August 26, 2005

The Marketing of Cindy Sheehan

Just in case anyone still held onto the belief that the Cindy Sheehan protest is something more than the crass exploitation of one woman's grief, they should read this ABC 7 News' investigation, which reveals the massive "marketing machine" that has been assembled to make sure that she dominates newspaper articles and television news programs. And, of course, there is the financial support provided to keep "Camp Casey" ongoing. After all, Cindy Sheehan is no longer employed - who is paying for her month long vigil and pending bus tour? Well, you will not be surprised:
Cindy Sheehan kneels before a cross with her son's name on it, touches his picture, wipes her tears. It's an outpouring of emotion that is part of a scheduled news event organized daily for the television, radio and print reporters who crowd in to capture a mother's grief. Cindy Sheehan: "I'm never going to see him again, I'm never going to hold him again, I'm never going to hear his voice again."

Sheehan's message hasn't changed since she got here, but the support staff interested in getting that message out to the world has grown considerably. Organizers are set up in a house trailer. Their meetings closed to reporters ... Leading the group is Fenton Communications employee, Michele Mulkey, based in San Francisco. Fenton specializes in public relations for liberal non-profits.

Their bills are being paid for by True Majority, a non-profit set up by Ben Cohen -- of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream fame. Ben Cohen, True Majority: "People are willing to listen to her and we want to do as much as we can to make her voice heard." Cohen's group has teamed up with Berkeley based MoveOn.org, an anti-Bush group co-founded by Joan Blades. Earlier this month, MoveOn helped organize anti-war vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan. Current Democratic National Party Chair Howard Dean's organization Democracy for America is also involved, as is the more radical anti-war group Code Pink organized by San Francisco's Medea Benjamin. Money donated through these groups and others is helping to pay for Gold Star families whose children have been killed in Iraq to attend anti-Bush protests.

This week Simi Valley California Gold Star wife Melanie House flew to Idaho for a protest and then flew to Crawford. ABC7's Mark Matthews: "Can you tell us if you're getting help in airfare to come down here?" Melanie House: "What difference does that make?"

There is real reluctance to talk about who's paying, and the P.R. machine that's promoting Cindy Sheehan, but not everyone here is completely comfortable with it. Gold Star mother Karen Meredith came here from Mountain View. Her son Ken Ballard died last year.

Karen Meredith, Gold Star mother: "Sometimes things don't feel quite right to me. They don't feel wrong, but maybe that's how they do it in the marketing business."

ABC7's Mark Matthews: "You feel you're part of a marketing business?"

Karen Meredith: "Possibly. Yeah I think so."
It is nothing more than a Washington D.C.-style political production meant to produce soundbites for the various news outlets and prey upon the emotions of the electorate.

For more, see these blogs:

Instapundit ("I can't say I'm surprised: the "grassroots" antiwar movement keeps turning out to be MoveOn/A.N.S.W.E.R. astroturf. But I bet that if a GOP group were to send servicemen's families to picket Democrats it would be getting more play. And more negative play."), Dean's World ("The 21st century anti-war movement is not your parents' anti-war movement. The current anti-war movement is a rainbow coalition of hate; they claim to be anti-war while supporting the Palestinian war against Israel, the Intifada; Stalinists join hands with neo-Nazis, anarchists praise peace and threaten destruction, the head of the DNC proudly declares that he hates a large proportion of the American public."), Decision '08 ("Note to Mrs. Meredith: if you’re conscience is bothering you, that’s probably a good sign you’re being used…"), ChrisCam ("Of course, none of this is a real surprise to those of us who haven't been deluded by CNN and the New York Times."), The Pirate Review ("In the same sense that many on the left claim President Bush squandered the good will of the world after 9/11 Cindy Sheehan has smothered any sympathy from me with her constant drama for the cameras and frequently turgid yet illuminating remarks"), Case In Point ("This is BIG BUSINESS to the anti-war crowd."), Hobby Geek ("I've been of the opinion that Sheehan's been a tool for these people for some time. This article confirms it."), Shooting the Messenger, Ankle Biting Pundits ("It’s a vast leftwing conspiracy folks, not just some lil’ ole’ grieving mother."), Broked UP ("all the money going to catering Sheehan’s protests (what would Rubin think of a catered protest?) – imagine what that money could do for kids who can’t affort college, hell, junior college. Priorities, you cockswallowers. Get some."), Rooster Cashews ("Sheehan's message is no longer her own. She is now a mouthpiece for the left, and does not make a move unless it is carefully scripted"), Confederate Yankee ("Grief pays, and it pays well."), Pub Crawler ("PR is right. If the real Cindy Sheehan was being reported on then people would be appalled."), What the Hell is Wrong With You? ("But why isn't the rest of the mainstream media showing this putrid display of partisan hackery for what it is, a PR campaign."), JackLewis.Net ("While it's pathetic that she's exploiting her son's death this way, it's even more sickening the way the anti-America movement is exploiting an obviously sick woman to further their cause.").
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