Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Media Shows Bias in Kent State Coverage

The burning of the university's ROTC building was part of the buildup to the May 4 shootings. Protesters cut fire hoses and then chanted anti-war slogans as the building burned to the ground. (

By Lisa Haddock

If you're a news junkie like me, you've seen the stories about the newly discovered audiotape of the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970.

Recent reports are remarkably slanted, because, quite simple, they do not put the shootings in context. According to Alan Canfora, the tape reveals the voice of a National Guardsman giving the order to start the shooting, which left four people dead and numerous others injured.

It's important to note that days of lawlessness (including violence against the National Guardsmen) led up to the tragic shootings. (See Wikipedia for timeline.) Buildings were burned (including businesses in downtown Kent). Now what do the business owners of Kent, Ohio, have to do with the Vietnam War? And over a period of days, student-protesters defied repeated non-violent attempts to disperse. They even threw tear gas canisters back at the Guardsmen.

It's my guess that a lot of today's news executives were anti-war hippies back in the day, and their bias is showing. "Four dead in Ohio," the reports say. Well, for those of you under the age of 50, that line is from the Neil Young opus Ohio -- a blistering anti-war anthem. Perhaps these media types are dating themselves?

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer called the shootings "the most tragic episode" in the Vietnam War. What about My Lai? What about the fall of Saigon?

Vietnam was a sad, awful chapter for Americans and more importantly for the people of Southeast Asia.

Anti-war protesters of the Vietnam era had every right to assemble peaceably and voice their complaints against the government. But the Kent State demonstrations were not peaceable. Reckless, violent acts began a tragic chain of events led to the catastrophe of that day.

Those of us who care about truth, accuracy and ethics in the media are obligated to demand better coverage.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Growing up in nearby Ravenna, OH - I was aware (even at age 9), that there was something inconsistent with protesting against the war (or for peace) and the violent/destructive acts committed (at least by some) in the name of that cause. The events were tragic. However, it is unfortunate, that the history told in the media fails to recount the whole story.