Robert Ganshorn

Why didn't CNN comment on the obvious?

Filed By Robert Ganshorn | September 06, 2008 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics
Tags: Anderson Cooper, CNN, election 2008, John McCain, Peace protests, protests, Republican scandal, Wolf Blitzer

Even from far away Thailand I could watch wall to wall coverage on CNN of John McCain's acceptance speech. I began watching coverage at 5:30 AM to catch it live. When finally we got to the acceptance speech, I was expecting more of the same flag waving pablum that I had observed to that point with the occasional jab at Obama from someone who might know how to speak in public, rather than the candidate himself. What I observed, and that you could have easily missed, would have sent any person who loves Liberty into a fury.

Fortunately, rather than sweep the floor, wipe a kitchen counter, or pick lint from a corner while the set was on, I watched when McCain delivered his speech to his braying herd of sheep. Three separate times there were sudden shouts of "USA, USA, USA..." as protesters from within the convention center unfurled their banner, sign or voice and raised their hands in defiance with a peace sign.

Their act was brave, inspirational, and within their rights as Americans to perform, but McCain's goons stopped them. Pulled them away to silence their protest, their love of peace and their argument. I am reminded of Ronald Reagan: "I paid for this microphone." I am reminded of 2004 when George W was accepting his party's nomination and a brave woman approached with a sign only the candidate could see and was shuffled away by security guards.

And Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper, anyone! After each three second snippet that we were shown at the discretion of the director cutting from scene to scene showing these protesters exercising their constitutional rights and being led off as though they were terrorists for holding up a sign and verbally disagreeing, what did they do? If a viewer had been listening rather than watching they would never have known. If it had not been so obvious on the floor that the candidate himself finally commented among the "USA" bleating not even then would anyone have known.

John McCain's carefully crafted night of self celebration had been disturbed by protesters within and outside the hall and after his speech you said nothing, Wolf!, you said nothing Anderson! Who in the hell told you to stop being news reporters? How many favors do you owe Mr. McCain to get "access" and stories to keep the masses entertained between episodes of "American Idol" while we bargain away our civil rights and you cowardly say nothing.

To be oblivious to history happening under your nose is to violate your own claim to be a member of the fourth estate. How about commenting on what is there? Even if you say after McCain has delivered his speech that there were protesters, perhaps delegates, who were exercising their rights to protest who were stopped by security.

Societies slip incrementally and if you can give us slow motion reruns of Tiger Woods sinking a putt, you can give us immediate commentary on an ongoing event. Forty years since 1968 and you have turned into complacent cowards only describable as "comedy-politico-info-opinonistic-nearly halitosis."

We have seen the enemy and it remains, as always, ourselves if we stop thinking. Americans have become used to being muzzled and seeing others muzzled and walking along their way looking for a hot dog stand, rather than helping a fellow citizen keep their precious rights. Is this the new normal?


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I wondered why more wasn't made of the McCain hecklers during his acceptance speech too. If Obama had been heckled, it would have been the top story. Instead, the media showed the few seconds when McCain could actually string a sentence together and made it sound like his speech was pitch perfect.

Bah.

It was interesting for me to watch Anderson Cooper maintain his compusure. I wonder why he had to though. Many times, his guests make outrageous innuendo about his orientation withoutg going all the way. I think he and Wolf Blitzer were ridiculed one night for dressing in similar attire. I thought that was offensive and a jab directly at cooper. He should have snapped his fingers and said "remember you are my guest on this program." It is not so honorable when it appears he is being threatened to be outed by his guests. I have always found it to be smarter to beat them to the punch and then get back to doing the job.

My guess is that the major news media have had to agree, off the record, to a gag order -- i.e. not to give any news attention to protesters as their "price of admission" to covering the conventions. It's the only way you can explain why, for the most part, the protester arrests at both donventions have been fully covered only by independent media and civil-rights organizations.

This falls into the same category as the Olympic teams that had to agree to gag orders (official or unofficial) as the price of their plane ticket to Beijing. The deal was, that they had to refrain from commenting on Chinese human-rights questions while in Beijing.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 6, 2008 1:50 PM

Patricia, Itotally agree but I think the "gag order" is purely understood, not even discussed. Reporters, especially by the time they reach the level of Blitzer and Cooper, know what's ok to cover or say and what's not.

What's really disturbing is that most Americans don't seem to notice nor care that their news is censored at the source. The less-censored information is easily obtained on the internet, but how many people get their news there? How many Americans even follow the news anymore?!

One of the most discouraging things I've heard from a variety of people since I got back from Ireland is, "Oh, I don't really follow the news."

Great post, Robert!!

What an absolutely fabulous post!!

What can we do? To whom do we write? Who gets a phone call? How do we make sure that this doesn't happen again?

This speech should have come with a warning label: do not operate a vehicle or heavy machinery while listening. God McCain is so boring! The protesters were the only exciting part.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 6, 2008 10:18 PM

CNN news, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper will each be getting a copy of this posting and comments. I shall see to that. The United States of America is selling out it's Liberty and we are now living in Germany in 1935 for all the good our broadcast media is doing us. Where did any of these people go? With what will they be charged by "Patriot Act" standards? If any of you failed to read "Animal Farm" now would be a good time to do so.

I wonder if this is the kind of issue with which someone like Cathy Renna would help?

At first blush, it does seem like business as usual with the media (the "war", Katrina, etc.) and yet, if you think about countries where the government does control the media and people are taken away in the night (or day!) by police and held without anyone knowing where they are or why they were arrested....

Is this really where we're going here? And which group advocates for something like this? It's First Amendment, of course, but the press also has the right to say what they want, so...?

Confuzzled. But I'm glad you're sending in the post to the news media themselves. Will you keep up posted on the response?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 10, 2008 12:03 AM

Thank you so much for your recommendation that I contact Cathy. she has given me an email of a media advocate at Turner Communications that will see that the posting gets into the right hands. I have already communicated with the main website, but I am sure this will provide better exposure for our positions, thoughts and group ideas.

You da Best!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 7, 2008 10:00 AM

The very point of a free press is that they can comment on anything observed and this was live television. Each of these camera shots lasted three seconds which is why I felt particularly cheated that nothing was said. Someone looking out the window at the time would have missed it.

With all they have done in security and screening these three (at least) people got through. That is a news story in and of itself. I cannot believe that any news person would accept a precondition not to respond to a live news event in front of their eyes.

An omission is no better than a lie.

But (and I am in no way defending the press) you are assuming that someone agreed, in advance, not to respond to a live news event.

Is there any proof that this happened?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 7, 2008 11:09 PM

Ricci, I am not assuming that they agreed to an implied "gag order." I am asking them why they did not comment upon what was directly before their eyes. Each person on the set and panel can hear the director call the shots and action. That is part of the production process as the newscasters cannot see the director, but they can damn well hear him and they could certainly hear the crowd bleating "USA,USA..." to cover the protesters in their midst.

If they had done as little as make the offhand comment after the fact that three to six persons had somehow made it through the gauntlet of security into the hall to protest and unfurl their own banners they would have at least acknowledged what had happened for the viewer who could have been turned away from the screen for those three seconds. As you have phrased the question I wonder if the director is in hot water for calling those three second breakaway shots.

David Daniels | September 8, 2008 2:16 AM

Great article! Well written, well said...I share the sentiments of anger that it looks like the media will again be lapdogs and not confront another Republican machine tactic that 'they' are the only one that matters. 'They' said that it was time to act for 'all Americans'...then act like it!!!