Patterico's Pontifications


CBS Reporter Was “Not Interested” in Cindy Sheehan’s Use of Term “Freedom Fighters” to Describe Terrorists

Filed under: Media Bias,Sheehan — Patterico @ 6:46 am

I mentioned here some time back that, in an interview with Mark Knoller of CBS News, Cindy Sheehan had used the term “freedom fighters” to describe the terrorists in Iraq. Her use of that phrase never made it into the CBS piece, and now John Leo explains why: the reporter wasn’t interested.

John Leo’s latest column states:

On August 6, as her 15 minutes of fame was just beginning, Cindy Sheehan used an odd term in a TV interview with Mark Knoller of CBS. She referred to the foreign insurgents and terrorists in Iraq as “freedom fighters.” Knoller cut those words out of his report, he told me, because he “really wasn’t interested.” He should have left them in. In fact, alarm bells should have rung in his brain. First of all, it’s startling that an antiwar mother would talk that way about people who blow up children and who may have killed her own son. Second, “freedom fighters” in this context is the telltale lingo of the hard, anti-American left. When the grieving mother starts talking that way, it’s news.

Knoller recalls that ther reporters on the scene were watching his interview that day in Texas, but apparently they weren’t any more interested in Sheehan’s little linguistic adventure than he was. Apparently none bothered to report it. The “freedom fighter” remark reached the public only because an antiwar group, Veterans for Peace, filmed the CBS interview. It was picked up by an anti-Cindy Sheehan website,, where bloggers and conservative commentators noticed and circulated it.

I believe Knoller’s explanation that he simply wasn’t interested. This is how media bias works. When your beliefs on core issues are left-wing, phrases like Sheehan’s description of terrorists as “freedom fighters” just don’t jump out at you. After all, that’s what everyone calls them at the water cooler back at the office. What’s “interesting” about that?

15 Responses to “CBS Reporter Was “Not Interested” in Cindy Sheehan’s Use of Term “Freedom Fighters” to Describe Terrorists”

  1. I have a more insidious interpretation: The reporter was seeking to legitimize her, which would be difficult with a wacky charge like that coming from her. Journalistic “objectivity” may make it impossible to distinguish between a freedom-fighter and a terrorist, but virtually every reader, even of the LAT, knows the difference.

    Ken Masugi (dc421b)

  2. It would be lost on viewers who still choose CBS News after the Dan Rather mess. In fact, the phrase would probably be embraced.

    Vermont Neighbor (e9fcbc)

  3. CBS is also having problems with some of the commentary on the morning show. This is from a contributor named Nancy Giles:

    CBS News Sunday Morning “contributor” Nancy Giles, in the only commentary aired on the show on Sunday, delivered a blistering diatribe in which she Giles charged that “if the majority of the hardest hit victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans were white people, they would not have gone for days without food and water” and insisted that “the real war is not in Iraq, but right here in America. It’s the War on Poverty, and it’s a war that’s been ignored and lost.” She complained that “we’ve repeatedly given tax cuts to the wealthiest and left our most vulnerable American citizens to basically fend for themselves.” Giles scolded Bush for finding photo-ops with some “black folks to hug” while he skipped “the messy parts of New Orleans.” She castigated Bush for how he “has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn’t venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn.”

    Scott (6c1a38)

  4. Patrick – this issue screams out for one of your patented “call backs” to this CBS reporter, to follow up and ask him on the record what exactly about sheehan’s linking of the baathist terrorists who killed her son with “freeedom fighters” that the reporter found so uninteresting.

    DO IT NOW, bro, and report back your results.

    shit, i’d sick hugh hewitt on the dude, too, and transcribe the smackdown on radio blogger.

    spwb (500ab8)

  5. Re: Post #3 and the CBS weekend reporter. Unless real answers are provided, Bush’s second term may be another victim of Katrina’s wrath.

    The reporter worries about poor people and “vulnerable American citizens”. I worry about the same thing. As a president who is trying to turn Mexico City into our new nation’s capital, the accusations of racism by the left are really annoying. Bush can be debated now till the soldiers come home, but to say he’s anti-black is a reach. More ink for the Bush-haters. It’s a shame.

    Vermont Neighbor (e9fcbc)

  6. Mark Knoller’s interest in Cindy Sheehan, her statements and her activities, seems to have reached far enough so long as Bush Bashing was on tap, but he strangely claims to have no interest in reporting her actual words when they might reveal her motivations.

    Clearly, Knoller’s excuse for sanitizing Sheehan’s image by refusing to portray her accurately reveals his biased agenda. Simply put, he’s not an objective reporter, he sees his job as a facilitator of propaganda for the Left.

    Black Jack (ee3eb6)

  7. I wish people would leave Cindy alone. All she wants to do is grieve her beloved son in solitude.

    true blue (f8c2ea)

  8. I believe Knoller’s explanation that he simply wasn’t interested. This is how media bias works.


    I’m not so sure Knoller was expressing the kind of disinterest you seem to think he was – the “I don’t think this is news” disinterest. To the contrary, I believe he understood that reporting that comment would work against something he believes in and he didn’t want to risk harm to Sheehan’s credibility. If so, he isn’t guilty of bias – he is guilty of outright dishonesty. To me, there is a big difference.

    But to be fair, we really don’t know what he meant, or what he was thinking. I guess I am just plain jaded when it comes to the media.

    Glenn (e4740d)

  9. True Blue, heh! That’s a good one. She wanted all of those cameras on her so she could grieve in solitude. You should be on Leno. He’d love ya!

    Craig R. Harnon (b772b7)

  10. Don’t worry. Katrina has made Sheehan irrelevant! Thank God!

    patd95 (4b01da)

  11. You’re welcome.

    God (428dfd)

  12. Patterico,

    You continue to give MSM reporters the benefit of the doubt: If Knoller says he simply wasn’t interested, you take him at his word. Perhaps you have good reasons for doing so, but on the anniversary of Dan Rather’s Memogate scandal, it might be wise to read John’s comments at Power Line.

    “My own impression, though, is that, far from having ameliorated since last year, the liberal bias of the MSM has, if anything, worsened. I think the fact that alternative media now exist has prompted some reporters and editors to abandon even the pretense of objectivity.”

    Now, you’re a smart guy and surely entitled to call it the way you see it, but on this one, I’m with the Rocket Man.

    Black Jack (ee3eb6)

  13. The Cindy Sheehan thing is not really so much about what she supposedly said or did not say. ( I really dont know what she did or did not say but I dont doubt for a moment this administration and its allies would not hesitate to make up stories or misquote her.) Cindy Sheehan is about a much larger problem.
    The problem is a sitting President and his administration who attacked another country for reasons now shown to be false and who has not been held accountable and the vast army of those who dont care or are willing to lie and smear to cover up what is one of the worst administrations in history. Dont bother with lame excuses like “every other country thought there were WMDs” ( Not true) or “Hey S_ _ _ happens!” The buck should stop at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave but apparently it doesnt. When confronted with the awful quaqmire this President has created due to his arrogance and ignorance and desire for war, the answer has been more smear and more cleverly staged photo -ops.

    Cindy Sheehan is confronting the President with the question ” What is so noble about this war?” And if he had an answer or if she had a large campaign contribution, you know he would have met with her long ago.

    My friend was in the Marines and he says this is a classic Psy Ops campaign. They have spent hundreds of millions on psychological research and know exactly which words to use and which buttons to push to create fear, hate and division here at home in order to further their ruthless agenda. I thought I saw this long ago when I was in the USAF in the Vietnam Era but this administration makes those lies pale in comparison.

    Ever look at photos of people in some faraway country cheering for some killer or thug who is in command and wonder how they could be so blind?
    Well as Jesus asked ” How is it you see the speck in your brothers eye and not the stone in your own?” Good question.. and 2000 years later still unanswered. Cindy Sheehan wants America to take off the blinders. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen soon enough.

    Charlie (8ea405)

  14. I suppose this dizy dame will call the terrorists who crash those plane load of inocent victims freedom fighters just how far out in left feild is she?

    krazy kagu (0a3548)

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