennett to the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization. Other White House officials had said the speech was too divisive, as it criticized Supreme Court rulings that had blocked the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools and prohibited public school teachers from giving remedial classes at parochial schools. "Bennett's point is that such decisions betray a hostility to religion not demanded by the constitution," Roberts said. "I have no quarrel with Bennett on the merits."
Staff writer Ceci Connolly in Washington; staff writers Amy Argetsinger and Sonya Geis in Simi Valley, Calif., and researchers Jill Bartscht, Meg Smith and Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.
END of Excerpt
(Be cautioned, this item includes accurate quotations of vulgarities.) Going out with another rant against the Iraq war. The series finale of HBO's Six Feet Under will air on Sunday night. On the penultimate episode aired last Sunday night of the drama, centered around a Los Angeles funeral home, a "Support Our Troops" sticker on a SUV set off an angry rant from "Claire," a twentysomething major character. She yelled that "the whole world hates us for going in there in the first place! And terrorists are still going to be blowing shit up in this country for the next hundred years! And the best thing she can think to do about it is put a sticker on that enormous shit box!" Claire also contended: "You know they still bring the wounded soldiers back at night so the press can't even film it and nobody sees?"
Two weeks earlier, as detailed in the August 5 CyberAlert, the same character launched into a rant about the "stupid, evil war" in Iraq and how "we didn't go to war to protect Iraqi civil liberties. That's just a lame justification." The "Claire" character was soon yelling about the Abu Graib abuse and how "those orders came down from the top, the top! And there's memos to prove it!" The show's writers allowed her boyfriend, a minor character in the program, to disagree with, prompting her to spew: "Oh God, what are you? Like some red-neck blogger pig?"
On the July 31 episode of the weekly HBO drama, "Claire Fisher" (played by Lauren Ambrose), a struggling artist just out of college who is the sister of two brothers who run a Los Angeles funeral home after the passing of their father, goes on a date with a lawyer at a law firm where she is temping. See: www.mrc.org
On the August 14 episode, the funeral home handles the case of a soldier who commits suicide after losing three limbs in Iraq. As his sister and mother are walking to their SUV after making the arrangements, a drugged-out Claire, upset about the passing of her own brother, arrives wih her boyfriend who has driven her home from work due to her inebriated condition. "Claire" sees the "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker on the SUV and accosts the mother: "'Support our troops'? What a bunch of bullshit!"
"Claire" walks to her brother, pointing at him. "A dozen fucking Iraqis are still dying every day. The whole world hates us for going in there in the first place! And terrorists are still going to be blowing shit up in this country for the next hundred years! And the best thing she can think to do about it is put a sticker on that enormous shit box!"
"Claire" then heads toward the dead soldier's sister who backs away in fear, gets into the SUV's driver's seat and closes the door while Claire yells: "You know they still bring the wounded soldiers back at night so the press can't even film it and nobody sees? American soldiers are still getting fucked up every day and they don't even tell us. And it's all so you can put gas in this enormous [walks to rear of SUV and whacks pocketbook against back of SUV] fucking car of yours. [starts screaming] I hope everybody's feeling really fucking American!!!"
HBO's page for Six Feet Under, which first runs at 9pm EDT/PDT on Sunday nights and repeats throughout the week: www.hbo.com
The show was created by Alan Ball of American Beauty movie fame. For a list of the producers and writers: www.hbo.com
The page on the "Claire Fisher" character: www.hbo.com
-- Brent Baker