Media Draw War Protest Crowd

As the networks cover the war, they may find themselves targeted by more demonstrations like the one that disrupted traffic in the middle of New York City last Thursday morning.

Members of a coalition calling itself M27, for March 27 Coalition, said they picked the streets near Manhattan's Rockefeller Center as the location for their anti-war die-in "because of the concentration of media companies" in midtown.

War opponents are stepping up their activities, including demonstrations at media sites — including Cable News Network's bureaus in Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as network headquarters in Atlanta.

"The airwaves are owned by the public; they have a responsibility to show proportionate coverage. The polls show one in four Americans oppose the war, so one in four stories should reflect their view," said Angela Coppola of the anti-war group Not in Our Name.

Demonstrators seemed to take it as a sign of success that CNN has placed a muslin curtain behind anchors covering the war from their street-level New York studios.

"I guess it's too risky that someone might walk by and actually flash a peace sign behind Paula Zahn," Coppola said. She added the coalition was headed for CNN on March 27 when police began arresting the demonstrators.

M27 spokeswoman Betsy Andrews said the protesters also want to communicate that media is not a monolith. There are different sources for information, they said, such as international news sources and the domestic alternative press.

"Mainstream media can't be trusted. How can [NBC networks] be unbiased when their parent company, General Electric, is in the business of selling military hardware?" Andrews said.

Demonstrators, reached by phone, said they expect TV news operations to be more than "stenographers for the Pentagon."

Spokespeople for coalition members singled out Fox News as the most biased, but added that they doubted anyone would target their studios.

"They won't come around anyway," Coppola said.