One Sick Protest

The mainstream media, the corporate media -- whatever you want to call the big guys -- get hammered from both left and right for "bias" whenever which ever side doesn't like the coverage. And sometimes it's just a matter of truly boneheaded news calls.

OK, the media largely ignored anti-war demonstrations before the invasion of Iraq. While they're now covering more of them now, the media have been steadfastly ignoring the weekly protests that have been going on for months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Kevin Pannell, who was recently treated at Walter Reed and had both legs amputated after an ambush grenade attack near Baghdad in 2004, considers the presence of the anti-war protesters in front of the hospital "distasteful." When he was a patient at the hospital, Pannell said he initially tried to ignore the anti-war activists camped out in front of Walter Reed, until witnessing something that enraged him.

"We went by there one day and I drove by and [the anti-war protesters] had a bunch of flag-draped coffins laid out on the sidewalk. That, I thought, was probably the most distasteful thing I had ever seen. Ever," Pannell, a member of the Army's First Cavalry Division, told Cybercast News Service.

CNS broke the story, and at first I didn't want to believe it. But Walter Reed spokesman Bill Swisher confirms that the protests have been going on for a while (CNS says since March).

Creating a hard time for convalescents and their families for any reason is, to put it mildly, ill-mannered. Not exactly "supporting the troops." But, I would think, it's definitely news. Yet mine was the first phone call Mr. Swisher had fielded on the subject (Stars and Stripes had e-mailed) and he did not know of any mainstream news coverage.

The medical center, which has treated thousands of veterans of the Iraq war and of many other wars in its soon-to-end 96-year history, takes the protest in stride. The center's official statement is:

Demonstrators outside Walter Reed are exercising their constitutional rights, which the service members being treated at the hospital have sworn to protect. We support the demonstrators in the peaceful exercise of those rights, regardless of the specific issues involved.