CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante mistakenly characterized seasoned anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan's pilgrimage to Crawford, Texas, where Mrs. Sheehan daily protests the war and demands to speak with President Bush. Plante filed a report in the 7:00 a.m. half hour of The Early Show from Crawford which, while noting that opposition to Sheehan from other Iraq military families is starting to grow, mainly focused on support she is receiving from left-wing activist groups like MoveOn.org. Where Plante, and co-host Julie Chen mislead the viewer, however, is how they leave the impression that Sheehan is a political novice who has inspired professional activist groups on the Left to rally to her side. Plante fails to relay how Sheehan has been a vocal anti-war leader and Bush critic for quite a while now, including joining far-left Rep. John Conyers in June in calling for investigations into the Downing Street Memo.
Julie Chen, introducing Plante: "It started out as one mother's war protest near President Bush's Texas ranch, now Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, is finding new supporters and critics. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante is live in Crawford with the very latest. Good morning, Bill."
Bill Plante, live from Crawford, Texas: "Julie, good morning. It was a day of damage control for the President. Because of what's happening in Iraq, he asked us to scale back expectations that troops can come home anytime soon. And after a week of protest on the road near his ranch, Mister Bush felt compelled to say that he sympathizes with people like Cindy Sheehan."
Plante: "Since then, she's been joined by dozens of other anti-war protesters, and her cause has been taken up by high profile liberal groups like MoveOn.org. The White House has been reluctant to criticize Sheehan, but they did point out that the President met with her and other families of the fallen a year ago, and they put out a list of 24 such gatherings with 900 different family members."
Sheehan, however, is not some otherwise apolitical grieving mother whom MoveOn.org happened to just notice and decide to help out by busing in protesters. Sheehan has been a leading activist in the anti-war movement for a while now.
Randy Hall of CNSNews.com* reported back in June about Sheehan's activism, two months before Sheehan trekked to Crawford to mug for the cameras:
(CNSNews.com) - The mother of a soldier who was killed in combat in Iraq told an anti-war rally near the White House on Thursday that President George Bush "doesn't deserve our allegiance."
Cindy Sheehan, whose son, Specialist Casey Sheehan, was killed in an ambush in Baghdad on April 4, 2004, made the remark before a gathering of about 200 people after speaking at a Democratic-sponsored, Bush-bashing hearing at the U.S. Capitol earlier in the day.
Sheehan, co-founder of the anti-war organization Gold Star Families for Peace, told participants at the rally that her appearance at the hearing was intended to remind congressmen "what their constitutional responsibilities are.
"They swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. They don't pledge allegiance to the president. He doesn't deserve our allegiance," she said to applause from the crowd.
"And he doesn't deserve to go back to Crawford, Texas," Sheehan continued. "He deserves to go to prison for what he did."
Joining Sheehan onstage at the rally were other members of her organization, each of whom had lost a family member in the fighting in Iraq. "This is the happiest day I've had since my son died," Sheehan said.
Hall went on quote Sheehan pressing for an investigation into the Downing Street Memo, a 2002 British memo which was printed in a London newspaper just before parliamentary elections in May, perhaps intended to fatally damage Prime Minister Tony Blair's chances of retaining power in Parliament. Shortly after the publication, it became a rallying cry for the American Left to criticize the Bush administration for the lead-up to the Iraq war.
* CNSNews.com is a division of the Media Research Center, the parent organization of Newsbusters.org