Washington Prowler

Get a MoveOn

Peaceniks infiltrate the newsroom. Also: The DNC's un-American appeal.

By 3.23.03

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BROADCAST NEWS
Activists involved in the left-wing student and anti-war grassroots group MoveOn.org were bragging on Friday night at protest-organizing meeting in Washington, D.C. that they have members working in the newsrooms at CNN, ABC News and NBC, which also feeds news to its sister cable channels MSNBC and CNBC. "We're affecting news coverage of this war. We know it, because our friends are telling us they are affecting it," said an anti-war activist in an Adams-Morgan bar.

Members of MoveOn were meeting in Washington to plan weekend anti-war protests in the streets of the capital.

The MoveOn volunteers employed by the new industry work as content editors and producers for the TV networks' websites, as well as low-level production assistants and researchers for the news divisions.

"At CNN and ABC we know that the producers and the anchors have been really receptive to our message," said the MoveOn organizer. "Peter Jennings even put our people on the air, with no opposing view. He loves our message."

The friendly faces for anti-warriors might explain the high-balling of protest numbers on the network news. For example, on Thursday and Friday nights, there were protests in downtown Chicago that NBC and ABC reporters said featured "thousands and thousands of protesters." But Chicago police estimates put their number at no more than 1,500.

Even the I>San Francisco Chronicle has cast doubts on its own reporting of protest estimates. It now admits it bloated protest numbers on several occasions by as much as 60,000.

The Jennings situation is just as interesting on Friday evening's coverage of the war, the Canadian ABC news anchor spent a half hour examining the motivations for President Bush's decision to spend the weekend in Camp David with his war council. No other network devoted as much time to the issue.

THE DNC'S UN-AMERICAN APPEAL
The Democratic National Committee sent out a fundraising appeal last week asking members to rally behind Sen. Tom Daschle and his comments about President Bush. You'll recall that last Monday Daschle ridiculed the Bush administration's failed diplomacy in Iraq and blamed any American war deaths on Bush's failure.

The DNC, citing the media and public uproar over Daschle's comments, asked donors for any size donation to show their support for the Democratic Party and its leadership.

Apparently there's not much interest. Early estimates indicate that the DNC will raise less than $50,000 from the mass mailing.

The Republican National Committee, on the other hand, hasn't done much with the Daschle comments in its own low-key fundraising appeals. Probably because it doesn't have to. "Within a day of Daschle opening his mouth, we'd raised $500,000 from donors outraged by his and his colleagues' behavior," says an RNC staffer.

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