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Agenda Journalism, Exhibit A

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The Washington Post “reports” on the activism of some military families:

Organizers of the protest, who anticipate a crowd of about 100,000, estimate that thousands of military families and veterans will join in the demonstration. Three busloads of military families have been touring the country since Aug. 31 and will converge on Washington today to promote Saturday’s rally.

My observations of military families would estimate that for every Cindy Sheehan, there are at least 100 proud and genuinely supportive family members who are do not “support” the troops by condeming the war. The Post refuses in this article to provide any estimates, even though this isn’t an impossible or even difficult task, just one certain to undermine the reporter’s agenda of implying that significant numbers of military family members are opposed to the war.

Real jorunalism would ask what is a “significant” percentage first, and then probe to discover whether or not there was a real story here, or just the inevitable surfacing of dissent which while absolutely genuine, does not reach a level that approaches “newsworthiness.” Because the reporter is interested in presenting an anti-war story line, though, the “three busloads” tells us absolutely zero in terms of numbers and proportions, and is used as a bride to legitimacy for the premise that Cindy Sheehan represents more than a handful of protesters.

How many troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan? How many do their families number? How many of those family members have joined with the antiwar activists?

Answers to those questions would provide the basis for a real story based on real reporting. It isn’t in the Post.

It’s not a “rift” if 90% of military family members reject Sheehan’s agenda.


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