Josiah Ryan | Staff Writer | Thursday, March 20, 2008
"It's time to wake up. Get out of bed. Smell the coffee," chanted several Code Pink members as they manned a protest booth in McPherson Square near the White House.
To illustrate their point, dozens of hot-pink clad members rolled a giant hot-pink bed to sites around the city, including the IRS building, the National Security Agency building (which they referred to as the National Sleep Walking Agency), and the Washington Post building on 15th and L Streets.
"The Washington Post is definitely in bed with the media," Ellen Taylor, a Code Pink member from Bryan, Texas, told Cybercast News Service."That is one of the reasons we are out here today. They are complicit in this war, and Americans need to know it."
But an unidentified operator at The Washington Post told Cybercast News Service that the proposition that The Post is in cahoots with the Bush administration is ridiculous. "We are not in bed with anyone. We are just a business," she said. Editors at The Post declined comment on the story.
Code Pink was formed in 2001, during the days leading up to the war in Iraq. A statement on the group's Web site says its goals include ending the war in Iraq. The organization has gained notoriety in Washington, D.C., for dozens of publicity stunts at the U.S. Capitol, including vocal interruptions of committee meetings and political fundraisers.
When Cybercast News Service asked Taylor to substantiate her claim, she cited the coverage of the Veterans Against the Iraq War (VAIW) Winter Soldier conference last week.
"Just look at the Winter Soldier conference that was this last weekend," she said. "It was a huge event with hundreds of people. That conference got B-1 coverage in The Washington Post," she said. "It was below the fold and in the Metro section. The article gave as much space to the small gathering of protesters as it did to the soldiers."
But Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the conservative Media Research Center, said that groups like Code Pink will not be satisfied as long as opponents of events like Winter Soldier are quoted. "They just don't think that is appropriate," he told Cybercast News Service. (Disclosure: The Media Research Center is the parent company of Cybercast News Service.)
Taylor also claimed that the day following the Winter Soldier conference there was a small protest on the Mall in defense of the Iraq war and The Post gave it extensive coverage.
"The next day Eagles Up had their little demonstration," she said. "They pulled maybe 150 to 200 people. They got a section opposite the campaign news with a huge picture."
Graham said that liberal groups like Code Pink actually operate at an incredible advantage with newspapers like The Washington Post. "Just today, for example, Code Pink has gotten plenty of nice ink in The Post," he said.
"When you are on the left you do not have to worry about upsetting the media. You can trash them as warmongers, and then they do nice stories on you anyways," Graham said.
Isabel McDonald, communications director of the liberal media watchdog group Fairness Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), also noted The Washington Post's Winter Soldier coverage to substantiate her view of The Post's pro-war journalism.
"Across the national media we have seen a near black-out of that event," she said. "The Washington Post covered it as a local event. Interestingly, this story was reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as a top global news story this week, but it has not been treated even as national news by The Washington Post.
"I would say The Washington Post is substantially more pro-war than the American public," McDonald said.
But Graham told Cybercast News Service this is a poor comparison. "What these people are saying is illuminating, and it's that every American news outlet should have the same anti-American agenda that the BBC does," he said.
"They are trying to find the most left-wing liberal media outlet they can and saying 'everyone should have that news judgments' - them trying to tout the BBC and the BBC's idea of what top news is. Certainly, you wouldn't go to Britain and say whatever Rush Limbaugh thinks is the top story and should be the top story," Graham said.
Taylor said this was not just an isolated incident by The Post but the latest episode in the last five years of pro-war coverage of the Iraq war in American media. "I look at how they carry stories and their headlines. They are just screwy," she said.
Make media inquiries or request an interview about this article.
E-mail a comment or news tip to Josiah Ryan