By EDWARD T. WIMBERLEY
If a protest occurred in Washington and the press wasn’t there to cover it, did the protest really happen? Such tortured logic may have been applied to the 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington that involved a million or more protesters but which received scarcely any television coverage — beyond that of Fox News.
The absence of media interest in this event was hardly surprising among those of us who traveled to D.C. and took to the streets demanding some significant changes in the spending and governing practices of the Congress and the current occupant of the White House. The nauseating love affair that the so-called “mainstream press” has with the current administration and the media’s one-sided and leftward-bias on every political and economic issue which comes to the fore foretold that they would deal with the dissent of a veritable human tidal wave of conservative voters upon Washington as a non-event – something that either didn’t happen, something they didn’t know was planned, or as something that despite its size, power and scope only applies to some 25 percent of the electorate.
True to form, MSNBC reported that the march involved 50-60 thousand participants – this despite the presence of many times this number on the one mile route from Freedom Plaza to the Capitol during each of the four hours protesters traversed down Pennsylvania Avenue. Nor does it even begin to include the multitude arriving at the Capitol via other routes, to include bus and trainloads of protesters arriving at Union Station and at other Metro stops, avenues and bus stops in and around the capitol.
My wife and I participated in this heartwarming patriotic display and can affirm that people arrived by the thousands, completely overwhelming the area in around the Capitol to a degree unparalleled by either the Million Man March or any of the anti-war marches during the Vietnam era. Consequently, whatever made this story un-newsworthy did not involve poor participation, or for that matter energy, passion, patriotism and commitment to a dramatic change in the way business is conducted in the White House and on the Hill. Nor was poor marketing and advertisement an impediment to the press covering this event. Despite the feigned ignorance of the march by the President’s Press Secretary and the noted absence from the district of the President, the march had been promoted for weeks on the Fox Network, on conservative blog sites, via talk radio and by word of mouth. Certainly Dick and Jane Conservative from across the nation had no trouble knowing about the event or for that matter, any significant difficulty in coming to the nation’s capitol to protest.
ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and other news outlets more loyal to the causes of the left seemed to be either ignorant or indifferent to the march – exhibiting the arrogant philosophy of “if we don’t cover it then it didn’t happen.” However, the march did happen, and it happened peacefully and hopefully bridging both political parties and generations of Americans. Despite the dismissive attitude of many in the media, the march occurred, it was successful well beyond the expectations of those who sponsored, organized and managed the event, and it occurred peacefully and respectfully, even in the face of episodic counter demonstrations by a handful of citizens who politically disagreed with the protestors.
So, to answer the question “If a protest occurred in Washington and the press wasn’t there to cover it did the protest really happen?” the answer is a resounding yes. If you don’t believe it, then sit back and wait for the 2010 Congressional elections and witness “change that we believe in.”
Edward T. Wimberley teaches courses in philosophy and ethics and environmental public policy at FGCU. He holds a doctorate in public affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and served as the founding dean of FGCU’s College of Education and College of Professional Studies. He is also an ordained Presbyterian minister and serves as a part-time chaplain at Moorings Park in Naples.