The smear campaign against Cindy Sheehan continued in recent days, with numerous conservative media figures leveling baseless attacks against her and media coverage of her story. Sheehan -- whose son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq -- began her anti-war protest outside President Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch on August 7. Media Matters for America has compiled examples from the most recent wave of attacks.
Limbaugh, Coulter likened Sheehan protest to Wellstone memorial because both are "exploiting death"
Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh and right-wing pundit Ann Coulter attacked Sheehan by comparing her anti-war protest to another event they claimed was "exploiting death": the memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN), who died in a plane crash in 2002. Media Matters has previously identified other examples of conservative commentators misrepresenting the service as a political event.
From the August 16 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
CALLER: Hey, Rush, this whole Sheehan memorial, if you want to call it that, reminds me of another memorial, and that was the Wellstone memorial, and it seems like the left's playbook is shifting to exploiting deaths, and it backfired at the Wellstone memorial, and I think it's going to backfire here.
LIMBAUGH: Yeah. That's a good way to -- exploiting death.
LIMBAUGH: These are basically a bunch of miserable, angry people exploiting death. But that's actually a good analogy out there, [caller]. It is. This sort of has the same tone to it and the same hysteria that accompanied the Wellstone memorial -- which, of course, as we know, was not a memorial to Paul Wellstone. It was a campaign event, and it was "win one for Wellstone" and so forth. It was appalling. It was clearly appalling, and it was a factor in the Democrats' stunning defeats in the 2002 midterm elections.
From Coulter's August 17 syndicated column, titled "Cindy Sheehan: Commander in Grief":
To expiate the pain of losing her firstborn son in the Iraq war, Cindy Sheehan decided to cheer herself up by engaging in Stalinist agitprop outside President Bush's Crawford ranch. It's the strangest method of grieving I've seen since Paul Wellstone's funeral. Someone needs to teach these liberals how to mourn.
Liddy called Sheehan "anti-Semitic"; claimed that when Sheehan says "neocons" she means "the Jews in the Pentagon"
Radio host and former Nixon administration official G. Gordon Liddy called Sheehan "anti-Semitic," claiming that Sheehan's use of the term "neocons" is a code word for "the Jews in the Pentagon."
From the August 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
LIDDY: Well, I think that it's true that there are Americans who feel the way Cindy Sheehan does. Unfortunately, they are Americans who are very anti-Israel and, in some ways, anti-Semitic. She uses the term how the "neocons" are doing this thing -- that's code word for "the Jews in the Pentagon." She has made statements such as --
ALAN COLMES (co-host): Are you calling her anti-Semitic?
LIDDY: Yes. If she gets Israel out of Palestine, then we can get out of Iraq. I mean, check out her statements, she's way out there.
COLMES: Cindy Sheehan's anti-Semitic?
COLMES: That's outrageous.
SEAN HANNITY (co-host): It's outrageous what has been said.
ELEANOR CLIFT (Newsweek contributing editor): That is almost not worth responding to.
LIDDY: Look at her statements. Look at her statements and judge for yourself.
CLIFT: Look at your statements.
Liddy also took a swipe at syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington's Greek background on the August 16 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now:
HUFFINGTON: But you know, there are many, many different opinions in this country. And one of the things that's troubling me is the way the president is talking about what he's doing. It sounds as though he has so much time on his hands. He's watching [motivational speaker] Tony Robbins and [TV host] Dr. Phil too much, because he's talking about "my being needs [sic] to be outside exercising" or "it's very important for me to get on with my life." That's so very flippant and very petulant at a time of war, and huge sacrifice by many Americans.
ZAHN: Gordon, you get the last word tonight.
LIDDY: It may sound flippant and patronizing in Greece, but not here in the United States.
HUFFINGTON: Oh, wow, now we're doing ethnic varieties [sic]. Well, it's not just the Greek-Americans who are complaining; it's millions of Americans. And that's why the president's approval ratings are down at 42 percent.
LIDDY: That's a gratuitous assertion, and any gratuitous assertion may be equally gratuitously denied.
Hitchens accused Sheehan of saying "her son was killed in a war run by a secret Jewish cabal," referred to "Camp Casey" as "Camp Fruitbat and Nutbag"
Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens also implied that Sheehan is anti-Semitic, accusing her of repeatedly making a statement "to the effect that her son was killed in a war run by a secret Jewish cabal within the administration." Hitchens then asserted that Sheehan was being manipulated by "hysterical paranoid ideologist[s]" who have turned the "Camp Casey" protest into "Camp Fruitbat and Nutbag."
From the August 17 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
NORAH O'DONNELL (guest host): Christopher, do you think that this represents -- or she represents some sort of tipping point in public opinion in America?
HITCHENS: Certainly not. She has, just today, lied about a statement that she made several times before to the effect that her son was killed in a war run by a secret Jewish cabal within the administration. She now says she didn't make that statement. She did make that statement. So as well as being an hysterical paranoid ideologist, or at least being manipulated by people who are, who turned this into Camp Fruitbat and Nutbag, she has decided not to have the courage or maybe the cowardice of her conviction. She now says she didn't make a statement that she definitely did.
Barone claimed that the media is covering Sheehan protest because they "do not want us to win this war"
U.S. News & World Report senior writer Michael Barone claimed that the media is currently devoting substantial coverage to Sheehan because "many in the press ... do not want us to win this war and think that we don't deserve to win this war." Barone further argued that the press corps during World War II would have seen her as "a person who was the victim of a personal tragedy and who had gone over the bend as a result of it" and would have "mercifully given her no publicity."
From the August 17 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
BARONE: So, yeah, I think there's some risk that Bush is getting behind there. And I think part of this is the question of the press corps. I mean, I asked the question, if a World War II-era Cindy Sheehan had gone to Hyde Park and Warm Springs and camped out, demanded a meeting with President Roosevelt, would she have received coverage from the press in the World War II era?
And I've studied this era. And I think the answer is clearly no. She would have just been thought to have been a person who was the victim of a personal tragedy and who had gone over the bend as a result of it. And they would have mercifully given her no publicity.
We've got a different kind of press. Then, in World War II, the press almost unanimously wanted us to win the war. Today, we have many in the press -- not most, I think, but some at least -- who do not want us to win this war and think that we don't deserve to win this war. It's a more critical press.