On August 9, 2005, the ABC anchor conducted an extensive on-air interview with Sheehan. "Cindy Sheehan is her name," Gibson began. "She says she's not moving until the President meets with her, and I had a chance to speak with her a few minutes ago. Cindy Sheehan, bottom line, what do you hope to accomplish with all this?"Indeed, the Wednesday August 10, 2005 MRC CyberAlert, "Good Morning America Features 'Exclusive' Interview with Sheehan," recounted:
During the next week, Gibson and ABC continued to cover Sheehan. On August 17, 2005, when Sheehan left Crawford, Gibson reported, "We're going to turn next to the standoff that is playing out near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan, you know, the mother who lost a son in Iraq, is now on the move, but she's still standing her ground. ABC's Geoff Morrell is in Crawford with the details..." The next day, Gibson reported, "All across the country last night, people held candlelight vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan..."
Over video of Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan yelling at a Sheriff's deputy near Bush's Texas ranch, Charles Gibson opened Tuesday's Good Morning America by touting: "Standing her ground. She lost her son in Iraq, she opposes the war, now she's camped out at President Bush's ranch and says she won't leave until he meets with her. An exclusive interview on Good Morning America."A week later, "Nets, AP Tout Sheehan's Achievements, See Revived Anti-War Effort ," reported:
Before and after Cindy Sheehan's announcement Thursday that she was leaving Crawford to attend to her ill mother, the networks celebrated her supposed achievements and hoped they'd re-invigorate the anti-war movement....ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas saw "a campaign born of sadness and resolution." Thursday morning, ABC's Charlie Gibson championed: "All across the country protests against the war in Iraq, inspired by the mother standing her ground at President Bush's ranch." On screen, GMA put "MOM ON A MISSION: IS ANTIWAR MOVEMENT GROWING?" George Stephanopoulos claimed "a lot of Republicans would say" that "this is the President's swift boat moment."...From the following week, "GMA Features Sheehan Ally, Pleads: 'Can Anti-War Moms Stop Bush?' "
Gibson plugged the Thursday program: "This morning a war of words. All across the country protests against the war in Iraq, inspired by the mother standing her ground at President Bush's ranch. But is anyone in the White House feeling the heat?"
With "CAN ANTI-WAR MOMS STOP BUSH?" on screen throughout the interview session, ABC on Monday morning didn't let Cindy Sheehan's departure from Crawford deter them from promoting her cause as they brought aboard Celeste Zappala of Sheehan's group, Gold Star Families for Peace. Co-host Charles Gibson gave her a lot of credit, asking about President's Bush upcoming speech in Salt Lake City, from where Zappala appeared: "Do you think, Ms. Zappala, that he would be making these speeches were it not for your group's protest?"
In the midst of giving her publicity, Gibson fretted: "You are but a small group there that is perched on the approach to the President's ranch. One hundred, two hundred people. Do you really think you've got people talking about the war?" Gibson also did something unusual, raising how Sheehan called the U.S. "morally repugnant" and he pressed Zappala about whether she worries that her protests "might dishonor" her son who died in Iraq?Gibson's reply to WLS's Don Wade on Tuesday, August 18:
It's such a sad story. Martha Raddatz [of ABC News] wrote a terrific book about one battle that took place in Iraq, and it was the battle in which Cindy's son was killed. And you look at somebody like that and you think here's somebody who's just trying to find some meaning in her son's death. And you have to be sympathetic to her. Anybody who has given a son to this country has made an enormous sacrifice, and you have to be sympathetic. But enough already.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center