Anti-war activist on war coverage: Media afraid to ‘make Obama look bad’

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Rep. Patrick Kennedy called the media “despicable” for not covering Afghanistan and Iraq, and now Eric Garris, who runs AntiWar.com, says the press has been so numbed by the wars of recent years that it suffers from “combat fatigue” and isn’t critically covering the country’s military action like it used to.

Activist Garris — the day after Kennedy of Rhode Island took to the House floor to blast the media for paying more attention to a congressional sex scandal instead of the troops overseas — argues there are also Machiavellian forces at play within the Fourth Estate.

“It is a combination of things,” he said of the media’s coverage of President Obama’s wars, including “not wanting to make Obama look bad.”

“I really think that there is a strong bias in favor of Obama among the mainstream media and that means that partisan politics is the most important, and issues are only a means to that ends,” he said.

There are fewer people in the anti-war movement now, Garris said, because some anti-Bush activists were more motivated by partisan politics instead of “really being against war.”

“A lot of the opposition to the war or wars prior to 2009 was really opposition to Bush,” Garris continued. “I mean that was really a lot of the motivation for focusing on the wars and now that Obama is president they have laid off that.”

Garris, who has been operating his Anti-War information site for more than 15 years, said there’s still more intervention today “without any evidence of success,” including troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and the possibility of boots on the ground in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. “I hate to say it but Obama’s foreign policy from our prospective is starting to look worse than the Bush foreign policy,” he said.

Kennedy, whose voice cracked during a rant Wednesday on the House floor that has since gone viral on television and the internet, questioned “why the American public is fit?”

“It’s because the press, the press of the United States, is not covering the most significant issue of national importance, and that is the laying of lives down in the nation for the service of our country,” the Rhode Island congressman said.

“It’s despicable, the national press corps right now.” Kennedy said.

Mike Hoyt, the executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, defended the “courageous reporters” who “do some excellent and necessary work, bearing witness to two wars,” saying a lesser emphasis in coverage is likely because of lesser available resources.

“Where Kennedy has a point is that there are fewer of them,” Hoyt wrote in an e-mail. “The cost of sending people to those countries and operating there is high, and due to the economic turmoil in he business, we have fewer eyes and ears over there.”

Hoyt added: “His point about cable TV covering the trivial is also true, of course; Fox and MSNBC in particular don’t do much reporting, they just talk about the news rather than gather it.”