YORK - March 26 - With citizens expressing their opinions on the
war through marches and rallies across the country, many news
outlets rely on the Associated Press news service to help them
cover these important manifestations of democracy. Unfortunately,
AP has frequently used the terms "pro-war" and "pro-troops"
interchangeably-- a practice that distorts the views of anti-war
demonstrators and contributes to the media marginalization of
the peace movement.
that the overwhelming majority of participants at peace events
would describe themselves as "supporting the troops,"
in the sense of being concerned for their well-being and hoping
for their safe return. "Support Our Troops: Bring Them
Home" is a popular slogan at peace marches, which tend
to criticize George W. Bush and other administration officials,
not rank-and-file U.S. military personnel.
AP and some other news outlets often use "supporting the
troops" as a synonym for "supporting the war"--
and use "pro-troops" as a shorthand to describe rallies
and demonstrations that are, in many cases, explicitly pro-war
events. "Pro-troops" is frequently used as the opposite
of "anti-war," as if the only way to be supportive
of soldiers is to advocate their involvement in war on Iraq.
the day after bombing of Baghdad began, the AP ran a story (3/20/03)
under the headline "Anti-War, Pro-Troops Rallies Take to
Streets as War Rages." Another story (3/22/03), about pro-
and anti-war activities, was labeled "Weekend Brings More
Demonstrations-- Opposing War, Supporting Troops." The
clear implication is that those who call for an end to the invasion
of Iraq are opposed to U.S. troops, as in the story "Protesters
Rally Against War; Others Support Troops" (3/24/03).
usage shows up in the body of stories as well. "In San
Francisco, at least three pro-troop demonstrators who attended
the rally were alternately yelled at and debated with by peace
demonstrators," the AP reported on March 23. Another AP
story (3/24/03) referred to "about 100 people-- half anti-war
and half pro-troops-- [who] demonstrated on the Sagadahoc Bridge
over the Kennebec River near Bath."
outlets use the misleading formulation as well. "Perhaps
you see police arrayed in riot gear keeping apart the pro-troop
rally and the anti-war rally," CNN's Jeff Flock stated
on March 22. A Sacramento Bee story (3/22/03) reported that
while pro-war activists "said those who support the Bush
administration have been less likely to stage large demonstrations
because they are busy with the concerns of daily life, there
have been large pro-troop rallies held across the country"--
as if only those who back the Bush administration are friendly
toward those in the military.
ACTION: Please write to the Associated Press and insist that
they stop implying that the anti-war movement is hostile to
U.S. military personnel by referring to pro-war rallies as "pro-troop."
please remember that your comments are taken more seriously
if you maintain a polite tone. Please cc firstname.lastname@example.org
with your correspondence.