ACTION ALERT: A Changed President– or a New Repression?

President Bush’s June 14 commencement address at Ohio State University was a sign of a “revived” presidency, according to Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank. “Bush basked in the adulation of 55,000 people who treated him to waves of standing ovations in Ohio Stadium as he received an honorary doctorate,” according to the paper (6/15/02). “If there was a protest in the stadium, it was not visible to reporters.”

June 17, 2002

President Bush’s June 14 commencement address at Ohio State University was a sign of a “revived” presidency, according to Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank. “Bush basked in the adulation of 55,000 people who treated him to waves of standing ovations in Ohio Stadium as he received an honorary doctorate,” according to the paper (6/15/02). “If there was a protest in the stadium, it was not visible to reporters.”

In contrast, wrote Milbank, when Bush received an honorary degree last year from Yale University, “he was booed, heckled and greeted with a sea of protest signs.” While pointing out that Yale and Ohio State are different places, the Post reporter asserted that “the real cause of the difference in reception is the transformation of Bush and his presidency since the September 11 terrorist attacks.”

There may have been no protests visible to the Post reporter, but, as other media reported, there may have been other reasons for this in addition to “adulation” for Bush. According to the Columbus Dispatch (6/15/02), students were warned ahead of time they faced arrest if they showed any signs of dissent: “Graduates had been warned during rehearsal on Thursday that they faced arrest if– as was rumored– some stood up and turned their backs on Bush during his speech.” The warning continued on the day of the event as well, according to the Associated Press (6/14/02): “Immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university’s speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a ‘thunderous’ ovation.”

And some observers did, in fact, notice protests during the ceremony. As reported in The Lantern (6/14/02), Ohio State University’s campus paper, “Three graduates and six audience members– one draped in a Palestinian flag– actually did turn their backs but were hardly noticed by the crowd of about 60,000.” A demonstration held outside the stadium attracted a small group of protesters as well (Columbus Dispatch, 6/15/02).

None of this information made it into Milbank’s report.

ACTION: Please contact the Washington Post and ask them why attempts to stifle dissent at George W. Bush’s commencement address at Ohio State University were not newsworthy.

CONTACT:
Washington Post
Michael Getler, Ombudsman
mailto:ombudsman@washpost.com
(202) 334-7582

As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone. Please cc fair@fair.org with your correspondence.

Author: FAIR

News Service: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting

URL: http://www.fair.org