The Revolution Was Not Televised

Winona Dimeo-Ediger of Banks, Oregon. Winona is a student at Portland State University and a freelance writer. Usually, she blogs at the fashion blog, Daddy Likey.

I traveled from my little Oregon town to Washington DC on September 15th to take part in the revolution.

I bought a plane ticket with money I didn't quite have so I could march from the White House to the Capitol, joining what turned out to be nearly 100,000 people who demanded an end to the war in Iraq. I marched alongside veterans, teenagers, grandmothers, and children. We rallied in front of the senate, waving our signs and facing down riot police with their trigger fingers twitching over packets of tear gas. And then 160 of us were arrested, voluntarily, for crossing a police line. The crowd roared "Thank you!" as each handcuff snapped shut, because we thought we were making a statement; we thought we were changing the world. We would have, too, but the revolution was not televised.

I called my family right after the crowd dispersed, begging my brother to turn on the TV and describe the coverage.

"There's nothing," he said.

I told him to check online.

"I only see OJ Simpson," he insisted. "Did you know he got arrested again?"

Over a week later, after relentlessly searching online, TV, and print media, I can count on one hand the number of stories I've found concerning the march. Not only that, but every single news item gave equal ( and usually more) coverage to the pro-war protesters who stood on the side of the road spewing death threats. You'd never guess from the biased coverage, but in reality, the ratio of peace marchers to pro-war advocates was roughly 1,000 to 1, a number that reflects public opinion.

Where's this liberal media that everyone's talking about?

The march on Washington was a throwback to the power-to-the-people movements of the 1960's, to be sure. But had this been the 1960's, one thing would have been very different: this gathering of 100,000 people against an extremely unpopular war would have been considered news, and it would have been covered, incessantly, in the mainstream media.

Instead, we heard about OJ, and here's why: Five giant media companies currently own the majority of all media outlets in the United States.

And these are five companies with a motive to keep us in the dark.

A couple examples:

Rupert Murdoch owns FOX, FOX News, and the Wall Street Journal, among countless other newspapers, magazines, and television stations. His pro-war stance and conservative politics are not exactly a secret. FOX News reported that only 5,000 people showed up for the peace march. See a problem?

General Electric owns an 80% stake in NBC (including CNBC and MSNBC). General Electric is also one of the largest defense contractors in the world. It is a company that profits from war. See a problem?

People cannot demand accountability when they do not have the information. And Big Media will never give us the information when they have a stake in our ignorance.

The day after the march - heck, the hour after the march - things went back to normal in Washington DC. Thousands of protesters got on the bus to go home to cities and towns across America that will never know the march even occurred. People will talk about OJ Simpson and the war will rage on and more soldiers will die.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    It is true that I was unaware that there were 100,000 people there. But I read the blogs like Blue Oregon daily and until this post I didn't see anything regarding the size or impact. Not on Daily Kos, not on KPOJ, not anywhere. I knew that there was a march, but little else. Why was this march underreported in the leftist media?

  • davidg (unverified)
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    Last night's Democratic debate may throw some light on the coverage problem. All three of the leading Democrats (Clinton, Obama, and Edwards) basically endorsed the Bush "perpetual war in the Mid-East" doctrine. None of them were willing to commit to pull US combat troops out of Iraq during their first term of office.

    I think the media, like the leading Democrats (and of course the Republicans), has bought into the notion of a perpetual Iraq war. The anti-war movement, which stands for bringing all troops home now (both combat troops and non-combat troops), is therefore deemed to be irrelevant and not deserving of coverage. The march on Washington was clearly of the anti-war variety - and not at all in support of the perpetual war. So it was therefore deemed irrelevant and didn't get coverage.

    The anti-war movement is not yet well focused or organized - but I think it represents the majority of Americans. My advice: keep marching. The breakthrough will come, but it may take longer than you might have thought. And, I am afraid, the anti-war struggle will continue long past the 2008 elections since there is not yet a true anti-war candidate on the horizon.

  • davidg (unverified)
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    Let me correct that last sentence:

    ... there is not a true anti-war candidate likely to be nominated by either of the two major parties.

  • (Show?)

    Winona, I am not doubting your word, but I am curious to hear how you know that 100,000 people were there?

    I lived in Washington for eight years. During that time countless demonstrations took place. There were without exception very significant disparities in crowd counts reported by the DC police and the US Park Service police, respectively. The organizers of each demonstration always reported a third number, higher than either of the police estimates. This is the way of these things. I'd just like to know where that 100,000 number comes from.

  • (Show?)

    There is an antiwar march this Saturday downtown in Portland, from 11 to 2 starting at NW Park & Flanders and ending at the World Trade Center SW 1st & Salmon, to be followed by a "peace fair" involving at least 55 anti-war groups. One major theme of this mobilization is No New War on Iran.

    <hr/>

    The phenomenon Winona notes has existed from the beginning of the war and the anti-war movement. Several much larger marches have gone virtually uncovered, or in one case, a major national march in NYC with over 200,000 participants was reported by the NYTimes only two days later in the Metro section. NPR regularly reports demonstrations which had over 100,000 participants (organizers claiming multiple hundreds of thousands), an unquestionably beyond any doubt had 10s of thousands as "thousands of demonstrators" -- technically true but not at all accurate in portraying scale. On occasions when local demonstrations have been organized around the country, their existence a unified, coordinated phenomenon has gone unreported, though there has been local coverage.

    Major media private censorship to some extent reflects the fact that those media were complicit in aiding the Bush admin's war-mongering, functioning as an uncritical echo chamber to claims about Ws of MD. Knight-Ridder/McLatchey journalists proved could be and should have been challenged even before the war revealed the lies and cooked intelligence. It also reflects the fact that while it is not necessarily a liberal media (fear of that label & the charge that the media lost Vietnam may be another factor), it is an elitist media. The only really relevant voices to them anymore are political, corporate and policy elites. And most of the major media bought into the idea that "the world's only superpower" had a legitimate role as an imperial hegemon after the end of the Cold War. This makes it hard for them to understand simple facts like the U.S. committed aggression in violation of international law, or opinions like aggression is wrong, or to challenge Bush's unprecedented inflation of his putative powers as "commander-in-chief."

    Portland's local media has done a much better job of fair coverage of local events -- not perfect, & early on especially tending to an "equal time for much smaller counter-demos" pattern. But the commentary was always fair and respectful on the local stations I watched, especially so since it has become clear that public opinion overwhelmingly favors ending the war sooner rather than later.

    <hr/>

    Regarding bloggers & related media -- Maybe bloggers don't get out from behind their computers much? ;->

    If you want to know about anti-war actions, IndyMedia sites will be your best bet.

    Another factor affecting liberal blog-media silence on the September march may have been that it was organized by International ANSWER, a front group for a rather bizarre-even-for-Trotskyist-micro-groupuscles called the Worker's World Party. Though historically descended from Trotskyist side of communist factionalization, they have come around to embracing the ultra-Stalinism of North Korea, and because of their organizing role, demos they organize tend to involve disproportionate attention to matters of equally sound political judgment.

    Since the WWP itself, though not the ANSWER coalition as such as far as I know, has gone so far as to embrace calls for the victory of Iraqi insurgents, this poses a significant pain-in-the-ass to the mainstream of the peace movement. At one point the largest mainstream coalition, United for Peace and Justice, tried rather uneasily to do joint mobilizations with ANSWER, but I think no longer does because ANSWER did not abide by agreements.

    <hr/>

    To see if the private censorship of the popular anti-war movement continues in the face of the polls, watch for coverage of two things.

    One is that a repetitive Moratorium movement is forming. I think it originated with the Win Without War coaltion, but has been endorse by UFPJ and many of its constituent groups. The idea is to have many local events of witness against the war the third week of every month.

    Secondly, on October 27 UFPJ is trying a new strategy to break the cycle of censorship. They are calling for large regional demonstrations in ten cities around the country. This stands between local events that can be treated in isolation, and single large demos in NYC or DC on the East Coast and SF on the West, which has been the pattern.

    The PNW regional demo October 27 will be in Seattle. I am not exactly sure why Seattle was chosen, since Portland demos have pretty consistently been bigger than Seattle ones, but it may be because of the larger metro area, and/or associations with the WTO protests, and/or because the Portland coalition that pulls together big events here seems to keep fairly strong autonomy from UFPJ national.

  • none (unverified)
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    The demonstration was ignored because it WAS PEACEFUL. Other marches are covered because media outlets are waiting for protester/law enforcement conflicts to occur. Once they do happen the fighting BECOMES the story. Uneventful protests are rarely covered and if they are they dropped from the ticker very quickly.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Winona; you poor disillusioned young thing. So just because you felt something was all fired important - the rest of the world needed to stop and take notice? Thanks for re-enforcing the perception that yours is the entitlement generation. Your math skills seem to be lacing, at 1,000 to 1 (if your original number is correct) wold indicate only 100 counter protesters. That small number would have been lost on the Mall.

    So, back in the day, protests were to protest - they weren't about glorification and TV coverage. You probably didn't get coverage because, well, your cause is yesterday. Check it out - even the most empathetic of democratic hopefuls realize that the US can't just leave Iraq. We broke it and we have a moral obligation to fix it. The debate isn't about why/how we went in; but rather how we fix the situation that we caused.

    So Winona; perhaps you are better suited to self absorbed fashionista pieces than politics.

  • Joseph (unverified)
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    Kurt, you poor bitter old thing. You attack Winona on the grounds that she embodies the negative aspects of her generation. The guest columnist flew to Washington with her own money to help spread a message; what more do you want from a generation than active and committed involvement in politics? How many others from the so called "entitlement Generation" can claim what she can?

  • Trollbot9000 (unverified)
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    Hate to break it to you Winona, but most of us simply don't give a shit about anti-war protests. They're beyond passe, have little meaningful impact other than causing traffic snarls, overtime for police officers, etc. A high percentage of regular participants in such activities are viewed as...well, morons. Very passionate morons with way too much free time. Protest to your hearts content, but don't demand that the rest of us take an interest in watching you pursue your hobby.

    Peace Man

  • ws (unverified)
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    This is no longer the Leave it to Beaver era when protesting the governments wisdom was a big deal. Osama Bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just barely compete with Oj, Paris Hilton and brit spears for space in the news. Tabloid addicted americans are fed a steady steam of their favorite swill, enabling our inept governmental leadership to step that much more easily into the worsening mess of Iraq. Sounds like an Islamic fundamentalist strategy at work. At least some people still have the initiative to tear themselves away from that kind of media anasthesia and get out to express with others, their profound dissatisfaction with the actions of their government in regards to Iraq.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of MSM coverage of peace marches. Those to whom they are important will find out about them anyway.

  • BilboFa***** (unverified)
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    Well written article about an event that was largely ignored, even in liberal circles. Media issues like this really need our attention. The anti-war effort has failed to gather momentum largely because the media portrays peace activists as a small misguided group of fringe leftists. This keeps like minded Americans silent, all afraid that their voice will be the only one in a quiet room.

    Also... Dear Kurt, Last time I checked, this blog was about progressive causes and liberal unity in Oregon. What good does it do to attack a motivated progressive Oregonian? I hope you aren't a registered Democrat because you really sound like an ignorant republican. Choke on a dick, please.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    Thank you Winona for carrying my water and I too am sorry it was ignored. Our DPO county chair went, also; so even little Baker City OR was represented.

    As for the stupidly negative comments...well, owning a keyboard doesn't ensure much, except it's use.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    Winona, Thank you for your report and efforts on behalf of all of us who could not attend for various reasons.

    Kurt, If "we" have a "...moral obligation to fix it", get yourself over there. I hear Blackwater is hiring. Or visit the recruiting station on 13th and NE Broadway, or join any of the NGOs that are providing aide.

    One of the stories not covered is the growing numbers of returning Iraq veterans who are leading the charge against the illegal occupation. For a good read on the arrests read this blog entry.

    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

    If you are down at the event this Saturday, stop by the Veterans For Peace table at the World Trade Center. Look for the one eyed guy in the VFP hoodie, that's me.

    Wage peace, war is obsolete.

  • Former Dem Voter (unverified)
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    "We broke it and we have a moral obligation to fix it."

    Combatants are inappropriate as a peacekeeping force. Having one of the waring factions, the Americans, try to mediate peaceful reconciliation is doomed to failure. Whatever puppet regime we put in place will not be seen as legitimate by the Iraqi people. A neutral party mutually acceptable to the various Iraqi groups is needed to to act as peacekeeper, and America does not fit that profile.

    Sure, America broke it, and America bears responsibility for that, but America isn't going to fix Iraq at the point of a gun, as we are attempting to do now. America needs to exit Iraq as quickly as possible and let a neutral party in to take on the job of peacekeeping so that Iraq can rebuild itself.

  • Karl Smiley (unverified)
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    "We broke it and we have a moral obligation to fix it."

    The problem is we have no "moral" standing to fix it. The Iraqis of all sects and faiths want us gone and nobody trusts us.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    English language marketing! I swear, will you always react to something by what it calls itself? What are you calling news and information?

    The boob tube nightlies are entertainment, for cretins. Judge that how you may, it isn't news, and isn't trying to be. They just still call it that. Are Dutch coffeehouses about coffee?

    For the record, a real news source, not even American, like the Manchester Guardian (guardian.co.uk) picked it up immediately.

    As for the rest, "Everything the state says is a lie and everything it has, it has stolen." ~ Nietzsche, talking about me

  • davidg (unverified)
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    "We broke it and we have a moral obligation to fix it. The debate isn't about why/how we went in; but rather how we fix the situation that we caused."

    In using this argument, Iraq war proponents try to finesse admitting an embarrassing truth: they had no idea how big a mess their aggressive war tactics would create. But now they want us to believe that the mistaken tactics that created the problem will somehow "fix the problem." But continuing with the ongoing war strategy will not solve the problem. Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all now recognize that our current strategy is a perpetual war strategy.

    That is not a "solution" or a "fix" in my book.

    We had no clue going in what was going to happen. We have no idea now how to make things better. We ought to just get out and see what happens. Hindsight of 30 years tells us that was the right strategy in Viet Nam. We all learn in our personal lives that sometimes you just have to disengage from a conflict, because nothing you "do" will help. That's exactly our situation in Iraq now.

  • (Show?)

    Chris,

    Thank you for your detailed explanation of who was behind the march. I suspected something like that since there was little pre-march publicity by the normal groups I listen to and so little by them afterwards. If in fact there were that many people there then I believe the organizers were the reason it didn't break into the blog media let alone the MSM.

  • (Show?)

    Dear Winona,

    I am sorry you found out the hard (and expensive) way that today's media leans to the right, and that anti-war protests don't get much coverage, even when the vast majority of the public agree with you.

    But I do hope you turn this knowledge into something positive. Rather than trying to reach out to your Oregon neighbors through their T.V. sets by traveling all the way to Washington D.C., why don't you start talking to your neighbors directly at their doorsteps? It works. Seriously.

    The Washington County Democratic Party has dozens of events that make a difference, big and small in the community. If you're interested in turning the U.S. away from using war at the drop of a hat, there is none better than helping us defeat U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) in the upcoming election. You can also go to Ben Fain's peace vigil, an every Wednesday gathering in Beaverton. And don't miss the Washington County Democratic party meetings! You can learn a lot.

    If you're interested in a slightly younger crowd doing the same thing, try the Bus Project.

    I hope this helps, and I hope you can help us. We need you!

  • Loraine (unverified)
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    It's absolutely horrifying, the lack of coverage for these kinds of events. A protest isn't simply just an act done in an attempt to make the protesters feel better, or even just to express an opinion- the whole POINT is to try to publicize the stance, and to raise awareness, hopefully to get people to think. Expecting media coverage for such a huge event isn't entitlement, it's downright elementary- is the message that people ought to care more about fluff entertainment than issues actually affected their lives and the lives of those around them? Isn't that just apathy in a poor disguise? The pro-war stance gets more than enough coverage, and dare any public figure speak out against it they are labeled 'unpatriotic'- when that kind of an attitude is endorsed, we become a very large and noisy group of self-righteous, close minded bigots, and that's hardly conducive to a peaceful and functional nation.

    Nothing but participation will make a difference. And to the guy who said "We broke it and we have a moral obligation to fix it." (a much quotes little gem so far in these comments) isn't that old saying "Fighting for peace is like f*cking for virginity"?

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    I do what I can here at home supporting our Vets with Job Fairs and other events. While we have the moral obligation to fix what we broke, and make atonement for the lives we sacrificed out of hubris, we probably do lack the moral standing to do so.

    However, our troops are currently the only thing keeping whole sale slaughter and open civil war. It is a bad situation we have created, but it could get a whole lot worse if we leave and create a further power vacuum. Thin the Killing Fields of Laos and Cambodia after we left South Vietnam or more recently the genocides of Darfur, Bosnia and the former Czech Republic.

    And to the mental midget, BilboFa*, I can only assume that your intended insult implying gagging while orally stimulating a phallus is really beneath even you. Implying homosexual or bisexual behavior as a bad thing is so non progressive and non inclusive. Next time you want to attempt insults try taking your chancre encrusted lips off the hookah for a few hours. That way, the bovine excrement that passes for cranial matter between your ears might actually come up with something more than the modern equivalent of 'your momma'.

  • Loraine (unverified)
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    <h2>Don't you just hate it when, in retaliation to an insult someone has pegged as beneath them, they set out on a formally worded analysis pointing out how childish the insult was? And then attempt to throw in another formally worded insult of their own for good measure?</h2>
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