After a week of pressure exerted by angry people in Northern California, the San Francisco Chronicle has agreed to publish an Op-Ed by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) that tells the truth about the March 17 demonstration in San Francisco. The demonstration, like others around the country, was a sign of a growing anti-war movement. You would never have known it from reading the San Francisco Chronicle report.
On the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, people took to the streets in more than 1,000 U.S. cities and
towns. The largest demonstrations took place in Washington, D.C., at the March on the Pentagon, in San Francisco, and in Los Angeles, all initiated by the ANSWER Coalition and co-sponsored by a wide array of progressive organizations. These demonstrations reached people in the U.S. who had never participated in a protest before and also included many Iraq war veterans, active-duty service members, family members, and veterans of other wars.
San Francisco crowd shot, March 18
(Photo: Peter Maiden)
This resurgence of the anti-war movement, and the breadth of its makeup, signifies a sharp turn by the public against the war. But just as tens of thousands were marching in these major city demonstrations, the corporate mass media were fine-tuning their atrocious coverage and providing huge undercounts. As we all know, mass demonstrations have a major ripple effect. Many who are not there learn about the actions and seeing a vibrant anti-war movement feel that they too can be a part of it. A number of major media outlets across the country made tens of thousands of people disappear from the demonstrations and provided often hostile, misleading and false coverage.
This isn’t the first time the media has attempted to rewrite the reality of a major political protest. As many will remember, when the ANSWER Coalition organized the first major national demonstration against a looming war in Iraq on October 26, 2002 that brought 200,000 people into Washington, D.C., NPR announced the number to be in the hundreds. Deluged with phone calls and letters, NPR was forced to issue a correction. The New York Times said the demonstration was in the “thousands.” Only after it received thousands of angry faxes, phone calls and emails, did the New York Times write a second article a few days later stating that the anti-war movement had been “invigorated” by a massive turnout.
On the weekend of March 17-18, among the most egregious coverage was the “crowd count” put out by the San Francisco Chronicle for the March 18 rally. The Chronicle article on the march, which was picked up the Associated Press and distributed worldwide, reported that just 3,000 people participated—less than 10% of the number who actually marched. The reporters claimed to have “counted” the march, and to back up their ludicrous number, falsely asserted that the march organizers had “announced” the same number from the stage. The Chronicle report provoked hundreds of angry emails, calls and letters to the editor in the next 48 hours.
Under growing pressure, the Chronicle agreed to publish an Op-Ed written by the ANSWER Coalition in Monday’s newspaper (March 26).
This is an important victory, one that was only achieved because of many people taking action to express their outrage. It must also be said that publishing the Op-Ed is a step, but it does not mitigate the damage done by the wide distribution of the Chronicle false report.
Our movement must create and strengthen our own media, while continuing to pressure the corporate media to tell the truth about the growing anti-war struggle in the United States.
Please read ANSWER’s Op-Ed, which is available by clicking here. Please send this Op-Ed to every one in your email address book, and forward it to other email lists.