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At D.C. protests, a few hundred thousand go missing
January 29, 2003 5:27 PM   Subscribe

At D.C. protests, a few hundred thousand go missing - "Like most young Americans, I've been trained to think of protests and demonstrations as something shameful and vaguely embarrassing-something one outgrows, like Journey albums, or those hour-long showers you took when you were eleven and twelve." Stinging dead-on reportage about the media's coverage of the anti-war movement, from Matt Taibbi.
posted by GriffX (66 comments total)

 
Talking to one of the pro-war counter-protesters about the ratio of reporters to participants:

"Hey, Chester," I said. "Eighty to forty. Nice turnout."
"Fuck you," he hissed. "We represent the real America."
"You know," I said, "I once went to a Suzanne Somers book signing. There were like three hundred people there. It was a book of poetry."
"Fuck you," he repeated.


heh.
posted by GriffX at 5:31 PM on January 29, 2003


"'Saddam' is with two Ds," I said. "You're missing a D."

Wow, I guess nobody should protest things they find unjust. It all seems so silly now.
posted by Hildago at 5:34 PM on January 29, 2003


"Listen," he said. "I can spell it any ways I want. Faggot."

Hildago, did you RTFA?
posted by GriffX at 5:45 PM on January 29, 2003


Like most young Americans, I've been trained to think of protests and demonstrations as something shameful and vaguely embarrassing

By who exactly? The 1960's war protests are constantly glorified and showcased as 'democracy in action'.

Furthermore, I do enjoy the fact that 'pro-war' assembly was a "a freak show too tantalizing for any responsible press organ to ignore". Apparently he didn't watch the 'anti-war' assembly....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:47 PM on January 29, 2003


Seems that the fact that the number was under reported got this protest more (and continuing) coverage than if they'd have got it right...
posted by zeoslap at 5:50 PM on January 29, 2003


The Anti-War people bitching about the "under reported" protest made a story out of a non-story. It was a publicity grab, plain and simple. If you have the bank roll, it is not that hard to fill buses with idealistic college students and other fringe "wana-be" radicals and ship them to D.C.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:59 PM on January 29, 2003


From where I sat, there was no question that there were at least 200,000 people present, and probably closer to 300,000.

A recent Salon article says otherwise.
posted by monosyllabic at 6:04 PM on January 29, 2003


The Anti-War people bitching about the "under reported" protest made a story out of a non-story. It was a publicity grab, plain and simple. If you have the bank roll, it is not that hard to fill buses with idealistic college students and other fringe "wana-be" radicals and ship them to D.C.

Nail on the head.
posted by oissubke at 6:10 PM on January 29, 2003


This self-satisfied gang of narcissist teenage assholes spoiled the whole weekend by making their hideous rendition of "Give Peace a Chance" the conclusion of the protests.

Apparently he did, Steve. I'm sorry if that makes it hard for to suggest that the author's just another "liberal traitor." He seems to have portrayed both sides pretty accurately.

Funny though, I was just thinking today that I keep getting the sense--maybe it's just me--that some conservative opinion mongers (and left opinion mongers too, I suppose, though I don't get the same sense of resentment) are just itching to replay the 1960's so that this time, like Rambo, they can win. Of course conservatives have maintained since the 70's that America was "stabbed in the back" during the Vietnam era. It's just that during the '90s the constant assertions that something's been taken away from them (by the liberal media or the liberal academe or the feminists) seem to have become such a staple of so many conservative's worldviews. And now, perhaps merely rhetorically, many conservatives seem to believe it's their turn to take that something (America?) back.

Anyway, funny article. It sounded like the old Exile.

On preview: Steve, are you suggesting that all those people were in some way, paid to attend that rally? Gee, wouldn't it be nice, 'cause I could really use some extra cash ...
posted by octobersurprise at 6:21 PM on January 29, 2003


Oh, yeah, and I still take hour long showers. Ditched the Journey years and years ago, though.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:28 PM on January 29, 2003


You know, I really wanted to like this story. There aren't a lot of small, alternative outlets in smaller cities that do real reporting, as opposed to commentary on wire stories.

But this fucker sure doesn't make it easy. "It is cold as a bitch out here. Journalism of any kind, in fact, is practically impossible." Below-freezing temperatures? I used to wear thin-ass work gloves to do detailed handwork outdoors all day long in 'below-freezing temperatures.' Lots of people do. Stop whining; you're from Buffalo, for crying out loud, and what the hell has that got to do with Iraq?

And then there's the whole fashion police bit. "'No one really dresses like that.' Indeed, one of the 'protesting' Republicans was wearing a circa-1977 Argyle V-Neck sweater." Give me a break. "'Gosh, I'm sorry,' she said, flicking a piece of lint off her shiny black cashmere winter coat." What is this, Women's Wear Daily? Does cashmere automatically mean she's an upper-class tool? I wish somebody would tell my employer that — I have a lovely black cashmere jacket I'm very fond of, despite making a whopping $14K per annum.

This isn't even getting into his outright distortions: "To use the Russian expression, crayfish will whistle in the mountains before 80 environmentalists in a park on a Saturday morning draw so much as a college radio intern...." Bullshit. The media will cover anything, and he knows it. The last protest I attended attracted a camera crew from the one of state capital's network affiliates, and we had only about 10 people (we later made it up to maybe 30). And considering that it was a bunch of kids protesting the voting age, I'm pretty sure I wasn't the unwitting participant in a staged demonstration.

And then there's the racism ("last but not least, a single well-dressed, smiling, traitorous black person representing the 'cause'") but I think my point has already been made.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:34 PM on January 29, 2003


On the bright side, stroboscopic cameras that will automatically photograph every face in a crowd should help counter all this cheery bickering over protest size.
posted by rudyfink at 6:37 PM on January 29, 2003


From where I stood, it sure looked like a whole lot more than was reported in any newspaper or television news report I read or watched afterward. I'm no crowd counter, and really wasn't there for that purpose in the first place, but anywhere between 100,000 to 200,000 would be my estimate. And the nearly 100 people I was involved with, none card carrying members of ANSWER or any other group, but genuinely concerned about an impending atrocity, all drove down to DC, paying our own way in our own cars to attend this "non-story." Like it or not, some really give a shit about this and should be counted.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
posted by LouReedsSon at 6:47 PM on January 29, 2003


And then there's the racism

Psst... It's not racism if it's used to disparage *Rebublicans*, didn't you get the memo?
posted by hama7 at 6:49 PM on January 29, 2003


"The media will cover anything, and he knows it."

Yeah, but they'll report to the world what their bosses tell them to. Wake up.
posted by LouReedsSon at 6:51 PM on January 29, 2003


Liberals are inclined to protest, conservatives are not. On issues where there is, generally speaking, a liberal-conservative divide, this basic fact goes far to explain why the media and politicians justly and correctly disregard (in whole or in part) liberal protests and liberal protesters. They are simply not representative of public opinion at large.

Elections, on the other hand, are little more accurate -- and last November certainly showed strong public support for the President using a heavy hand in the Middle East.

There will never be rallies of x00,000 people in Washington for school vouchers, for tax cuts, for faith-based-initiatives, for preserving the death penalty, for abolishing race-based affirmative action, or any other conservative cause. There aren't even rallies of that size against abortion, and that is a cause for which many conservatives have as militant a sympathy as ANSWER has for preserving the reigns of Saddam Hussein and Kim-Il Jong.

That lack of rallies doesn't invalidate any of those causes, nor does it make them particularly less likely to vindicate by the electorate or the judiciary or whoever is disposing of the issue in question.
posted by MattD at 6:59 PM on January 29, 2003


The Anti-War people bitching about the "under reported" protest made a story out of a non-story. It was a publicity grab, plain and simple. If you have the bank roll, it is not that hard to fill buses with idealistic college students and other fringe "wana-be" radicals and ship them to D.C.

What a profoundly ignorant thing to say in so few words.
posted by SweetJesus at 7:05 PM on January 29, 2003


I call going to fight this war (or sending someone to do it for you) nothing more than conservatives rallying for their cause. But, let us all concede that the US, "real America," is truly a conservative nation as was proven last November while the dust was still settling on Battery Park. Let us all accept such and move to strike any issue even slightly left of the right. Let us ignore completely November 2000 too.
posted by LouReedsSon at 7:16 PM on January 29, 2003


If you have the bank roll, it is not that hard to fill buses with idealistic college students and other fringe "wana-be" radicals and ship them to D.C.

That's right. War protestors were bank-roll-shipped to Washington D.C. I believe it's so, because Steve@Linnwood says it's so. 'Course, he didn't offer a shred of evidence as support for that statement. But I believe him. Why would he lie?

Maybe Al-Quaalude is bankrolling all these peace protests. Or commies. Commies'll do that sort of thing, you know.

'Cause for those who didn't know, the entire anti-Vietnam-war movement was really driven by "outside agitators" out to corrupt our precious bodily fluids. Each and every American wanted to kill a commie for mommy then.

Just like today.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 7:24 PM on January 29, 2003


I've been researching a similar story for the local alt weekly and spoke this afternoon with Philip Meyer, a journalism prof at UNC and author of Precision Journalism. He says there are very easy and relatively accurate ways to do crowd estimates, but they're rarely taught in journalism schools. At UNC's j-school, for instance, the course in Quantitative Research Methods was dropped about 15 years ago; it's now only taught at the grad school level. Meyer also had some choice things to say about the lack of "basic competency in math" among journalism students, adding that almost all the faculty resist making basic math competency a requirement because they feel enrollment would drop.

He says he doesn't know of a single j-school that requires a quantitative research methods course of its undergrads.
posted by mediareport at 7:32 PM on January 29, 2003


Liberals are inclined to protest, conservatives are not.

Do you really believe that? You don't recall mad Republicans protesting against Clinton? You don't recall the Promise Keepers marching on Washington? You don't recall all those people beating on the windows of the Broward County Election Offices? Conservatives don't protest. Nonsense. Contemporary American political conservatism is practically constituted by "protest." Sean Hannity's latest book for example is subtitled what: Winning the war of liberty over liberalism. War. Wow. Modern American conservatism defines itself in opposition to its "enemy." I will agree however that people who generally identify with left of center positions call attention to their issues differently than people who identify as conservatives. But that has as much or probably more to do with cultural differences as political, I suspect.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:39 PM on January 29, 2003


foldy...It's somewhat funny in a why, but your sarcasm has for once been right. Commies, of all things, actually did bankroll many of the recent batch of anti-Iraq protests, as has been pointed on MeFi on a wide variety of occasions. Of course, most of the protesters had nothing to do with ANSWER (I mean, even Z Mag considers ANSWER to be too far on the left), but nonetheless, they were the funders.

And to think that me and foldy would ever agree on anything...
posted by Kevs at 7:44 PM on January 29, 2003


Psst... It's not racism if it's used to disparage *Rebublicans*, didn't you get the memo?

For good solid reasons, too. Oh, the Rebublicans...
My mistake. Never mind.
posted by y2karl at 7:45 PM on January 29, 2003


What a profoundly ignorant thing to say in so few words.

no...I...Just....can't...do..it...
posted by hama7 at 7:57 PM on January 29, 2003


When the right protests they wear ties and subvert democracy.

Makes 'em more American, see? To who, I'm not sure...
posted by owillis at 8:13 PM on January 29, 2003


Hildago, did you RTFA?</I

You got me. That quote I was referring to, that wasn't from the article. I made that up.

posted by Hildago at 8:35 PM on January 29, 2003


OctoberSuprise, I simply disagree.

Of course some conservatives come out and shout, but not mass movements and not at large scale. Conservative victories have come at a steady pace since the era of protests arose in the 1960s, and I can't think of one that was characterized by protests or large public assemblies. Restoration of the death penalty and tax revolts in the 70s? Nope. The Reagan revolution, rearmament and defeat of Latin American communism in the 1980s, accompanied by the new Republican urbanism ("broken windows", etc.)? Nope. The Gingrich ascendancy in the mid 1990s, with welfare reform and other actions in its wake? The impeach-Clinton action in 1998? Nope. (This last was hardly victorious in the first instance, but it went a long way towards firming up an anti-Democratic tendency in the South and Mountain West which was otherwise looking shaky.) The signal victory at the Supreme Court last year declaring Constitutional a full-choice school voucher system? Once again no.

(The Promise Keepers think/thought of themselves more as a religious revival movement than an ideological movement ... plenty of Democrats were to be found at the big Promise Keeper drives, believe it or not.)
posted by MattD at 8:36 PM on January 29, 2003


It's just as ridiculous to characterize war supporters by describing that group of 80 extremists that showed up that day as it is to characterize the anti-war movement by describing the few "self-satisfied gang of narcissist teenage assholes" who were acting out the next day.

The fact is, when you want a CHANGE, you protest. You don't see many pro-abortion protests, because current laws allow abortion. Anti-abortion protests are much more common, because they are looking to alter the status quo.
Right now, the status quo is a path towards war with iraq, therefore if you want to change that path, you are much more likely to protest than if you simply want to allow that path to continue. The primary reason liberals are more commonly protesting is that they are more commonly pushing for more dramatic changes.
posted by Wingy at 8:46 PM on January 29, 2003



Wingy.
Nail, meet Head. Head, Nail.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:12 PM on January 29, 2003


Wingy, did you read my laundry list of changes effected by conservatives in the past 30 years with little or no aid of protests? I think my point stands -- protest is overwhelmingly a tactic of the the left.

(Interestingly, many of the folks I know who occasionally protest against abortion clinics are bleeding heart liberals, of the George McGovern variety, on every issue other than abortion you could name, including the pending war in Iraq...)
posted by MattD at 9:21 PM on January 29, 2003


Steve, are you suggesting that all those people were in some way, paid to attend that rally?

No I am saying that they (the protesters) did not have to pay to get to Washington... College students love free roadtrips!

I am not implying that people were paid to protest. I am saying that if free transportation was not provided, people would not have packed up their VW Bugs and drove to D.C. There were flyers all over my campus the emphasized that the buses were FREE...

"So hey, you know, what the hell? A free trip to D.C., we get to do some protesting about all the unfair things in the world, and the man keepin' me down... It will be cool!"

My point is that, this was not a spontaneous outburst of protest... it was a well organized plan to herd as many willing people as possible to boost numbers and give credence that there is a overwhelming number of people that are dead set against war in Iraq... And when the media did not report the story that protest organizers wanted them to report, they created an issue over the crowd size. In a perverse way, I think the media then felt guilty about under reporting the numbers and we then saw a media blitz of stories to "make up" for the under-reporting. It was a brilliant PR move by the protest organizers.

And sadly alot of that money that paid to organize those rallies came from communist groups like A.N.S.W.E.R (which is just a front for the Workers World Party). Now that doesn't mean that everyone that came to those rallies is a commie pinko, but I surly would not have anything to do with that group or it's money. (BTW all of those big red buckets that were passed around the crowed, filled the coffers of the WWP, many people I believe gave with out knowing what or who they were funding...)
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:25 PM on January 29, 2003


Yeah, but they'll report to the world what their bosses tell them to. Wake up. and let us all concede that the US, "real America," is truly a conservative nation as was proven last November while the dust was still settling on Battery Park.

LouReedson, you are refused the privilege of invoking September 11. Nobody in New York City wants you, your opinions, your sympathy, or your borrowing of the events for your own base purposes. We've got no truck with people like you who don't know that the final vote count for the nation went in favor of the Democrats in November 2000 (as if that matters, but I say that only to play along to your imbecilic pairing of Republicans and conservatism, which, while they intersect, are by no means equivalent). And I defy you—absolutely defy you—to find a freer press in all the world. It simply doesn't exist. And even if I agreed with your ridiculous supposition that there's some kind of monolithic thought in "the media"—and I don't, because it's a thirteen-year-old's point of view on a world he can barely comprehend beyond the role he hopes his penis will play in it—who's to say those bosses would represent anything other than the most accurate rendition of the truth achievable?

So please, go somewhere else. You are not welcome. I don't know if you've noticed, but even when debates are heated here, there's at least some sort of intelligence at the core. You've so far failed on that account. Pathetic.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:46 PM on January 29, 2003


It's really fun watching the neocons trying to find any possible way to discredit the anti-war protests. It's like crabs fucking, or ducks autofellating. It's horrid and disturbing, yet one can't turn away. Who needs Sean Hannity when there are so many mini-heads willing to blabber away?

Please, stop embarrassing yourselves. Your sad attempts at agitprop won't dispute the fact that this is a working journalist exposing a bit of how stories really get reported, neatly adding another hole to the leaky "liberal media" balloon. Then again, I forgot the rhetorical tactics of the "right": scream, holler and bully until you get your way. My bad!
posted by solistrato at 9:47 PM on January 29, 2003


Of course, maybe you were being sarcastic, in which case I take it all back, except the refusal-to-invoke part. That is (or should be) forbidden to everyone.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:48 PM on January 29, 2003


I just don't understand. What is it about some people that think a war is going to solve our problems? Al-Qa'ida will still be around. The Middle East will still be a political hotspot. The U.S. economy will still be in the shitter. We will lose the respect of our allies. Can someone please give me a good reason to commit to a war?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:51 PM on January 29, 2003


I just don't understand. What is it about some people that think a war is going to solve our problems?

Read the last 10 months of MeFi.....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:08 PM on January 29, 2003


Steve - Your words are gibberish to me. None of the people I knew attending were college students. In fact, the extreme, HISTORIC nature of the protesters has been widely commented on, and dissenting voices are growig louder: "Although newspaper opinions once appeared virtually monolithic in support of an attack on Iraq, editorials from many of America's leading newspapers are now among the voices questioni"

MattD - Nice accounting sleight of hand but.......think of Apocalypse Now! (Kurtz talking about the North Vietnamese)..."If I had six divisions of such men, I could win the war".

Conviction. Get it? It takes a bit when it's around 10 degrees (Fahrenheight) out. If 2-300,000 people are willing to arrange places to stay, drive long distances and, brave the cold.......you figure it out. I know you're not stupid.

Capital Hill Blue reports a rather different picture than the one you present: ..'Some Pentagon staffers point to last weekend’s antiwar rally in Washington, where they say the  crowd included many veterans of Desert Storm. ..."This wasn’t just a bunch of tree huggers and longhairs marching,” says Arnold Giftos of Huntington, West Virginia, who served in Desert Storm and who came to march. “Go to any meeting of veterans groups in this country and you will see serious discussion on whether or not we should be getting into this war.” ...Reporters covering the marches on Saturday and Sunday say they counted about 500 marchers among the 30,000 who carried signs or other items identifying themselves as veterans.
 
“I served in Vietnam,” said Robert Brighton of Detroit, who marched in Washington. “I supported Desert Storm. I don’t support this. It’s madness.” .....In addition, Capitol Hill Blue has learned that both House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist have told the White House that they have “increasing” numbers of Republicans in both Houses raising doubts about the war. ....“Nobody in the party wants to come out publicly and tell the President he’s wrong,” says one Hill source close to the GOP leadership, “but we don’t have the kind of unity we need on this thing. It could blow apart on us at any time.” '

Drop the "hippy protestor" shtick! You are insulting lots of members (and veterans) of the US military who participated in protesting a war in Iraq. Unprecedented numbers of US vets - from WW2 Vets through guys who fought in Grenada - who think the Bush administration's game plan is, well...poorly thought out protested the push for war. So: given that many young men and women are prepared to lay down their lives for the US, regardless (without much of a choice in the matter)..........to criticize and slander such supremely patriotic dissenters....that's REALLY unpatriotic! but, I know you really didn't mean it, did you?
posted by troutfishing at 10:37 PM on January 29, 2003


"200,000 maybe 300,000"
200,000 is a HELL of a lot of people. It's not very easy to just estimate that many off-the-cuff. And the jump to 300,000 is quite a major leap. Hardly a this-or-that thing. I call BullDung.
posted by HTuttle at 10:43 PM on January 29, 2003


HTuttle - So, this is an informed eyewitness account of yours? I called it as 350,000 or more.........

Mo Nickels - You've exhausted your "banishing other people from Mefi" capital for 2 or 3 weeks, I'd say.....

" I defy you—absolutely defy you—to find a freer press in all the world. It simply doesn't exist. And even if I agreed with your ridiculous supposition that there's some kind of monolithic thought in "the media"....."—and I don't, because it's a thirteen-year-old's point of view" -- Yo, little gnat......I stash your little quotes to deal with later, at my convenience...." *heh heh heh.......heh!*
posted by troutfishing at 10:55 PM on January 29, 2003


And stop pissing on US troops prepared to fight Saddam....please!
posted by troutfishing at 11:03 PM on January 29, 2003


None of the people I knew attending were college students.

Well all I can tell you is that from watching C-SPAN all day, and the reports in the local papers about the number of students from colleges in the state, I can confidently say that, indeed a large number of the protesters were college students. And college students have a voice to be heard, and right to protest.

My point was not that there are no level headed people against war. My point is that the number of the people at these rallies were inflated by busing in people that went along for a free ride. If they would have had to put actually effort in getting to the rally, as the more sincere protesters like LouReedsSon indeed did, they would not have shown up.

One of the main issues that the more vocal opponents of the Bush administration have made is to point to the number of people at these rallies, and by doing so indicating that public opinion is moving away from supporting war. But those number were first artificially inflated by busing in people who with out a 'free ride' would not have come. And then to add to it, the protest organizers added to the speculative numbers by complaining that they were under-reported.

So yes, there are people in this country who are level-headed and are against this war, but not nearly as many as some people would like you to think. I fact I would wager that there are as many people (level-headed of course) that are strongly against military action as there are for military action, ~ 25-30% on each side, with ~40-50% who have not made up their mind. Sadly, in my opinion, a majority of that 40-50% will not make up their mind until it (the war) is over and they can side with whatever side was correct.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:03 PM on January 29, 2003


Thank you, Speaker of New York City, Mo Nickels! Speaker of New York City, everybody. Give him a round of applause. He was elected last month and speaks for all souls in the city. Way to go, sir. Nice job!

I'm assuming we don't need the little sarcasm buttons on this one? No? Good. Thanks.

Some interesting points in monosyllabic's earlier Salon linkage, btw.
posted by zaack at 11:25 PM on January 29, 2003


Even "if" people were bussed in..there just for the "free ride" as you all are calling it, do you think you could convince students with the same conservative support for this war as you all have to get on that bus? I believe these students were quite aware that the "free rides" were in protest of this war. Even if a percentage of them did not have a position one way or the other before partaking of said ride, that's an awful lot of people NOT actively supporting this war.
posted by SweetIceT at 11:29 PM on January 29, 2003


Steve_at_Linnwood - you must live in some altered reality which is beyond my comprehension: that Antiwar protest, which you watched on C-Span, about which you are mighty "confident" of, in terms of the numbers, - even though you weren't actually present (I was, in the flesh).....It took a bit of work to get to that AntiWar rally, amidst the crowds of US vets disgusted at current Bush adminstration policies......plus, it was a really cold day!..I bet that you had fun eating nachos and watching C-Span.......You go.
posted by troutfishing at 11:45 PM on January 29, 2003


Mo Nickles, forgive me please for staining what is obviously YOUR pretty blue page here... My impression of this was that people voice their opinions, but if mine are not as well informed and correctly presented, if I become too passionate and unable to argue as eloquently as someone of your stature, then by all means, ban me. And bless you for showing me the light.

BTW, who really owns your local newspaper?
posted by LouReedsSon at 11:46 PM on January 29, 2003


He says he doesn't know of a single j-school that requires a quantitative research methods course of its undergrads.

Actually, Ithaca College requires one for ALL communications students, AFAIK -- I was a TV/Radio major (not journalism) and had to take Mass Media Research Methods my freshman year. Woo!

When the right protests they wear ties and subvert democracy.

Great link, owillis. I was in South Florida to cover the election brouhaha in 2000. I'll never forget seeing the ragtag Dem protesters completely outnumbered by the very well-organized GOP protesters -- on the Republican side, there were people with radio earphones circulating throughout the crowd to stir them up whenever a GOP notable would emerge from the Broward County Courthouse. A lot (but not all) of the protesters arrived in buses that pulled up a block away, and we saw them being handed coffee, doughnuts, and "Sore Loserman" signs when they got there. They seemed coached, too...very few of the GOP protesters would give their names and hometowns when interviewed.

We were flabbergasted at the amount of planning and logistics that went into that...it was *truly* eye-opening. (I'm not saying that Dems don't do that stuff too...but at least in Florida in 2000, they weren't as together.)

(And, whenever we interviewed a Democrat, the GOP protesters would surround us and try to drown them out. Some got kind of excited, and I was wondering if I was gonna get a brick to the head or something. We almost lost the $50K camera in an ugly incident with a couple of them. Those folks weren't representative of the crowd as a whole...but I kind of wonder if they thought we had it coming to them 'cause we were the evil "liberal media.")
posted by Vidiot at 12:07 AM on January 30, 2003


To reiterate: "Unprecedented numbers of US vets - from WW2 Vets through guys who fought in Grenada - who think the Bush administration's game plan is, well...poorly thought out protested the push for war."

NOT "War as usual"; "Drop the "hippy protester" shtick! You are insulting lots of members (and veterans) of the US military who have participated in protesting a war in Iraq. Unprecedented numbers of US vets - from WW2 Vets through to guys who fought in Grenada - think the Bush administration's game plan is, well...'poorly thought out'.....and so have protested the push for war."

Acknowledge them or label them as "Unpatriotic", please....".
posted by troutfishing at 12:08 AM on January 30, 2003


I have a question for Steve_at_Linnwood. Why do you feel that a person 's feelings towards a cause are less genuine because they accept a free ride to a protest? Of course the protest was organized. I don't know of many protests in Washington that aren't. Including the pro life one that was held a few days later in DC. People are probably not going to organize such a thing unless they see a demand for it. A bus costs money. Someone had to donate that money for that cause. Which probably means there are even MORE people out there that care about protesting the war than are actually AT the protest. A group taking a busload of people to DC to protest isn't anything new. People do it all the time for liberal and conservative causes. I don't understand your logic.

I was at a protest held here in PIttsburgh this past Sunday. And by the way I'm 35 and didn't get a ride with anyone. :) We had 5000+ people show up in 6-degree temps and lots of snow. The local Fox “news” reported 1500 . But then that's to be expected by a Fox station, right? I'm not a democrat but a registered independent. My politics are pretty much middle of the road. I've voted for both Democrats and Republicans in the past. So I'm anything but a radical.

I was really amazed the diversity of the crowd of people protesting. The protest was held at one local university and ended at the building of another. The part of town the protest was in has 2 colleges and 2 universities. But surprisingly, there were more people above 25 than below. There were quite a few over 60 people as well. And yes There were communists and socialists there of course. But there were also quite a few catholic groups, Jewish groups, Muslim groups, protestant groups, retired steelworkers, Steelers fans, Vietnam vets, WW2 vets, health care workers, teachers, lawyers, laborers, rich and poor people that attended as well. Many married couples brought their kids. And there were dogs, lots of dogs. :) It amazed me just how many different types of people were represented there.

This all just goes to show that it’s not a bunch of radicals that are against a war with Iraq. Many average individuals are as well. Maybe you should attend one for yourself and see. The media seems be dropping the ball the whole war issue. But then that’s to be expected because war footage brings in more advertising dollars. Stop following what the media tells you and check things out yourself. It might open your eyes to just how much you are being lied to like. It opened mine.
posted by whirlwind29 at 2:32 AM on January 30, 2003


Mo Nickels: "And I defy you—absolutely defy you—to find a freer press in all the world. It simply doesn't exist."
So let me get this straight: you arrive to this conclusion having experience of (or being aware of research on) British, French, Dutch, Swedish, Indian, Canadian, Japanese, Fijiian etc. media, and , or is it a point of faith that we need not discuss?
This isn't just about US media though (although the range of "respectable" or "acceptable" opinion is narrower in the US than in any other western democracy). To believe that ownership of the media, anywhere in the world, has no effect on the kind of news they carry, is to be hopelessly naive.
posted by talos at 2:39 AM on January 30, 2003


I loved this piece. Taibbi used to work in Moscow for The Exile, which broke with ex-pat newspaper traditions by exposing the massive corruption of American businessmen and journalists who were stealing millions from American economic aid to Russia (your tax dollars at work.) The Exile developed a hard but witty style based around the simple fact that, being based in Russia, it was almost impossible to sue them for libel.

Uncovering unfair business and political corruption sounds pretty patriotic to me. Defining patriotism as membership in the Republican party stinks of Stalinism. Opposing a war proposed by a Republican Oil Exec Who Was Not Legally Elected and his gang of think tanks is a much purer expression of patriotism.
posted by zaelic at 2:48 AM on January 30, 2003


Mo Nickels, the American press is not usually refered to as being more free than any other minority world countries press, please explain where your evidence is for this claim. It is my understanding that there is little or no competition for readership as most newsprint is owned by a very few large organisations.
'The United States ranks 17th, behind Canada (5th), most of Western Europe, and Costa Rica (15th)'
And it's the same for us television;
'On TV Rupert Murdoch's Fox network, pursuing a thinly disguised rightwing agenda, has taken over the No 1 cable news spot from CNN; Bill O'Reilly, the host of its flagship show, makes Limbaugh seem wishy-washy'
i know the uk press is pretty shocking as regards freedom, but i am not making any claims about it's world beating openness. at least we have some alternatives, executed with professionalism and thirst for the truth.
posted by asok at 3:06 AM on January 30, 2003


Why do you feel that a person 's feelings towards a cause are less genuine because they accept a free ride to a protest?

Because a large percentage of them would not have gone, if not for the free ride. I have said this now three time, and still you are unable to understand....


troutfishing... it was popcorn, not nachos...

I can appreciate that you stood in the cold to show your support for the 'anti-war' movement... I can only say that I will show my support for the administration when my Nat. Guard unit gets called up and I am in the theater of combat.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:03 AM on January 30, 2003


I will show my support for the administration when my Nat. Guard unit gets called up and I am in the theater of combat.

Uh huh - and they'll pay your way there, won't they?
posted by soyjoy at 10:12 AM on January 30, 2003


Asok, there's a difference between the points made in your first two links. Yes, the US has a free press. I've never seen the rankings you cite before and it was an interesting read, but I'd be equally comfortable reading newspapers or working as a journalist in any country that ranks higher than the US, too.

Your second link points out that 1.) the White House often sets the agenda of the national debate and 2.) conservative voices are much more prominent in the media landscape. While I'd agree with both those points, I'd also respond that the White House almost always sets the agenda -- it's a huge bully pulpit. Things that come out of the White House are legitimately news. And yes, conservative viewpoints are popular right now. But editors and owners still make these decisions -- there's no Minister of Information deciding what does and does not get printed. And no one is telling Fox that since there's a Republican president, they HAVE to force the conservative agenda. As much as Fox News Channel makes me want to throw things at the screen, I have to admire that Ailes saw a niche and exploited it.

re: your third link? there are lots of "alternatives" in the US just like the one you cite in the UK. If you want your news with a particular slant, that's easy to find.

And true, most newsprint is owned by a relatively small number of large companies. (Same goes for radio and TV stations.) That doesn't quite mean that there isn't any competition between outlets...newspaper wars do happen (and are lots of fun to watch.) Fox and CNN are at each others' throats all the time. Local TV stations compete fiercely with one another. It's an incredibly competitive game.
posted by Vidiot at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2003


Uh huh - and they'll pay your way there, won't they?

Wow, talk about an uncalled for comment.
posted by Plunge at 11:03 AM on January 30, 2003


Plunge, did you read the whole page or just my comment? Of course it's snarky - it's parodying Steve's incessant hammering of this irrelevant point (many people got rides to the protest) to support his notion that the scope of this dissent should be discounted. I refrained for the whole thread, until he pulled out this supposed trump card. At that point, well, I heard the call.
posted by soyjoy at 11:14 AM on January 30, 2003


I tip my tin foil hat in your general direction soyjoy....
posted by SweetIceT at 11:25 AM on January 30, 2003


Well soyjoy, they may give me a 'free ride' to the middle east, but I surly think that volunteering for the armed services, over a year of active duty training away from home, and giving up a weekend of my time every month and two weeks in the summer is at a minimum enough effort on my part to rate a 'free ride'. I volunteered to serve my county.

SoyJoy, what have you done for your country, aside from bitch and moan?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:13 PM on January 30, 2003


I thought the national guard stayed home? I thought the reserves went away to war.

The protest in Austin recently also had a very diverse group of people. I was amazed by the range of ages (quite a few over 65 and groups of jr high and high school students).

Steve, I think the point is: There are alot of people in America who don't want this war and are willing to protest about it.

A Majority? I don't know. But we are not ruled by majority or Bush wouldn't even be president.
posted by jopreacher at 12:40 PM on January 30, 2003


SoyJoy, what have you done for your country, aside from bitch and moan?

I've volunteered to rebut the lame-ass arguments of people like you, in order to save the country from the results of an idiotic, self-destructive war. It's painful, yes, but somebody has to do it.
posted by soyjoy at 12:59 PM on January 30, 2003


So in other words, not much...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:21 PM on January 30, 2003


Nothing personal Steve, but if you're gonna fight for me and others like me (Americans), let me just say, please don't. At least not this particular battle. I am comforted knowing our borders are protected by people such as yourself and it actually helps me to sleep well each night, but I tend to loose that same sleep worrying about you and all the others who will be placed in harms way for someting still not clearly defined. So please don't die for me Steve. Peace.
posted by LouReedsSon at 6:36 PM on January 30, 2003


Steve_Linnwood - Sorry to hear that: you could be in for a really, really long garrison duty: No exit strategy.

Anti-War links and resources

"...It includes all ages, races, ethnicities and creeds. Blue collar and professional. Democrats and Republicans. Gulf War vets and soccer moms.....A full-page ad this week in The Wall Street Journal, titled "A Republican Dissent on Iraq," denounced President Bush's war plans:

"We supported the Gulf War and our intervention in Afghanistan. We accept the logic of a just war. But Mr. President, your war on Iraq does not pass the test." "

From the Kansas City Start, Jan 18


"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully"
-George W, Bush, Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000
posted by troutfishing at 7:28 AM on January 31, 2003


Liberals are inclined to protest, conservatives are not.

Tell that to the rapid (and paid) Republicans who went to Florida to protest the re-count in 2000 ;)
posted by terrapin at 12:17 PM on January 31, 2003


Because a large percentage of them would not have gone, if not for the free ride. I have said this now three time, and still you are unable to understand....

In 1963 the March on Washington was held. Hundreds of thousands of people attended. Many (if not most) of those people were poor, and could not afford to get from Mississippi (or elsewhere) to Washington, DC if they went on their own. So churches, and civic organizations, and other groups raised money to pay for the buses. Volunteers made thousands of phone calls to find places for people to sleep. And still other people walked from wherever they were in the country to be there to support the civil rights movement.

So, does that mean that their movement was moot because not everyone paid to get there?

I am not sure I want to live in a country where one has to have money in order to have a voice.

Oh yeah, and that reminds me... one of the things the civil rights movement was fighting against was the poll tax. You know, that thing that used to exist so that the poor could not have a say in government.

When the peace rally was in DC a few weeks ago, my wife and I put up 3 people in our house. They drove all night from NYC to get here, and then turned around and left the same day. I'm sure they considered it a vacation, and only came because they had a free place in DC to stay. I doubt they cared at all about stopping the war. ;)

I think the conservative are just pissed because they missed their opportunity for an unquestioned war, and no one is buying their "we're in the majority" position anymore.
posted by terrapin at 12:47 PM on January 31, 2003


terrapin - I quibble with your use of the term "conservative": it might be more accurate to say - "the faction representing intersecting corporate/state interests....." -- otherwise, I agree.
posted by troutfishing at 9:17 PM on February 1, 2003


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