Saturday, August 27, 2005

I Don't Want to Call it Dishonesty

As part of my quest to remind people that words have meanings beyond rhetoric, I try to save words for situations that deserve them. To call this CNN report, and the video linked from that page, dishonest would mean that I have evidence that there was deliberate effort to be inaccurate. I'm using honest in the sense of making a good faith effort to provide all pertinent information regarding both sides. Since the report excludes a few pertinant points rather than including clear inaccuracies, I can't say that for certain that it has the deliberateness to make it truly dishonest. However, there is clear indication that the definition of "pertinent" is variable with respect to the different sides of the issue.

In the video report the "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" caravan is described as "supposedly grass-roots" but actually backed by a "conservative" organization, Move America Forward. Meanwhile, Cindy Sheehan's backers are described as "a PR firm and a non-profit organization founded by Ben Cohen. That is, Ben from Ben&Jerry's." (Note: this is a quick and dirty personal transcription from the video, I apologize if I got the precise wording wrong) The word "liberal" is not mentioned in the same manner and implied agenda-setting as "conservative". Nor are other backers of Cindy Sheehan mentioned, such as, International ANSWER, and Code Pink. While they may not have started Mrs. Sheehan's protest, they have certainly been right at the forefront of driving the publicity.

The report then is attacking the counter-protest for not being grassroots because a group with an agenda was aiding and organizing it. What the report fails to convey is that the pro-Cindy side, while it may have started grass-roots, has been subsumed into the anti-war establishment.

Another point: I was at first a little torqued over how the video report was very clear in stating that Deborah Johns, the leader of the "You Don't Speak For Me, Cindy" caravan, had a son who returned home alive after two tours in Iraq. My first reaction was that the statement was intended to devalue Mrs. John's opinions by showing that she does not have the "moral authority" that Mrs. Sheehan has in having lost her son. On further reflection, to have not stated that would have implied an equivalence between Deborah and Cindy that would not have been accurate.

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