Cindy Sheehan's Path to Prominence
This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," August 29, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: By almost any standard, Cindy Sheehan's (search) war protest has been a public relations success. One woman seems to have single-handedly dominated the political news for much of the month, forced the president to voice support for her right to protest, and to schedule events of his own with families of Americans killed in Iraq.
Now she’s going on a national tour. How has she done all this? Well, it seems, certainly not alone. For more, I’m joined by Byron York, White House correspondent of National Review, who has been looking into all of this.
BYRON YORK, NATIONAL REVIEW CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, Brit.
HUME: So who are the forces — or what are the forces that are behind Cindy Sheehan? And when did they enter the fray?
YORK: Actually, they started at the very beginning. One of the things I learned just recently — Sheehan was at a conference of a group called Veterans for Peace in Dallas a few days before she decided to go to Crawford.
HUME: Go to Crawford the first or for the second time?
YORK: For the first time on August 6th.
YORK: And, actually, she was there with a woman named Lisa Fithian...
HUME: You’re talking about going to Crawford in August. You’re not talking about the time she actually met with Bush, though, right? That was...
YORK: No, no, no, this was...
HUME: Was that at the White House, or was that...
YORK: No. She met with Bush, I believe, in Seattle. That was in June of 2004.
HUME: OK, so this was — she was...
YORK: This August, just, you know, three weeks ago. And she meets with a woman named Lisa Fithian there in Dallas. Fithian is a well-known organizer. She played a major role in the very violent anti-WTO protest in Seattle, as well as anti-globalism protest in Washington, and Genoa, and Prague, and just all over the world.
And she and a number of other activists go down with Cindy Sheehan at the very first. And over the last few weeks, she’s been supported by a number of groups, including MoveOn, Code Pink (search), a women’s antiwar group. And now, on this bus tour that’s she’s going to take, she’s only going to be on a couple of days...
HUME: Wait a minute. She’s taking — this is supposed to be a nationwide bus tour.
HUME: Is this something that she started or that she organized, or this is somebody else’s bus tour?
YORK: The destination, of course, is the big anti-war demonstration that’s planned in Washington for September 24.
YORK: She is going to be leaving Crawford on Wednesday...
HUME: On a bus, in part of this....
YORK: On a bus, but only for a couple of days. She’s going to go from Crawford to Houston, where they’re going to have a protest outside Tom DeLay's (search) office. And then she’s going to go off and do other things.
She has other commitments, both personal and speaking commitments. Cindy will be gone. The tour will go on. That is operated — that’s going to be wholly military families groups. There are four groups that are supporting her, Gold Star Families for Peace...
HUME: Did she start that group?
YORK: Yes. No, it's — separate from the Gold Star mother’s group, which is a nonpartisan group. Military Families Speak Out, a couple of veterans’ groups, Veterans for Peace (search), and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Those are the four groups that are going to be taking part in this bus tour.
HUME: Now, what about those groups? What about all these groups? I mean, do these sorts of groups — I mean, you mention that this Fithian woman is a veteran of earlier protests, some of them violent. Doesn’t it mean, or does it, that she favors or supports violence, does it?
YORK: Well, she’s — Fithian herself is an advocate of what’s called direct action and has spoken at various times that different situations require different tactics. She once said nonviolence is a strategy, civil disobedience is a tactic, direct action is a strategy, throwing rocks is a tactic. So she kind of favors doing what she feels is necessary. This is...
HUME: Including violence, incidentally?
YORK: To include violence occasionally. There were some incidents in Genoa. And there certainly were a lot of them in Seattle.
And remember, the protesters threatened to shut down the city of Washington for the global trade meeting here. And the police chief in Washington decided to shut down the city ahead of time anyway.
But she’s just one of a number of groups. The interesting thing about this is, this is not a kind of movement in which there is a George Soros (search)-like funder, a single person who’s doing it. There really are a bunch of groups doing it, and there’s no single person in charge.
HUME: Well, what kind of groups are they, though, beyond the fact we know they’re against the war. How did they — I mean, they showed up with Cindy Sheehan, or she went down there on her own, they joined her. Or were they in on it from the beginning, or do we know?
YORK: Some of them were in on it from the beginning. But a lot of them — this is an Internet-fueled things, as well. Moveon.org got going. Cindy Sheehan formed her own — created her own Web site. And they got a lot of interest from there.
It really was, actually, kind of a grassroots thing that a number of groups, like MoveOn, like Code Pink, and others, managed to get people. And of course, now, they’ve never...
HUME: And who hired Fenton Communications (search), this P.R. firm...
YORK: Fenton Communications was paid for by a group called True Majority.
HUME: Who are they?
YORK: Well, it’s a group founded by Ben Cohen (search), the Ben of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.
HUME: A noted liberal activist, but nonviolent...
YORK: Oh, absolutely, who has contributed a lot of money. And Fenton Communications has represented MoveOn and Soros, and the whole sort of complex of groups on the left.
HUME: Let’s turn for a moment to this protest we saw over the weekend in which we heard some, for the first time, really, I guess, some loud voices in Texas, in Crawford, where they were arguing in favor of the war and supporting the president.
This is a group sponsored, I guess, by a group called Move America Forward. Who’s Move America Forward?
YORK: Well, Move America Forward is a conservative group in California, started and funded in large part by a man named Howard Kaloogian, who is a former, I believe, state representative there. There’s also a radio personality, a conservative talk show host, who’s been prominent in it.
It’s not a really big group. And there hasn’t been — in the reaction to Cindy Sheehan, there hasn’t been this sort of wide coalition of groups on the right that we saw on the left with Sheehan.
HUME: So, at the moment then, Cindy Sheehan’s operation, joined as it is by a host of anti-Bush forces, remains a larger force in this country than anything that has emerged on the right?
YORK: Well, the Move America Forward turned a number of people out. But I think the real kind of test of strength is going to be this protest September 24 here in Washington, which is supposed to be quite big.
HUME: All right, Byron. Thanks very much. Glad to have you, as always.
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