Medea Benjamin crashes the party

So if you were out of touch (no google, no tweets) Thursday, you probably didn’t hear about Medea Benjamin of Code Pink crashing Obama’s friendly little press conference about the drone strike policy and also the detainees at Guantanamo. As she was ‘escorted’ from the room, Medea reportedly said this:

“Can you tell the Muslim people that their lives are as precious as our lives?Can you take the drones out of the hands of the CIA? Can you stop the signature strikes that are killing people on the basis of suspicious activities? Will you apologize to the thousands of Muslims that you have killed? Will you compensate the innocent family victims? That will make us safer.”

Looking at the blogosphere this AM, I’m gobsmacked but not surprised that the majority of coverage of the speech interruption/heckling doesn’t address Medea’s comments. Instead, there are all sorts of wild theories on the right that Medea’s ‘attack’ was pre-planned by the administration to garner support for Obama. Medea chalked up her ability to get in on ‘Code Pink Magic‘, which has allowed their demonstrators to get into numerous ‘closed events’ over the years.  I don’t get the conspiracy theory idea that Benjamin’s entrance was a setup. This sort of security issue is common in any event where the audience hasn’t been sanitized.  Back in the heyday of ACT UP, demonstrators frequently got into ‘closed’ events that they should not have been able to get into. Somebody pulled a lot of tricks in 1992 to get Bob Rafsky of ACT UP into a campaign event where he got within a few feet of then-Candidate Bill Clinton.

The second meme coming out of the event is about a lack of decorum–many of the posters at Huffington Post‘s discussion board called out Benjamin for being rude.  Sorry– re a lack of decorum, we’re giving the president sole authority to blow up people with drone strikes. He’s been given a pass on keeping Guantanamo open even after the government  determined that the majority of prisoners there pose little or no risk and shouldn’t have been apprehended in the first place (a revelation of Wikileaks).  The last time I checked, about 100 of the Guantanamo detainees are on hunger strikes, with the US force-feeding them. These issues have real-life consequences. And focusing on/ complaining about decorum is one way the Main Stream Media can ‘report’ on this incident without dealing with the issues that protesters like Medea are raising.

Per the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the drone program kills some 50 civilians for every terrorist. And since the President alone decides who gets defined as a terrorist, there’s no transparency or accountability for the assassinations. The coverage on this protest is all about how Medea Benjamin got so close to the president, the ‘rudeness’ of her behavior and whether she was a plant–why aren’t ‘journalists’ doing real research and reporting the issues to their viewership? Are we going to outsource real reporting on this incident the way the networks have outsourced their drone coverage?

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