As the networks cover the war, they may find themselves targeted by more
demonstrations like the one that disrupted traffic in the middle of Manhattan
Members of a coalition calling itself M27 (for March 27 Coalition) said they
picked areas like the streets around Rockefeller Center as the location for
their anti-war die-in "because of the concentration of media companies" in
downtown New York.
War opponents are stepping up their activities, among them demonstrations at
media sites including the Cable News Network bureau in Los Angeles and network
headquarters in Atlanta.
"The airwaves are owned by the public. They have a responsibility to show
proportionate coverage. The polls show that one in four Americans oppose the
war, so one in four stories should reflect their view," said Angela Coppola of
anti-war group Not in Our Name.
Demonstrators seemed to take it as a sign of success that CNN has placed a
muslin curtain behind anchors cablecasting from its streetside New York
"I guess it's too risky that someone might walk by and actually flash a peace
sign behind Paula Zahn," Coppola said. She added that the coalition was headed
for CNN Thursday when police began arresting the demonstrators.
M27 spokeswoman Betsy Andrews said the protesters also want to communicate
that media is not a monolith. There are different sources for information such
as international news sources and domestic alternative press.
"Mainstream media can't be trusted. How can [NBC networks] be unbiased when
their parent company, General Electric [Co.], is in the business of selling
military hardware?" Andrews added.
Demonstrators, reached by phone, said they expect TV news operations to be
more than "stenographers for the Pentagon."
Spokespeople for coalition members singled out Fox News Channel as the most
biased, but added that they doubted anyone would target its studios.
"They won't come around anyway," Coppola said.
Thursday's demonstration occurred just as a poll was released demonstrating
that the American public's perception of bias in the media is tainted by their
opposition or support for the war.
A total of 90 percent of viewers who identify themselves as supporters of
intervention in Iraq rated TV news coverage as good or excellent. Among anti-war
viewers, 39 percent felt that the quality of coverage is poor and 23 percent
rated it as good, but 38 percent of that segment still think TV coverage is
CNN, USA Today and The Gallup Organization conducted the poll during
the weekend of March 22 and 23.