I was struck by how much coverage yesterday'srather small-looking Tea Party rally in Washington got in the national media. Slate's Dave Weigel has a piece(3/31/11) explaining that the event wasn't as "extreme asDemocrats would like it to be," as the subhead says. But the movement'salso not nearly as popular as the media coverage would lead you to believe. As Weigel notes, this rally was rather sparsely attended–especially if you weren't counting reporters: About 200 Tea Party activists trod over damp grass to hear their leaders respond to [House Speaker John] Boehner. There was at least one reporter for every three [...]
It's normal for the opposition party to deliver a rebuttal address to the State of the Union. Last night Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was given that responsibility. But further-to-the-right Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota delivered the "Tea Party" response to the State of the Union, which was initially scheduled to air on the Tea Party Express website. That is, until CNN decided it would air it on television. Which meant, as Washington Monthly's Steve Benenput it, CNN broadcast "the president's address, followed by a speech by a far-right Republican, and then followed by another speech by a different far-right [...]
New York Times reporter Matt Bai had a long piece Sunday (10/31/10)that argued that Tea Partiers are really the right-wing version of Bush-era MoveOn activists and bloggers (the "netroots"). Bai writes of "the larger forces that unify many self-styled activists on both the left and right," and suggests that "the recent uprisings on both ends of the ideological spectrum shouldn't be viewed as opposing trends, but rather as points on the same cultural continuum." The only way topull this offwith a straight face is to decide that political beliefs that motivate both groups are not worth inspecting or critiquing. Thus [...]
Amy Gardner'srecent reporting on the Tea Party in the Washington Post has been very insightful. Today's piece (10/27/10) deals with the activists' views of the media.There's astandard right-wing whine about mainstream media neglect, but actual Tea Party activists see things differently: Most local tea party organizers interviewed in an extensive canvass this month by the Washington Post said media coverage of their groups has been fair, suggesting that perceptions of antagonism between the tea party and traditional news media are overstated. Seventy-six percent of local organizers said that coverage of their groups is either very fair or somewhat fair. Only [...]
Jodi Jacobson from RH Reality Check joins CounterSpin this week to talk about the media's decision to let Tea Party activists define their movement as one that doesn't focus on red meat "social issues." As Jacobson argues, that distinction doesn't really square with the far-right views espoused by leading Tea Party Republican candidates. The New York Times (10/7/10) offered a fresh example of this kind of reporting, in a piece by Kirk Johnson headlined "Democrats in Tight Races Put Focus on Abortion Rights." Johnson notes the perilsof this strategy: The Democratic strategy is at least drawing the attention of voters. [...]
The New York Times' David Carr (9/20/10) compares involvement by media figures in politics–exemplified by CNBC's Rick Santelli and various Fox News figures fueling the Tea Party movement, and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's dueling answer rallies to said movement–to "a football game where the reporters and commentators, bored by the feckless proceedings on the field, suddenly poured out of the press box and took over the game." Writes Carr: "In politics, it seems as if the media is intent on not just keeping score but also calling plays." Regardless of what one thinks of any particular media figure's political [...]
As a U.S. political columnist, the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum ("Britain's Spot of Tea Party," 4/27/10) might be excused for calling the Liberal Democratic Party "Britain's historically insignificant third party"; historically speaking, it was actually one of Britain's two major parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's Applebaum's misunderstanding of the politics of her own country that's harder to forgive. Applebaum's column asks, "What would the Tea Party movement look like if it were British"–and the answer is, like the Liberal Democrats, as embodied by candidate Nick Clegg. Presumably it's not his support for immigration or his [...]
E.J. Dionne has a good column in the Washington Post today (4/19/10) looking at the Tea Party movement, and pinning a fair amount of blame on the press: "The news media's incessant focus on the Tea Party is creating a badly distorted picture of what most Americans think and is warping our policy debates." Looking at the most recent poll of Tea Party supporters, Dionne concludes that racism is clearly a factor in motivating many of these activists. And he makes this point: This must be the first "populist" movement driven by a television network: Sixty-three percent of the Tea [...]
From his Web column today (4/16/10): After initially dismissing the tea types as an unimportant sideshow, the media are drinking deeply from that particular cup, especially with today being Tax Day and all. If by "dismissing" Kurtz means "featuring on the network evening newscasts," he might have a point–since that's how last year's Tea Party Tax Day protests were actuallycovered. But Kurtz has always had weird ideas about how much coverage the Tea Party events should receive. A year ago he criticized several newspapers for not devoting enough coverage to the protests–though the actual protests, uhh, hadn't happened yet: "The [...]
Like Andrew Malcolm (FAIR Blog, 4/6/10), Bill O'Reilly (O'Reilly Factor, 4/5/10) has a bone to pick with how the "left-wing media" have representing the Tea Party movement. First, he complained, "Tea Party folks were labeled stupid, too dumb to understand complicated issues." Then the media said that "many Tea Party people are racist and far-right cranks." O'Reilly then refuted these charges by citing a poll that suggested that "the majority of Tea Party supporters in America are not Republicans." If I were a Republican, I'd be offended.
Is theTea Party movement actually more politically diverse than the "liberal media" would have you believe? Andrew Malcolm, a blogger for the L.A. Times who used to be Laura Bush's press secretary, thinks so. He wrote yesterday (4/5/10) about a pair of polls that came out about the Tea Party movement: For upwards of 12 months now members of the so-called Tea Party protest movement have been stereotyped, derogated and often dismissed by some politicians and media outlets. They've been portrayed variously as angry fringe elements, often inarticulate, potentially violent and merely Republicans in sheep's clothing or disgruntled pockets of [...]
Blogger Matthew Yglesias (2/9/10), responding to a Des Moines Register poll that found "a third of Iowans from across the political spectrum say they support the 'tea party' movement, sounding a loud chorus of dissatisfaction with government": Thirty-eight percent of Americans have a favorable view of Cuba and 36 percent are favorably disposed toward socialism, but I don't see anyone writing newspaper articles about how a populist wave of socialism is sweeping the country.