This can’t be blaming the messenger, because the complaint is that they aren’t bringing any messages.
But one can’t help but wonder whether the antiwar movement in this country might grow a little faster if the news media reported on it.
Currently, there is an almost total blackout on coverage.
Case in point: Friday’s Iraq Moratorium.
In small towns and big cities across the country, people held events to call for an end to the war in Iraq. Some were small vigils, but others were clearly newsworthy and video-friendly.
Want to guess how much coverage there was, either before or after?
Here are a few examples of the things that were going on that might have attracted some attention, from a news advisory sent to major media outlets earlier in the week:
On Friday, Nov. 16, antiwar activists will take the “Anti-Torture Train” to San Jose, Calif., where more than 20 groups are sponsoring a march, picket, and news conference in front of a corporation that organizers say profits from illegal kidnappings and torture by handling the logistics for the CIA’s so-called “extraordinary rendition” flights – torture flights.
On the way, they will leaflet Caltrain passengers to educate them about U.S. torture policy, the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” of suspects to other countries for abusive interrogation, and efforts in Congress to end the practice.
In New York City, a morning rush hour action at Union Square will feature hand-painted Pietas and black-clad leafleters.
Protesters in a number of cities will bang pots and pans in front of Congressional offices, as part of the Raise Hell for Molly Ivins campaign, inspired by the late progressive columnist and activist.
In Minneapolis and St. Paul, a student walkout is planned at a number of schools and campuses at noon, with an all-day teach-in and workshops, reminiscent of the 1969 Vietnam War Moratorium, at Macalester College.
Students from 15 colleges and universities in the Boston area, dressed in black, will walk in a silent procession to call for an end to the war in Iraq.
In hundreds of other communities across the country, groups will hold vigils or rallies, while tens of thousands of individuals take some personal action to call for an end to the war.
As near as can be determined from an Internet search, not a single story appeared in the mainstream media in advance of Moratorium Day.
The blackout of coverage afterward is almost as complete.
One exception was the Cincinnati Enquirer, which carried a story and photo of Moratorium activity.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune mentioned the Moratorium at the end of a story about the Congressional vote on war appropriations, but seemed puzzled about what it was. The story said:
In the Twin Cities, hundreds of high-school and college students walked out of classes Friday and marched through downtown Minneapolis to protest the war.
The march was part of an ongoing series of actions called the “Iraq Moratorium.”It’s a general response to the thought that the Democrats, and the Congress as a whole, have not responded to the mandate of the people last year to cut off the funding and end the war,” Ty Moore, a protest organizer, said.
Then came the “balance,” in a comment from a pro-war group that held no actions on Friday:
Bush supporters accuse the Democrats of succumbing to just that kind of pressure.
“They’re beholden to an antiwar fringe element on the left that demands they continue to hold these votes,” said Pete Hegseth, an Iraq war veteran from Forest Lake who heads up a national group called Vets for Freedom.
And that is the coverage so far.
Perhaps more reports will trickle in from west coast media. There were more than 25 actions in California alone. Maybe one will get reported. But don’t hold your breath.
If you want to read about what went on Friday, try the Iraq Moratorium website, which is working to collect information from paricipants. (If you took part in something, please add your report or comments at the site.)
Would more coverage help the movement to grow?
Advance stories might attract more people to participate, if they knew when and where actions were planned, and had a better idea what the whole Moratorium thing was about. The Iraq Moratorium was inspired by the 1969 Vietnam Moratorium, but a key difference so far is that the Vietnam antiwar movement was covered extensively by the media. If you read a newspaper, you knew October 15 was Moratorium day, and what organizers were asking people to do. Now you read nothing.
Fortunately, we have the Internet.