The mainstream media went crazy covering the teabaggers and noisemakers at town halls. They SHOULD be covering protests against the war and protests FOR health care as a civil right too.
It took a conversation with Dennis Kucinich a few weeks ago, on my radio show to gel the idea for me. Access to health care is a civil right.
Then I brought up the idea of health care as a civil right in a two hour interview I did with Wendell Potter, in front of a town hall with about 250 people, in Philly, and how it might take the kinds of civil disobedience that Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks engaged in to get equality for Blacks. Potter agreed.
Already, courageous protesters like Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese had been arrested at Senate hearings, earlier in the year, when Max Baucus excluded single payer supporters from health care hearings of the senate finance committee.
I watched more arrests happen, had more conversations with Cindy Sheehan, Ray McGOvern, Debra Sweet, Elaine Brower, Kevin Zeese, David Swanson, Jodi Evans, Cheryl Biren-- and a few things gradually dawned on me.
I've learned the hard way, having one of my reporters arrested, that the police and their government supervisors attempt to repress the press and the coverage of arrests.
After a demonstration against the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, I met Joan Pleune, who was arrested at that protest. She'd also been arrested as a Freedom Rider in the sixties. Talk about 40 year old football players with 20 year careers. Joan's a protester with a "career" going on 50 years. She is a profile in courage.
Imagine how much less effective Martin Luther King jr., Rosa Parks and John Lewis would have been if there was no media coverage of their civil disobedience. Believe me, they planned those acts carefully to maximize media coverage.
Media coverage amplifies the effectiveness of the protests. Police threats and intimidation make it harder for the media to cover protests and cover the arrests. That sabotages the effectiveness of the demonstrators who are literally putting their freedom on the line, going through the process of getting arrested, handcuffed, put in a police van or bus, fingerprinted, mug-shotted, fined and sometimes charged with crimes-- usually charges that are unsupportable and ultimately dropped.
Now, with major decisions being made about whether or not to continue the Afghan war and whether or not to give health care to all Americans, it is time of incredible opportunity to employ the non-violent political strategies used so effectively by MLK and Ghandi. And the mainstream media can help or throw away this opportunity.
I've written to some of the most visible protesters, asking them about the coverage they're getting, particularly on the network that is most friendly to progressives-- MSNBC.
So I wrote this letter to some of the most active activists I know personally;
What kind of TV news coverage are you seeing for the protest arrests?
- Advertisement -Are the MSNBC people covering them, tying them to the conversation on the wars or healthcare?
We should start working in a targeted way at getting Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Dylan Ratigan and Keith Olbermann to start covering the rise in civil disobedience, get the idea out that there is a new wave of freedom riders fighting for peace and health care for all.
I haven't heard these supposed left wing news reporters talk about the protests and arrests. We need to get them to see that showing YOUR protests is a major part of pushing the legislators.