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Don Lemon & CNN, NO To "Real Americans" - YES To Real Journalism!


by Linda Milazzo

On Saturday, August 15, 2009, CNN's Don Lemon angrily confronted America's Town Hall Director Alan Hardage for Hardage's use the term real Americans. Below is the video of Lemon's emotional exchange with Hardage:

Lemon's ire over Hardage's use of real Americans echoes the sentiments of millions in this nation who take umbrage with supremacist and exclusionary characterizations that undermine the Americanism of others.

While I applaud Mr. Lemon for confronting Hardage, I wonder where his and corporate media's outrage has been for the last eight years while the patriotism of those who opposed George Bush was constantly assailed. Instead of challenging accusations against Bush dissenters, corporate media embraced them. In fact they indulged them.

What's even more contemptuous and journalistically irresponsible is the manner in which corporate media enthusiastically grants wall to wall coverage of right wing anti-tax tea-parties and right wing anti-healthcare town halls, but barely covered the many well attended protests that preceded and followed the Iraq war. The disparity between the maximum attention corporate media gives the small numbers of right wing dissenters compared to the minimum attention it gave the millions on the left who dissented against the war is the height of journalistic dereliction.

On February 15, 2003, per the Free Press:

More than 12 million people all over the world loudly and visibly said no to war in Iraq. A total of between 862,152 and 1,033,874 of these were Americans, accounting for six to nine percent of the demonstrators worldwide. While the U.S. media focused on the two large protests that occurred in New York and San Francisco, between 222,152 and 333,874 Americans demonstrated for peace in at least 282 other communities of all sizes in all fifty states.

Large and small anti-war protests continued long after the Iraq war began in March of 2003. Many events reported tens of thousands attendees - some 100,000 or more - still corporate media barely paid attention. What little attention it did pay portrayed the peace movement as irrelevant throw-backs to the '60s or enemy sympathizers. The negative bias was flagrant.

Contrast that with corporate media's exuberant wall to wall coverage of the current under-attended tea parties and healthcare town halls, and corporate media's dissolution of a free unbiased press is palpable. Only the likes of Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and their devotees would deceitfully call corporate media "liberal."

In paying homage to the right at Saturday's anti-Obama healthcare event, Don Lemon actually did a near full day of coverage alongside his invited Conservative guests, Alan Hardage of America's Town Hall and Virginia Galloway of Americans For Prosperity. The event Lemon reported from for nearly half that day drew an estimated 5,000 people, which its organizer, Hardage, pronounced a great success.

Imagine, in order to mount this one event, a coalition of 20 - that's TWENTY conservative groups - organized a full four weeks and the best attendance they could muster was (by their estimation), 5,000 people! And that's with American corporate media shilling on their behalf.

Yes, American corporate media actually shills for right wing groups. CNN, MSNBC and Fox promoted the right wing tea-parties for weeks before their scheduled April 15, 2009 events. But even with the free daily plugs, the largest gathering topped out at 5,000 people - this time in Denver, Colorado. (The website FiveThirtyEight offers a more complete list of the April 15th tea-parties and numbers of attendees).

The peace movement, on the other hand, has held numerous marches, protests and rallies for the past six and a half years since before the Iraq war began and has mobilized tens of thousands – even a hundred thousand - at single events, with no advance promotion from the biased corporate press. On those occasions corporate media did do advance press, they were fear-based reports to scare off protesters with threats of police plans to control, constrain and contain the non-violent, unarmed peaceniks.

Were it not for independent domestic and international media’s dedication to truth and disclosure, there would have been minimal to NO coverage in America of anti-war events, except for occasional broadcast blips and miniscule print blurbs that under-reported participant numbers.

Want to see proof of corporate media shilling for conservatives? Watch Don Lemon in the video below displaying a map announcing the locations of Saturday's town halls. Then remember back to the days preceding the April 15th tea-parties and corporate media's daily promotional countdowns to the events. Add to that the exhaustive coverage corporate media provided on-site at nearly every tea party held.

I’m trying to recall at what anti-war events or recent healthcare townhalls, that CNN, MSNBC or Fox ever sat for prolonged periods with any progressive leaders as Don Lemon did on Saturday with Hardage and Galloway to listen to their concerns. Can anyone tell me of any wall to wall on-site coverage of peace movement events over the past six years - even those in Washington, DC that were attended by hundreds of thousands of people - where the corporate press offered extensive air-time to listen to progressive leaders? I don’t recall that ever happening.  Do you??

Certainly no corporate anchors have had all day sit downs with progressive leaders discussing single payer healthcare. At least none that I recall. I would love to see that happen outside a healthcare town hall with progressive leaders like Tom Hayden, Norman Solomon, Lila Garrett, Dr. Jo Olson, David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, Brad Parker, Tim Carpenter, Marcy Winograd, Maureen Cruise and others who aren't given the equal time of the Hardages and the Galloways.

To be sure, I’m thrilled Don Lemon confronted Hardage on his use of the term real American. But I’d be even more thrilled if CNN and other corporate media provided progressive leaders – in particular highly informed members of Progressive Democrats of America - equal air time to discuss the merits of single-payer healthcare.

So, what say you, corporate media? How about equalizing the discussion and giving progressives the same visibility and voice you willingly give conservatives? You've disposed of the term real American, and make REAL JOURNALISM your cause!

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