CNN's Miles O'Brien: Sheehan's Speech "Thwarted," Cites Michael Moore Site as Source

February 1st, 2006 2:51 PM

Shortly before 8am EST Wednesday on CNN's American Morning, co-host Miles O'Brien expressed outrage at Cindy Sheehan's ejection from the House of Representatives during Tuesday evening's State of the Union address, declaring that her free speech had been "thwarted." Mr. O'Brien incorrectly stated that soon after Ms. Sheehan entered the gallery, and revealed that she was wearing an anti-war T-shirt, security went up to her and "grabbed her and took her out of her seat." When it was pointed out to Mr. O'Brien that Ms. Sheehan, prior to her removal, had been ordered to cover up the shirt, which was in violation of a House rule against any form of demonstration in the galleries, he brushed off the issue and revealed the source of his information: Cindy Sheehan's own blog entry posted on left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore's website.

Discussing the issue with co-host Soledad O'Brien, who was reporting from the Cannon House Office Building in Washington D.C., Mr. O'Brien relayed what had occured shortly before the President's address began:

Miles O'Brien: "You know, you saw about this Cindy Sheehan arrest...She, she came in. She was an invited guest."

Soledad O'Brien: "Of Lynn Woolsey from California."

Miles O'Brien: "Lynn Woolsey from California said, here, have a ticket. She gets up in the fifth gallery, gets, makes her way through security. She has some sort of coat or, or sweater above a T-shirt that she's wearing. And the T-shirt says in -- and it's black with white letters. It says, '2,245 Dead. How Many More?' Referring, of course, to the war in Iraq and the losses there. She, of course, lost her son there and has become a focal point of protest against the war. She, when, when that T-shirt became evident, the ushers and the security there said, oh, we got a protester, and they, they grabbed her and took her out of her seat."

Ms. O'Brien then pointed out to her co-anchor: "Well, I think also, first they said, you're not allowed to have any kind of signs or symbols, so please cover up your shirt, which she refused to do."

Mr. O'Brien then revealed the source of his information, and appeared to have accepted Ms. Sheehan's version of the incident: "That's funny. That, that doesn't, that's not what it says on her blog there. In any case, it, it, the way she describes it in her letter on where she, she wrote a letter, it was just, it was more instantaneous. In any case, that's neither here nor there."

Mr. O'Brien then continued his rant: "The issue is, you know, here we, this is, this is a house of Congress. This is the House of Representatives. This is, this is a place where, that is dedicated to free speech, in many respects. And her free speech, it seems, has been thwarted here. Let me just quote from her, her note to, that is posted on this Michael Moore website. 'It is time to take our freedoms and our country back,' says Cindy Sheehan. 'I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether he or she has paid the ultimate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government.' So it raises some issues, Soledad. It'll be interesting to see how this debate plays out."

It should be noted that just after 9:30 am, Soledad O'Brien reported that Republican Representative Bill Young's wife, Beverly, had been told to leave the State of the Union for wearing a pro-military T-shirt. Of course, there was no commentary from Miles O'Brien declaring that Mrs. Young's free speech had been "thwarted."