In describing the shirts worn by Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young that caused them to be ejected from President Bush's State of the Union address, an Associated Press report (later amended) described the message on Young's shirt as "the opposite" of the one worn by Sheehan, while The Baltimore Sun called Young's message "more patriotic" than Sheehan's.
A February 1 Associated Press report described the message displayed on a T-shirt worn by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan to President Bush's State of the Union speech as "just the opposite" of one worn by Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young (R-FL), while a February 2 Baltimore Sun article described Young's message as "more patriotic" than Sheehan's. Young's shirt read: "Support the Troops -- Defending Our Freedom," while Sheehan's listed the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq at that point -- 2,245 -- along with the question "How many more?" Neither AP nor the Sun explained how decrying the deaths of more than 2,000 American service members indicated a lack of support for the troops or lack of patriotism.
Separately, on the live "Up to the Minute" news report during the February 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, anchor Colette Cassidy described Sheehan as an "anti-war protester" without describing the message on her shirt, but specifically noted that Young had worn a sweater "in support of U.S. troops," with a clear emphasis on the word "support."
None of the stories noted that Sheehan's son, U.S. Army Spec. Casey Sheehan, was killed in action on April 4, 2004, while serving in Iraq. The AP subsequently revised its report, deleting the "just the opposite" description.
Both women were removed from the visitor's gallery of the House of Representatives prior to the start of Bush's speech. Capitol Police, who arrested Sheehan but not Young, apologized the next day for removing both women, according to the reports.
From the February 1 Associated Press report by Laurie Kellman:
Capitol Police dropped a charge of unlawful conduct against anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on Wednesday and apologized for ejecting her and a congressman's wife from President Bush's State of the Union address for wearing T-shirts with war messages.
"The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol," Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said in a statement late Wednesday.
"The policy and procedures were too vague," he added. "The failure to adequately prepare the officers is mine."
Sheehan's T-shirt alluded to the number of soldiers killed in Iraq: "2245 Dead. How many more?" Capitol Police charged her with a misdemeanor for violating the District of Columbia's code against unlawful or disruptive conduct on any part of the Capitol grounds, a law enforcement official said. She was released from custody and flew home Wednesday to Los Angeles.
Young's shirt had just the opposite message: "Support the Troops -- Defending Our Freedom."
The two women appeared to have offended tradition if not the law, according to several law enforcement and congressional officials. By custom, the annual address is to be a dignified affair in which the president reports on the state of the nation. Guests in the gallery who wear shirts deemed political in nature have, in past years, been asked to change or cover them up.
From the February 2 Baltimore Sun article:
Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young, ejected from the State of the Union address Tuesday night for wearing slogan-bearing T-shirts, are off the hook with Capitol police -- but not with the manners police.
Sheehan's T-shirt said: "2245 Dead. How many more?" Young's was emblazoned with a more patriotic statement: "Support the Troops - Defending Our Freedom."
From MSNBC's "Up to the Minute" news report during the February 1 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews:
CASSIDY: And a Capitol police official tells MSNBC News, quote, "we screwed up" in arresting anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan over the T-shirt she wore to the State of the Union address. The official also says the wife of Congressman Bill Young should not have been asked to leave either because she wore a sweater in support of U.S. troops. The official says neither woman violated any rules or laws.